Virtually the same minute Diane James had been confirmed as new leader at the UKIP party conference aids of Diane began gleefully distributing a document with the title “UKIP Revised Saturday Agenda for Conference”. It took a moment of sinking-in to realise exactly what was going on but looking through the revised agenda it became clear why. There were names missing!
In what was almost her first act as leader Diane had, in a stroke, swept away a substantial amount of the supposed factional infighting taking the controversial AM Neil Hamilton off the timetable and adding Nathan Gill. The two Welsh Assembly members had been involved in something of a stand-off over the issue of Nathan holding two elected roles concurrently. When you sign the paperwork to agree to stand for the party as an MEP you usually also agree not to ‘double job’ and this was the point of contention between the pair. This was important to Neil, it became obvious from news reports of the situation that he wanted total control of UKIP Wales but that Nathan retaining overall leadership of the party in the region blocked this. From here the NEC was able to form a case for withdrawing party support for Nathan Gill’s activities as a UKIP assembly member.
Whilst Nathan was aware of the issues this was causing he was also powerless to do anything about it. The role as an MEP could not be handed down to the next person on the UKIP list as nobody was there to take over. Both following names from the 2014 list had become Welsh Assembly members and Nathan’s resignation as an MEP would have triggered a by-election costing the tax payer £5 million.
Along with Neil’s removal from the Saturday conference agenda John Bickley who has strong links to Hamilton was also wiped.
Nathan used his conference platform to explain how he felt so humbled and how much he owed to both the party and the former leader Nigel Farage. He thanked the party for the opportunity he had been given to take a “front seat” in the making of “history”. In doing so you could come to the conclusion he felt he wasn’t more important than the party, perhaps an acknowledgement of the differences which had kept him off the stage until today.