Very much confirming my thesis argued in the previous Blog – that UKIP is primarily an anti-Tory party, today its conference heavily defeated a motion put forward by the leadership that would allow electoral deals to be made to keep Eurosceptic Tory MPs in place. The motion, put by Nigel Farage and Mike Nattrass, was:
This conference resolves to fight the General Election in every Constituency in the United Kingdom, but should reserve the right, subject only to the approval of the Constituency Association in question, to reach on accommodation with the sitting member of Parliament of another party on receipt of an irrevocable undertaking that he/she will oppose further EU Integration and will support Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.Against were Gerard Batten and Laurie Boxhall.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Kilroy-Silk had told the conference:
You will be besmirched, tainted by any association with them (the Conservatives), what can they give us? You have just established yourselves as being new, fresh, honest, open and decent. Why do you want to start wheeler-dealing like they do, that is what they despise?The defeat of the motion represents a heavy defeat for the current UKIP leadership. But it also represents a personal defeat for Nigel Farage, whose brainchild this motion was.
Before the arrival of Kilroy-Silk, Farage was always the darling of the conference and his defeat signals a change in the power structure in the party, especially as the principle opposer, Gerald Batten, is from the London region, centre of the opposition to Farage's grip on the party.
Kilroy’s speech was, therefore, his opening shot in a bid for the leadership of the party and, behind the scenes, a vicious power battle is being played out. But, when Farage may have been defeated in the open on his motion, he and the leadership group, known to insiders as "the cabal", have plenty of shots in the locker. Kilroy’s accession is by no means assured.