UKIP Uncovered
What motivates the leaders of the United Kingdom Independence Party?

Monday, November 22, 2004 

Kilroy in Lincolnshire - A Local Press Report


10:30 - 20 November 2004

Robert Kilroy-Silk swept to victory with UKIP in this year's European elections. Then he left them after a row and became the East Midlands' 'independent' MEP. But yesterday the party faithful chanted: 'Come back, Kilroy,' as Ben Rooth reports.

If a week is a long time in politics, then the last few months in the European Parliament must have seemed like a lifetime for Robert Kilroy-Silk. Following a highly successful election campaign in June, the former chat-show host took up his seat in Strasbourg. But he told a gathering of UKIP members in the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa yesterday afternoon that the last five months have been punctuated with disagreements, in-fighting and disorganisation about fundamental policies. But, worst of all, he said that the party had failed to trade on the "momentum" generated by the election.

Kilroy resigned after a blazing row with the party leaders. Since October 28 he has sat as an independent MEP in the midst of the socialists, communists and fascists on the left hand of the chamber. But he has nonetheless remained a member of UKIP.

Kilroy said that he is still "rethinking" his intention to stand for the party in the forthcoming general election. But what is clear is that he still wants the party leadership. And despite everything, it is equally clear that most of the party faithful who assembled yesterday want him as their leader too. "It's for the party to decide if they want to elect me as leader," he said. "I don't know if the party will elect me and I'm told that there are people who won't work with me if I am elected. I hope that we are all more mature than that. "I have a vision and a sense of purpose but there is no point in implementing any of it if I'm not elected democratically. "I want to give the party a sense of direction."

When asked how he feels about the current situation, Kilroy replied: "I get no pleasure from where I am now - I'm not going to lie to you. But members of UKIP must ask whether they want to be a pressure group or a major political party. "Do they want a leader who is chosen by a cabal or a democratically elected leader?"

Kilroy said that it had been a huge relief to distance himself from the UKIP MEPs whose behaviour he had found embarrassing. Over the summer, a UKIP MEP featured in the press for stating that women should "clean behind the fridge". On a different occasion, another UKIP MEP compared the withdrawal from the EU to the Chechen struggle for independence from Russia, days after the Beslan massacre.

Kilroy also said that he had become increasingly despondent over the summer with UKIP's leadership. He said that he had always been pushed forward for press interviews, which had left him feeling aggrieved. "I was told to fight Peter Mandelson's seat in Hartlepool and the Leicester by-election. But I said that was the party leader's responsibility. I think that we could win seats in this area. And if we are going to kill the EU then that's what we must do." When asked why he made public his desire to lead the party in October - just months before a general election - his answer was unequivocal. "Politics won't wait," he said. "It's so important now because now is the moment. There is a bitterness and an anxiety and a need for change.

"The general election isn't going to wait for us and it's a crime that we don't have any candidates in place. It's not my lifetime's ambition to be the leader of UKIP. But I want the leadership to get my country back from the grip of the EU."

Party member Derek Smith (58) from Long Sutton said that Kilroy was the man for the job. "I believe that a leader should be visible and believable," he said. "Kilroy is both. As a party member, I have been calling on headquarters for action and there has been no action. There is rot at the headquarters and it appears that Kilroy is the one man who can solve it." These views were echoed by Grenville Green who had travelled from Nuttall, in Nottinghamshire, for the event. "If Kilroy doesn't lead the party then we're sunk," he said.

What is UKIP and what does it say? The fourth-largest political party in Britain, the UK Independence Party is committed to withdrawing Britain from the EU. In the European elections which took place in June this year, UKIP won 11 seats. Previously, the party had just three UKIP MEPs in Brussels.

UKIP believes that Britain's future lies as an independent nation competing in the world.

The party states that it is not "anti-European" but opposes British membership of an EU that stifles "our initiative and threatens our freedom". The party does not seek to abolish the EU, as it believes that each nation in Europe should decide its own future. The official party line is: "Britain has no more right to control them than they have to impose their will on us." UKIP claims that it is the only political party contesting elections which will never abolish the pound for the euro or abandon British common law and the right to trial by jury.

posted by Martin |8:56 AM
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