It isn’t just Rotherham branch where last Tuesday all the committee members stood down because of their thoughts on Leader Paul Nuttall and the way the party is being run, but UKIP Is also Completely Imploding In Hartlepool, UKIPs Top Northern Target Seat.
Hartlepool is UKIP’s top target seat in the north of England but the local party is in chaos, with bitter infighting and local councillors being accused of homophobia, abuse of power, and more, threatening to destroy any change it has on winning.
Many in the town were expecting UKIP party leader Paul Nuttall to have stood in Hartlepool, but instead he announced he will contest the Lincolnshire seat of Boston & Skegness.
The decision made sense: At more than 75%, Boston & Skegness had the highest Leave vote in the country. But political opponents in Hartlepool have suggested there could be more to Paul Nuttall’s decision than numbers alone.
They describe a local party that has been hit by scandal after scandal – and say it’s something Nuttall is well aware of.
Out of a group of six councillors, three have recently found themselves in hot water – one is facing trial for drink-driving allegations, which he denies, another has been ordered by the council to undergo diversity training after making homophobic comments towards the opposition leader, and the third, group leader John Tennant, is accused by his own party members of misusing his position.
Perhaps most seriously for the party’s political chances, a leaked motion of no confidence in UKIP’s local executive was signed by 11 party members. They said promises were not being delivered, democracy was not being practised, and that “there is no interface with the public or supporters who feel we are doing nothing”.
The petition made the serious allegation that the office of local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott was being improperly used in his absence, and warned that “this could have dire consequences for our MEP”.
A UKIP spokesperson said the allegations contained in the petition were both malicious and “entirely fictional”.
But despite the close of nominations, UKIP still does not have a candidate in Hartlepool to go up against Labour’s Mike Hill.
UKIP’s campaign launch in Hartlepool last week attracted national attention when two women – one Brexiter and one Remainer – began fighting outside.
The party had hoped to take a council seat from Labour in a by-election on Thursday, in the Headland and Harbour ward. UKIP already holds the other two seats in the ward and had been hoping for a clean sweep following the resignation of Headland and Harbour’s sole Labour councillor.
However, despite the party throwing everything it had at the seat, Labour won, albeit by a narrow margin of just 23 votes. Mike McLaughlin, a local doctor, secured victory with 555 votes, ahead of UKIP’s Tom Cassidy on 532.
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