UKIP have lost a second AM from their group with Mark Reckless announcing his intention to join the Tory group in the assembly.
The UKIP group in the assembly is now down to 5 members. Having earlier lost Nathan Gill who also retains his membership of UKIP in the European Parliament but sits as an independent in Cardiff Bay.
To misquote Oscar Wilde to loose one member is a misfortune to loose two is downright reckless.
It would appear now the referendum to leave Europe has been won, UKIP are finding it difficult to be a cohesive political force.
Having been a single issue political party for so long they are clearly finding it difficult to find a place for themselves in the post Brexit era.
Despite her warm words of being for the working family the Conservative party under Teresa May has shifted to the right of the political spectrum, a space that UKIP were hoping to make their own.
Now they have nowhere to go UKIP members such as Reckless are jumping ship and going back to the Tory party. Significantly UKIP are only fighting 70 seats throughout Wales in the council elections.
One would have expected that they would have tried to consolidate those areas that voted leave in the referendum and seats they polled well in Assembly elections such as Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent UKIP. In these two councils they have not put up council candidates and have put very few in other valley seats.
In the long term to be a successful political party you have to put down roots in local communities. Clearly, they failed to do this when they were riding high in the polls.
Having failed to bed their organization down in local areas they have very few members they can put up to stand for seats on local councils.
What then of Mr Reckless’s political future? He’s unlikely to have a warm welcome back by Conservative Central Office. After all he left the Conservatives to join UKIP in September 2014 causing a by-election in his Rochester and Strood which he won but lost the seat in the May 2015 General Election.
He was parachuted into South Wales by his new party to fight the Assembly elections. He subsequently got elected on the regional list in South East Wales for UKIP joining six others as UKIP made their breakthrough to the Assembly and became players on the Welsh political scene.
However whatever the feelings in Conservative Central Office in London the Tories in Cardiff Bay will be delighted. With the defection of Reckless they overtake Plaid Cymru in numbers and can call themselves the “official” opposition again. And may also win a committee chair from Plaid Cymru.
In announcing his move Mark Reckless said
“I want to be part of a strong and united team of Assembly Members in Cardiff Bay – one which continues to shine a light on the failures of Labour’s Carwyn Jones and his friends in Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.”
Labour is delighted by the move, a source said, “this shafts Plaid Cymru, UKIP are in disarray and the Tories are seen as the nasty party.”