UKIP local deputy chair resigns over party’s ‘shift’ towards opposing equal marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A local deputy chairman for the UK Independence Party has resigned from his post due to what he described as a “shift” towards a more right-wing stance, opposing equal marriage.

Arnie Craven, the former deputy chairman of the party’s Wakefield branch has resigned, and said that he had done so following the removal of Olly Neville as chairman of its youth wing because he supported equal marriage.

In January, UKIP removed Olly Neville as the chairman of its youth wing, Young Independence, in part due to his support for same-sex marriage.

Craven, who stood for the Airedale seat in 2012 said he had become increasingly concerned about the party’s “shift” towards oppositing equal marriage, and a negative “tone” about immigration.

He said that he joined UKIP in 2011, and that he was under the impression that Nigel Farage supported equal marraige.

Writing in a blog post, he said: “I support gay marriage and while I do believe immigration should be restricted, I’m not happy about a tone that is so repeatedly negative about it. I’m not a right-wing populist. I’m a liberal at heart. I want a state that gets off people’s backs, not one that tells them who they can and can’t marry.”

“The disgusting dismissal of my friend Olly as [Youth Wing] Chairman, because he dared to support gay marriage on live radio, just confirms the direction Ukip is moving in. It’s not a direction that I can go.”

The party has received criticism for the situation with Olly Neville, as it had not removed officials before for stating that gay couples adopting is “child abuse” or that people who read PinkNews should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Shortly after Neville’s resignation, the UKIP Parliamentary candidate for the city of Chester, Richard Lowe was forced to resign following his support for equal marriage.

In January, the chairman of Conservative Future Ben Howlett says UKIP members who support equal marriage and are disgruntled with the party’s row on the matter should consider joining the Tories.