UKIP SENSATION: Fenland branch chairman quits after launching attack on party leader

PUBLISHED: 13:30 16 June 2008 | UPDATED: 08:30 02 June 2010

LEN Baynes, founding chairman of the Fenland and Cambridge branches of the United Kingdom Independence Party has sensationally quit after claiming the party had been taken over by career opportunists. In an exclusive interview today, Mr Baynes – who fou

LEN Baynes, founding chairman of the Fenland and Cambridge branches of the United Kingdom Independence Party has sensationally quit after claiming the party had been taken over by "career opportunists."

In an exclusive interview today, Mr Baynes - who fought the NE Cambs Parliamentary seat at the last two elections- said: "The party is run by career opportunists, little cogs who want to be bloody great engines."

Mr Baynes, 70, a former chief petty officer in the Royal Navy, founded the Cambridge city branch of UKIP nine years ago and, on moving to March, founded the Fenland branch five years ago.

For two years he ran both branches, commuting between the Fens and Cambridge city, but today he said "I have had enough."

Mr Baynes said his decision had been prompted in part by the "Tom Wise saga", a UKIP member of the European Parliament who had the whip withdrawn from him last year after an investigation was launched into his expenses.

"The inquiry into Tom has been ongoing for three years but I regard Tom as a personal friend and I back him all the way. He has been an idiot in some respects but he has done nothing criminally wrong and has been hung, drawn and quartered without trial.

"Although the whip was withdrawn in March 2007, in 2008 he met with all the top politicians of the Channel Islands along with UKIP MEP Roger Knapman and was indeed described by the press as a UKIP MEP. He has also had his membership of UKIP renewed in March, 2008, a year after the whip was withdrawn. I find this baffling and can get no reason or comments from anyone.

"Mr Wise has supported the Fenland branch throughout, he has been a stalwart supporter and I am very unhappy about his continued isolation from the UKIP executive."

Mr Baynes said Mr Wise had also provided at his own expense an open top double decker bus painted in UKIP livery which was used at a rally in London earlier this year and in which the party leader actually spoke.

"This bus is presently touring the west country - paid for by Mr Wise- to attract support to UKIP."

Mr Baynes said he was disillusioned by party leader Nigel Farage who "although a very good speaker and full of charisma, is treating the party as his own personal property. The branches as such get no support whatsoever and I was surprised when asked to attend an NEC meeting to explain the worries of my members that I was not allowed to speak.

"I further discovered that my worries and those of my branch were echoed by branches throughout the country."

Mr Baynes said the Fenland branch regularly attracted up to 20 or 30 people and branch membership had risen from the original nine to somewhere around 100 "but there are many others who support us without actually being branch members."

Mr Baynes will tender his resignation at the Fenland branch annual meeting in July and although he says he still believes "passionately" that the UK would be far better off outside the European Union, he no longer wished to be part of the UKIP movement.

* At the 2005 General Election Mr Baynes polled 2,723 votes- 5.35 per cent of the total votes cast. Malcolm Moss retained the seat for the Tories, polling 24,181 votes.


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