UKIP split on Welsh devolution

Splits have emerged within the UK Independence Party over the basic question of whether there should be a Welsh Assembly.

Splits have emerged within the UK Independence Party over the basic question of whether there should be a Welsh Assembly.

At the end of last month, UKIP leader Nigel Farage explained that he had no objection to any sort of federal UK and respected the will of the Welsh people who have voted twice now on the establishment of then providing extra powers to the Assembly in Cardiff.

Farage went further still by also saying that he was not opposed to the devolution of policing and new fiscal powers to Cardiff Bay.

However the party’s MEP for Wales has come out in stark terms against Farage’s sentiments.

Declaring himself to be part of the “old school”, John Bufton used an interview to declare “[Mr Farage] said he was comfortable with devolution. I’m certainly not.”

“Well, I’m part of the old school. I’ve been opposed to the Assembly from its inception and remain so.

“If the party changes its policy, which I think it might do, I think it’s a big big mistake and basically there would be no difference between us and the Conservatives then. So if we lose that, it’s our main plank, that we want to abolish it, then there’s an opening for another party perhaps.”

In its 2010 General Election manifesto, however, the party called for retention of the current devolved assemblies and parliaments, but replacing the members with MPs. It said:

“The 129 Scottish MSPs, 60 Welsh AMs and (in time) 108 Northern Irish MLAs would be replaced with their Westminster MPs. These MPs would then spend one week a month on devolved business and the rest of their time at Westminster. English MPs would meet in Westminster for English-only days as an ‘English Parliament’.”

Picking up on the split, a spokesperson for the Conservatives has responded:

“This has really exposed a split within Ukip about how it responds to devolution. Most of the [parties] who were sceptical about the Assembly have now accepted the reality of the Assembly and want to make it work better.

“I think people really need to know where Ukip stand on devolution and who speaks for Ukip on devolution.”

In its annual St David’s Day poll commissioned by BBC Wales and carried out by ICM earlier this year, 20 per cent of respondents supported the idea of abolishing the Assembly altogether and reverting back to direct Westminster control.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.