Saturday, September 4, 2010

UKIP leadership

The time has come to write something about the forthcoming UKIP leadership election. The party conference finished today and, against all odds, it seems to have excited some media interest, most of it centred on the not entirely unexpected news that Nigel Farage is intending to stand for the leadership again. (Guardian, Press Association, and others).

Mr Farage is not going to ask my opinion (well, he never has in the past, so why should he start now?) but I would advise him not to do it. Should he get elected again the oft-repeated mantra that UKIP is not really a party but a Farage fan club will seem justified; the slightly less often repeated opinion that Farage needs UKIP as his fan club, power base and general prop-up because he cannot hack it any other way will also seem justified. Failing very badly in Buckingham, not by losing to Bercow as that was a given but by coming third by many votes, he will be seen as a man who is running home to the one place where he is appreciated. This will not look good either for the party or for him. On the other hand, there will be a great deal of media coverage as Mr Farage has definitely broken into the magic circle of politicians who are known to journalists and liked by them for whatever reason.

The BBC has produced a more general piece on the candidates as they are known now. They mention David Campbell-Bannerman, another MEP and one of the two Deputy Leaders under Lord Pearson, who has spoken about UKIP's lack of professionalism that showed itself all too clearly during the election campaign.

Gerard Batten is the MEP for London, who seems to model himself on Robespierre, endlessly demanding more radical policies. In particular, he wants the party to campaign for full proportional representation, an unlikely thing to happen. If the policy were adopted, it would, of course, confuse the electorate considerably more.

The previous version of the piece, which had a fetching picture of two leadership contenders looking as if they were about to knife each other, mentioned three other possible contenders: Nikki Sinclaire and Winston McKenzie and Tim Congdon.

While I have the greatest respect for Professor Congdon as one of the few genuinely free-market economists who manages to make his views heard I cannot help wondering how he would cope with that unruly bunch that defeated Lord Pearson's best intentions.

Nikki Sinclaire is fairly well known to followers of UKIP as the lady who has fell out with other members of the party several times and, most recently, lost the whip when she refused to sit with other members of the political group in the Toy Parliament. Anyone would think that she had not known who the other members were going to be or that it actually mattered. Those groups exist only for financial purposes. There are rumours that her expenses are to be investigated by OLAF, the organization that is supposed to be the EU's anti-fraud unit though its own reputation is hardly whiter than white. That could be considered a badge of honour, since OLAF never goes for anyone except the politically unreliable.

And so we come to Winston McKenzie, a man who seems to be a modern Baron Munchausen. According to his Wikipedia entry he "is a UK politician, notable for having joined every major political party, and for having stood as an independent or minor party candidate on numerous occasions".

As a matter of fact, I believe, he has joined every minor party as well, each time convincing himself that he ought to be the leader of that party or the Mayor of London or, for all I know, the Prime Minister. (This piece on the BBC from 2008 confirms that I am right on that.) I recall sitting next to Mr McKenzie on the 18 Doughty Street sofa when he explained to the viewers (both of them) that he was conducting top level secret discussions with senior police officers in London over a plan he had for solving gang gun crime. No, he could not reveal any details but in a few days' time all will become known. We are still waiting.

So there we are, ladies and gentlemen, the field as we know it now.


  1. Roberto Brian SarrionandiaSeptember 4, 2010 at 11:52 PM

    Is that really the right link for Nikki Sinclaire? The target is some sort of sci-fi author.

  2. Yes, I am sorry. A late posting and less care shown in my links than usual. I have now corrected the mistake. Apologies all round.