UKIP official quits party due to 'democratic deficit'

Glasgow UKIP chairwoman Sarah Devenney has quit the party through a public statement on Facebook.

David Coburn: The party's Scottish leader has faced criticism from UKIP activists. <strong>Peter Byrne / PA Archive/Press Association Images</strong>
David Coburn: The party's Scottish leader has faced criticism from UKIP activists. Peter Byrne / PA Archive/Press Association Images

A UKIP official has quit the party over an alleged internal ‘democratic deficit’.

Sarah Devenney, who was the party’s Glasgow branch chairwoman, is the latest UKIP activist in Scotland to leave the party in recent months. In a post on the Glasgow branch’s Facebook page, Devenney cites the party’s emergency “special measures” as one of her reasons for quitting.

She said: “I’m very passionate about campaigning for Brexit, believing that the democratic deficit within the EU is wholly unjust and prejudicial and that reclaiming UK sovereignty will allow Brits to rebuild our society and economy. Brexit is why I joined UKIP.

“However, in my brief period with UKIP I have come to feel that the internal democratic deficit of the party has inhibited the ability of Scottish branches to campaign for Brexit. I am not alone: the majority of UKIP’s Scottish chairmen are likewise minded. It is three full years since Scottish members were allowed to elect a Scottish committee and two and a half years of ‘special measures’.

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“Members of UKIP’s NEC, some of whom are presently Assembly candidates in Wales, must be asked whether the democratic deficit – special measures – in Scotland prevails with their backing. Also, why were Welsh members deserving of a ballot on candidates and Scots not? Can these decisions be linked with Farage’s recent dismissal of a petition signed by five out of eight Scottish chairmen as ‘totally and utterly irrelevant’?”

She continued: “I expect the party to respond with a personal attack, when instead it might recover some credibility by addressing the constitutional points raised. ‘Just a handful of disgruntled critics,’ is no longer going to cut the mustard as a retort. The Scottish electorate won’t be taken for mugs.

“I’m a democrat through and through. Perhaps unlike a good number of NEC members, I won’t negotiate on democracy or choose to suspend it when it suits.”

The party’s democratic decision making in Scotland was stopped in 2013 after a row over candidate selection for the 2014 European Parliament election. These have not be relaxed since meaning that UKIP’s candidates for Thursday’s Scottish Parliament elections were chosen by the UK wide national executive committee.

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As David Coburn is the party’s leader in Scotland he has a seat on the executive committee making him the only Scottish representative on the decision making body.

UKIP has dismissed the criticism from activists as “careerist egos” and that politics is “better off” without them.

A party spokesperson said: “Without UKIP there would not be an EU referendum, so the argument we are not a vehicle for Brexit is clearly ignorant nonsense, and the fact that someone that doesn’t understand that simple idea is leaving the party is hardly bad news for us.

“Perhaps if the Chairman of Glasgow had actually done anything in the campaign rather than just be bitter that she wasn’t chosen to top the list, she would have discovered that growing number of Scots will support UKIP this year.

“As soon as she knew she had not been selected as number one on the list, she decided not to stand and seemingly did no campaigning, so no one in the party will be taking lessons from her in acting in the best interests of UKIP or the Brexit campaign.

“With that in mind, it seems that the process that prevented her getting the top spot on the list was very effective in separating the wheat from the chaff.

The spokesperson continued: “Anyone that leaves in the last week of a campaign, is not and possibly never has been interested in the cause, nor their fellow candidates or the party, they are just out to cause damage.

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“This is all about their private careerist egos, that frankly politics would be better off without.

“They don’t like the fact that UKIP is now attracting people from the left as well as the right, we are not an annexe of the Tory party, and some of them don’t like that.”

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