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The UKIP leadership race – Alastair Meeks marks your card

August 8th, 2017

As Mike Smithson pointed out last week, these are fallow days for political betting. We have been spoiled in recent years with a nonstop cavalcade of elections, referendums and leadership contests. We are suffering withdrawal pangs.

So far this summer, only UKIP have given us a full-blown leadership election. (The Lib Dems let us down by having a walkover.) Interest in this election, as in the party itself this year, has been minimal. With UKIP leadership elections being so frequent, they may be suffering from the decline in quality and audience that is commonly observed in the later instalments of long-running film franchises.

UKIP elects its leader by first past the post. With eleven candidates having submitted nomination papers by 4 August, the closing date, it is time to inspect the field. All prices are Ladbrokes as at the date of writing.

Peter Whittle (4/9)

London Assembly member. Current deputy leader, culture and communities spokesman. Gay (he claims never to have come across homophobia in UKIP), atheist. “The biggest issues of our time are cultural ones… Nobody voted for multiculturalism.” In the past he has proposed a registry for London’s brownfield sites, taxing buy-to-let landlords at a higher rate if their properties are empty and prioritising longterm London residents for social housing. In favour of gay marriage. In favour of a burka ban and seen as one of the “Islam-focussed” candidates.

He has labelled Hillary Clinton as being “as deeply unsavoury” as Vladimir Putin and compared the “expansionist impulse” of Russia with that of the EU “and so this makes for a very, very difficult and very touchy situation.”

Anne-Marie Waters (4/1)

Previously a Labour party member, director of Sharia Watch UK and co-founder (with Tommy Robinson and Paul Weston) of Pegida UK. Admirer of Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders.

Lesbian, in a civil partnership. Has called Islam “evil” and “a killing machine”. “It’ll be another 20 years of rape, terror, erosion of liberty before professional politicians are forced to give the principled a chance.” Like her compatriot Father Ted, she is anxious to insist that she is not a racist.

Opposed by the UKIP hierarchy including Nigel Farage (who said the party would be finished if she became leader) and Arron Banks. Some have expressed fears of far right entryism to secure victory for her. May be excluded from the race by party hierarchy in the vetting process.

John Rees-Evans (7/1)

Sees himself as a Faragist, wants to shrink the size of government and massively expand the use of direct democracy. Favours much greater use of vocational education.

Supporter of right to bear arms, owner of fortified compound in Bulgaria, claimed that a homosexual donkey had tried to rape his horse. Took 18% of the vote in the last leadership election.

David Kurten (10/1)

London Assembly member, UKIP education and apprenticeships spokesman. Has three degrees. “I will make the implementation of a tripartite education system a top priority with grammar schools for the academically talented, technical schools to train young people with an aptitude for practical and vocational skills, and general schools to ensure that all children have the personal and entrepreneurial skills and employability to succeed in the world of work if they leave formal education at 16.” Opposed to compulsory relationships education on the basis that “this will allow sexual propaganda which is grossly age-inappropriate to confuse and damage young children”. Seeks “a special and esteemed place for our Judaeo-Christian traditions and heritage”. Supported by Leave.EU.

Henry Bolton (16/1)

Former infantry officer, police officer, international trouble-shooter, commended for outstanding bravery by the police in 1997. Stood as UKIP’s candidate for Kent police commissioner in 2016. Positioning himself to lead a non-ideological party offering effective leadership to “Deliver for Britain”. Focussing on party reform and processes for policy development.

David Coburn (25/1)

UKIP MEP in Scotland. Gay. Keen to “release the shackles” through hard Brexit. Describes himself as “a Libertarian and a proud Unionist”.

Compared Humza Yousaf, a Scottish government minister, to Abu Hamza. Called Ruth Davidson “a fat lesbian”. Described women as “men with a womb”. Indefinitely banned from wikipedia for directing edits to his own page.

Aidan Powlesland (50/1)

UKIP South Suffolk candidate at the 2017 general election. Campaigned for investment to encourage the design of an interstellar colony ship and profitably mining the asteroid belt for water and/or platinum, so long as they do so by 2026.

Ben Walker (50/1)

Local councillor and positioning himself as a grassroots candidate. Ex forces. Recognises that he is an unknown, but believes that the party is dying. Positioning himself as a candidate for libertarians and classic liberals. Not a single issue anti-Islam campaigner. Pledging direct democracy within UKIP.

David Allen (50/1)

Author, contributor to UKIP Daily. Acknowledges he’s unlikely to win, aiming to present an alternative vision that a leader can implement. “Ironically, the only ‘cliff edge’ associated with Brexit, is the one our members are falling off. We have no parliamentary presence and have lost our standing as a major party.”

Opposed to burka ban, would deport Islamist idealists at the end of prison sentences. “What should happen is that local authorities would tell central government their migration requirements and not the other way round.”

In favour of electoral reform to a system called F2PTP (First Two Past The Post).

Jane Collins (50/1)

UKIP MEP for Yorkshire & The Humber. Describes herself as a progressive libertarian. “I’m offering a real alternative to the other options of EDL-lite or diet Labour.”

Claimed Rotherham MPs Sir Kevin Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion knew about child exploitation in the town but did not intervene, and as a result faces bankruptcy for non-payment of defamation damages.

Marion Mason (50/1)

Former Parliamentary and PCC candidate, NEC member. No manifesto or up to date twitter account. Not a gifted speller.

Summary

Keener eyes than mine are needed to distinguish reliably between the serious candidates and the joke candidates. Aidan Powlesland is surely the Foinavon of this race, only capable of winning if the rest are thrown from their mounts.

Both the favourite and the second favourite look set to remodel UKIP into a party familiar to the supporters of Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen, with a strongly anti-Islam focus. Most of the other candidates seem agreed that UKIP urgently needs to change but don’t really seem clear how. Sadly, there is probably a ready market for strident anti-Islamic populism. It would at least grab attention.

However, one or two of the longshots look too longpriced. Unlike every other candidate, Henry Bolton has a distinguished cv with impressive achievements. If he could find something meaningful to say to go with it, he might be worth a flutter.

David Kurten has secured the backing of Leave.EU. That is almost certainly worth a fair bit with this particular electorate. I backed him at 16/1 and he is probably still value at 10/1. In a first past the post election with a wide field, the chances of someone coming through the middle are substantial. I’m on.

Alastair Meeks