I’ve been in UKIP since 2001, not that you’d know it from a Party database that stubbornly insists I didn’t join till 2005. Believe me, I’ve seen all this before.
I caught the back end of a massive internal row from 2000. In 2003 I was involved when the Party suspended two of its own regional committees in a candidate selection row. There’s been Kilroy, the Petrina Holdsworth saga, the end of Roger Knapman. I defended the two court cases over UKIP’s 2009 European election candidate selection and the case of the missing laptop in Morocco.
There was the Nikki Sinclaire nonsense and the Marta Andreasen spat, not forgetting the David Campbell Bannerman dummy-spit, so I’ve seen more schisms and other isms than most. And there’s dozens more you could never possibly have heard of – some bizarre and others just good old-fashioned slanging matches.
In 2015 we’ve had our internal row in front of the world’s media. We’re the third party now in the UK in terms of votes (and by the way, weren’t the previous third party – the Lib Dems -venomous when THEY decapitated a leader?) so it’s no surprise that the UKIP soap opera is worth watching this time.
Tomorrow’s papers will be harsh. There’s been briefing and counter-briefing, spin and argument. And, just as quickly, the whole thing is over. The Party will shed a couple of Nigel’s closest advisors, the sacrifice offered to the metaphorical gods has been accepted and the whole thing can now pipe down.
Nigel Farage remains as leader of UKIP. There’s no leadership election on the horizon any more. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. The spectacle will be well and truly over, provided that there are no recriminations against those who dared to speak their minds.
Does the Party need a change of direction? I’m not ashamed to say that it does, although I wrote this article on Monday evening before the fuss started:
If I’d known what was coming, would I have written it? Possibly not, or at least I’d have waited a couple of weeks. But whilst Labour’s internal wranglings will last till September, UKIP is ready to take stock and make the few changes that we need to make.
A more positive narrative, a broader message and a bit of attention to detail over candidate selection. There are some big issues coming up in British politics, and I don’t for a minute believe that UKIP will allow these to be ignored.
I’m off to do the Daily Politics tomorrow, to talk about the big issues coming from across the channel, and to refocus on what matters: a common-sense agenda for transforming British politics.
Or to put it another way…nothing to see here, time to move on.