Gender Recognition Act Consultation

Here are my responses to the Government’s consultation on the GRA.

If you have not responded yet you have until 11pm tonight (19 October 2018) 12.00 noon Monday 22 October. (Deadline extended due to volume of responses).

I did not answer every question. I will post my final comments first, then my answers to the other questions.

Question 22: Do you have any further comments about the Gender Recognition Act 2004?


I am afraid the opening paragraph above indicates the Government has already reached a conclusion on the need to reform the GRA and is not sufficiently open minded to listen to views from all sections of the general public. I hope this is not the case.

I also fear the Government has been taken in by a ‘bait and switch’ operation by certain trans activists. The Government appears not to appreciate the difference between ‘transsexuals’ as traditionally understood and a larger and much more vocal lobby of ‘transgender’ and ‘non-binary’ activists. I hope the Government will take into account the explanation provided by these transsexual women:


Transsexual person

A medically diagnosed condition from childhood.

It involves acute stress from knowing that psychologically

that person is of opposite sex to the physiology of their body.

A transsexual person knows that you cannot change biological sex but extensive psychotherapy and medical assistance alter their body to match with the mind and live in harmony.

A large majority have had surgical alteration.


A desire to adopt the lifestyle of the opposite sex, full time or part time, often expressing this via clothing and make up.

The desire to have surgery or other medical treatments is much less common (some suggest as low as 10% of cases only).

Few wish to see doctors or be psychiatrically evaluated. Some transition back and forth.


These transsexual women continue:


“Government suggest removing all medical gatekeeping and the crafted bonds of trust that establish medical necessity to change our legal status. We believe these safeguards are vital as a show of respect from us to society when seeking access into protected spaces such as toilets. Nobody should just demand this by right.”

“Transgender individuals deserve rights. However, women already have reasonable concerns about ceding their own rights to transsexuals via the GRA. Now transsexuals with rights gained through years of medical assessment are asked to hand them on to people who have done none of that. Diminishing further still the rights of women.”

“We worry that many of the 500,000 transgender accessing legal status would still be physically intact with male bodies or even capable of rape. Medically transitioned transsexual women would be as much at risk from them as would women.”


The Government might also note this article in the Spectator:

I think it is clear that a lot of the pressure to reform the GRA has come from ‘transgender’ individuals who would not be able to meet the requirements of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Many such individuals have fully functioning male organs and wish to have sex with women, yet want to identify as women and access female-only spaces. Many of them may meet the definition of autogynephilia.

This does not accord with most peoples understanding of a ‘transsexual’ person.  To allow such people to have a GRC would be contrary to the original purposes of the GRA and would conflict with the dignity and safety of women in female-only spaces.

Question 3: Do you think there should be a requirement in the future for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria?


Removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria would make GRCs available to (a) male sex offenders who are simply abusing the system to get access to women’s spaces and to women and (b) natal males who have no intention of undergoing any physical transition, who wish to retain their male organs and are female-attracted. Such people may identify as women (which is impossible to confirm or refute), and may or my not present as women, but they do not accord with most peoples understanding of a ‘transsexual’ person. Indeed they may prefer to refer to themselves as ‘transgender’. Many such people have been evident in the debate on this consultation and it is clear that many would apply for a GRC. To allow such people to have a GRC would be contrary to the original purposes of the GRA and would conflict with the dignity and safety of women in female-only spaces.

Question 4: Do you also think there should be a requirement for a report detailing treatment received?


See answer to Q3

Question 5: (A) Do you agree that an applicant should have to provide evidence that they have lived in their acquired gender for a period of time before applying?


See answer to Q3.

Also note that some trans women oppose removing this requirement on the grounds that it would undermine the seriousness of the process and devalue the experience they have gone through in transitioning.

Question 6: (A) Do you think this requirement should be retained, regardless of what other changes are made to the gender recognition system?


See answer to Q3.

I believe that public respect for this process requires requires a genuine commitment to be made and evidenced.

(B) If you answered yes to (A), do you think that the statutory declaration should state that the applicant intends to ‘live permanently in the acquired gender until death’?


Question 7: The Government is keen to understand more about the spousal consent provisions for married persons in the Gender Recognition Act. Do you agree with the current provisions?


Please explain the reasons for your answer. If you think the provisions should change, how do you think they should be altered?

