Ukip’s selection procedure for its London Assembly and Mayoral candidates is ‘undemocratic’, the party's own MEP for London has told Coffee House.
Gerard Batten has refused to take part in the selection procedure because it is ‘undemocratic’, with the party’s London membership getting no vote on the candidates. He said:
‘If Ukip is a democratic party, then it should allow the London members to select the candidate. Ukip is nothing if not a grassroots party. Activists who are not allowed to vote for a candidate may not feel motivated to campaign for that candidate. Ukip talks a lot about the undemocratic nature of the European Union, so we should practise democracy in our own party.’
Ukip has explained its move from giving London members a vote, as it did in 2012, to a selection panel as being part of an effort to avoid the ‘disaster’ that befell its London campaign three years ago. Party sources point to the failure to get ‘Ukip’ onto the ballot paper in that contest as evidence of that, but what they do not mention is that the members’ votes were ignored in this contest too.
When selecting candidates to go on the list for the 2012 contest, the votes of the membership meant the candidates would have been ranked in this order: David Coburn, Lawrence Webb, Paul Oakley and Steven Woolfe. But Batten says the party’s National Executive Committee then moved Woolfe from fourth on the list to first, without telling the membership. This means Ukip’s London members believed their votes had resulted in Woolfe in first place, followed by Coburn, Webb and Oakley.
A Ukip spokesman said that Batten was offered a place on the team in charge of the selection process, but that he had turned it down. ‘Thankfully, the final panel does include three senior London party officers, who make up 50 per cent of the team and have worked hard to ensure the views of local members are heard and taken into account,’ the source said.
The party has given all London members the ‘opportunity to view their potential candidates and score them based on ability’, the source added.
Last week Coffee House reported allegations that the selections were being stitched up to deliver Nigel Farage's favoured candidate. The party held interviews and tests with hopeful mayoral candidates and GLA candidates this weekend.