By Kalvin P. Chapman
Chairman, UKIP Manchester
So, we now have another leader of UKIP - Henry Bolton. What does that mean for us?
My personal view is that whilst unexpected Henry Bolton may actually be the absolute best thing that has ever happened to UKIP.
Most people know I am a big supporter of Peter Whittle. Peter stood as UKIP's Mayoral candidate in the London Mayor contest (May 2016). He was elected to the London assembly along with David Kurten. Peter is fantastic in front of the cameras and knows his brief well. He is a fantastic individual, and he, in my view, would have been able to appeal to people and to also appeal to investors and donors. We need new members and the party desperately needs more money. Peter came to talk to the UKIP Greater Manchester branch and was great: see here. I honestly expected Peter to win and was gutted he did not.
Sadly, Peter came fifth, which was a massive shock.
The other front runner was Anne Marie Waters. I along with all other chairs of Greater Manchester branches was going to resign if she was elected. 20 of the 22 MEPs were also going to resign. As far as I know, about 75%+ of the party's infrastructure and every single donor would have walked had she become leader, with donors who have made loans to UKIP calling in their loans. As well as having no party infrastructure, it would have been substantially insolvent. I personally did not understand why she came to UKIP in the first place, as Britain First or the BNP is more in keeping with her obsession over Islam. Her supporters kept saying that she is the only person who has the balls to talk about Islam. Er, no. Britain First is a political party set up for the express purpose of criticising and attacking Islam. It's leader & Deputy leader are not known for being reticent when it comes to speaking out about Islam. To suggest AMW is unique in talking about Islam is simply wrong and misleading. She is one of a handful. Anne has decided to leave UKIP and set up a new Party called For Britain. I expect it will not do well in the polls, as Britain First also does not do well because people in the UK are not obsessed with islam. Plus, she will never ever get a fair hearing by the press. The journalists that have interviewed her have all been massively unfair in how they portray her and she is never given a chance to talk about the actual real and genuine issues. The press are obsessed with calling her a far right, feminist lesbian. Literally burying Anne's actual concerns in articles littered with inaccuracies and falsehoods. I do not see how she can ever get the message out to every day folk if the usual method (media interviews) result in such unfair and biased drivel.
Anne came second in the UKIP Leadership election. I had said I would expect her to not get more than 10% of the vote. Just under half the party voted and she got 21.3%. I was wrong on literally every single prediction I made.
John Rees-Evans also entered the race. I was not impressed with him in the last leadership election. He did not come across well. He was very surprised that he came last last time; few other people were surprised. During this leadership contest John was invited to speak to the UKIP Greater Manchester branch and I was absolutely blown away by him. He was absolutely amazing. His vision was great, and his anticipated policies were fantastic. His problem was that his only vision was about Direct Democracy. He would have no policies, they would all come from the party. Whilst the concept is great, a leader with no policies really would not do well I think. He came fourth with 15.6%. I was very surprised. I expected second, maybe third. He elected to leave the UKIP and set up a new party called Affinity see HERE. I am actually quite excited by this (as I am about Anne Marie Water's For Britain). I really hope that he is able to set up a party that has the qualities he believes it is capable of having. Both John and Anne submitted their papers to the Electoral Commission and we should start seeing decisions being made in the next few weeks. Keep an eye on here: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/222071/2017-Party-registration-decisions-english-version.pdf
The second biggest surprise was that David Kurten came third with 17.0%. In the General Election I fell out with him because he made a speech calling for, in effect, the return of Section 28. I have no idea why he is so obsessed with gays and trans people, but he really does obsess over the subject. He really went in for the ultra religious "ban all gays" and gave an interview (written) in which he claimed gays are gay because they are abused as children. It really was bizarre stuff. He wanted to fight the Trans militant movement in schools (honestly!). Whilst it was not in any of his paperwork, he claimed that was his first priority - to fight the militant trans movement in schools. He just sounded like a religious fruit cake who would do better in the US than the UK. Which is why I was so surprised he came third. It would be a dangerous move for UKIP if Henry Bolton puts Kurten up as deputy as some fear he will.