People get married on the understanding that their spouse is a particular sex. For this to change obviously affects the relationship. This may also provide an additional safeguard for the person transitioning.

Question 8: (A) Do you think the fee should be removed from the process of applying for legal gender recognition?


(B) If you answered no to (A), do you think the fee should be reduced?


Question 9: Do you think the privacy and disclosure of information provisions in section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act are adequate?


Question 10: If you are someone who either has, or would want to undergo legal gender transition, and you have one or more of the protected characteristics, which protected characteristics apply to you? You may tick more than one box.

Please give us more information about how your protected characteristic has affected your views on the GRC application process.


Question 12: Do you think that the participation of trans people in sport, as governed by the Equality Act 2010, will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?


That would depend how it is changed. If the current requirements are relaxed this could result in more men who have not and do not intend to go through any physical transition obtaining GRCs and expecting to compete in women’s sports.

The right of sports bodies to hold single-sex competitions, to base these on biological sex rather than legal or self-identified gender, and to make their own provisions for determining the sex of trans or intersex individuals must be retained.

It should be recognised that changing legal gender does not change biological sex and that in cases where biological sex is relevant it may be taken into account.

Question 13: (A) Do you think that the operation of the single-sex and separate-sex service exceptions in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

If the current requirements are relaxed this could result in large numbers of men who have not and do not intend to go through any physical transition obtaining GRCs and expecting to obtain access to women’s services and women’s spaces. Conflicts over provision of women’s service could become much more frequent and divisive.

Single-sex spaces are important to protect women’s safety and dignity. The right to provide single-sex services and single-sex spaces must be retained and if necessary strengthened.

Question 14: Do you think that the operation of the occupational requirement exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

If the current requirements are relaxed this could result in large numbers of people who have not and do not intend to go through any physical transition obtaining GRCs and seeking employment in traditionally single-sex occupations. Disputes over such employments could become much more frequent and divisive.

Question 15: Do you think that the operation of the communal accommodation exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

If the current requirements are relaxed and this results in people who have not and do not intend to go through any physical transition obtaining GRCs then disputes over single-sex accommodation could become much more frequent and divisive.

Question 16: Do you think that the operation of the armed forces exception as it relates to trans people in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?


Question 17: Do you think that the operation of the marriage exception as it relates to trans people in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?


Q18, Q19, NA

Question 20: Do you think that there need to be changes to the Gender Recognition Act to accommodate individuals who identify as non-binary?

People are free to ‘identify’ however they like. But there is no need for gender identities other than male and female (corresponding to biological sex) to have recognition in law. Dozens (at least) of gender identities are now used. What would be the legal consequence of a ‘genderqueer’ gender identity? The law should stay out of this.

Question 21: (A) Do you have a variation in your sex characteristics?


As outlined in question 3, the Government wants to understand whether there should be any requirement in the future for a report detailing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and any requirement for a report detailing treatment received.

(B) Would removing these requirements be beneficial to you?


(C) What other changes do you think are necessary to the GRA in order to benefit intersex people?

Please see answer to Q3.

Notwithstanding this I would agree with a separate process to amend a birth certificate where medical evidence is provided that sex was wrongly recorded at birth due to an intersex condition. I am not clear that this would need a GRC or a process of transitioning. This seems to me to a different issue from trans identity.



How soft is the Chequers Brexit deal?

There has been a lot of heated rhetoric over the weekend about the Chequers Brexit deal. The daily telegraph has it as “the weekend the Brexit dream died“. Jacob Rees-Mogg intends to vote against it. There has been much tweeting about betrayal and treason.

Let’s recap: Two years after the Brexit referendum and 15 months after triggering article 50, and just nine months before we leave, the UK Government has finally decided what is it going to ask for by way or a trade deal from the EU.

The staggering incompetence that has allowed the can to be kicked down the road for so long does not inspire much confidence in the new proposals (because that is all they are). But what kind of a deal is it? Let’s ignore the commentators for now and and look at the Chequers statement in black-and-white. Much is still unclear. There will be a white paper later this week. Then there will be negotiations with the EU. But let’s just take a careful look at the starting position before we all go off on one.

This is not BRINO (Brexit in name only). It does not involve staying in the Customs Union or the Single Market. It is essentially a roll-your-own version of EFTA, with freedom of movement, and trade in services, excluded. The European free Trade Area, A.k.a a “Norway-style deal” means being in the Single Market but not the Customs Union.

