UKIP, which apparently still exists, suspends anti-LGBT+ leader after just three months and replaces him with… yet another bigot
The ailing political party UKIP is seeking to oust its sixth leader in four years, with disgraced former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton tapped to lead the party temporarily.
The pro-Brexit party said Sunday (September 13) that Freddy Vachha, who was only elected its leader in June, had been suspended over unspecified allegations of bullying and harassment against him.
At the time of his election as leader, PinkNews revealed that Vachha had claimed that LGBT+ inclusive education in schools “should be socially treated as a form of child abuse”, and suggested that trans people could change their legal gender “on a whim or with a sinister agenda”.
UKIP said it has named Neil Hamilton, a member of the Welsh Senedd and one of the party’s last remaining elected representatives, as its new interim leader.
A former Conservative MP, Hamilton is best known for the colourful blaze of scandals that surrounded him in the 1990s before his political downfall.
His reputation took a battering in 1994 when the Guardian reported he had taken money in brown envelopes from Mohamed Al Fayed in the “cash-for-questions” scandal.
After abandoning a high-profile libel case against the newspaper, he lost his seat in the 1997 election and later defected from the Conservatives to UKIP.
Like his predecessor, Hamilton has used his platform to speak out against LGBT+ rights.
In 2015 he called same-sex marriage “a completely confected issue” that “there was no demand” for, and more recently has rallied against LGBT-inclusive education and “gender confusion ideologies” on Twitter.
UKIP says leader has been suspended for ‘bullying, harassment and verbal abuse’.
UKIP said Sunday: “Freddy Vachha has been suspended from membership of UKIP, pending a formal investigation of a complaint of bullying, harassment, verbal abuse and other conduct likely to bring the party into disrepute. Suspension from party membership automatically suspends Mr Vachha from the UKIP leadership.
“It would be unfair to Mr Vachha give further details of the allegations against him prior to the conclusion of the judicial process. This will be conducted formally, impartially and subject to the rules of natural justice.
“UKIP’s National Executive Committee met on Saturday and unanimously resolved to appoint Neil Hamilton MS, leader of UKIP in Wales and a Member of the Welsh Parliament, to act as interim leader of UKIP in the United Kingdom.
“UKIP take reports of bullying and harassment very seriously, regardless of the position of the alleged perpetrator.”
However, Vachha has sought to dispute the allegations — and insists the party is not able to remove him from post.
Freddy Vachha is not going quietly.
In a statement to Welsh news service Nation.Cymru, Vacca argued the actions against were pushed through illegitimately by party chairman Ben Walker, who Vachha claims to have removed from the role.
He said: “The leader of UKIP can only be removed by resignation, death, by the members following a further democratic process or, in exceptional circumstances, by the elected NEC.
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“The party chairman is a mere appointed functionary, he has no lawful power per se to remove the leader. Mr Walker did not have the power to remove me. Even if he was the party chairman at the time – and he wasn’t.
“At a validly convened and conducted quorate meeting of UKIP’s National Executive Committee which took place on 29 August 2020, I proposed that my choice as UKIP party chairman of Marietta King be approved.
“An overwhelming majority of the eight voting NEC members in attendance (all members were invited) confirmed my appointment, thus replacing Ben Walker as chairman.”
UKIP maintains an anti-LGBT+ policy. Its website states: “UKIP will repeal the Equality Act 2010, and shut the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and Government Equality Office for their effects on free speech.
“We will repeal ‘hate speech’ guidelines that go well beyond a ban on incitement to violence and seek to criminalise speech and expression according to subjective criteria such as that it is ‘offensive’ or ‘disturbing’, etc.
“UKIP rejects any moves for new laws to make gender a self-declared condition. Gender is not different to biological sex. There are two sexes – male and female – determined by anatomy and chromosomes.”