OPINION: 2018; The Year To Make UKIP Great Again
2017 was a difficult year for UKIP. Nothing can disguise that, especially in terms of electoral performance and anyone who has attended a ‘Meet The Leader’ event will have been readily told how close the Party came to winking out of existence entirely. So, has a corner been turned?
In some respects, the answer has to be yes. Mr Bolton has done a creditable job of steering us out of immediate danger financially. He has done the job that the Chairman should have been doing (more on this later!). Furthermore, despite what some members have said, he has established himself and therefore the UKIP brand as a tentative media presence. I happen to think May’s round of local elections will be tough and given how late we started campaigning positive results will be hard to achieve yet the New Year begins with some fledgling green shoots of hope.
So, we have the good news, what about the bad? Well, controversy over the increase in membership dues reflects a wider frustration that this is a Party where the members are not considered the key component. Mr Bolton has approached this in a hamfisted way. The proposed increase in the cost of membership of Young Independence is frankly insane and must be abandoned as it is prohibitive to its growth. A case could have been made for the increase in the adult Party subs as a temporary, emergency, measure; especially if the financial blow was softened with the introduction of monthly payment by direct debit. However, since it is clear to me that Mr Bolton has stopped listening to sensible people grounded in the real world and started embracing the corrupt UKIP oligarchy he has now set himself on a potentially damaging collision course with the NEC and the wider membership.
It is to this oligarchy that we must now turn because it has been left untouched, despite all his brave promises by Mr Bolton. Paul Oakden is still Chairman and in many ways a more powerful person than Mr Bolton. If you have ever watched Game of Thrones you will have heard Tywin Lannister quite rightly express the opinion that wearing a crown does not make one king. So it is in politics. Mr Bolton may be the titular leader but while he continues to let Mr Oakden lead him on a leash he is no king.
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Mr Oakden has consistently shown through his performance that he is unworthy of his position and power. He draws a ridiculous salary, rumoured to be anything up to 100k, for woeful results and they speak for themselves. He promised that the new leader would have a roadworthy vehicle to drive. If we were 2 weeks away from ending as a Party and Mr Bolton was forced to seriously consider winding us up as he has said then this clearly is another spectacular failure in a long-list on Mr Oakden’s wrap-sheet – take a look at comments on my previous article for a flavour of what we are dealing with. It is time for him to be fired. The only way UKIP will progress and grow is if he is fired and replaced by someone who can deliver the results we need. His presence at the heart of UKIP has become a by-word for the rule of a shadowy elite who pull UKIP’s strings behind the collective back of the membership. This elite cares about UKIP only to the extent that they control it and it is their pet. It also rewards failure because after-all folks it is not what you know but who you know! Electorally, Mr Oakden has failed and so have they. By every measure failure is the end result yet nothing is done. In the real world, even if Mr Oakden was flipping burgers at McDonalds, he would have been dismissed long ago yet we keep him on.
It is time to shine a light into the darkest corners of our Party and for an empowered membership to take control. This is not an academic matter because we are the last standing guard dogs of Brexit so it is in no way melodramatic to say we are dealing with something that will have a massive bearing on the future freedom of Britain. Mr Bolton and must make a choice. Is he really committed to ‘leading to serve’ and if so does he serve us, the members, the people who can make UKIP great again or does he serve them, the oligarchy, the lords and masters of the UKIP swamp.
I am asking no more of Mr Bolton than that he stays true to his word. This is something that he seems to be developing a worrying habit of being unable to do – from David Kurten to failing to make the YI Chair, Youth Spokesman, the list is growing longer and it is developing into a very bad habit. If he will not then we must. The NEC elections must become a referendum on Mr Oakden’s reign of error and on who rules this Party, do we or do they? All candidates who side with the membership, who are prepared to terminate Mr Oakden’s tenure will receive my personal support. Let’s make 2018 the year we make UKIP great again, let’s make it the year we clear out the trash of the past and we once again become fighting fit to join the battle for Brexit unencumbered by that trash.