It was only last Friday , that this Blog announced my aim to get the term
Waka-Jumping into Welsh Poltics to describe AM particularly those elected on the regional list who leave their party.
So we se the first case of me naming a Waka-Jumbper as news comes UKIP's team in the Welsh Assembly has shrunk to just three after one of its AMs quit the party, calling the Senedd group a sexist boys' club.
Nearly three years on, UKIP are down to just three members on the Assembly.
In April 2017, Mark Reckless quit the UKIP group to sit as a Conservative AM, though oddly, without being a party member. He left on a ‘positive’ note (his words). But things rapidly went downhill when the struggling party took a lurch to the far-right to boost its numbers.
In January 2018, UKIP Wales announced that Mandy Jones (who had replaced the resigned ex-Kipper Nathan Gill) would not be joining the UKIP group in the Assembly, as she employed members of other parties in her office. Jones refused to budge, describing the UKIP group as ‘toxic’. Her party membership was suspended. It was a taste of things to come.
In September 2018, Caroline Jones, a former leader of the Assembly group, resigned as a party member and from UKIP’s group. She was concerned that UKIP leader Gerard Batten moving the party to the far right – e.g. appointing Tommy Robinson as an adviser.
Now another Assembly Member has jumped ship. Michelle Brown AM – who faced calls for deselection after being recorded calling Chuka Umunna a ‘f*cking coconut’ in 2017 – believes the party is becoming too right-wing.
“When UKIP should have been holding Westminster to account for trying to thwart the referendum result, the party has been instead discussing individual politicians’ pet projects such as attacking Islam and abolishing the Welsh Assembly. Gareth Bennett, Neil Hamilton and Gerrard Batten are letting the people of Britain down.
“Longstanding members worked exceptionally hard and made many personal sacrifices in the fight to free the UK from the EU, only to have an unelected leader try to hand UKIP’s megaphone to the likes of Tommy Robinson and then become his spokesman and prominent advocate.
“While it is clear that the UK needs a plan to defeat extremism and fundamentalism in all its forms and identities, I fear that the current UKIP leadership believes the best way to do that is to incubate and cultivate a rival fundamentalism. All sensible people know that route can never lead to the calm and peaceful nation we all want.”
“I can safely say that Gareth hasn’t tried to have a conversation with me since last August, just after he became group leader. He made no effort to keep Caroline Jones in the group and was a key player in Mandy Jones’s exclusion from it.
“The group does not function as a group but as a boys’ club – . It does nothing that is in the wider interest of party members or Welsh residents and seems to serve only to further the interests of certain group members.
“For a party that prides itself on its democratic, libertarian ideals and respect for freedom of speech, it is ironic that behind closed doors, its leaders become autocrats as soon as they take up their positions.
Interesting use of the term "Welsh Residents" rather than the "People pf Wales", its almost as if Ms Brown seems to think Wales is not a Nation and the Assembly nothing more than a glorified English County Council.
Of course if the polls continue as they do and Ukip struggle to win more than two seats in the next Assembly elections then the four Ukip Waka-Jumpers may have a problem getting reelected and so realise their days in the Senedd are numbered and they have nothing to lose.
Still whilst we may be amused at the disarray of Welsh-Ukip (an oxymoron in a way), it does raise the whole issue of Waka-Jumpers, who change allegiances and cannot legitimise their actions by fighting a byelection as a constituency AM Waka-Jumper could and should do.