Diane James, Ukip’s new leader, did her first major TV interview as Ukip leader this morning. And very revealing it was too.
When Andrew Neil asked her who her political heroes were other than Vladimir Putin, she did not deny that the Russian leader was one of her heroes. She said that neither Clinton nor Trump were a hero of hers. When Andrew then pushed her on who were her heroes were, she named Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill. Andrew then summed up by saying, your heroes are Putin, Churchill and Thatcher. James said that yes, they were. Here's the clip.
So, the leader of the UK’s third political party does not deny that Putin, who has authoritarian tendencies and is no respecter of international laws, is one of her heroes. What made James’ refusal to disavow Putin so odd was that earlier in the interview she had said that she agreed with Douglas Carswell’s libertarian, free trading vision for Ukip.
It is hard to imagine James’s agreement with Carswell will go down well with Leave EU founder and Ukip donor Arron Banks, who threw his weight behind her leadership campaign, and has a low opinion of Carswell.
James’s performance this morning will have done little to calm the concerns of those in the Ukip who fear that she doesn't have the judgement or the media savvy for the job.