CONFERENCE AFTERMATH: Where Do We Go From Here?
So, the dust has settled (a little bit) on what has been probably one of the longest leadership campaigns in the history of politics. The big question now for UKIP is what does the future hold and that is true for the Party and obviously also those candidates who failed to win.
In terms of news of appointments to the top team, my understanding is that we will have to wait a minimum of two weeks for these to begin in earnest although there will be inevitable speculation and rumour.
In terms of the destination of individuals; most speculation at Conference centred on the next moves of Anne Marie Waters and John Rees-Evans.
In regards to Anne, I would say she is odds-on to form a new party. Her and her supporters have been demonised and vilified, it has to be said, not just by the mainstream media but by now leading figures in the Party, including the leader himself. This, to my mind, is unacceptable. She was the only other candidate bar Mr Bolton himself to save her deposit and not only did she amass over 20% of those who voted, her views unquestionably have support amoung those who plumped for other candidates. I would certainly say amoung the supporters of every other candidate bar Mr Bolton himself, given his hard-line on her candidacy, the views of Anne Marie Waters on Islam have many sympathisers.
She therefore has a clear mandate not to lead but to be heard. Articles like this in The Standard run totally contra to trying to foster unity and be inclusive and I do not accept that the media tail should wag the UKIP dog. Henry is at fault for accepting the characterisation of her and her ‘Nazi’ supporters if he does not believe it to be true.
Speaking to Anne’s supporters many feel, not unreasonably, that Ms Waters and themselves are simply not welcome and people are unlikely to stay where they feel unwelcome.
I would argue the situation in regards to John Rees-Evans is less clear no matter what the snipes say. Snipes, I may add, motivated by what seems like suspiciously puerile personal spite. It was widely touted around the Conference that he had left and set up a new political party. This was based on a Facebook post from his campaign page which mentioned a new organisation called Affinity based on Direct Democracy. This Party was, as the post tells it, set up by JREs friend.
It is unclear whether he still remains a member. Certainly, he has not said he is no longer one. He has expressed a wish too “quietly support UKIP from the sidelines”. So, I would suggest in this regard we cannot rule anything in or out at this moment in time.
Qualifying the above are the welcome noises coming out the of the new leadership team that they will strive for unity and towards incorporation of both these individuals and their supporters. It can only be right that this is the course we set as we march forward into our new future.