UKIP’s Caerphilly chairman Sam Gould says public spat between AMs will not affect rising local membership
News | | Published: 13:00, Thursday August 25th, 2016.
UKIP’s Caerphilly chairman Sam Gould has said infighting by the party’s Assembly Members will not affect the “united” local branch.
UKIP Regional AMs Neil Hamilton, representing Mid and West Wales, and Nathan Gill, North Wales, have been embroiled in a bitter public spat, which has led to the latter sitting as an independent Assembly Member.
Mr Gill faced calls from Mr Hamilton to resign from his position as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) upon his election as Regional Assembly Member for North Wales, and was criticised for “double-jobbing” and an alleged poor attendance record in the Senedd.
Mr Gill – despite having previously agreed to step down – rejected the calls, citing a lack of suitable successor, and claiming he was not receiving salaries for both roles.
Sam Gould, who ran as UKIP’s Caerphilly candidate in the May’s Welsh election, said: “Yes, Nathan wasn’t in the Assembly on the days that Neil Hamilton is talking about in the run-up to the EU referendum, but he was out doing television and radio debates, much the same as other party leaders. I think it’s entirely unfair to have his attendance record thrown back at him.”
On Wednesday, August 17, Mr Gill issued a statement confirming that he had decided to “break away” from UKIP in the Welsh Assembly, adding: “Too much time has been wasted on infighting over issues that cannot be resolved, and it has become a distraction to the work we were elected to do. I remain UKIP leader in Wales and am committed to serving my constituents.”
Mr Hamilton defeated Mr Gill to become UKIP’s leader in the Assembly, a result criticised by then party leader Nigel Farage, and Mr Gill was the only UKIP AM not to receive a party portfolio from Mr Hamilton.
Mr Gould, who works as an Assembly adviser to Nathan Gill, said: “The National Executive Committee issued Nathan with an ultimatum, which was to resign from his position as an MEP or face expulsion from the party.”
He added: “There is a sinister vendetta at play here, which has been long-standing between Neil and Nathan. Nathan is still a UKIP member, and still the party leader in Wales, he’s just not associated with Neil Hamilton anymore, and I think people respect that.”
Mr Gould said he was not concerned over the effect of infighting on his local area.
He added: “Not in Caerphilly, no. We’ve had a surge in membership over the past year, and we as a party remain committed to the issues that we were campaigning for.
“We stand firm, we stand united. The national scene is ugly, but we’re strong in Caerphilly. It’s all about restructuring and reorganising after we achieved our chief aim with the referendum result.
“Caerphilly members are in support of Nathan, and are united as a group. We’re not like Labour, who are divided and could face splitting.”
The UKIP Caerphilly branch will be holding an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Tuesday August 30, voting for constitutional reform, directed at the NEC, at 7.30pm at the Twyn Community Centre, Caerphilly.