One barrier to any chance of the motley collection of saloon bar propper-uppers otherwise known as UKIP being taken seriously is the continuing, and very public, infighting which is being carried on by the party’s paymaster Arron Banks. Banks wants to be made party chairman - and he also wants to throw out a number of the Kippers’ elected representatives, not least their only MP Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell.
But the rest of the party may be tiring of Banks’ braggadocio, if yesterday’s developments are anything to go by. Worse, it is clear from the occasional serious utterance from alleged leader Paul Nuttall that UKIP is now looking at how it can get along without him altogether. Sadly, that message has not yet percolated through to Banks.
Banks had accused Carswell of giving the Tories polling data on South Thanet, which former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage failed to win at the last General Election. Carswell, when challenged by the host during yesterday’s Peston on Sunday, described the claim as “utter nonsense”. He also said he wasn’t going to rejoin the Tories, and would stand next time round under the UKIP banner.
This was not in accordance with Banks’ wishes, and so The Great Man branded Carswell a liar. Having said he would take his monetary bat home if Carswell were not removed from the party, this might have been thought to have Nuttall fall in line behind him. But that was not how the “Bad Bootle Meff” saw it. Appearing before the inquisition of the host on The Andy Marr Show (tm), he saw no need to remove Carswell.
On the question of Banks’ funding, Nuttall told Marr “Arron has never been UKIP’s major donor, and since I’ve got back off holiday I’ve got a commitment from a consortium of UKIP’s biggest donors that we are financially secure going forward”. That suggests the “financially secure going forward” could well be without Banks.
And when Marr asked “Should Douglas Carswell remain as a UKIP MP?” Nuttall was, sadly for Banks, not for chucking his only MP out. His reply was basically “we’ve had it in writing now from Douglas Carswell that he lobbied for Nigel Farage to get a knighthood and he spoke to the people involved … if it’s proven [that] Douglas lobbied for Nigel to get a knighthood … then I don’t see a problem”.
Moreover, while Nuttall was also at pains to stress “a lot of what Arron says I tend to agree with … And I get on with Arron”, it is hard to see how the Kippers can accommodate both Carswell’s continuing presence and the Banks-Farage faction, which basically blames Carswell for Mr Thirsty not getting a K - rather than Farage looking in the mirror and admitting he’s not worth one - without being continually stymied by infighting.
If Nuttall believes UKIP is “financially secure going forward” without Banks, and he’s happy to have Carswell on board, that means only one thing - Arron Banks is on his way out. Neither him, nor Farage, are prepared to be team players, and both are in the game only for Themselves Personally Now. Perhaps they could form a new party - they could always call themselves the Peoples’ Front of Judea.