The UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) leadership election has descended into one of the most farcical political events of the past few years: quite a feat considering Labour’s own shambolic leadership battles.
UKIP however, which never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity, is now firmly split at least in half, and perhaps even into three or four different camps each of which is vying for power and control of the party.
Victoria Ayling – a Nigel Farage loyalist and member of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) – has called recent developments a “coup” pointing the finger of blame squarely at two former Conservative Party MPs: Douglas Carswell and Neil Hamilton.
#ukip There is a coup attempt via the NEC by Carswell/Hamilton, I hope my fellow NEC members do not block Steven Woolfe in tonights vote
— Victoria Ayling (@VAylingUKIP) August 2, 2016
Carswell, who is the party’s only MP – a situation he all but ensured by outsourcing the party’s 2015 election system to a Conservative Party member friend of his – has long tried to turn UKIP into a new neo-liberal organisation with the “centrist” mindset of the Liberal Democrats.
Hamilton – who party members describe as being “only out for himself” – has had it in for the Farage faction for some time now, especially since the leaking of his heavily scrutinised party expenses on the run-up to the General Election last year.
Now it appears the pair are taking their revenge on the party that offered them both a second chance at front line politics.
Overnight, senior sources in UKIP told Breitbart London they believe Steven Woolfe MEP, the membership favourite for next leader, will be kept off the leadership election ballot.
Mr. Woolfe’s enemies inside the party have stopped at nothing to try and halt the popular MEP, including leaking personal information to major national newspapers in an attempt to derail him.
When that failed, and Mr. Woolfe’s popularity with the party base only grew stronger, they decide to “stitch up” the leadership election using the much derided and ridiculed National Executive Committee.
When UKIP leader Nigel Farage took to these pages a few days ago to blast some of the NEC as the “lowest grade of people I have ever met” – he was referring to a faction that has opposed his leadership decisions at every turn.
Liz Jones, one NEC member who pushed a 5-year membership rule for leadership candidates just so happens to be a leadership candidate herself now. Rumours abound about her relationship with another NEC member, and questions are being asked as to how these people, who have duties are company directors within UKIP, could behave in such evidently unscrupulous ways.
And speaking of scruples: the way in which Nathan Gill MEP – perhaps one of the nicest people in British politics today – has been treated is nothing short of extraordinary.
The NEC, pushed by Neil Hamilton, voted to effectively expel Mr. Gill from UKIP and ban him from standing again for the party until 2021 because he was “double jobbing”. This is a reference to the fact that he was elected as a Welsh Assembly member while also sitting as a Member of the European Parliament.
Of course in reality this is nothing to do with that, as Mr. Gill addresses here in his response letter to the NEC. What is it actually about is Mr. Gill openly opposing Fuhrer Hamilton in Wales, and indeed being Steven Woolfe’s deputy leader candidate for the party.
In short, instead of competing democratically against Mr. Woolfe and Mr. Gill, the Carswell-Hamilton-Evans faction of UKIP is trying to flush out any semblance of democracy from the party. When Ms. Ayling called the whole process a “coup” she was perhaps being too kind. What is happening inside UKIP is nothing short of willful destruction by people who still have loyalties to the Conservative Party.
Breitbart London can report that there is now evidence of Tory faction connections with Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Conservative Party, and indeed the recently departed chairman of the Conservative Party, Lord Feldman. These are links claimed by so-called UKIP activists who behind the scenes admit being Tories more than UKIP.
Furthermore, sources close to Suzanne Evans have told Breitbart London that days before Nigel Farage resigned as leader, she had intended to return to the Conservative Party.
Neil Hamilton wants to take control of UKIP, and has the backing of the likes of Stuart Wheeler, Paul Nuttall, and NEC member and chief Hamilton whip Piers Wauchope.
But is he willing to destroy the party in the process? Perhaps.
If MEPs become weary of the chicanery, they may well leave the party, opening it up to repaying £60,000 per member to the European Parliament. If just four MEPs leave – and Breitbart London has been told this may well happen – the party would owe nearly a quarter of a million pounds back: money which it doesn’t have, and a price that would force the party into bankruptcy.
The only solution now appears to be allowing full, fair, and free leadership elections. If not, there will almost certainly be a push for an Emergency General Meeting of members, and mass walkouts.
As one mainstream media journalist put it to me this week: it is a “complete shambles” and “The Carswell, Evans, O’Flynn lot are causing damage”.
But people aren’t paying enough attention to the handiwork of Neil Hamilton in this whole process. And it is about time they do.