When I spoke privately with James Moyies a month or so back, he hinted that there might be some Independent UKIP candidates on the ballot paper this year.
James, in my experience, is a man of his word, and I wouldn’t say that I doubted that he meant it. But I was, I confess, surprised to see on the list of nominated candidates yesterday a number of Independent candidates I could clearly identify as being Kippers.
This, to me, marks the final disintegration of Southend UKIP. Up until now it’s been in the background, a war fought online and in the papers, and in the backrooms of the local party. Now it’s very real.
There are eight candidates in the Southend local elections this who are standing under the description “UK Independence Party (UKIP)”. There are also at least three who I can identify as being UKIP supporters, who are standing as Independents.
There comes a point where even I get a little sick of the back and forth of Southend UKIP’s absurd civil war.
A friend of mine described it as the political wonk’s equivalent of Neighbours, being entertaining to those of us with a political fascination, but not signifying a great deal beyond that.
The latest episode in the saga includes a broadside from Moyies, and a rather weak riposte from Waterworth. It seems undeniable, though, that despite apparently few redeeming features, Waterworth seems to be winning this war.
We’re nearly a week on, now, from the bizarre latest clash in the Southend UKIP civil war, and I’m not entirely sure what we’ve learnt.
I did say, back when there appeared to be some sort of reconciliation between Cllrs Moyies and Waterworth, the leaders of the two “factions”, that it wasn’t over. I am delighted to have been vindicated.
The thing is, this isn’t just a battle between egos, but a fight for the soul of UKIP in Southend. I have long suspected that the party’s surge (Isn’t that word trademarked by the Green Party? -Ed) in popularity has brought into the fold a lot of, shall we say, less savoury folks. It would explain how UKIP members in Rochford & Southend East managed to take a no brainer like Moyies vs Waterworth and still get it wrong.
No, it comes down, for my money, to Moyies being “too moderate” for the new UKIP. And my little birds are bringing me suggestions that this is exactly the case.
…Floyd Waterworth expelled by the local party in Jan. That decision led national party to suspend four cllrs, including @JamesMoyies 2/2 — Tom Barton (@tombarton) March 11, 2015
Since their suspension, the four remaining councillors (Moyies, Callaghan, Davies and Burling) have still been describing themselves as the UKIP group on the council, and at the last council meeting they stripped Floyd Waterworth of all committee positions.
No word on whether the other three councillors have been expelled, but if they haven’t then they are facing a choice of whether to bend the knee to Waterworth, or to follow their defeated leader into exile, perhaps with the Independent Party Group?
I have not been informed of the fact that I have been expelled by #UKIP and will of course consider appealing the decision if true.
The budget debate at last Thursday’s meeting of Southend Borough Council would most years overshadow all other business on the agenda.
But this wasn’t most years.
This year we have Southend UKIP to contend with, and the ongoing tit-for-tat saga of their civil war.
The current state of affairs is a little difficult to keep up with, I’ll grant, and the whole thing reminds me of the “Judean People’s Front” bit from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. At present there are two nominally UKIP groups on the council.
Almost a week has passed since the latest dramatic stage of the Southend UKIP civil war. I am talking, of course, of the unanimous decision by UKIP’s Southend Councillors to expel their Rochford & Southend East candidate from the council grouping. Time has not, honestly, made this look any less shambolic.
I am not even entirely clear on why Cllr Waterworth has been subjected to this indignity. The Southend Echo report contained a line purporting to explain the whole thing, but in its usual style only confused matters more:
“It is understood Mr Waterworth, who represents Blenheim Park, has1 been kicked out because he allegedly warned a fellow councillor he would interfere with his chances of getting re-elected for Ukip, a charge Mr Waterworth denies.“
So…is that a threat made by Cllr Waterworth? Or is it meant to be that he claimed that another councillor would hinder his own re-election?
I don’t know. But I do know that shambles doesn’t even come close to describing it.
On a personal level, at least, I like Southend UKIP’s group leader James Moyies. I get on with him, at least. He has a sense of humour, doesn’t take himself too seriously, and manages to avoid most of the cruder stereotypes of his party.
So I’m a little bemused by his recent behaviour.
The bad blood between himself and Floyd Waterworth has given me plenty of material, and I like to think I’ve been a fairly neutral reporter of the Southend UKIP civil war. On the one hand, declaring that you won’t vote for your party’s parliamentary candidate can be seen as an immature reaction to losing a selection battle. On the other, Cllr Waterworth is a singularly uninspiring candidate.
So I’ve been enjoying the theatrics in which the Southend ‘kippers have been merrily indulging, but James reaction to the latest blog of my friend and Labour councillor Julian Ware-Lane, is a little concerning to say the least.
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.
In sixth form, as part of my History course, we studied Tsarist and Soviet Russia. My lecturer, a fantastic teacher by the name of Robin Milne, told a story about a visit he made to Moscow still under communism.
Looking round a museum, he spied a Russian Revolution era photo, with something missing. “Where is the Commissar for war?” he asked one of the tour guides, before watching the poor woman squirm.
The Commissar for War during the revolution was, of course, Leon Trotsky. This is the same Trotsky who was airbrushed out of Soviet history after he fell foul of Josef Stalin.
In other news, Southend & Rochford Branch UKIP have a new website.