Jane Collins had three leadership candidates stand down to let her win. She came sixth with just 4.4% and 566 votes. This is the lady who was sued for libel and when she knew the gig and she would lose (which she did) was up begged the EU for immunity (see here). This was staggering. A UKIP MEP begging the EU for help. I struggle to see how any UKIP person could in good conscience ask the EU for help. As such, I was not shocked that she came effectively last. Obviously the person who did come last doesn't count much. Aiden Poundshop had literally no presence in the election. He got 85 votes.
So, the winner, which was a massive shock, was Henry Bolton. I was shocked, but he literally is the best candidate. He has the baggage that he was a LibDem candidate in the 2005 election. But he addresses this in his Westmonster interview (HERE). He made some disastrous first steps by calling Anne Marie Waters' supporters Nazis. He also said he does not want a cap on immigration. The AMW fans have clung on to that and will repeat it any time they reference UKIP, despite that he has clarified his position a lot that he is in favour restricting immigration, thinks there are questions to be had over Islam and confirmed that he does not think AMW supporters are Nazis.
So, what do we have? We have a guy who knows how to organise things. He is not extreme in any way, and will be a calming influence on the party. He comes across really well in interviews and so far none of the expected media outlets have been bale to attack him, which must be killing the BBC and Guardian journalists. His principal aims seems to be to professionalise the party, make selection & training of candidates a massive priority and to start dealing with the image problem the party has. And, most important, get funding. I suspect he will do very well in this endeavour if he uses Peter Whittle.
Professionalising the party and starting to deal with how we select and train candidates is simply the most pressing and important issues to deal with (along with getting funding for the party). Theresa May is wrecking Brexit, her cabinet is in full mutiny whilst she ignores them and the Labour Party is simply turning into the BNP with its anti-Semitism and violence from Momentum. This means that UKIP should be at the front of elections with good candidates saying the right things. If done right, we can start to win again. No more will UKIP put up candidates that will make stupid claims (like the 2015 candidate who wanted to ban unemployed people from driving) or actively damage the party (the 2015 election had the Mirror front page article of a candidate saying he wanted to shoot his Asian Conservative opponent, really, really damaging the party). We need strong candidates who can do well in hustings and in front of reporters. We need election materials that are professionally produced and not full of spelling errors (though I am guilty of that one - printer typed out my text - I do not know why - and made spelling errors all over and no one proofed the final leaflet sent to print).
We desperately need a Party that will help fund candidates, make sure only good candidates get through selection and, importantly, have part machinery that can and will support the candidates. Far too often we have seen us in the North of England just simply ignored by UKIP HQ. If it is north of the Watford Gap, UKIP ignored it. Hopefully, that will now change.
The only criticism I have of Henry is that he allowed the statement out that he was calling AMW supporters Nazis. This is and was outrageous. As much as I do not agree with Anne Marie's stance (though I do agree with her over-all message - just not it being the only message, which I think AMW tends to sound like) to call her supporters Nazis was outrageous. We have to put up with Labour & Momentum calling us Nazis, why the hell would the Party Leader help them by using that phrase also?
Aside from that, I think we have a great future. I was recently asked my view of the future of the party by the former Chairman of UKIP YI, who heavily criticises Henry. This is my response:
"May is totally screwing things up. Her Chancellor is absolutely wrecking this country. Her Cabinet is fighting over who will be the next PM. The Labour Party could not run a Government and seemingly cannot make a policy. Only one party stands for Brexit and the future of this country. UKIP. We will get back to 2015 by next year and surpass that a year after that. Bolton is actually the best result we could have had."
I fully support Henry (as does my Branch) and really hope that his leadership is as good as it is supposed to be. But, I said that about Diane James. She resigned and then left the party. I said that about Paul Nuttall, and he royally screwed us all, though for now he is still a member of the party. Henry has the support of Nigel Farage, which I think is crucial. A lot of people have left to follow Anne Marie Waters, but I do not anticipate that will be greater than about 2,000 people. I personally think Henry will bring in far more than have left. let's see where we are this time next year.
Kalvin P. Chapman
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