UKIP’s Rotherham election campaign was beset with problems, right from the beginning.
The problems started with the conference speech of Jane Collins. It is standard practice for political parties to have the speeches checked by lawyers before they are given. Jane Collins speech for and to the UKIP faithful in Doncaster was no exception. Despite being ‘lawyered-up’ before delivery it still invited the law suits issued by Kevin Barron, Sarah Champion and John Healey!
These issues were compounded by Caven Vines, in an interview broadcast on Sky News with Kay Burley. Again it is standard practice before national TV interviews for members of political parties to be briefed before going before the cameras. It has been confirmed by a member of UKIP’s Branch Committee who was present at the time that Caven was given some serious advice from UKIP before he gave the interview and fell into the trap he had been advised to beware of. This then resulted in the second set of libel proceedings to be issued by Kevin Barron and John Healey, this time against Caven Vines.
The third element of this tragicomedy concerns the selection of a UKIP Candidate for the Wentworth and Dearne Constituency. Initially Caven insisted on being the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. UKIP then made the constituency a ‘target seat’ and Caven stood down and Martyn Parker was “chosen” instead.
I have it on the very best authority that the hustings at which Martyn Parker was selected have been described as “iffy” with ineligible members voting. In view of Martyn Parker’s assertions to the press that he was selected with 100% of the vote and the assertions of others who voted at those hustings that they did not vote for him there also seems to have been some issues with basic counting or votes going missing.
After Martyn Parker was de-selected we were given an explanation which now seems to diverge from reality. We were told Martyn Parker was unfairly treated by UKIP and a ‘favoured insider”, forced on them against their will.
It can now be revealed this ‘official’ explanation seems to be a little lacking in objective reality. Caven stood aside, because he knew he would not have the time to devote to a parliamentary campaign and Martyn Parker was substituted.
It is standard practice in target seats that Prospective Parliamentary Candidates are monitored. Political parties are investing a lot of money and have to protect their investment. Unfortunately, as it turned out, Martyn Parker did not make the grade. Crunch time came when a Wentworth & Dearne Candidate Councillor exasperated by the lack of replies to numerous concerned phone calls and e-mails regarding the lack of direction and progress complained direct to UKIP’s Head of Candidates about how these issues were jeopardising the electoral chances of all Wentworth & Dearne Candidates.
That left UKIP with a huge problem which they resolved by appointing Mike Hookem MEP as candidate, who went on to get 25% of the vote, no mean achievement in the circumstances.