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UKIP in meltdown as leadership favourite Steven Woolfe is hospitalised

posted by: David Lawrence | on: Friday, 7 October 2016, 10:37


UKIP's Steven Woolfe sprawled unconscious in Strasbourg

UKIP's Steven Woolfe sprawled unconscious in Strasbourg

UKIP is facing potential oblivion after Steven Woolfe MEP, the favourite in UKIP’s frenzied leadership race, was hospitalised after reportedly being punched by a fellow MEP in Strasbourg yesterday.

The clash, which occurred less than 48-hours after new leader Diane James’ shock resignation, has sparked a showdown between key UKIP figures that promises to tear the party asunder.

Multiple sources have claimed the Woolfe was punched by UKIP’s Defence spokesperson Mike Hookem, who allegedly labelled Woolfe a “joke” after it was revealed he had considered defecting to the Tories. Woolfe then reportedly took off his jacket and instigated the fight. Hookem then “came at me and landed a blow” according to a recovering Woolfe.

Although it had been feared yesterday afternoon that Woolfe was fighting for his life, fortunately the married father of one is now conscious and in stable condition. Hookem has claimed Woolfe simply tripped over. The incident has not yet been reported to the Strasbourg police.

The incident has rocked UKIP to its core. Just two days ago UKIP’s financial powerhouse Arron Banks put his sole support behind Woolfe to become the new UKIP leader, describing the other candidates as “no-name, no-talent nobodies”. He also launched an extraordinary attack on Douglas Carswell MP and Welsh Assembly Member Neil Hamilton, with whom he and Farage have had a much-publicised feud, likening them to “a team of circus clowns”.

Now that Woolfe is likely to be barred from standing as leader (once again) for his role in the incident, Banks has threatened to quit the party if Carswell and Hamilton remain in UKIP. After Hamilton blamed Farage for the culture of “abuse” within UKIP immediately after the fight, Banks labelled Hamilton a “creature from the gutter” and issued a tweet threatening to punch Hamilton if he does not defect back to the Conservatives.

Arron Banks tweeting about Neil Hamilton yesterday, 06/10/16

Arron Banks tweeting about Neil Hamilton yesterday, 06/10/16

The future of UKIP has never been so uncertain. The Carswell/Hamilton faction includes Parliamentary Spokesperson Suzanne Evans and Patrick O’Flynn MEP, and acts as a moderating force for some of the more extreme populist tendencies within UKIP. If Banks succeeds in dislodging them, and Woolfe is installed as leader, his reinvigorated UKIP would likely to veer sharply towards the right.

However Carswell and Hamilton are deeply entrenched in the party, wielding significant influence on its National Executive Committee (NEC), and have made no sign of intending to go quietly. If Banks does not succeed in banishing Carswell and Hamilton and abolishing the NEC, and Banks makes good on his threat to leave, UKIP would have to show remarkable creativity in order to survive as a major political party without his funding.

Banks has long spoken of pouring his considerable resources into a new party that would utilise the modern marketing techniques of his Leave.EU campaign to appeal towards young voters. He could well take Woolfe, Farage and large sections of the grassroots with him on this new project that he has envisaged as a “right-wing Momentum”.

However, given Theresa May’s announcement of a significantly harsher immigration policy, there is now a question over whether Banks’ new right-wing party is needed at all. Banks has taken credit for this political shift and the former Tory donor may well be longing for the relative stability and professionalism of the Conservative Party. If Banks cannot force Carswell and Hamilton back to the Tories, it is possible he will make the journey himself, taking a vast chunk of UKIP’s finances – and fortunes – with him.

Whatever the case, the literal blow landed yesterday afternoon is likely to have enormous repercussions that will be felt on the political right for some time to come.

David Lawrence is a researcher for HOPE not hate



 Posted: 7 Oct 2016 | There are 0 comments


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