Richard North, 13/09/2013  

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It is all very well for Mike Nattrass to complain to Channel 4 of the UKIP MEP selection process, telling it that: "The process has been totally gerrymandered and fixed, so that only people who support Nigel Farage are being put on that list".  More specifically, Nattrass is charging that:
UKIP is now a totalitarian party. Nigel Farage only wants people in the party who absolutely and totally agree with him. I'm regarded as a troublemaker. The party has done very well. We all do a lot of work but it now has a totalitarian regime because the leader only wants people elected who are his cronies.
But it was just as badly "fixed" in 2004 and then again in 2009, when Nattrass was a beneficiary of the system that made him an MEP. Only now, though, when he has fallen out with The Great Leader, and become a victim of a rigged system that also brought in Farage's drinking mate, Godfrey Bloom, does Nattrass go public and complain.

This desperately weakens the power of Nattrass's complaint, and the UKIP cult members have been quick to point this out. But this is the standard fare of the cult, which specialises in blackening the names of detractors. They will do anything but concede the truth and admit that, even though Nattrass is not the most sympathetic of characters, he is not necessarily wrong.

In fact, we don't really need to rehearse the issues, once more. Most recently, it was Will Gilpin and before him many more, all saying roughly the same thing. Againb and again, we see the same charge: Nigel Farage "only wants people in the party who agree with him". More particularly, he surrounds himself with sycophants and, from Sked onward, levers out those who present a challenge to him.

That is probably the way it is going to be for as long as Farage has a grip on the reins of power within the tiny pond that is UKIP, but it also typifies small party politics, which get caught up in the grip of a single individual – as with the BNP and Nick Griffin. The test will be whether UKIP can survive the demise of Farage, and rebuild itself without falling prey to the cult of The Great Leader.

For my part, the inns and outs of internal UKIP politics are becoming tedious, although I could hardly not comment on this latest development. We also hear of Chris Pain, leader of UKIP on Lincolnshire county council and member of the national executive, who was suspended this week and has now formed his own breakaway group of six members – once again the bane of small-party politics.

In a way, Farage is right to stand against those who would splinter the party and, as a unifying figure, he has done much to drag UKIP kicking and screaming from relative obscurity to its current level of prominence.

The problem is that UKIP is – or should be – more than just a political party. It is the standard bearer for the anti-EU movement. That movement is far bigger (and more important) than UKIP. Thus, as long as Farage's party occupies such an important niche in anti-EU politics, its activities and performance rightly concerns everyone who is fighting for the UK's withdrawal from EU membership.

When Farage (and UKIP generally) drag down the anti-EU movement as a whole, or hamper its development, that has to be a matter for us all, no matter how turgid the details. But, I suspect, to get between Nattrass, his own self harm and his former leader, is probably intruding on private grief.


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