Wednesday, 9 January 2013

UKIP, Exit Stage Right

There's a storm going down on twitter tonight about UKIP sacking their elected youth wing chair, Olly Neville, over saying that Westminster is where the real politics is (note that UKIP don't have a single MP) and supporting the government's policy on Equal Marriage.

Now, it's hardly a sacking offense to be socially liberal in an apparently libertarian party, but nevertheless UKIP has a policy of opposing the government over gay marriage. The first point here is that this shows UKIP aren't in touch with their own members, or at least the young members, when it comes to social issues. The second is they have made themselves look like a party that is intolerant of those who disagree with them. I don't think that everyone who votes UKIP could ever agree with everything they say, but it's exactly this kind of situation that will put off voters from the party.

Happy days, say the Tories, as they will most likely target UKIP voters with this information, and promote the Conservatives as the broad church of centre right politics. Nobody could really argue with that either; Nadine Dorries and Ken Clarke personify the extremities of the Tories perfectly.

Olly Neville was elected to the chair of Young Independence (the name of UKIP's youth wing) with 62% of the vote. That's pretty good for any contested election! I don't know if that required Olly to tow the party line, but I'd hope it didn't and rather he was elected to promote the views if the young membership within the party. As such, I am concerned what the real grounds for his removal were; I can't believe this was the defining issue.

Olly has tweeted tonight about messages he's received from party NEC members insulting his intelligence over his stance on equal marriage. He's also unilaterally removed himself from the YI social media outlets. Could this be a defining moment for UKIP? The beginning of the end.