Consider the way the mainstream UK political parties respond to their members who disagree and criticise their parties’ leadership and policies. These were Cabinet members in Labour’s case! Compare this with what UKIP does to members who dare disagree with Nigel Farage!
On May 3rd May Hazel Blears wrote an article in the Observer criticising Gordon Brown’s ‘lamentable’ failure to communicate with the electorate. One month later, on 3rd June, the day before the County Council elections she resigned as Communities Secretary of State. Her department was in charge of local government!
Her resignation statement said: “Today I have told the Prime Minister that I am resigning from the Government. My politics has always been rooted in the belief that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, given the right support and encouragement." She continued: "The role of a progressive Government should be to pass power to the people. "
James Purnell wrote in his resignation letter to Brown of 4th June, released at 10:00 pm just after the election polls closed, “I owe it to our party to say what I believe no matter how hard that may be. I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more, not less likely.”
Both remain as Labour MPs.
John Bercow, the Tory MP just elected as new Speaker, is detested by the Tory leadership and his fellow Tories. He has often spoken for, and supported Labour policies, to the extent that there were strong rumours that he might defect to Labour. Did Cameron have him expelled or deselected? No! Will Brown move to have Purnell or Blears expelled? No! All the above were allowed to remain as MPs. None were deselected or expelled from their party.
That has been the British political tradition of tolerating within parties those who support the cause but not the leadership. One thinks of Ken Livingston, Wedgewood Benn, Enoch Powell, and Churchill etc. Why is this important? Well in the long run some of these mavericks have been proven right!
Farage’s UKIP however does not follow this tradition. As it is currently constituted UKIP behaves as European dirigiste party, centrally controlled and directed, subservient to one man. Just like these European parties Farage's UKIP has only one way of responding to members who criticise the leader's cabal, anonymous personal smears and character assassination followed by deselection and expulsion. Real debate is not allowed; tolerance is not practised only subservience to the leader. It is an EU model party, based in Brussels, financed by Brussels and run from Brussels.
If we seriously want to get out of the EU this has to change. We have to return to traditional British political values of tolerance and fair play and have a party based in, run from, and financed in the UK, as is every other British political party.
I echo James Purnell’s words and sentiments: “I owe it to our party to say what I believe no matter how hard that may be.”
I want to get the UK out of the EU and regain control of our country for our children. I want to see us have a Switzerland type relationship with the EU covering trade etc but controlling our country ourselves.
I believe Nigel Farage’s continued leadership of UKIP makes a UK withdrawal from the EU less, not more likely.