In the most shocking political development since the last time Theresa May insisted she has been “very clear” about some piece of incomprehensibly opaque drivel, Ukip is on the verge of needing a new leader.
Certainly, the incumbent has earned a rest after a marathon stint. It’s almost three and a half months since Henry Bolton, a blazer-clad ex-copper, assumed the mantle from a certain Steve Crowther, acting leader in succession to Hillsborough fantasist Paul Nuttall, who lasted barely six months after replacing Nigel Farage, the acting leader when “leader elect” Diane James quit a fatiguing 18 days after being chosen to succeed Nigel Farage.
If and when Bolton departs to create another vacancy, he can leave feeling satisfied about a job well done. Running as a virtual unknown, he won by highlighting his enmity to all forms of extremism, but especially the “infiltration” of Ukip by the far right.
Since exposing racism under deep cover was his goal, here’s one political career that will not end in failure. Thanks to Bolton, a Ukip member has been suspended for racism of sufficient blatancy to earn an invitation to serve at the pleasure of the US President.
If there is a down side to his triumph, it feels almost too trivial to mention. But the suspended member is Bolton’s girlfriend, Jo Marney. Or his “mistress” as the Mail on Sunday quaintly prefers it when splashing today with her trenchant thoughts on Meghan Markle and matters of race.
For the record, the 54-year-old Bolton left his wife Tatiana for Marney, estimates of whose age vary from 25 to 29, just before Christmas. While that is a particularly cruel time for the mother of two tiny children to learn of her replacement by a much younger woman, at least Bolton broke the news with the chivalrous sensitivity expected of the holder of his office. He ended the marriage by text.
His domestic adventures had already scandalised Ukip’s moral high ground-dwelling high command, and imperilled his job, before Marney’s bon mots about the royal fianceé graced the tabloids.
After she launched a recent Facebook exchange with “I wouldn’t with a negro”, her correspondent’s “What’s wrong with black people?” allowed her to illustrate a gift for brevity. “Ugly,” she wrote, before segueing into a staccato riff on the approaching nuptials. “Harry’s marrying. God! Wet as a scrubber. Awful. A royal yank. Yuk.”
She then assuaged fears that her objections lay in Markle’s nationality, though not without raising fresh concerns about her understanding of reproductive biology. Markle’s “seed”, she wrote, will “taint our royal family … Tiny brain. She’s black. A dumb little ‘actress’ that no one has heard of.”
There may be the germ of an irony in that last remark. Marney describes herself as an “actress”, but without apparently having starred in seven seasons of Suits, or in fact having a credited in any production at all. Among the other careers she lists on Twitter are “music journalist”, “presenter” and “model”. The evidence available supports solely the latter, and only then in the sub-category of modelling prefixed by “glamour”.
Anyway, as the Socratic dialogue drew to its close on Facebook, Marney maintained her pithy form with: “Just don’t like her. She’s a black American … Next will be a Muslim PM. And a black king.”
Yet even if she did answer her correspondent’s accusation of racism with a jaunty “lol so what”, it would be folly to rush to judgment about such delicately nuanced remarks. As Marney explains in the apology issued today, “the opinions I expressed … have, to an extent, been taken out of context”.
Why she forgot to add “blown out of all proportion” is unclear. So is the extent to which she has blown her boyfriend’s cover as the anti-racist face of Ukip. It is quite possible, after all, that Bolton, who was elected after warning that the wrong leader risked Ukip becoming the “UK Nazi party”, knew nothing of her opinions until today’s papers. Her earlier remarks about Grenfell Tower being “a nest of illegal immigrants” may also have evaded his attention despite being reported in The Sun.
If he is forced out, there will be a silver lining. All this publicity makes it far less likely that, when “Former Ukip Leaders” next features as a topic on the teatime BBC1 quiz, Henry Bolton will be a pointless answer.
While wishing him well in his next endeavour, it is probably too early to speculate about which of Ukip’s countless other anti-racism warriors will inherit the crown. One assumes Farage will be driven by near-poverty and that minor addiction to the spotlight to launch another positively final comeback tour. But my vote for the next Ukip messiah, if I had one, would go to Neil Hamilton. One day, a theatrical version of Ukip’s history will hit the London stage. Hamilton! might make a catchy title for an irreverent political musical.
In the meantime, the thoughts turn to David Cameron. It was to neutralise the terrible menace of Ukip that he called his kamikaze referendum on EU membership. How he must surge with pride whenever he beholds the awesome might of the enemy he was prepared to sacrifice his country to defeat.
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