The UK Independence Party is bigger than one person. So we have often been told when opponents of the party behind Brexit try to claim it has been a “one man band” under the leadership of Nigel Farage for so many years.
It’s true. Lots of what happens in UKIP could not have occurred without many of the behind the scenes forces, the local councillors, the activists, and back office staff. But lets also face facts: a figurehead like Farage was the driving force behind the party, and the sole, anthropomorphic inspiration for those who pounded the pavements and helped (and are still helping) lead Britain out of the European Union.
So how then, can I write a headline suggesting if one person is denied the opportunity to stand at the General Election on June 8th, that UKIP is finished?
Anne Marie Waters, who, I reported in 2016, was banned from standing for UKIP in the London elections, is emblematic for Paul Nuttall’s party in 2017.
A former Labour Party activist, Anne Marie now runs the Shariah Watch organisation, as well as having built the UK branch of the PEGIDA movement. She epitomizes an issue UKIP has always talked a big game on, but rarely ever delivered upon: freedom of conscience.
Now it seems the party will prevent Anne Marie from standing again, for comments she has made about the tyrannical and anti-human rights elements of Islam, found within the Quran.
The official UKIP line is, “The nomination was not ratified by the [National Executive Committee].” My official line back is something along the lines of what Nigel Farage once said about the committee.
Why shouldn’t she feel free to express this and expect support from her party, unless what she is saying is fundamentally untrue (Spoiler: it’s not).
The fact is the UK Independence Party has been pusillanimous on this issue for years. Only Lord Pearson, a friend of the Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders, attempted to grasp the nettle on Islam, Shariah, and the issues emanating from migrant communities whose sons and daughters are not only failing to integrate, but are becoming more and more radical as time passes.
What does UKIP think is going to happen, if it doesn’t take a stand?
Will Theresa May, pictured here, take a firm stance against this scourge of theocratic and cultural extremism?
Does someone in UKIP HQ believe Jeremy (Hamas) Corbyn will lead the charge?
If the answer to these questions are “No” (which they obviously are) then UKIP has a duty to not only stand by someone like Anne Marie Waters — by which I don’t mean adopting everything she says as policy, but at least defend her right to express her opinions on the matter — or face certain electoral death.
As she told me, in a report you can find here, “The party needs a change in direction if it to survive, and perhaps that change will come after the general election”.
My genuine fear is that might just be too late.
How could the party die by sidelining the likes of Anne Marie? Easily. People will begin to view it as politically correct, opportunistic, cowardly, and hypocritical. And frankly, we’ve already got the Conservative Party for that.