BY JAMES WILLIAMS
When Gerard Batten took over as the leader of the UK Independence Party in February 2018, the party was facing bankruptcy and there was a serious chance of it collapsing. Henry Bolton had reduced the party to a laughingstock after a succession of 6-month leaders. Donors, who had been keen to assist when Farage was at the helm, were no longer interested in helping the party.
Batten – to his credit – steadied the ship. With Sebastian Fairweather as treasurer and Tony McIntyre as Chairman, and an unprecedented input from the membership and new blood keen to see that UKIP’s Populist voice was not lost, financial catastrophe was dodged. As Theresa May increasingly avoided Brexit, there seemed to be some hope for UKIP as a political force.
Then Gerard Batten started inviting the heroes of the Internet Right into the party. While the likes of Sargon of Akkad and Tommy Robinson brought with them thousands of online followers and UKIP subscriptions spiked, traditional UKIP supporters became increasingly annoyed with Batten’s open doors policy and before long UKIP was facing accusations of being the BNP 2.0. Although this description was unfair, this was the message being blurted out by the MSM and in particular by Labour.
Next came the EU Elections. This was the great chance for UKIP to replicate its successes of past EU Elections against Tory and Labour parties damaged by defections and accused of denying democracy by not giving the British People the Brexit they had demanded. Instead of making hay, UKIP was wiped off the political map as the Brexit Party swept up its votes and dominated the elections.
UKIP’s EU elections campaign was awful. The party was left facing journalists’ questions about Sargon of Akkad’s rape tweets and Tommy Robinson’s jail sentences. Although both lines of questioning were prejudicial, it was becoming clear that the MSM – letting UKIP off the hook under Farage – did not envisage a future for UKIP now that Batten had allied with Robinson. Worse, the British public agreed with them. If people suspected that UKIP were the BNP, the smirking Carl Benjamin and milk-shaked Tommy Robinson – Tommy getting into yet another scrap on camera – did little to help the party’s image. Members started deserting the party. Ordinary punters on the street were not fans of the intellectual dark web – Batten had chosen his tiger to ride and it had thrown him off its back.
The resignation of Mike Hookem as Batten’s Deputy on the 4th of May this year was a key moment – he seemed unable to defend or justify Batten’s emerging Anti Islam stance. To knowing members Hookem is Mr UKIP and they knew he had devoted much of his life to the party, even putting his own money where his mouth was. Hookem resigning left Batten out in the cold, as Hookem considered a bid for leader then thought better of it and stood down. The old UKIP founded by Alan Sked and led by the likes of Roger Knapman and Nigel Farage had lost its way – amid cries for Islam to be classed as a death cult and paranoid claims that Nigel Farage had become its nemesis.
A controversial decision by the party’s ruling NEC that Batten had failed vetting for reasons that cannot be discussed publicly – due to an action being threatened in Batten’s name – has added spice to the current leadership contest. A last ditch attempt could yet be made to keep the Party alive – the Party that gave us Brexit, that gave us a tightening of migration policies via the UKIP points system and a raft of other policies stolen by the other parties.
Taken into political oblivion by Batten and his cohorts, there is a fight on right now for the soul of UKIP. It’s a fight belonging to “good old fashioned politics”, claims one senior officer. As the ‘right’ under the guise of Richard Braine with Batten as Deputy seek to take on the varying shades of moderate personified by Mr UKIP, Mike Hookem.
Several of the candidates have already made way so as not to splinter the centrist vote. Reduced now to a political sideshow, many watch on with interest as this long-founded party tries to find its feet again and live in ‘Boris World’ – something other much larger parties may well struggle to do. One must pity those decent Kippers who feel that their party is already dead.