We hate to say this but Bannerman's breakdown of the failures of UKIP is spot on. He rightly blames Farage for dictatorial leadership, arrogance and bloody mindedness. He admits that UKIP failed dismally in the recent elections and slams the leadership for the failure to provide a clear strategy for the party. However, DB must also equally share the blame for this lack of vision. He was, after all, in charge of policy! To blame Farage for his own shortcomings is a bit rich!
Bannerman also slams Farage and Pearson for failing understand UKIP's own manifesto and confirms that UKIP is in dire financial straights. He also condemns "Nigel's taste for pursuing personal vendettas on the party’s credit account" and blames the NEC for numerous mistakes such as backing the AV vote without understanding the implications of such a move.
A truly damning document which needs to be read by every UKIPPER. We have highlighted some of the more interesting passages in red.
However, we still condemn Bannerman for his duplicity and his willingness to use the membership of UKIP for personal gain. He was and will always remain a political prostitute who will do anything to further own career. Readers of this blog should remember that it was Farage who was instrumental in promoting him as the lead MEP candidate in the Eastern Region. He was warned at the time that Bannerman was using UKIP. He ignored all the warnings.
And we have no sympathy for those UKIPPERS in the East who also ignored all the warning signs. They had every opportunity to back Robin Page, John West, Eric Edmond, Piers Merchant, David Abbott and Del Young when they called for a full investigation into allegations that the Eastern Region selection had been rigged in Bannerman's favour. Let us not forget that these six individuals were attacked and smeared by Farage's supporters while the bulk of the membership stood by and remained silent.
Page, West, Edmond, Young, Merchant and Abbott have been vindicated.
For people like Douglas Denny to now complain that Bannerman has betrayed the membership is sadly too little, too late! They had EVERY opportunity to stop the man before he was elected. That they failed to do so is a matter of public record.
We would also be interested to know how Bannerman can justify joining a pro-EU party when he still claims to be committed to seeing Britain leaving the EU?
And have you noticed how all the usual Farage sycophants such as Mike 'Wolfman' McGough and Ray 'Skeptyk' Finch have remained silent? Usually, they are the first to rush onto the net with claims that everything is just fine and Nigel is still great! Even they can't spin this one!
To: Members of UKIP
Date: 24th May 2011
Subject: A fuller explanation of my reasons for leaving UKIP
It is with regret and sadness that I today resigned the UKIP whip as an MEP and as a member of UKIP. I will be returning to the Conservatives, accepting the Conservative Whip as an MEP for the Eastern Region in the ECR Group.
I assure all of you who have backed me through the last 7 years in UKIP, as Party Chairman, Deputy Leader and Head of Policy, that I have in no way changed my views on leaving the European Union. I will personally remain just as committed and passionate to the noble aim of withdrawing from the political EU superstate as I have been with UKIP.
Nor have I sought or expected any special treatment from the Conservative Party. The Prime Minister in his capacity as Party Leader and Co-Chairmen have only confirmed that I will merely be treated in exactly the same way as any other Conservative MEP. They also accept that I have not changed my views.
May I say here sincerely that I do have great regard for Nigel Farage, and fully acknowledge his talents. I think he is one of the finest orators in British politics and has used that oratory with great passion and effect to promote the Eurosceptic cause at home and to enlighten and inspire similar causes within fellow nations in Europe.
Nigel has shown genuine courage in the bearpit of the European Parliament, and has spoken brilliantly and forcefully on a whole number of vital issues. Nor do I doubt his dedication to the cause, and the remarkable energy he has put into it. In my resignation, I have not called for Nigel to resign as Leader, as others have, as I believe he has a clear mandate. However, this resignation may cause many in the party to reflect on the negative direction and confused objectives of the party under Nigel's style of leadership.
For I regret that following the washout in the recent domestic elections across the UK, I have lost all faith in UKIP’s ability to win the argument on Europe, which I now believe can only be credibly achieved through a Conservative Party that has demonstrated to me that it is genuinely and deeply Eurosceptic at all levels - such as the work of Conservative MEPs to defend British interests under the new Leadership of Eurosceptic MEP Group Leader Martin Callanan - and which shares much of our mission.
