UKIP crisis deepens as town chairman resigns amid claims of ‘lost direction’

UKIP crisis deepens as town chairman resigns amid claims of ‘lost direction’

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Alun Elder-Brown

The Chairman of UKIP Tunbridge Wells has resigned from his position and the party claiming it has become ‘fractious’ and has ‘lost direction’.

Alun Elder-Brown sent his resignation email to members of the UKIP local committee last week.

In the email, seen by the Times, Mr Elder-Brown said he would continue to support the party ‘and its premise’ but ‘political manoeuvring’, ‘sloppy administration’ and his failing health have made his position untenable.

Speaking to the Times Alun Elder-Brown said he believed the whole UKIP system at county and local level had ‘totally collapsed.’

The former journalist, who lost his sight 12 years ago after brain haemorrhages, said: “I feel I have let a lot of people down. But ultimately working in that environment was making me ill.”

He believes UKIP has been misguided in its attempt to fight on ‘too many fronts’ and should have stuck to campaigning for pulling out of Europe.

He said: “The party should never have started to campaign in every election, especially at the local level.

“In Kent we had 17 councillors at county level. I fear UKIP will not win anywhere close to that number next time.”

While he believed it is ‘totally legitimate’ to focus on immigration as part of the argument for Brexit, he thought it only works at a national level: “At a local level it is simply not effective as it does not connect with people.”

He was also critical of UKIP’s only MP Douglas Carswell, claiming he was best suited in a ‘party of one’.

As a self-confessed ‘left wing’ former member of the party, Mr Elder-Brown thought the MP was pulling the party in the wrong direction.

He said: “Nigel Farage has been attempting to position the party more in the centre ground of politics. But Douglas Carswell is too libertarian for the party.”

But he was not completely uncritical of his former leader either, and while he said he supported Mr Farage, with whom he had previously had a close working relationship, the fallout from the general election reflected badly on him.

Mr Elder-Brown said: “The un-resignation lost him a lot of credibility. I started to lose faith a bit after that.”

Chris Hoare, the UKIP Kent County Councillor for Tunbridge Wells said Mr Elder-Brown was a ‘great chairman’ who would be missed.

He said: “He is a good friend of mine and a great guy. There are a few issues with organisation within the party but we are improving all the time. We are better organised than the Labour party.”

The formal statement:

In his resignation email Mr Elder-Brown said: “I feel the party is losing/has lost direction and most certainly middle management has become fractious and untidy. Redundancies, sackings, no one is sure who does what.”

He goes on to claim the feeling at branch level is one of abandonment by UKIP’s National Executive Committee, adding: “We are, certainly at branch and county level, deprived of any communication from above. With ‘trickle-down’ communication from the higher tiers; the regions to county level is non-existent.”

Structure and good administration is something that is ‘sadly lacking’ within UKIP Mr Elder-Brown claims.

He warns the impending referendum is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’, before pleading: “Please don’t foul it up through sloppy administration.”

He concludes: “You can be assured of my vote, both for the referendum and nationally. Though I remain unconvinced that we need district/borough or county representation.”