UKIP Leadership Race: The Story So Far
The UKIP leadership race has been a prime conversational topic ever since Diane James resigned, after just 18 days of being in power. Speculations as to why this had happened are still cloudy, but now the party have been focusing more on the future.
Is it obvious that UKIP need help and stability? Yes. The party is at a tipping point. But it is almost certain that a new leader will bring the party back to smooth sailing seas. Many have now put their names forward as to being the new UKIP leader. These include Suzanne Evans, Paul Nuttall, Raheem Kassam, Peter Whittle, David Coburn, David Kurten, Andrew Beadle, and John Rees-Evans.
Bill Etheridge recently pulled out of the race, stating that one of his rivals, “the only person who can effectively unite our party”, is none other than Nuttall. Moreover, Steven Woolfe withdrew, and resigned from UKIP, after a row with party colleagues. In addition to this, Lisa Duffy and Elizabeth Jones would possibly be standing for the race too.
The main contestants that I would like to focus on in this article are Nuttall, Evans, and Kassam. The reasoning to this is that, according to Ladbrokes’ odds of the next UKIP leadership chances (24th October 2016), these are the 3 contestants with the highest chances.
According to these results, Nuttall stands at 75%, Evans stands at 20%, and Kassam stands at 13%. Whittle and Etheridge stand at 5% and 3%.
But at large question is: Who does Farage back for this race?
It is quite apparent that a much more significant question to pose would be: Who does Farage not back for this race?
The word has spread like wildfire, that Farage will not be supporting Suzanne Evans as the UKIP leader. This was shortly after she called the party ‘toxic’. During Evan’s interview, she said her vision for UKIP was for it to retake the “centre ground” of UK politics and bring it back from its far-right wing mindset.
“For her to talk about the party being toxic, for her to already declare one of the candidates who’s running, Raheem Kassam, as being far-right, I don’t view this as being a very good start.”
“She may well think that herself, but that is not how UKIP members and UKIP voters feel.”
Perhaps this was the reason as to why Evan’s poll results are so low, compared to Nuttall. However, why has Nuttall become the predicted favourite, after just recently putting his name forward into the race?
Paul Nuttall sees himself as the man to “bring the factions together”. He is eager to bring back the ever heavily discussed and controversial death penalty for child killers and believes that parts of the NHS should be privatised. Nuttall even mentioned on his website that the very existence of the National Health Service stifles competition.
These policies attract many UKIP voters, especially as the death penalty would be something that many would like to bring back in various cases. Not to mention, Nuttall has been a UKIP MEP since 2009, and ex-party chairman and former deputy leader, giving him a lot of experience within his role. I believe that this presents people with security, especially after the recent events UKIP were faced with.
As previously explained, Evans has caused an uproar in Farage’s eyes and the general public, with her statement. UKIP’s former deputy chairwoman was barred from standing in the summer’s leadership contest as a result of her suspension from the party. Evans has previously called on UKIP to “break free of its hard-right image and set itself firmly in the common sense centre-ground”.
But does UKIP really have that much of a “hard right image”, or is this hard right image opinion created by people who do not see the true definition of what it means to be hard right? Obviously, this is all a viewpoint, people use the definition of far and hard right differently.
However, what attracts many voters is her viewpoint on immigration. Evans put together UKIP’s manifesto during the 2015 election. It called for an Australian-style points system for migrants and the negotiation of a trading deal with the EU after what was then the hypothetical prospect of leaving the EU.
The candidate that became a positive surprise for many supporters, when announced, is Raheem Kassam. Kassam is a former aide to Nigel Farage and possibly the most restless candidate in the race. Kassam, in the spirit of Donald Trump, has vowed to make UKIP great again. Likewise, it is in his best interest to make UKIP an international brand. Evans has already described him as being far right.
Unfortunately, there has been much unprofessionalism seen within his actions. This includes questioning if Labour MP Angela Eagle had “special needs”, accusing the BBC of “tranny-pushing” and saying that Sky News presenter Kay Burley wore “stripper heels”. Moreover, in the past he has tweeted using vulgarism against Evans: “Now fuck off for good.” Was a response tweeted by him on 23rd March 2016.
Kassam has told the mirror:
“I’ve apologised if I’ve offended anyone and have never sought political office so I’ve acted like my inspirations: Christopher Hitchens, James Delingpole, and Rod Liddle.”
“UKIP members can be assured I’ve grown up very quickly during this campaign and I would not continue using such language.”
Sometimes, it is useful to have a candidate who will say exactly what he thinks, however. Perhaps this aggression is not exactly what UKIP needs at this point in time. But can that aggression change? With Tanzanian roots, in addition to growing up in the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam, the candidate has much experience with what is needed to tackle Islamic extremism. Being a converted atheist for over a decade, Kassam could give the party a positive image. Is Kassam the doorway in allowing the public to see UKIP as an accepting and not a racist party?
Whatever happens and whoever is chosen, I am sure will be the best decision. The greatest thing about hitting rock bottom is that you know it can only go upwards from there.
UKIP can only go upwards from here on forward.