Now, EFTA was never my cup of tea, but it was the preferred option of a number of perfectly respectable long time Eurosceptics (e.g. Christopher Booker, Daniel Hannan MEP). An EFTA-type arrangement means being a rule-taker, but only for a fraction of the rules that apply to a full EU member. Theresa May has rejected EFTA because it includes a commitment to freedom of movement. And taking account of the fact that the UK has an economy over twice the size of the EFTA countries combined, it makes perfect sense to seek a bespoke EFTA-style agreement.

A customs union is defined essentially as applying a common external tariff. Under these proposals the UK would be able to apply its own tariffs (possibly zero-rated) to goods that were not intended for ongoing export to the EU. For EU-destined goods we would charge the EU tariff, meaning that no further checks would be required at UK-EU borders (including the tunnel, ferries and the Irish border). Presumably paperwork would be issued, and this would be spot-checked in transit (as paperwork is checked anyway for compliance with all kinds of regulations), but with no new infrastructure needed.

“The UK and the EU would maintain a common rulebook for all goods including agri-food, with the UK making an upfront choice to commit by treaty to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules on goods, covering only those necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border.”

The bolded words are my emphasis, because I have seen only one commentator address their meaning. I think this is crucial, but the plain meaning is that it should apply only to goods intended for export to the EU. We have already seen there will be two kinds of goods coming into the UK: those intended for export to the EU and those not, and these will need to distinguished and treated differently. Presumably those not intended for the EU do not need to meet the standards of the common rule-book, if the UK has agreed a different standard with the originating country. Presumably then, UK-produced goods not intended for export to the EU do not need to meet them either, where the UK has adopted a different internal standard. The logic seems to be that as our internal rules diverge from those of the EU we will need to put measures in place to ensure that only EU-compliant goods are able to be sent to the EU, and the cost of doing so will be borne by the UK. Some kind of EU kite-mark with associated paperwork would seem to be the obvious idea. The details will vary depending on the type of product.

At least that is what those words should mean, and that is what we need to watch out for in the white paper and the ongoing negotiations. If the “common rule book” were to apply to all UK-produced goods indefinitely that would be unacceptable. But if it applies only to goods on which we have not chosen to diverge, or when we have diverged, only on those produced for export to the EU, I’m entirely relaxed about that. When British manufacturers produce goods for the US market they must meet US standards, and similarly for the EU market. And if the ECJ ultimately has the final say in what the EU rules mean that is also fine. Who else? Just as UK courts will have the final say in what UK standards mean. It is only if the ECJ continues to have a say over the UKs internal affairs there will be a problem.

The danger here of course is that the Chequers proposal will be further weakened during negotiations until it turns into BRINO. But as of now, that is not what it is.

Another part of the Chequers statement that seems to have been missed by some people is the renewed emphasis on planning for “no deal”. My guess is that this is one reason why the cabinet Brexiteers have stuck around. The Chequers proposal may not be seen in the longer term as a defeat for Brexit, but rather the last chance for a close alignment with the EU. If the EU rejects it there is nowhere else to go but WTO rules (a.k.a. “no deal”). The job of Brexit supporters in the Conservative party now is to make sure that the Chequers proposals are not watered down any further, and if the Government is pushed too far then no deal (and no money) is the order of the day. The UK has not played its cards well so far. But we still have them in our hand.


The Case for Time Limited Zero Tariffs

Two years after the Brexit referendum, and just nine months before the UK is due to formally leave the EU, the Government has still not decided on the tariff regime we intend to run as an independent nation.

Within the EU we have been required to collect the Common External tariff and hand over the proceeds to the European Commission. When we leave we will decide for ourselves what tariffs to charge, or not charge as the case may be.

Arguments have been made for replicating the EUs tariff regime, and for abolishing all tariffs in favour of global free trade.

Tim Martin, the heroically pro-Brexit proprietor of the Wetherspoons pub chain, makes a powerful case in the Sun today to scrap all tariffs on Brexit day, March 29, 2019. As Martin says, free trade never made anyone poorer.


The one argument I can see against this is that if we unilaterally abolish tariffs, while our economy will benefit from cheaper imports, what incentive will other counties have to reduce their tariffs on our goods? We want to negotiate bilateral free trade deals, and if we already allow unrestricted access to our own markets, other countries (assuming they don’t recognise the benefits of cheaper imports to their own economies, or under political pressure from their own producers) may choose to keep their own trade barriers.

