As UKIP’s civil war plays out in the open, here is Guido’s guide to who is backing whom:
The “coup team” led by O’Flynn and Carswell has the support of much of UKIP HQ, especially in the press office, where Gobby and other junior spinners are on board.
Steven Woolfe and Tim Aker signalled their support for the plotters by publicly tweeting back Carswell, but they are said to be sitting on the fence rather than outright supporting a coup.
The Farage loyalists are made up of the old guard ‘Kippers like deputy leader Paul Nuttall and Steve Crowther, as well as money man Arron Banks. They are joined by three of Farage’s closest aides, Raheem Kassam, Chris Bruni-Lowe and Matthew Richardson, whom O’Flynn declared war on this morning in the Times.
Whose side are you on?
UPDATE: UKIP donor Stuart Wheeler now says of Farage “I would like him to step down at least for the moment.”
Louise Mensch, who has donated £19,000 to assist Tory candidates standing against UKIP candidates, spent much of last week explaining why polls are wrong. Perhaps it is because Guido is by the sunny seaside on the Atlantic coast that he can hear the faint sound of sobbing this morning. Tim Aker looks set to have become a councillor, MEP and an MP in the space of one amazing year. All that talk of the ‘Kippers having no ground game looks misplaced. High contact rates match their polling lead. They have learnt from the old LibDem strategy of focusing their resources on a few winnable seats…
It’s all kicking off in Thurrock, as Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price’s partner boiled over and shouted “bollocks” at a UKIP councillor last night. Smug Tory councillor Mark Coxshall was condemned by UKIP as a “twerp” and ordered to “calm down” by the chair. Feeling the heat from defending his other half’s 92 majority under threat from UKIP candidate Tim Aker?
The Reds are winning the power struggle at the top of UKIP if today’s reports that the party is set to unveil a raft of new left-wing policies are correct. Interestingly UKIP’s policy chief Tim Aker, who Guido always remembered as a sound as a pound right-winger, today condemns the bedroom ‘tax’ and calls for higher unemployment benefits. He tells May 2015:
“we’re firmly against the bedroom tax, but we do think you need a cap on benefits. We also support a higher Jobseeker’s Allowance, so we have a mix of left and right debates”
A UKIP source clarifies the party only proposes higher JSA “for people who have consistently paid in”, arguing “the money belongs to the people, and is therefore being returned to them rather than being kept by the state”. But where else can you find the exact same policy? Labour have pledged to pay more dole if you have worked for five or more years…
Labour parachuted Miliband aide Polly Billington down to Thurrock with the expectation she would take the seat from the Tories, but the carpet-bagging candidate’s campaign is going from bad to worse. Not only is she trailing UKIP’s Tim Aker in the Ashcroft constituency polling, not only were Labour well behind UKIP in a recent local council by-election, now Billington is losing the student vote. “I don’t need to consult a folder to tell you what I believe in,” said Aker during today’s debate at a local college, skewering Polly on Labour’s PFI shocker after she spent two minutes reading attack lines from her notes about UKIP privatising the NHS. No doubt as to who the room preferred – the Thurrock Gazette reports “student support for UKIP and Mr Aker at the event appeared strong”. If Polly can’t even convince Thurrock’s students to vote for her…
UKIP MEP, policy chief and Thurrock parliamentary candidate Tim Aker has added councillor to list of his many jobs, last night winning the Aveley & Uplands by-election. UKIP were jittery amid concerns they would lose yesterday given they were thumped by Labour in a nearby council by-election in October, but Aker fought off the Tories’ dog whistle leaflet campaign calling him “Timür Aker” to romp home. Aker is still consistently ahead of Labour’s carpet-bagging candidate Polly Billington in the constituency polling. UKIP are bullish about his chances next year, but they will need to spend big bucks on their campaign infrastructure to translate this to a parliamentary seat…