You didn’t think the Southend UKIP civil war was over, did you?
Yesterday evening an email found its way into my inbox, containing the news that Floyd Waterworth, UKIP candidate for Rochford & Southend East and councillor for Blenheim Park ward, has been expelled from the UKIP group on Southend Borough Council.
The email, from UKIP group leader James Moyies, sent to the leaders of the other political groups on the council, was as follows:
I wanted to give you the heads up that the UKIP Group on Southend Council has unanimously decided to remove Cllr Floyd Waterworth from the group. I believe he will now be regarded as an unattached UKIP Councillor and I will be proposing a list of replacement appointments on to the committees he currently attends on our behalf.
The UKIP Group now consists of
- Cllr Moyies
- Cllr Davies
- Cllr Callaghan
- Cllr Burling
Please let me know if you have any questions.
UKIP Group Leader
So what does this mean?
Well, Cllr Waterworth is still a councillor for Blenheim Park. He is still a member of UKIP. And he is still UKIP’s candidate for the general election. When the council meets, though, he will not sit with the other UKIP councillors.
Without knowing the reasons why this has been done — and Cllr Moyies has previously hinted to me that there are other interesting things to emerge into the public domain about Cllr Waterworth — one thing stands out to me: “unanimous”.
I already knew that Moyies and Waterworth can’t stand each other, but I had assumed that opinions within the rest of their group were fairly balanced. Apparently not. Every one of them voted to kick Waterworth out.
There are shades, here, of what happened in South Basildon & East Thurrock, where Cllr Kerry Smith was selected, deselected, re-selected, and chucked again by his party. Only this time it’s not local UKIP vs national UKIP, but the branch tearing themselves apart; Nigel Farage not required.
But they are now in the bizarre position of their candidate for Parliament in barely more than 100 days being disowned by his party colleagues in the council chamber. It raises again the question: if those who should be his closest allies and staunchest supporters won’t support him, why should anyone?
Omni-shambles doesn’t even begin to cover it.