Malcolm Pearson is a very honourable man who has been arguing that Britain should withdraw from the European Union while I was still running around the playground playing footy at school. He is a true patriot and a man I greatly admire.
But I fundamentally disagree with the direction of which UKIP's General Election campaign has been going. In the past few days the only national coverage I have seen the Party receive has been on Pearson's decision to stand UKIP candidates down against certain so-called eurosceptics. I believe this to be a flawed concept in that it damages UKIP's credibility in the eyes of the electorate as a serious Party which seeks to form its own government, while confirming suspicions some may hold that UKIP is a single-issue Party concerned only with getting Britain out of the EU.
It seems absurd to me that so close to an election the Party Leader of UKIP should be spending time campaigning in constituencies for candidates of other parties. I find it even more absurd that we make ourselves look even worse when the sitting MP our Party Leader has gone out of his way to help doesn't even want to campaign publicly with him. Not to mention the fact that the Party's very tight election budget is being partly spent on posters and newspaper ads for the likes of Bob Spink who became a UKIP MP and turned around six months later saying he never even joined, making the Party look like a joke in the process.
I have deep reservations about some of the people we are standing down against too. Labour MP David Drew has an "issues" page on his website - the EU does not get a mention. Tory Gordon Henderson told The Guardian in 2008 that he didn't want Britain to leave the EU. Another Conservative candidate, Mark Formosa, also told The Guardian that he wants Britain to "renegotiate" with the EU. Perhaps the least credible of all Tory candidates that Lord Pearson wants UKIP to stand down from is David Heathcoat-Amory, a man who played a fundamental part in opposing the Maastricht Rebels and forcing the Maastricht Treaty through Parliament before being rewarded with the post of Minister for Europe. He was in that position, like all the rest, a staunch advocate of membership to the newly-created European Union.
All in all I along with many other UKIP members are not happy about this policy. However, Lord Pearson was democratically elected as Leader and for this election at least the decision has been made. One of the things I love about UKIP is that it is a Party of independent thinkers and me expressing my personal view will be welcome in the Party rather than frowned upon as I imagine it is in the three old parties.
The fundamental future of UKIP remains open though: will it remain a Party mainly focused on getting Britain out of the European Union, or do we want a Party focused not just on that issue but on education, jobs, crime, localism and tax? No prizes for guessing what side of the fence I'm sitting on.