2. More detail on my reasons for leaving
This decision has been taken after a great deal of soul searching. I would like to set out the reasons here for my resignation from UKIP, in I hope and fair and balanced manner:
1. The lack of a proper plan and objective: I joined UKIP because I believed it had real opportunity to establish itself as a serious, credible, alternate political party which could help achieve, through political pressure, influence or elected MPs working in coalition, its goal. I believed that the EU issue was not one single issue but had become so vital in the control over our lives that it dominated all others, and that normal domestic politics could not resume until our relationship with the EU was fundamentally addressed and changed. I was prepared to make real personal and political sacrifices to that end, because I am someone who always puts my country first.
But for UKIP to achieve its aim as a political party merely obtaining more MEPs at European Elections would not be enough. UKIP would have to win directly elected MPs in Westminster. It could only have done this through creating and promoting a host of domestic policies, by winning local council seats and building up support in non-EU elections. This is because it is only Westminster MPs who will get the UK out of the EU, not British MEPs.
Even if UKIP, for the sake of argument, could win all 73 British MEPs in the European Parliament, it would still not change the UK’s relationship with the EU. That must come through a substantial, credible political party which is strong in domestic elections.
So, I regret to say that the token UKIP ‘Plan’ which was shown to MEPs and the party before disappearing from view is merely planning for failure. Comprehensive failure.
Its stated core aim – to ‘win’ the European elections in 2014 by having 20 elected UKIP MEPs - shows a complete dearth of ambition. There is no mention of how UKIP intends to achieve elected Westminster MPs. It does not explain how the party will win more local council candidates. It is just about doing well in Euro elections - and that simply isn’t good enough.
If the Green Party can get an MP elected, then UKIP could have done likewise. But where was the Green-style strategy of building a cluster of local council seats in target areas to establish the party’s credibility with local voters ( they obtained 13 seats over 10 years ) of putting forward one of their best candidates in their leader Caroline Lucas. and then targeting the seat with activists during the election period ? There was none of that in UKIP because there is no proper discussion of strategy in the party and no credible plan to win any seats.
Even the few electoral successes pointed out in the May elections, such as the Ramsey Town Council, Newry, Tunbridge Wells and Buckingham successes, were achieved despite rather than because of the party. They were down to exceptional individual achievement and commitment, not due to a political party that knew the importance of winning local and domestic elections and was prepared to back them. There was no serious support, training or funding for local elections, as promised. As ever, candidates were left to hang out to dry, The party’s results show the lack of planning or proper strategy – including the loss of some very hard working Staffordshire councillors. The more scarce one’s resources, the more vital such a plan is.
It is this hole in strategy and strategic thinking that has made me despair of UKIP ever achieving its aim. The party should know what it is attempting to achieve. It must put in place the right mechanisms such as the right focus, policies, funding and support - to achieve the goals it has set. No company chairman, no military general, no campaign group, and certainly no serious political party can get away with such a woeful and reckless lack of strategy. It lets everyone down, It betrays the hard working activists who pound the pavements and stuff envelopes. It is like a general sending troops over the top with no ammunition, no equipment, no training and no direction.
Worse, if UKIP merely exists to damage the main Eurosceptic centre in the UK, the Conservative Party, and to prevent it succeeding in reaching Government, with such muddled and incoherent thinking, then it does not serve our shared cause but detracts and damages that wider cause.
2. The lack of belief in domestic policies. As well as a plan, a political party seeking to win domestic election needs attractive domestic policies. This is because the voters do not put the EU as a top issue. They put domestic issues such as jobs, the economy, health, education, crime, immigration and defence as their top issues. If UKIP can’t link the EU to those issues, it will never be relevant to domestic elections. If it is not relevant to domestic elections, then UKIP will never achieve its stated goal.
This goes to the central dilemma of UKIP: is UKIP a proper political party or it is really a pressure group ? Too many UKIP members and some MEPs want just to talk exclusively about the EU. However, they could do that just as effectively in one of 60 plus Eurosceptic groups. A serious political party must act and behave differently.
As Head of Policy, I spent 4 years of hard work creating 18 policy groups to produce a comprehensive set of domestic policies that UKIP could campaign on. I am told the General Election manifesto of 2010, which I wrote collating the contributions of many talented and professional people, was the best the party ever produced. Moreover, the mini manifesto proved to be the most popular campaigning document for our activists and members. Candidates around the UK reported that those policies chimed well with voters and helped to achieve an uplift of 50% in UKIP’s 2010 general election performance.
