NEC PREVIEW: Coup Against Democracy?
Two issues are set to dominate the upcoming NEC Meeting on Monday, the controversial rise in membership fees and a rumoured proposal to suspend NEC elections for anything up to 12 months. In actual fact, as 12 months would take us to January 2019, 2 months before Article 50 is formally invoked, we can reasonably expect any 12-month suspension to last 18 months and who knows how long after that; incidentally, the proposed postponement is nothing to do with upcoming local elections, something that might even justify a temporary suspension at this relatively late hour, but because the Party can not allegedly afford to hold them.
The first matter, the proposed increase in fees, is well documented as are my views on it. Quite simply, the NEC is elected to represent the membership and to fulfil that duty it has no realistic option other than to block the increase in fees. Asking people to pay more while delivering less, potentially conniving to suppress due democratic process, is clearly unacceptable. In regards to the Young Independence increase to £20, it will totally strangle any prospect of growth for YI.
If the second proposal is confirmed then it amounts to nothing more and nothing less than a coup against Party democracy that would make even the most ardent Eurocrat blush. A temporary suspension for political reasons, like the one mentioned above, would be a bitter pill to swallow but not the end of democracy but this proposal looks suspiciously like the end of democracy in UKIP. We were promised that Mr Bolton would ‘lead to serve’, well how is this an example of that? Far from leading to serve this is an example of the establishment of autocratic, dictatorial rule by fiat. Given the timing of the revelations about Mr Bolton’s private life, I find it hard to shake the feeling that they were timed perfectly to provide a convenient smokescreen for this sinister power grab.
Mr Bolton would, in fact, be in direct conflict with the UKIP Constitution which states;
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Elections to the NEC shall be conducted in accordance with rules laid down by the NEC from time to time and shall take place *****annually***** on a date to be announced [my emphasis]
if he does propose this measure. Elections were due to be held last November.
Senior Party figures have reacted negatively to both the rise in fees and rumoured suspension of elections. Ben Walker, former leadership candidate, lead spokesperson for the Indigo Group and Kipper Central contributor said:
In my mind there is no feasible reasoning to increase the cost of membership at this time. With a party haemorrhaging funds on a monthly basis to cover the cost of a misplaced Head Office, overpaid key staff members and now to pay our party leader, it simply isn’t good enough to force a diminishing membership to dig deeper whilst no change is administered to the operational structure of our party following a leadership election which clearly demonstrated a thirst for change in the results. No change, no policy and still no support for candidates and branches who face local election in May. There should be no increase in membership.
When it comes to the rumours that the NEC are preparing to defer the forthcoming NEC elections, I ask that they think twice before committing what could their biggest crime to date. If you stand in the way of internal democracy you stand against everything this party stands for. The NEC is a direct representation of the party’s membership, empowering its elected representatives to act in the members and parties best interests. A deferment will lead to further division and give leverage and power play to a Chairman who cares little for this party and its membership.