Peter Hoskin

The task facing UKIP’s next leader

The task facing UKIP's next leader
Text settings

That didn't take long, did it? After only a year in charge of UKIP, Lord Pearson has quit the role even more abruptly than he took it. In his resignation statement, he confesses that he is "not much good" at party politics – and it is hard to disagree. A memorable low was his interview on the Campaign Show in which he was only dimly acquainted with his party's own policy. But more damaging, to my mind, was the general erosion of UKIP's identity: Pearson's policy of campaigning for Eurosceptic candidates from other parties may have been magananimous, but it also made you wonder whether UKIP are more a party or a pressure group.

This morning, Nigel Farage hinted that he might put his name forward for the leadership. But whoever takes it, eventually, will be put in a peculiar position. In many respects, UKIP are well-placed for the next few years. They came second overall in the 2009 European elections; they increased their share of the vote in the general election; and – as Tim Montgomerie suggests over at ConHome – the coalition creates fresh opportunities for other parties on the right. But as they swap leaders once again, and with Lord Pearson's reign fresh in the public memory, UKIP could just as easily slide into irrelevance. Which direction it's to be will depend largely on who comes next.