Tuesday 25 October 2016

Bill Etheridge withdraws from leadership contest and backs Paul Nuttall

Bill Etheridge has pulled out of the leadership race and is backing Paul Nuttall.

Etheridge came third in the last leadership election behind Diane James and Lisa Duffy and declared his intention to run again almost as soon as the new leadership election was announced. But in a statement today he says that Paul Nuttall is "the only person who can effectively unite our party" and urged all other candidates to drop out and let Paul win.

With the threshold for retaining a deposit set at 20% it is likely that other candidates will drop out leaving Paul Nuttall and Suzanne Evans to slug it out with the ever hopeful but unlikely contender, Raheem Kassam, tagging along.

With Bill Etheridge pulling out of the leadership race there are now seven candidates:

Andrew Beadle was the UKIP parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey & Old Southwark in the 2015 general election and for Wallington South by-election later that year.

Suzanne Evans is a former Deputy Chairman of the party and was barred from the previous leadership election as she was serving a suspension following her conduct in the London Assembly election campaign. It is very much to her credit that she stuck with UKIP despite what she and others (rightly or wrongly) felt was unfair treatment.

Raheem Kassam is the London editor of the hard right American political website, Breitbart. He was ineligible under the rules of the previous contest as he hadn't been a member for long enough but qualifies now the criteria have been relaxed.

David Kurten AM is one of the two UKIP members on the London Assembly. Kurten taught chemistry before entering politics, giving lectures all over the world. As leader he wants to make sure the country "sticks to the path of freedom".

Paul Nuttall MEP pulled out of the previous leadership election and the decision was in no small part because of threats and abuse from far left activists. As a working class, old Labour northerner Nutall is seen as a huge threat to Labour and the Corbynists in particular.

John Rees-Evans is a former member of the armed forces with homes in South Wales, France and Bulgaria. He is no little Englander (or Welsher). Rees-Evans was educated overseas in 11 different schools in 3 different countries. But he will be best known for having claimed that his horse was raped by a gay donkey.

Peter Whittle AM is a member of the London Assembly. Whittle is one of the most senior openly gay politicians in the country (UKIP MEP for Scotland, David Coburn, is another) and was the only gay candidate for London Mayor.