Kippers and hacks decamp to Birmingham tomorrow for the crunch EGM that will determine Henry Bolton’s fate. Senior Kippers say Henry could yet triumph. There has been a move on to line up Gerard Batten as interim leader in anticipation that the membership will back the NEC’s no confidence vote. Guido hears more than 1,500 UKIP members are set to attend. Jo Marney is still suspended so can’t enter the meeting itself. But will she come to Brum with Bolton to provide moral support?
Worth casting your mind back to UKIP’s last extraordinary general meeting, held in January 2000. Nigel Farage’s book Fighting Bull contains a vivid description of its apocalyptic political carnage, recounting how the meeting was close to descending into violence. One party member had a fatal heart attack and was evacuated by paramedics. Nigel wrote:
“It was held at Westminster Central Hall on 22 January 2000. Some 900 members attended… The crowd roared and wept and shook ﬁsts and sheaves of papers. Every speaker was shouted down. I have never, before or since, attended a meeting so constantly close to eruption into violence. One member of the audience suffered a fatal heart attack.
“I too was by now close to tears. Everything for which I had fought and worked was being ripped apart by self-seeking factionalism and idiotic pride. The people now walking out, maybe forever, they mattered. The ordinary advocates of decency and freedom who had sacriﬁced a precious day off to come up here from Suffolk, Devon, Yorkshire they mattered, not the vainglorious morons up there squabbling for position and power.”
What could go wrong…