When in a hole, the proverb goes, stop digging.
Clearly not a proverb known to Southend UKIP, as the civil war which has broken out between their parliamentary candidate Floyd Waterworth and leader of their council group James Moyies, continues to rage on. In the first battle between, the victory seems to have gone to Waterworth’s Roundheads*.
James Moyies, yesterday’s Echo told us, has been suspended by UKIP for six months.
On the one hand, this makes sense. A senior party figure, publicly saying that he won’t vote for his party’s candidate; that’s a scandal, and one which came to a head last week. Of course UKIP have to act. Moyies has become a renegade, and his failure to toe the line has become a running embarrassment.
But on the other hand, are they not cutting their nose off to spite their collective face? And what happened to UKIP not having party whips, members being free to speak their minds, etc.
Part of the fuss around this is that Waterworth’s selection was a general surprise, because nobody thinks he’s up to the job. UKIP’s success in May came thanks to two men: Nigel Farage and James Moyies. The combination of the two might — might — have been enough to overturn James Duddridge’s majority in Rochford & Southend East and beat Labour to the win.
There’s also the matter than James has a long history with UKIP. He was, as I understand it, one of the local branch’s founders. He has served in senior positions within the party regionally, and when he resigned from the chairmanship of the South Essex Branch, he persuaded the secretary and treasurer to join him.
So what happens now?
Well Moyies is
technically sitting as an independent apparently still a member of the UKIP group, officially, unless they actually vote to kick him out? I’ve no idea who is UKIP group leader, though knowing who took over as chair of South Essex Branch UKIP, I could hazard a guess. And Moyies doesn’t seem to have accepted his suspension, saying:
“I am still hopeful that the party will see sense and correct the wrongs that have happened in the south east Essex branch.
“I will continue to hold group meetings as normal and all members are welcome to attend.“
In my opinion, that’s pretty antagonistic. I wonder if Mr Moyies will find his suspension become an expulsion? James clearly feels, though, that Waterworth broke some sort of rule in the selection process. Mere days away he was tweeting:
To accept lies rather than stand up for the truth or to give in to bullies leads to the greatest loss of all. Respect for yourself. #UKIP
— James Moyies UKIP (@JamesMoyies) November 14, 2014
So no cooling of tensions there, then.
James has hinted to me privately that there is more yet to come out about the whole row, and I have no reason to doubt him. Precisely what he means, I couldn’t say, but after the fairly spectacular move of publicly denouncing his party’s parliamentary candidate, and even more spectacularly refusing to retract the statement, I have no doubt that he has more ammunition left.
And as I have said before; this whole exercise only goes to show that UKIP cannot be trusted to exercise public office as reasonable, sensible grown-ups.
*No, I’m not sure why I’ve made Waterworth the Roundheads in this extended metaphor. Certainly I am not suggesting that he will win out, if you do indeed consider the Roundheads ultimately to have won. Waterworth does seem more of a miser, I guess. And, to this blogger, his head seems rounder.