Farage accused by Ukip activists of running party in the interests of his 'lackeys' and 'henchmen'

Senior party members question selection process for MPs and MEPs

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Nigel Farage runs Ukip like an undemocratic cabal and promotes the interests of his “lackeys” and “henchmen”, according to activists in the insurgent eurosceptic party.

Mr Farage and his allies have sought to secure winnable Westminster and Brussels constituencies for their associates over long-standing activists, according to criticisms in leaked internal emails seen by The Times newspaper.

More than a dozen previously loyal activists have resigned over the perceived efforts to wrest control over the future of the party’s elected caucus.

Ukip’s former chief executive Will Gilpin wrote in one of the leaked emails that “sycophancy” seemed to be the main determinant of who was selected to be an MEP.

“When I saw the [MEP selection] list I concluded that the party doesn’t really want to change, that the same sycophancy will be the driving force,” he wrote.

Neil Hamilton, Ukip’s deputy chair and former Conservative MP for Tatton warned in another email that the selection process to be an MEP candidate for the party was “badly executed”.

“As you can imagine, I’m not pleased with the MEP selection process,” Mr Hamilton explained. “Yet again, things have not been thought through properly and badly executed.”

Activists accused the leadership of structuring the selection process in such a way as to disadvantage particular candidates and promote the interests of others.

There is an internal debate within Ukip about the extent to which the party should broaden its appeal by limiting the public exposure of certain members who might bring the party into disrepute with some sections of the electorate.

“There is the question of whether the final scores were ‘massaged’ by an internal clique to suit pre-determined outcomes,” Andrew Moncrieff, a member of Ukip’s governing committee, wrote last year.

Mr Moncrieff highlighted the involvement of “Nigel’s henchmen” in the selection process and asked why “paid party lackeys have done surprisingly well”

A party spokesperson dismissed the criticism of the process as originating from “disappointed candidates”.

Nigel Farage himself has entered the selection process for the Thanet South seat in Kent. A poll last week by Lord Ashcroft showed the Ukip leader trailing the Conservatives by 5% in second place.