The assemblage of saloon bar propper-uppers and their hangers-on that is UKIP goes from straight comedy to black farce: first Nigel “Thirsty” Farage resigns (again) following the referendum on Britain’s EU membership, then Diane James wins the contest to succeed him, then she doesn’t really want the job and steps down, Farage comes back as caretaker leader, and the whole process starts all over again.
So into this already febrile atmosphere steps Steven Woolfe, who as Zelo Street regulars will know, was prevented from running for the leadership last time. It has become known in the last few days that Woolfe had been toying with defecting back to the Tories, who would have been more than happy to have him, given the value in playing up a split in Team Kipper. And then UKIP’s MEPs met in Strasbourg today.
There were heated discussions. Woolfe was the object of not just adverse comment, but threatening behaviour. By all accounts, Woolfe suggested that the matter be resolved outside the building. And outside the building he was punched, fell badly, banged his head, was then taken to hospital, and is now reported to be suffering bleeding on the brain. His condition has been described, ominously, as “life-threatening”.
That much is bizarre enough, but any attempt by the assembled Kippers to invoke Omertà and not tell the authorities Who Done It was scuppered when it became known that the deed was done in front of ITV News cameras. The sole assailant was identified as UKIP’s European Parliament defence spokesman, who even more bizarrely goes by the name of Mike Hookem. He is reported to be on the run from French Police.
It could only happen within UKIP, the party that, when it isn’t caused to point in the same direction by Farage, shows itself to be riven by factionalism. Even before the referendum there was widespread disagreement over direction and even money between Farage and his backers and newer MEPs like Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn, and of course their sole surviving MP Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell. And there was more.
Letting the likes of Neil Hamilton back into politics might not have been the best of wheezes: he has now rejoined the gravy train, along with the formidable Christine, as a member of the Welsh Assembly Government. But it can get even worse again: among those wanting to throw their hats into the ring is none other than Raheem “Call me Ray” Kassam, one of the most divisive figures from the Farage entourage.
Kassam as leader of UKIP? From my point of view, this would be ideal: the party would probably collapse under the weight of recrimination within two years, if not sooner. On top of that, the Breitbart brand would be fatally tarnished, at least in the UK. So Zelo Street is all in favour of a successful Kassam candidacy. It’s only a pity it won’t happen.
In the meantime, a speedy recovery for Steven Woolfe. I don’t agree with his politics, but would rather he be there to debate the disagreement.