Four leading members of the Rotherham UK Independence Party have resigned over the party’s national leadership, election performance and what they say is its lack of political direction.
The party’s branch chairman, the vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer stood down at a meeting of the local branch on Wednesday, just a day before the local elections.
They also left the party and said they were unhappy with the party’s lack of professionalism and direction, as well as its infighting.
Caven Vines was branch chairman, and one of those who resigned.
He said the party’s performance nationally had been “a car crash.”
“Since Brexit the leadership have just not listened. They will not engage with party members.”
“Paul Nuttall is the wrong man for the job. He’s a Farage apprentice,” he said.
“The leadership have put themselves before the party.”
He added the party’s leaders had been complacent after the EU Referendum and had failed to build on its success in the European elections of 2014.
“The party is run by people who have never won a raffle; never mind an election.”
“If you look at Rotherham in 2013, the party leadership said they wanted to break into Labour’s heartlands.”
“Rotherham is as much of a Labour heartland as you can get. We went from zero to twelve councillors.”
He said UKIP councillors had initially provided an effective opposition to Labour, proposing an alternative budget among other things.
But he added the loss of some experienced UKIP councillors led to the party not properly shadowing Labour in Rotherham.
“It just went down the pan. The UKIP councillors voted with Labour for the budget, they voted with them in favour of the cabinet system for the council.”
He hoped the resignations would send a message to the party who he said were neglecting their members.
“We have had no support at all, official, financial or moral,” he said.
“The party is in such a state that there is more chance of me being elected Pope than them winning a seat in the general election.”
Steve Webster was the vice-chairman and also resigned on Wednesday.
He said he felt UKIP were becoming unelectable.
“I am not happy with the party’s current direction. The party is fast becoming like any other mainstream party, and the petty infighting that is always in the media has caused it to split down the middle.”
“It makes it look unprofessional and therefore unelectable to the public,” he said.
He added there was too much power at the top of UKIP.
“Members, branches and activists are not receiving enough credit, help or airtime at present and the party is failing to to sell its policies.”
“If branches and party members don’t know our political path then how should the voting public?” he said.
Councillor Gordon Watson, a Labour member and deputy leader of Rotherham council said the resignations showed UKIP was in “meltdown”.
“I was surprised at the resignations. But the fact that both the chairman and vice-chairman have gone suggests the party is in disarray.”
He expected Labour to pick up much of UKIP’s vote.
“A lot of the votes must have come from us. There is not much of a Tory vote here so I suspect many of those who voted UKIP will come back to us,” he said.
UKIP was today reeling from a series of disappointing results in yesterday’s local elections.
The party did not win any seats and lost the 30 seats it had, according to results in from 15 councils.