Steven Woolfe, the supposed favourite to win the UKIP leadership contest has been blocked from entering the race due to submitting paperwork 17 minutes late. The leadership ballot will consist of Jonathan Arnott, Bill Etheridge, Diane James, Lisa Duffy, Phillip Broughton and Elizabeth Jones.
The decision to exclude Woolfe from the ballot was made by UKIP’s National Executive Committee of 19. Good on them for enforcing the rules indiscriminately, although Woolfe is claiming he submitted early and the site failed. Whatever the case someone who leaves it to the last minute to submit an application and forgot he has a drink-driving conviction might not be the best person to potentially have leading the party.
Even though Woolfe could be described as lazy or undisciplined after these events 3 members of the NEC resigned, jointly claiming the NEC to be “unfit for purpose” and calling for a vote of no confidence. A classic case of a party throwing a tantrum because some members did not get their way.
Could this cause a schism within UKIP? Doubtful, only 3 out 19 seem to be outraged by the rules being followed and the leadership ballot has 6 contenders already. While the party is looking for a successor to Farage it has dropped the ball on media attention. Having gotten comparatively little compared to Liberal Democrats, SNP, Labour, or Conservative parties. Tim Farron, leader of the Lib Dems, capitalised on Brexit by giving speeches at multiple pro-EU demonstrations leading to over 16’000 people joining the Lib Dems. Nicola Stugeon, First Minister of Scotland and leader of SNP, continues to make a ruckus over independence and the fact that Scotland voted to remain in the EU. Labour and Conservative also have/had leadership contests of which Labour is undergoing and the Tories, in common fashion, sorted out swiftly to unite the party. UKIP could very well have doing an awful lot at local level but I haven’t seen it in my area or heard that they have been elsewhere. Quite possibly they have lost sight of party goals now they have achieved their main purpose, at least partially. Actually leaving the EU is still a long way off.