I have read the UKIP statement requesting that I step down as an MEP after my resignation from the Party. In that statement UKIP claims that such a decision is a ‘matter of honour’ because, before I was elected in 2014, I agreed not to step down from the Party.
In employment law, there is a principle called ‘constructive dismissal’. An employer, basically, can’t make your work situation so horrible and intolerable that there’s no reasonable way you could stay in the job – and use this as an underhand tactic to sack you despite having no legal grounds to do so. When I agreed not to step down, everyone knew that this commitment was not binding and it contained an inherent presumption that the Party would still remain broadly the same organisation that it was when I was elected. The Party has fundamentally changed its people, tone, rhetoric, policies, and style to the extent that it is unrecognisable in 2018 from the one for which I stood for election in 2014. Nobody in their right mind could possibly consider this Party to be the same organisation as it was back then.
I am not alone in thinking this. Up to 70% of the members have left; councillors have been resigning across the country, and in many regions the Party lacks even the most basic Party infrastructure because regional officials have resigned. The state of devastation within the Party is hard to underestimate. I stayed within the Party far longer than I should have, precisely out of respect to those members who chose to stay.
For accuracy I should point out that I have had phone calls from three senior people in the Party (and also from a number of MEPs) who have told me the Party is obliged to request my resignation for form’s sake, but that they privately completely understand and respect my decision.
An environment in which it’s not possible to have a straightforward meeting without the contents being leaked to the press is not one in which it is practical to work. An environment where colleagues scream at each other across a room is not one in which it is practical to work. An environment in which NEC members spam each other with vitriolic emails several times a day is not one in which it is practical to work. An environment in which the aim is to attack your colleagues not your political opponents is not one in which it is practical to work.
When I resigned I made it quite clear that I have no intention of creating further unnecessary damage to the Party; therefore, so long as the Party does not dispute the accuracy of this statement, I will keep all corroborating evidence to myself. They know my words to be true; I know my words to be true, but I will not embarrass them by proving what we all know to be the case.
The reaction I’ve received to my resignation was unexpected. I have received dozens of messages of support from current and former UKIP members. There has been a co-ordinated attempt to get members to contact me and seek my resignation; despite this co-ordination, those messages are still outweighed by positive messages I’ve received by a margin of roughly 4 to 1 by those who supported UKIP when I was elected.
A flavour of the messages I’ve received in support can be found below. My advice to UKIP, for what it’s worth, would be not to have a go at me – that would be to fall into the same internal infighting trap that it’s been doing over the last couple of years – but to deal with their own underlying issues. It all shows just how insular UKIP has become. Basic ‘customer service’ principles should teach the Party that. Don’t tell your ‘customers’ that they’re wrong, and that they really want your product even when they don’t: instead, make sure that your product is something they actually want to buy. If UKIP retained any desire to become a professional, credible Party, then it would be addressing these concerns rather than attacking me.
[NB: Grammar left ‘as is’. Many more messages omitted including simple ‘well done/good luck’ type messages, most of those on Twitter, some duplication, messages from family, most of those received by email, etc.]
“I am afraid to say that UKIP has lost its way, the party once gave meaning and purpose to thousands of us who were dissatisfied with the status quo in politics. Thank you Jonathan for your loyalty to all us members, you will be missed.”
“Well done, wise choice. A single intellectual with a bucket is never going to save a sinking ship.”
“You didn’t abandoned UKIP, UKIP abandoned you. I know you didn’t make the decision lightly.”
“I can’t say I blame you. I’m not renewing my membership.”
“I’m sad to see you go,but understand clearly why. Good luck in all you do. You can not repair the party alone and neither should you feel the need to hold on when others clearly don’t help.”
“What you said was spot on. I can’t publicise my agreement, but you have my wholehearted support. Well done for saying it.”
“Sorry to hear this Jon but completely understand. It’s a shame that UKIP has not kicked on as it should have. It basically leaves people like me without a party.”
