UKIP crisis as Oldham candidate banned by party bosses!

UKIP candidate Graham Whitehead has been blocked from standing for Oldham Council

UKIP candidate Graham Whitehead has been blocked from standing for Oldham Council

UKIP’s local election campaign has been plunged into crisis after party bosses blocked the candidature of a popular local activist, due to concerns over alleged “racism”.

Graham Whitehead – who last year finished a close runner-up in Failsworth East ward, Oldham, to Labour council leader (now MP) Jim McMahon, had been chosen by local UKIP members to represent the party again this year.

Mr Whitehead had attracted a great deal of local support by campaigning on issues highly relevant to Failsworth voters, such as his opposition to controversial proposals to demolish Phoenix Mill – destroying 100 jobs – so as to develop the site for housing.

Yet the national UKIP leadership’s “vetting” process blocked Mr Whitehead from standing as a UKIP candidate this year, due to controversial posts on his Facebook page.  While these would fit with the outlook of many Oldham voters, they outrage the liberal sensibilities of UKIP’s national bosses.

So Mr Whitehead had to go, and there will be no UKIP candidate in Failsworth East this year. UKIP Councillor Warren Bates, who represents the next door ward Failsworth West, told the local newspaper Oldham Evening Chronicle:

I joined UKIP as a party of hope. I fought for the EU referendum but it just seems to be referendum mania now. It’s taking over local politics. UKIP seems to be completely out of touch with local politics.

Will Cllr Bates be next for the chop? And does UKIP now stand any chance of succeeding in former BNP heartlands such as Oldham?

Meanwhile the bitter divisions at the top of UKIP appear to be worsening after today’s decision by the Electoral Commission to make Vote Leave the officially designated campaign on the Leave side of the referendum. UKIP’s sole MP Douglas Carswell supports Vote Leave, but the party’s leader Nigel Farage and its biggest donor Arron Banks support the rival Grassroots Out (which includes Leave.eu). Mr Banks has indicated that he might fund a legal challenge to the Commission’s decision. This could delay the entire referendum until October: if so it would raise questions as to the ability of tycoons to distort the electoral process.

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