As if Ukip Wales didn’t have enough problems on their plate; bitter in-fighting, a power struggle between the Independent, former Ukip Wales leader Nathan Gill and the Ukip Wales Assembly Group under Neil Hamilton and now yet another defection. First there were seven, then there were six, now there are five.
An accurate and justly critical examination of the hypocrisy of Douglas Carswell has already been undertaken by the Huffington Post; a man who made great mileage espousing his virtue, only to renege on it when his parliamentary position was in serious question. The defection of Mark Reckless to sit as an independent with the Welsh Conservative group is, however, a far worse betrayal of principle.
Unlike Douglas Carswell, who can, maybe not with any provable truth, attribute his winning vote share to his immense personal popularity in Clacton, Mark Reckless cannot. Mark Reckless has no real attachments to Wales. It seems his position in Wales was secured out of sympathy for the huge sacrifice he made when losing his seat in Rochester in 2015.
The key difference between the decision made by Carswell and Reckless is the electoral system. This may seem technical but it is of vital importance. Mark Reckless was elected on a regional list system, which in simple terms means that every single vote he got was for Ukip Wales, not for him. He cannot mention his popularity in Wales, because he had none, he cannot discuss his individual platform, because he didn’t have one. All he can honestly argue is that he now sits as an elected representative on the back of votes from people who will be disgusted with what he has just done.
If Douglas Carswell really had the principles he was so virtuous to espouse, he would currently be fighting a by-election in Clacton, which he won’t. If Mark Reckless had the principles he too was so virtuous to espouse, he would have resigned his seat, allowing those who voted for Ukip to receive the representation they deserve, and would currently be packing his bags and returning to his preferred life in Kent. The Conservatives clearly don’t want him back in the fold, he has no attachment to Wales and no electorate that would be happy to return him to the Welsh Assembly.
For Ukip Wales this is just another issue of major distraction. Instead of discussing what needs to be done, finding itself an effective and competent leader to heal the divisions and working to ensure that Wales isn’t permanently stuck under the Socialist yoke of the Welsh Labour Party and the Socialist-lite yoke of the Welsh Conservatives, they are being dragged down to demise by their own side, both within and without of the Welsh Assembly.
However, as is the problem with much of Ukip in Wales, splits are dominated by personality, not policy. It is time for those who truly care about Wales and it’s future to condemn the personality politics which has plagued its operation and to ask yourselves whether fighting to ensure ‘your man’ is in the top spot is really worth the complete decimation of a political party which, without the bitter in-fighting, has a vibrant and successful future ahead of it.