Wednesday, October 5

UKIP leadership row overshaddows party conference

As UKIPwatch reported back in July, all is not well in the UKIP camp.

Yesterday Party chairwoman Petrina Holdsworth finally threw her towel in after months of in fighting and back biting.

The rumours first circulated last week that she had once again resigned, which were then followed by a swift press release from UKIP saying that she hadn’t. Today UKIP confirmed that this time Holdsworth's resignation is for keeps – or for as long as "the current regime" is in place.

The main reason for her resignation is UKIP leader Roger Knapman and his apparent refusal to stand by the terms of his agreement with Petrina, which brought her back into the fold after her original resignation on Friday. The deal had been that a letter of support from the UKIP MEPs – with the noteable exception of deputy leader Mike Nattrass – would be published on the UKIP website and that Nattrass would be fired.

Holdsworth did however accept that Nattrass could stay on until after the conference this weekend, to maintain the fa├žade of Party unity, but he would then be given the boot immediately afterwards.

However, it soon became clear that UKIP leader Knapman had no intention of honouring his part of the deal and in fact had passed word to Nattrass via an intermediary that his position was safe "contingent on his continued good behaviour". Nattrass's response was to fire off another abusive e-mail in the direction of the party chairman.

Holdsworth's response was to deliver an ultimatum which expired yesterday afternoon and, on failing to hear from Knapman, she again submitted her resignation, leaving UKIP without a chairman for its upcoming conference this week end.

With the Conservative Party conference in full-swing, and the Clarkeites pushing the idea that "Europe" is no longer an issue in the leadership, a crisis in UKIP is just what the Eurosceptics do not need.

UKIP, under the "leadership" of Knapman – himself a former Tory MP and whip –may have turned out to have dealt the cause a crippling blow, just at the time when it was most important to present a strong, united face to the public. It looks like the Tories may be getting ready to take on a few new recruits.

Source: UKIP, UKIP forum

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