Lord Pearson of Rannock resigned, unexpectedly, yesterday as the leader of UKIP. It had been speculated that he would resign soon after the General Election as, on taking office, he had promised to remain leader only until the election was over and then to review the situation. However, as time went by, it began to seem that he would stay longer, using his deputy or deputies to take on a good proportion of the day-to-day responsibilities. A statement from Paul Nuttall, the Party Chairman states: "The National Executive Committee will meet as soon as possible to appoint an interim Leader before a leadership election will be held following the Annual Party Conference, which will take place in Torquay from 2-4 September 2010."
Lord Pearson's leadership of the Party was something of an oddity - even for UKIP. Nigel Farage stood down as leader in September 2009, earlier than needed - his leadership would have lasted beyond the General Election. Giving his reason for resigning to be in order to concentrate his efforts on becoming MP for Buckingham in an attempt to oust Speaker John Bercow, his actions did not follow the traditional pattern of leader's of political parties. These would have attracted considerable criticism if they took similar, what might be judged as, highly self-interested action.
Speculation arose that Farage resigned because he was all too aware that the Party was extremely lucky to do so well at the EU elections and did not expect the Party to have anything like this success at the General Election - which was indeed the case. The EU elections, coinciding as they did with the Telegraph's exposure of MP's excessive expense claims - which lead voters to shun the big 3, made UKIP the natural party for the protest vote. Prior to this exposure, polls were predicting that UKIP would get 3 or 4 MEPs, had this had been the case, Farage's leadership would have been rightly deemed a failure if, as a result, the Party had only a third or a quarter of the MEPs elected in 2004.
Lord Pearson never appeared eager to take on the Party leadership, but judging by Farage's glowing accounts of his potential - which significantly contributed to Pearson winning the leadership contest, it must be assumed that Farage was extremely enthusiastic that he not only stood, but won. Suspicions that Farage's plan was to avoid any adverse judgement falling on him, as the Party leader, at a time of General Election failure, which may have ruined his chances of being re-elected as leader once the GE was over, are strengthened since it is clear he would like to stand again in this capacity when the leadership election takes place later in the year.
Unfortunately for Farage, if this was his plan, the fickle finger of fate [or was it a higher authority?] intervened in the shape of the plane crash he was involved in on the day of the General Election. This brush with death clearly shook him and the resulting injuries have left him far from his peak. In the meantime David campbell Bannerman has stated his intention to stand at the leadership election - which appeared as something of a surprise to Farage. Does DcB see this as his time to step into Farage's shoes and at last gain the recognition he believes he so richly deserves?
Bannerman's reputation within UKIP is something on a par with NF's description of Herman Van Rompuy "charisma of a damp rag" so is unlikely to win if some of the more popular members of the Party stand. Tim 'Unbeknown' will no doubt press Gerard Batten to stand - Batten came second in the last leadership contest.
For certain, it is time for the only political party, of note, to be established expressly to get us out of the EU to start functioning on all cylinders. The majority still want us to leave, but unless the case is made clearly and convincingly at every opportunity, the establishment machinery will grind away this desire for independence and democracy and the chance to leave because of public opinion will disappear indefinitely.
As Petrina Holdsworth, the former UKIP Chair wrote "What UKIP desperately need is a good communicator who can reinvigerate the party into a campaigning machine. There are masses of opportunities to bash the EU going to waste at the moment, it seems that the real opposition is the Daily Mail and sometimes the Telegraph.
The MEPs have masses of money at their disposal but as ever there seems very little action from that quarter. Tragic."