“Best wishes Jonathan you always do the right thing.”
“Principles before party. Excellent priority Jonathan. Well done for sticking with it so long!”
“It’s a shame as you’ve dedicated your life to this but your work was not in vain. It must have been very hard to take this decision.”
“I honestly cannot say I blame you. I’m struggling myself to remain a member. A shame really. It is the only political party I ever joined – as I never ever wanted to get involved in politics.”
“Thank you sir for all of the fine work that you have done. I am afraid that I too have ‘resigned’ from UKIP for very much the same reasons. Best of luck for the future!”
“So sorry to hear this. Another good man leaves. Good luck with whatever you choose to do in the future.”
“Your decision is a massive loss to all the decent people in UKIP Mr Arnott. It is sad that a once great movement has been eaten alive by the cancer within at the very top that has seen so many of the really decent senior people leave.”
“Hi Jonathan, just wanted to wish you the best of luck in your political future, whatever that involves. I totally understand how you feel.”
“Always had a lot of time for Jonathan and he has helped me with his guidance and vast experience and dedication to Ukip People look up to you and when a man of your high standing quits Well I think we are doomed”
“It’s nice to meet genuine people in politics. I too have given up on the Party because of all the embarrassing infighting.”
“Sent you a message in im [Instant Message] you are right the party has changed.”
“I totally understand Jonathon, I have been effectively kicked out by my old Chairman and will not be renewing my membership. It looks like a lot of good people are leaving and all I can say is will the last person in the party turn off the lights”
“You have always been a sane and reasoned voice in an increasingly bizarre organisation and you deserve better.”
“You have to follow your own beliefs. Denying this you become a traitor to yourself. Follow your heart and you will serve your followers truly. Please keep us all informed about what’s going on in Brussels. Best of luck.”
“Tough call for you to make I’m sure and I’m sure anyone who matters wll respect you for what you’ve done over the last 17 years and not the last few hours. Good luck and please shout if you ever feel I can help you in any way.”
“I am so sorry to see you go, you frankly deserved better”
“Sad news Jonathan… I do not wish to say too much (politically) but suffice to thank you for your dedication to UKIP in our region.”
“Sensible move. UKIP has lost the plot.”
“Very sad to see your statement and resignation, it’s a decision I believe many are making right now also. I hope you know I’ll continue to support anything you’re doing”
“You’re well out of it UKIP’s a dead duck”
“So sorry you’ve left. You’ve been a tremendous asset but the last 18 months have been, shall we say, difficult.”
“Its a pity all those who have resigned can’t get together a form a new party.I don’t blame you for resigning I resigned last September as I could see where UKIP was going and it wan’t a nice place. Good Luck to you”
“I understand mate A lot have not renewed including me . Keep up the fight”
“UKIP left you long before you left them. You’ve done the right thing.”
“We continue to lose good people at ukip sorry to here this news Jonathan”
“Good sensible and honest comments and statement and one almost all UKIP members and supporters can heartily agree with and understand.”
“I agree, UKIP has had some good , honest people at the top but for one reason or another they have been forced to leave. I remember being so enthusiastic when I joined the Party. Nigel was the leader and I was happy to deliver leaflets and stand on street corners in the cold and rain to encourage people to vote for UKIP. I was ecstatic when Leave won the Referendum and thought that the Party was on its way up but then the rot set in!”
“All the best for the future whatever you decide respect your decision and you as a person”
“Sad to hear that Jonathan. It’s a pity the wrong people are leaving, seems the political party of the people has been dismantled from the inside!”
“Well said Jonathan. Congratulations on all that you and UKIP have achieved under Nigel Farage, which will leave its mark on the history of our nation going forward.”
“Most members know deep down that the Party’s refusal to adapt and evolve means the end for it is inevitable…you were one of UKIP’s wisest.”
“At last an honest man in politics. God bless you for your honesty and good luck to you in all you do.”