Friday 16 April 2010

Wells PPC refuses to stand aside for Tory eurosceptic

Lord Pearson's decision to ask UKIP candidates standing against a handful of genuinely eurosceptic sitting MPs is an interesting one and one that has ruffled a few feathers.

I'm not sure if all the MPs that Lord Pearson has asked candidates to stand aside for have signed the Better Off Out pledge or not.  There is a long-standing promise from UKIP not to stand against BOO signatories and unlike "Cast Iron" Dave, UKIP doesn't break its promises.

The UKIP PPC for Wells, Jake Baynes, is refusing to stand down to allow committed eurosceptic, David Heathcoat-Amory, a free run at the election.  This is, of course, entirely Jake's choice.  If he pays his £500 deposit, his branch selects him as a candidate and the party's deputy nominating officer accepts him as a candidate - which is clearly the case - then he has every right to stand.  Whether it is tactically the best decision when it splits the vote between two eurosceptic candidates is debatable but I don't agree with tactical voting because it invariably ends up with you getting someone you don't want.

But what I find interesting - and it reaffirms to me that I am in the right party - is Lord Pearson's response:
There's a debate going on, there has been a disagreement yes, to some extent.

"I don't mind that, I'm not going to crack the whip and say 'OK then, don't stand and go away'.
UKIP is different to the failed LibLabCon parties.  For a start, we have a leader that isn't standing for election and can concentrate on the whole party during the election.  But more important than that for me is that there is no whip.  No LibLabCon candidate would have been able to say no to their party in the way Jake Baynes has.  A LibLabCon candidate wouldn't be asked not to stand, they'd have been told not to and if they didn't comply they would have been banned from standing for their party.

All UKIP candidates, councillors and MEPs are bound by the party's core principles that are in the constitution but other than that, they are free to stand for whatever issues are important to them and that is one of the things that makes UKIP fundamentally different to the failed political parties.