Despite such proven progress, Nigel as Leader has chosen arbitrarily to jettison all these domestic policy papers. He ordered them off the national website and, as the Chief Executive reported to the NEC, the party acted to “wipe the slate clean’’ of all such policies. Nigel chose to do this just before the most important domestic elections that UKIP were to face between now and the next European and Westminster Elections. In my view, this has been an act of sheer political vandalism. As a result of this one action, I believe that UKIP might as well be a Eurosceptic pressure and campaign group, and forget about being a political party. Policies are not just for manifesto launches, they have to be campaigned on day in, day out.
This extraordinary decision, which has come from Nigel personally, albeit influenced by others, could almost give some credibility to the craziest conspiracy theory bloggists – that Nigel is a plant who is really out to destroy UKIP’s chances from within. I do have good reason to suspect that UKIP has indeed been deeply infiltrated by those who wish harm to its cause. However, this decision really comes down to his lack of belief and appreciation of the role of policy, something I felt it my duty to communicate during the Leadership battle.
Examples of this attitude include the time in Lord Pearson’s political committee, where Nigel angrily slapped down the draft manifesto and shouted around the meeting “what the hell is this ?!” He has never shown any enthusiasm for policies and has always exhibited contempt rather than gratitude towards the hard working policy committee members who worked so hard to produce those policies. I think this is fatal for a political party.
Indeed, UKIP party leaders seem to be serial non-readers of manifestos. Lord Pearson was taken to task by the media in the 2010 Election for allegedly not reading the manifesto, whilst Nigel turned up at the Spring manifesto launch for the election that year claiming he hadn’t read it either. If UKIP Party Leaders are unable to read and articulate a mere 18 pages of summarized policy manifestos, and pathetically criticize them for being too long, then what hope have they got of ever coping with the demands of Government? I know - I worked for a Cabinet Minister who had to read hundreds of policy pages a day.
No politician can reasonably know the minutiae of every policy, but they don’t have to. Nigel and other senior spokespeople are well enough skilled and capable enough to handle policy issues across the field and to promote the wider message. Yet he seems to fear the detail and would rather have only vague campaign messages. This is all just in case of being tripped up on some minor detail or being forced to read too much in the course of their duties. But UKIP’s relevance and credibility in elections has been blown as a result of abandoning the policy detail.
3. Attacks on MEPs. The Party has now taken against its own MEPs in the most unhealthy and hostile way. The Party’s own National Executive Committee (NEC) has seemingly used every opportunity to attack, belittle, and undermine its own MEPs.
Whilst some MEPs to date have indeed not lived up to their agreed commitments, and this needs addressing, this is no reason for the NEC and others to declare war on the MEPs as a whole. Most UKIP MEPs I know have worked hard for the party in different ways, and not just as paymasters – that certainly includes Nigel. I myself have made great personal, political and financial sacrifices in order to serve the cause, and do not regret that for a moment.
I accept the party is sailing close to the edge financially, and I have made additional financial contributions to help. But the point is that the overt linkage between financial contributions to a political party and selection to a public elected office, I regard as potentially very dangerous indeed. Yet my urgent calls for legal advice on whether this might be seen to be ‘Cash for Euroseats’ in the manner of ‘Cash for Peerages’ – i.e. the apparent connection between the party allowing candidates to obtain public office and the size of their donations to the party – seems to have gone unheard.
The new NEC rules suggest that any future UKIP MEPs beyond 2014 will either be very rich or just be sycophantic placemen/women of the Leader. I even understand that the latest plan is to have at least 4 MEPs who do nothing as MEPs but are there only so they can pay all their salary to the party. Moreover, the proposed new constitutional changes are designed to put all the power in the hands of the Leader with the NEC acting as a rubber stamp on who is likely to become MEPs or stay as MEPs. This dictatorial change will take the selection of MEPs right away from party members and will divide the party still further.
The valuable work of Eurosceptic MEPs in highlighting through the media and parliament how the EU damages British interests; in voting against even more damaging EU laws and intervention, and in taking the lead for the cause in their constituencies, seems now to count for nothing in UKIP. UKIP MEPs will only be there in future to keep the party solvent or to pay lip service to the Leader. They will not be there to represent a sizeable proportion of the British people. Under these criteria, I think UKIP does not deserve a single MEP in 2014, let alone to become the largest UK Party in the European Parliament. This is because Eurosceptic voters will be ill served by MEPs whose only function will be as party paymasters.
In addition to NEC attacks, Nigel as Party Leader and Co-President of the EFD Group has seemed to take an ever more aggressive approach to his own MEPs. He has sought to drive many UKIP MEPs out of the Group and even out of the party. They may not have behaved as saints, and some may have put themselves beyond the pale, but I cannot understand the logic of this relentless denigration of UKIP MEPs, especially publicly on the media.
