Uniting the Libertarians
We have previously covered the departure of Bill Etheridge from the leadership race. When he stepped down he proposed that 3 other candidates he classed as libertarian candidates, John Rees-Evans, Ben Walker and David Coburn step-down and unite behind a common candidate or at least open up discussions.
I believe this is a non-negotiable necessity. However mighty each of the individual campaigns might think they are there are political realities to face. The first is a crowded field. The numbers vary but I will go with Paul Oakden’s number of 11 for arguments sake. Even assuming that the field reduces, this means that the vote is going to be split 7 ways from Sunday and the eventual winner will most likely not win with a commanding majority. It’s also worth noting that what we might call a nationalist vote is split only two ways, between Peter Whittle and Anne Marie Waters and in the case of Anne Marie there is the continual question mark over whether she will be allowed to stand.
A second reality is the potency of the unity message and practice of unity. People like to at least think that we can be a united Party in theory even if the practical reality is often different. Indeed, although this information is second-hand because I wasnt in UKIP at the time, I am reliably told by just about everybody that Paul Nuttalls principle rallying cry and indeed path to a resounding victory was the one of unity. If indeed these three candidates were to become one I find it hard to believe they would be defeated. If the separation continues I find it hard to imagine one winning on their own conversely – I would expect, not unfairly, John Rees-Evans to win the most votes, but Ben Walker in particular who is running a highly credible campaign would probably take enough votes to deprive him of victory.
Thirdly, there is the entrenched nature of opposition to the Direct Democracy platform from the Party Bureaucracy which I saw first hand at the recent Eastern Counties meeting. This necessitates a united approach from its advocates. If one candidate prevails then they may well face an uphill battle against deeply entrenched interests, especially if the number of candidates means they win on a relatively small number of votes and therefore have a shaky mandate. A team committed to the Direct Democracy revolution would however command a much stronger mandate as they would win by a larger margin and their will as the democratically expressed wishes of the membership would be much harder to resist.
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Most of the objections to this proposal are bound by their very nature to be ego-centric. However, this is self-defeating. Would the divided defeated candidates rather be reduced to practically nothing as also-rans or would they like to be at a top-table, driving the Party forward? Maybe they wouldn’t be the leader but they would be well within the leadership sphere and again, is that surely not better than nothing. So, messers Rees-Evans, Walker and Coburn over to you, is it really worth forgetting about the bigger picture and cutting your nose off to spite your face?