INDEPENDENCE MAGAZINE REVIEW: Oakden Set To Stay On As Chairman
UKIP members who have actually received the December copy of their Independence magazine and who have paid close attention to the contents will now be aware of a couple of things which seem to have slid under the radar and have not even been formally announced.
The first thing is that we have a new Home Affairs Spokesman, Richard Bingley. Bingley was formerly Cyber Security and Terrorism Spokes, a brief that now seems to have vanished presumably, sensibly, it has been rolled into the Home Affairs brief. The appointment of Mr Bingley has followed the departure of Jane Collins MEP, something she announced in the Yorkshire Post, she told them that she wanted to;
devote her remaining time in Brussels before the British withdrawal to the issue of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and elsewhere.
Fair enough, but it would have been nice if the Party, not known for its brilliant internal communications had seen fit to tell us, as it would have also been nice to have the appointment of Mr Bingley properly announced. Mr Bingley’s pedigree for the role is impressive as he has some expertise in the field, he owns a security company and has lectured on the subject. In terms of how he handled his previous brief, it is hard to have any complaints, he spoke up when he was needed too and got the message out. So, all-in-all, the manner of the delivery of the news is shoddy but a sensible appointment.
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The second bit of news which is not so much announced as implied is that our illustrious Chairman, Mr Paul Oakden, seems to have made the transition from being interim in the post to a more permanent occupancy. Exhibit A. On the ‘Who’s Who’ page he is listed as ‘Party Chairman’, not ‘Interim Party Chairman’ as he had previously appeared. Exhibit B is an article by the man himself. Mr Oakden says that he had imagined he would be spending this Christmas “relaxing, thinking back on a remarkable 18 months”. He had anticipated he would be living his life in 2018 at a “gentler pace”. However, this, apparently, is not to be the case. Why I hear you cry?
He attributes his change of heart to being mightily impressed by Henry Bolton and he is now committed to “doing all he can” to help Henry make the Party a success. Perhaps Mr Bolton would appreciate it if Mr Oakden were willing to cut his rumoured not inconsiderable salary so that the leader can draw a paycheck as well. Sarcasm aside, it is personally hard for me to find a positive here. Mr Oakden refers to “forces inside and outside the Party” which were looking to “collapse it” as if he were some mythical colossus the like of which the world has not seen since Hercules stomped around Greece righting wrongs. However, this is a far from convincing narrative and it is worth noting that Mr Bolton was elected on a platform of change and the current appointments have yet to deliver on that score and this is one post where many people were looking for that change to take effect. A reshuffle is rumoured for next year so it is perhaps only fair to reserve judgement until then, however, although Mr Bolton has made a credible start tackling the organisational challenges UKIP faces in terms of changing the personnel there has been depressingly little movement.
Finally, I couldn’t help but notice an omission. In terms of what I have just been talking about, it was definitively promised that the newly elected Chairperson of Young Independence would be the Youth Affairs Spokes, well that now appears not to be the case. The recent winner of the contest, Nate Rydings, is listed as YI Chair and nothing else. It would be nice to have some clarity coming from the leadership on the issues raised above. Why were we not told about the departure of Ms Collins and appointment of Mr Bingely in the proper manner? Why has Mr Oakden been reappointed in a similarly sly manner? Finally, why has there been no follow through on the promise made to YI in regards to its new Chair?
In conclusion, I have to say that the manner that this news has been broken is obviously utterly unacceptable. Members are left playing guessing games and kept completely in the dark. This is not the way to do business and it is something that must change. It is only fair to give Mr Bolton time to address these issues but please, let this be the last time things like this are announced in this manner and let’s see that when a promise is made it is followed through, not abandoned with no reasoned explanation.