The US presidential race is on a knife-edge. The FBI has revived Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, Russia prepares to slaughter the poor people of Aleppo while the world looks away, providing the proof that President Obama’s anti-intervention, lead from behind, foreign policy has turned out to be a disaster.
But forget all that for a moment. What really matters today in Britain is the UKIP leadership election, again. Raheem Kassam, apprentice wearer of covert coats, the party’s trainee Nigel Farage, and three-time winner of the UKIP-sponsored Britain’s angriest man contest, is quitting the race to succeed Farage. It now becomes a fight mainly between Paul “it’s the only language they understand” Nuttall and Suzanne Evans, a former journalist who has been dubbed “centrist”, which in UKIP is the ultimate insult. But the next leader will not be Raheem.
He said in a statement: “I realised the path to victory is too narrow.” As Marina Hyde of the Guardian put it, that phrase “the path to victory is too narrow” is a fashionable euphemism for any number of more unspeakable truths. Imagine it used at crucial historical junctures.
“Mein Fuhrer, Berlin is surrounded. Obergruppenführer Steiner and his Waffen-SS are not going to launch a counter attack. And what is left of the Ninth Army south of the capital is a shell, a mirage, a lost army. It will not be able to stop the Russians.”
Hitler (sighing): “You’re right. The path to victory is too narrow.”
Here’s Kassam statement in full:
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“After much consideration, I have decided not to pursue my campaign to be UKIP leader any further. This was a very difficult decision, and I want to thank everyone who supported me in the process.
It is a decision I have not taken lightly, but following meetings this weekend I realised the path to victory is too narrow. I would encourage my supporters to back Peter Whittle, who I think would make a fantastic leader of the party.
On their own, the following issues would not have caused me to take this decision, but taken together, the following reasons created an impossible route forward for me:
1. The top of the party is treating this like a coronation: I am not satisfied about the integrity of the process, and having put a number of complaints in to the party chairman, I was disappointed that incidents whereby Members of the European Parliament are using party databases to effectively campaign against me – ostensibly against the rules – were not challenged.
2. Disgraceful treatment by the media: I am tough and I can take it, but when Times journalists show up at my elderly parents’ house at dusk, intimidating them, I draw the line. Billy Kenber at the Times has a lot to answer for and I will be pursuing a harassment complaint further.
3. Fundraising: While we raised enough for our deposit, and got over 200 assentors to my nomination, we could not raise enough for this to be more than a digital campaign run from SW1, and to not feature at events all around the country would have made me a hypocrite, given how much I criticise the establishment for ignoring the country.
Over the next few weeks I will be providing a statement of accounts for all my donors, and in-keeping with my money pledge on my website, I will be giving them the choice as to what happens with the remainder of the money they donated. I will suggest we either: donate to the Royal British Legion or Help for Heroes, donate to the party, donate to Peter Whittle’s campaign. Those who want refunds are welcome to contact me.
I wish the UK Independence Party and whoever its new leader is all the best in ensuring Brexit happens, and in the upcoming electoral tests next year. I remain commited to the causes of the UK Independence Party, but sadly, at this campaign, it was a bridge too far for us.
I will be continuing at my job as Editor in Chief of Breitbart London, returning to the United States this week to cover the last leg of the presidential elections.
Note also that Kassam complains about disgraceful treatment by the media. This is a man who works for Breitbart, who tweeted that Nicola Sturgeon should be taped up to prevent her speaking or reproducing. He later deleted the tweet and apologised. Which is something.
When 2016 is over (and no, there have been far, far worse years in human history) it will be worth academics reflecting on the role of angry men, here and in the US. Anger is such a driving force now. We all get angry from time to time, but for millions of male voters it seems to be the driving force in response to confusing and powerful forces of economic and cultural dislocation. That applies to angry Remainers too who either call their fellow-Britons stupid, or say they were lied to, which means calling them gullible, which is essentially the same as calling them stupid.
Still, the low comedy of the UKIP leadership race provides a focus for healing. It is something most Leavers and Remainers can enjoy.