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Diane James is Ukip’s new leader – but will she be haunted by Nigel Farage?

16 September 2016

1:41 PM

16 September 2016

1:41 PM

Diane James is the new Ukip leader. The party’s home affairs spokesman won with 8,451 votes. She beat Lisa Duffy into second place by nearly 4,000 votes. Bill Etheridge came third, Phillip Broughton fourth and Liz Jones fifth.

James was the frontrunner and her victory was expected given that Steven Woolfe and Suzanne Evans were both barred from running. But James ran one of the least inspiring leadership campaigns in recent political memory. She didn’t announce any new policies and avoided debate at every opportunity.


James, as anyone who watched her in the BBC’s young people’s EU debate during the referendum campaign will know, is not as accomplished a media performer as Nigel Farage. She will struggle to make the news in the way that he did. She is also a very southern, middle-class figure, which could be a problem, given that the big political opportunity for Ukip is in the north, in the old Labour heartlands.

I suspect that Farage’s farewell speech at conference today, in which he said that Ukip had ‘brought down a prime minister’ might get rather more coverage than James’s election. This highlights her first challenge. She has to make herself, not Farage, the face of Ukip.


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