UKIP LEADERSHIP: Leading Libertarians Back Batten
The starting pistol was fired for the UKIP Leadership Contest triggered by the removal of Henry Bolton yesterday. Piers Wauchope, the Returning Officer, emailed all UKIP members outlining the conditions that candidates must meet to be eligible to stand in the contest. However, there is a considerable question mark over whether there will be any need for a contest.
Leading figures on the libertarian wing of the Party, Ben Walker and Bill Etheridge MEP, both signalled their intention to back Mr Batten, at least for the next 12 months. Mr Walker, a previous candidate for the leadership in the contest last year, declared himself to be “extremely pleased” to meet the stringent criteria but continued in a statement on Facebook and Twitter;
In the interests of party stability and financial prudence I fully support @GerardBattenMEP to stand unopposed for the immediate future to continue to build a solid political platform.
Mr Etheridge meanwhile, in a YouTube broadcast, declared now was not the time for a “ridiculous freakshow” and that he had spoken to Mr Batten and received “several assurances”. He, therefore, announced the “suspension” of his leadership campaign having previously declared his intention to stand. He will, he said, be a “critical friend” to Mr Batten and his leadership but continue to push for their centrality of libertarian values to policy-making.
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So, it looks like for the moment that the leadership will be uncontested though some potential jokers in the pack continue to ensure there still could be potential surprises around the corner. Now the logistical situation is at least stabilising at least in regards to the financial position of the Party and the leadership is for the moment looking like a formality, we must surely turn our attention towards the upcoming local elections and crafting a message that will resonate and inspire UKIP voters and attract new ones.