They may be polling below 2% and be all but wiped out in local government but you just can’t keep UKIP out of the headlines. Albeit for all the wrong reasons. With leader Henry Bolton clinging to power after an overwhelming vote of no confidence and serial resignations, a fourth leadership contest in less than two years appears inevitable. If anything like the other three, expect plenty of drama, controversy and carnage on our markets.
Before getting to some potential runners, a quick recap of their recent history. Almost wholly associated with one man, the party were forced to start again when Nigel Farage quit following the EU Referendum. This was actually his second term as leader, having resigned in 2009. His replacement Lord Pearson quickly stood down, admitting he ‘wasn’t much good’.
The first post-Farage leadership election was won by Diane James after a farcical contest. Stephen Woolfe was trading heavily odds-on when being disqualified for handing in his application 17 minutes late. He was also hospitalised after a fight with fellow UKIP MEP Mike Hookem. Three other front-line candidates were also ruled ineligible to stand.
James lasted all of 18 days, before resigning and admitting she didn’t have the authority to lead this party, to be swiftly replaced by Paul Nuttall. The former deputy leader and regular TV spokesman could at least call on widespread support within the party, and won 63% of the vote. Having been billed as the working-class voice to break into Labour’s heartlands, his credibility was soon shot after a disastrous Stoke by-election campaign.
Following last June’s national General Election humiliation, Nuttall stood down, to be replaced by Bolton who won with a far from convincing 29%. This after three others had traded at odds-on for the leadership – Farage, Anne-Marie Waters and Peter Whittle.
Assuming Bolton is indeed forced out, identifying their next leader is one of the trickiest tasks imaginable in this sphere of betting. Our early market is open with the favourite available at 5/1. Here’s a quick guide to some of the leading candidates.
As a serving member of the London Assembly, Kurten has become one of the most prominent UKIP politicians. He finished third to Bolton on 17% – better than generally expected – and was education spokesman until resigning yesterday. With fewer than 8,000 followers on Twitter, Kurten is hardly a household name. He’s best known for his anti-gay marriage stance and claiming gay people were likelier to be abused as children.