UKIP on ‘wrong side of history’ for opposing equal marriage — says sacked youth chairman

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Olly Neville, who was removed as the chairman of UKIP’s youth wing yesterday, in part due to his support for same-sex marriage, says the party is now “in trouble”.

In an email from the party’s national chairman Steve Crowther, Mr Neville was told that he was being removed from office by UKIP’s national executive for stating that European elections were a “sideshow”, that the real political action is in Westminster (where the party has no MPs) and because of his support for equal marriage.

It was after Mr Neville made a series of comments during an interview on BBC Radio Four’s World at One programme on 31 December.

In the Independent on Wednesday, Mr Neville wrote:

“The Party Constitution says that officials (like me) are allowed to disagree publicly with party policy so long as they make clear that it is their individual position – which I did – and they do not bring the party into disrepute – which I didn’t.”

UKIP say they fully support the concept of civil partnerships but oppose any move to legislate for same-sex marriage believing it would pose a threat to the Church of England and claiming the issue is being pushed by a “small but noisy minority within the gay community”.

In the article, Mr Neville mentioned UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage. He wrote:

“When I asked why Nigel could comment on drugs and prostitution I was told it was ‘in line with party policy.’ I happily tweeted about it only to be told I wasn’t allowed to, by Steve Crowther. Further action that followed was to remove me from my post in a unanimous vote. The email explaining the decision told me it was about policy issues.

“Later, John Arnott, the party secretary, emailed me citing party rules and saying that I was persistently causing trouble.

“I am sure I will find out what the official line from the party is. I am sure they won’t want me to come off looking good from it and them looking bad. I am a 21-year-old recent graduate who said what I had said many times before, something that I truly believe in.

“Before any of this had even broken I have received emails from UKIP NEC members calling me stupid and had comments on the private members forum attacking me for supporting equal marriage and have apparently now been called politically inept by my own party.”

Mr Neville concluded his article by writing:

“UKIP were the only party I believed in and trusted, I thought a party that campaigned for democracy and free speech would advocate something similar for its members, especially the youth wing. I feel let down and naive.

“I have always wanted to believe UKIP is the libertarian party it says it is, but with socially conservative candidates getting away with comments that many find abhorrent whilst libertarian members like myself get heavily attacked.

“I can no longer convince myself it truly is. While UKIP is the only party fighting for true freedom and democracy on issues like the EU when it comes to Equal Marriage UKIP is on the wrong side of public opinion and the wrong side of history.”

In December, Nigel Farage said the issue of equal marriage could “rip apart” the Conservative Party, and he promised to exploit the division among Tories for the benefit of UKIP.

Meanwhile, November’s By-election in Croydon North was mired in controversy after Winston McKenzie, UKIP’s failed prospective parliamentary candidate, stated that gay people should not be allowed to adopt children.