Sunday, October 9

Behind the scenes personality clash overshaddows UKIP conference

It seems everyone is talking about leadership at the moment. Gordon and Tony, Ken and David and now the UKIP mob.
Last week, UKIP chairwoman Petrina Holdsworth joined in on the action after a blazing row with deputy UKIP leader, Mike Nattrass. The row which has overshaddowed UKIP's party conference this week end has unearthed deep divisions in the UKIP leadership, and lifted the lid on the Party's unprofessional personal politics.
What's more The Sunday times has now been passed a copy of the Email spat which led up to Holdsworth resignation. The emails which were circulated confidentially amongst UKIP's national executive committee, were passed on by a disgruntled member unhappy with UKIP leader Roger Knapman's handling of the affair:
  • September 26 From: Petrina Holdsworth To: UKIP MEPs and members of the National Executive Committee. "At the moment we have an awful lot of people employed by MEPs over here and I'm not sure that all of them are fully utilised."
  • September 28 From: Mike Nattrass To: Petrina Holdsworth "Petrina, when you take your swipes at MEPs you should first understand what you are saying. You suffer from a blind ignorance of the facts and refuse to understand even when your nose is pushed in it. We are expected to attend Parliament, make speeches at 10pm, leave our businesses and families to fly backwards and forwards for UKIP and then look forward to a load of crap from a chairman who does not even try to understand."
  • From: Petrina Holdsworth To: Mike Nattrass "This sort of reply is not helpful, it is just plain rude. If you are incapable of keeping a civil tongue in your head you should keep quiet."
  • From: Mike Nattrass To: Petrina Holdsworth "You are the rude one. To send a message of effective 'no confidence' in the way MEPs employ their staff and copied to the NEC is BLOODY RUDE and DESERVES A RUDE REPLY."
  • From: Petrina Holdsworth To: Mike Nattrass "Mike, there seems little point in continuing this exchange."
  • September 28, 8.53pm From: Petrina Holdsworth To: Mike Nattrass "Mike, I revisited your e-mails once the dust had settled and on reflection believe you have gone completely beyond the bounds of reasonable behaviour both in your language and in the assertions which you made. I demand an apology as I do not see that anyone on the National Executive Committee should be subject to such extraordinary abuse by a fellow member."
  • September 29 From: Mike Nattrass To: Petrina Holdsworth "Petrina it has been increasingly clear that you have a view of what MEPs do and the benefits they get which is not based on reality. Also you feel that the membership 'think we have gone native'. "I want an apology from you on this issue… If you as chairman make these misguided statements to the National Executive Committee there is no hope."
  • From: Petrina Holdsworth To: Mike Nattrass "I have warned you all of the feeling within the party. What more do you want? Blood probably. I am still waiting for my apology!"
  • Shortly after this e-mail, Ms Holdsworth decided to resign, but was persuaded back from the brink by Roger Knapman, the party leader. He and eight of the party's other MEPs wrote an open letter addressed to her.
  • October 2 From: Roger Knapman, Nigel Farage, Jeffrey Titford, Gerard Batten, Godfrey Bloom, Graham Booth, Derek Clark, Tom Wise and John Whittaker To: Petrina Holdsworth "We were very sorry to see the intemperate, inaccurate and unnecessary e-mails that you were sent. This sort of thing achieves nothing except to damage our cause. We are, however, delighted that you will stay on as chairman for the last year of Roger's period as leader." Ms Holdsworth considered the letter to be adequate, but only as a "holding statement" pending a more fulsome apology and preferably the removal of Mr Nattrass from his position.
  • Within days, however, it had all gone wrong again. By Tuesday, Ms Holdsworth had resigned for a second, and apparently final, time. She sent an e-mail to the party's NEC members to explain.
  • October 4 From: Petrina Holdsworth To: All NEC members "I was approached by Roger Knapman to rescind my resignation as chairman on the basis that Roger was willing to remove Nattrass from the deputy leadership for his recent behaviour. I agreed to that. "Roger then told me that it would be very difficult to remove it forthwith as the conferences were so close in time with all the attendant publicity. He said that he would obtain a letter from the other MEPs apologising for Nattrass's behaviour. "I went to London on the 3rd of October. On my return… nothing had been added to the short holding statement… "I am left with no alternative in my view but to resign yet again as chairman of the party and from the NEC in order to preserve my own integrity and self-respect."

Source: D Fogo, "Chairman Resigns Twice in furious UKIP row" The Sunday Telegraph 9 September 2005

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