Paul Nuttall has been elected the latest leader of the racist Ukip party. Whether he will be in the post for longer than Diane James, who managed just 18 days, is yet to be seen.
Nuttall’s victory speech addressed the deep divisions that exist in the party. He warned, “Only unity breeds success. People do not vote, join or donate to divided parties. To those who do not want unity, your time in Ukip is coming to an end.”
The election contest was sparked after James resigned. She had been elected after former leader Nigel Farage resigned—and she has now left the party.
Steven Woolfe had been the favourite to replace Farage. But he left the party after being hospitalised by fellow Ukip MEP Mike Hookem.
Nuttall, North West England MEP and former deputy leader, admitted during the campaign that Ukip had become “dysfunctional”.
“We haven’t covered ourselves in glory,” he said.
Nuttall has called for the NHS to be privatised as “the very existence of the NHS stifles competition.”
He’s a racist and sexist bigot. Nuttall is a leading advocate for banning the burqa, arguing that “face coverings should be banned in any public building”. He also wants to limit abortion rights.
The election campaign has exposed deep and hostile divisions that will continue. Failed candidates were at each other’s throats.
John Rees-Evans denounced Suzanne Evans for trying to “trash the reputation” of Ukip candidate Alan Craig. Craig had bemoaned what he called “gay rights Stormtroopers”.
Evans said she would not tolerate homophobia if she was elected leader. Rees-Evans said it was “not acceptable” for her to oppose Craig for having what he called “traditional views”.
The spat reflects a deeper argument. Evans said Ukip must be saved from the “far right”.
The party’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, backs Evans. But others in Ukip are bitterly opposed to the idea that it should shift toward the centre.
So Farage said he was “on the fence” over whether to support fascist Marine Le Pen in France in an interview with the Sunday Express last weekend.
Carswell then told Sky News he “would never vote for Marine Le Pen in a million years”.
Ukip’s campaigning during the referendum on EU membership helped to keep the party together and hide splits within it. Now that the referendum is over, these splits are harder to hide.
Ukip chair Paul Oakden, unveiling Nuttall as the new leader, said, “This is Ukip’s time.”
And Farage painted a rosy picture of the party. He claimed Brexit had not undermined Ukip’s support and said the new leader would inherit a party in good finances.
In reality Ukip is in financial crisis. And its membership is falling—fewer than 15,500 people voted in the election.
But Ukip has been part of pushing mainstream politics to the right. Anti-racists must continue to oppose it—and the racism of the mainstream parties that feeds it.