Of the 13 UKIP MEPs elected in 2009, 3 have now left the EFD Group and one of those has had the UKIP whip removed. Of the other 10, Marta Andreasen has launched an extraordinary attack on Nigel's leadership ( please note that I had no knowledge of this attack and our actions are not connected ). In addition, Nigel has openly called for the deselection of Gerard Batten, the London MEP. He is now trying to blame the highly dedicated John Bufton for the recent Welsh Assembly failure. This is in spite of the fact that John’s win was the undoubted great success of UKIP’s 2009 Euro elections night. For my part, I have been banished from the party’s inner circle for having the temerity to stand in the Leadership election even though I made it clear that I valued Nigel and wanted to have Nigel as the face of the party and Leader in Europe. Other effective MEPs have incurred his wrath for not doing things the UKIP way and may be deselected too.
As a consequence of this illogical stance regarding UKIP’s own MEPs, the EFD Group has been put in severe danger of collapse. Trying the fill the numbers gap by courting the allegedly less savoury end of European Parliament MEPs is surely not the answer.
4. The way the Party operates. Whilst no political party operates in a smooth, flawless and joined up way, I do think that UKIP lets its members and the cause down badly by the shambolic and secretive manner in which it conducts its business.
This is not a criticism of individuals. The party has moved in the right direction with the hiring of a number of professional and skilled managers and advisors, who have much to offer and have already made a difference. But it is more about the culture of what I call ‘Aggressive Amateurism’. This culture regards professional management with a mixture of distrust and contempt. It aggressively resists and attacks those who wish to do things in a better and more organised way.
For example, UKIP has put its very own existence in peril through an arrogant disregard for legal processes and proper administrative processes. The Supreme Court only narrowly spared UKIP financial ruin because it could not handle its own paperwork properly and because of unwise gung ho public celebrations after an earlier, favourable judgement. The party’s conduct, the failures in the processes of NEC decision making, and with Nigel's taste for pursuing personal vendettas on the party’s credit account, has led to a legal bill running at £140,000 a year. This is an incredible sum which is well out of proportion to a party with a comparatively small membership base. It is a figure which should make all UKIP members demand to know why the party is squandering such massive resources on so many ‘avoidable accidents’.
When it came to the debate over whether or not to back Alternative Vote (AV), the process of decision making was a joke. One of the most important strategic decisions in UKIP’s history and there was no proper analysis. There was no consultation with experts in the field. There was no strategic sit down with all the advisers involved. Instead, there was just a half baked, rushed and loaded item on the NEC agenda. Indeed, UKIP’s own constitutional policy group, which had spent 3 years studying the options, was not even consulted. I understand that Nigel was the only person in the Political Strategy Committee to back AV. The decision to back AV only received the support of the NEC through an appeal to loyalty and not on the arguments. It was also against the overwhelming resistance of the membership.
Had the AV Referendum succeeded, UKIP could well have been destroyed in its aim of winning domestic elections. There may have been more preference votes for the party but a deeper analysis shows it would have made it far less likely for UKIP to win a House of Commons seat - which is surely the party’s main goal. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the decision, it is the lack of a professional decision making process which is the problem I am highlighting.
Nor was the NEC willing to fund the minimum amount of research needed to make an effective case for an alternative, Alternate Vote Plus (AV+) Campaign. They seemed to have no collective understanding of how important the right voting systems are to a small political party and what a difference a better, more balanced system could make. AV+, in contrast, would give every voter 2 votes and could have transformed UKIP’s potential by making it possible for the party to win some 20 MPs and work in a future coalition government. All this potential has now been lost.
In conclusion, I have sadly given up on UKIP ever becoming the serious, credible, fully-fledged political party that it could have become, and which I have devoted many years to helping achieve. The party did have genuine potential as the new protest party and fourth largest party, if it had embraced and sold its policies and messages with real effect.
But following the disappointing performance in the recent domestic elections, I have concluded that the wider cause is best realized in the longer term through a serious, credible, fully-fledged political party in the form of the Conservative Party, which I see as working hard for Britain, and which has the domestic presence able to deliver radical change, and not within the UKIP pressure group.
I will continue to make the case for EU withdrawal to the best of my ability, but will be doing so in a different place. I have made very many fine friends in UKIP. I genuinely hope we can all remain on good and friendly terms while serving our shared cause.
David Campbell Bannerman MEP