June the 23rd dubbed ‘independence day’ by Nigel Farage will forever be known as one of the most seismic shifts in British politics.
One party in particular can take credit almost entirely for the UK having a referendum and that is UKIP, despite being insignificant within parliament and electorally inexperienced UKIP tirelessly fought and campaigned up and down the country achieving an astounding 4 million votes in the 2015 general election.
Despite the odds stacked against they achieved their aims and David Cameron announced the UK would have a referendum on membership of the EU.
Since the referendum many commentators and members have asked ‘what does UKIP stand for and does it have a future’ over the past few months UKIP has gone through 3 leaders since the departure of the charismatic Nigel Farage, one only lasting 18 days the two leaders who lasted more than a month have each attempted to put their own mark on the party and redirect it; Paul Nuttall focusing on culture with his integration agenda leading to electoral collapse and his swift resignation, this led to an explosive leadership election with a politically unknown Henry Bolton taking the reins.
His initial promise as leader was that he was a safe pair of hands, members could trust him and that he would institute the internal reforms required to streamline the party, something even Nigel Farage admitted on LBC was required for the party to make political inroads post-Brexit.
However over the past week that pair of hands has proven to be anything but safe, with revelations about his personal life and a controversy about those involved culminating in an astounding unanimous vote of no confidence from the UKIP ruling NEC and mass resignations from the party’s membership including many chairmen and high profile activists.
Elected with just 29.9% of the vote share (accounting for only 3,874 votes) Bolton began his time in office with a small support base even by UKIP standards (compared to Paul Nuttalls 62.6% less than a year before) normally this would have led to a consolidation of support and traditionally a leader reaching out to the membership and fulfilling at least some of his promises, however Mr Bolton is no traditional leader
Speaking with Reece Coombes the deputy leader of YI (Young Independence UKIPs youth wing) “I base my judgement on his actions as leader, showing a lack of engagement, lies and broken promises including a 900% increase in the membership fees for young members;” for clarification Coombes explained that the 900% increase was from £2 to £20 for young members, despite the promise of internal reforms there has been no apparent reform or sweeping change within the internal structure of the party, leading many members to question the validity of any statements made by Bolton
With a lack of engagement to its members, and UKIPs growing insignificance within the Brexit debate Mr Bolton would require media exposure and a platform to reaffirm the value of voting for UKIP, even if it were to assure its own members the party was relevant.
Bolton got exposure, but it wasn’t the kind anybody could want with the initial furore within the party being the revelation that he had left his wife and children by text for Jo Marney a ‘model’ and UKIP activist 25 years his junior, although not illegal nor overly dramatic (albeit a tad crass and classless) this was not the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Within less than a week of the initial revelation about his relationship with Jo a text message and several social media posts were released to the media, the contents of the texts were the centre of the storm, taking aim at Meghan Markle describing her as a “Gender equality T***”and commenting on the race of Mrs Markle as “I wouldn’t with a negro” finally cementing her view that “this is Britain, not Africa” she has also taken aim at eastern Europeans, Islam and even the victims of the Grenfell disaster.
The resulting media firestorm all but ruined Boltons chances of remaining leader after months of a disengaged leader the first time many members heard anything from him was when his new girlfriend was shown to be not just a xenophobe but a racist (something she happily admitted to) with the party desperate to shake off the racist image the NEC held a vote of no confidence voting unanimously in favour of holding an EGM (extraordinary general meeting) the result of which could mean another leadership election for UKIP at a time when stable strong leadership is required for the party to even keep itself together.’
Will Bolton step down is the question on everybody’s minds, with many calling for his resignation it is clear that his time in office is coming to an end speaking on the subject of whether he will step down Reece Coombes said “I don’t think he will resign, he will stay until he has to leave more resignations are coming countless activists are resigning, however when an ËGM is held I think the members will vote against him”
Whether or not Bolton resigns is for time to tell however the bigger question to ask is this the final nail in the coffin for UKIP, with Nigel Farage hinting he may launch a ‘UKIP 2.0’ Coombes stated that “Yes UKIP has a future that is absolutely certain provided we choose a good leader and start working together, once we elect a new leader we need to put our disagreements aside and work on the bigger goal of Brexit” also adding “I’d be tempted to join a UKIP 2.0 but I’d have to see how it turns out, there is endless speculation; if Farage led UKIP 2.0 I would possibly be there”
So with resignations mounting and an NEC completely against him only time can tell whether UKIP can weather this storm PLEASE SHARE this article and COMMENT your thoughts on whether Bolton or even UKIP can survive or has its time come?