To counter that eventuality, I propose that the UK should announce a zero tariff regime for a fixed period of time, say two or three years. During that time we will retain the right to take measures against dumping, but otherwise everyone in the world will have free access to our markets. The benefits to ourselves and to other countries will be immediate, and will be particularly valuable to poorer counties who are now hit hard by the EUs tariffs on food products.

During that time we will negotiate free trade deals with as many countries as possible, making it clear their is no guarantee of continuing free trade if we do not get a deal.

I predict that countries that are already reaping the benefits of our open markets will be very reluctant to return to a tariff regime, and will be willing to open up their own markets in return.

The Sovereignty of Parliament

The bombing of Syria at the weekend has raised the issue of the “Sovereignty of Parliament”. According to Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Clarke and many others, Theresa May should have consulted Parliament before joining the US and France in slapping Bashar al-Assad over the wrist for gassing his own people in Syria’s interminable and brutal civil war.

Some have professed to see a contradiction between the Brexit goal of restoring Parliamentary Sovereignty and the Prime Minister’s willingness to commit the UK military without parliamentary approval.

I have my doubts about the efficacy of a strategy of launching an air strike every time we are confronted with horrific scenes on the television. But that is not the subject of this post. It seems to me the important principle of the Sovereignty of Parliament is being misunderstood.

In the UK constitution, Parliament is the Legislature not the Executive. Parliamentary Sovereignty means that laws made in the UK Parliament may not be overruled by foreign courts, or by foreign parliaments. That is the principle that was breached by our membership of the EU, and that will be restored by Brexit.

It does not mean that the PM must consult Parliament before making every executive decision. There are many good reasons why that would not work, and in the case of military action, the PM is quite correct to say that the need for prompt action, and the need to take into account highly sensitive intelligence sources makes that impractical. (Parliamentary debates are of course open to the public and reported in Hansard).

There is no legal or constitutional requirement for a PM to seek the approval of Parliament before taking military action. There has been a recent convention of seeking such consent. In 2013 Tony Bliar persuaded Parliament to rubber-stamp the invasion of Iraq. In 2013 David Cameron failed to get approval for military action in Syria, and as a result abandoned that course of action.

The history of this convention is not good. Parliament is hostage to whatever version of the intelligence the Government chooses to make available. This is not the proper role of Parliament, and it certainly isn’t Parliamentary Sovereignty.

Gender pay gap @again@

Not content to leave meaningless statistics about the supposed gender pay gap to the SJWs, the Government itself has now got in on the act, by requiring all companies with more than 250 employees to report on the difference in mean and median pay of their male and female employees. As the deadline for the reports passed today the PM herself has weighed in against this “burning injustice”.

To listen to how this is reported by the BBC and politicians of all the big parties you would think it was incontrovertible that the ‘pay gap’ supposedly revealed in these statistics was real, significant and demanding of urgent attention.

But the public comments in the national press give a different picture. Theresa May’s offering in the Daily Telegraph was almost universally condemned, sometimes in the most vituperative terms. A selection:

There is no gender pay gap.

Do you want to know why you lost so much support in the last general election. You’re doing it….

Is there no populist, virtue signalling bandwagon that May will not cling to desperately? How can you end a gap caused largely by people’s life and work choices rather than their gender?

Oh for goodness sake haven’t you got more important things you should be concentrating on.. ?

And this is not just a right-of-centre opinion. Even in the Grauniad it is not much better, with the majority of commenters doubting that the figures revealed over the past couple of days mean anything at all. Again a selection:

For the nth time, it’s not a ‘pay gap’ – which suggests men and women get paid differently for the same job – it’s an ‘earnings gap’, which is a complex phenomenon that’s substantially based on men and women’s different – and voluntary – career choices. This whole debate is poisoned by bogus notions of injustice and identity politics.

You wouldn’t know it from the misleading headlines that women are paid X% less than men. That’s not what the figures say. The figures show there are more men in senior well paid roles and more women in low paid roles. Not good, but not the same s saying there is an equal pay issue, which is a different issue.

There seems to be so many reasons packed into the ‘gender pay gap’ statistical outcome, that it’s hard to know what private companies are supposed to do about it. Even Harriet Harman says this is nothing to do with illegality, yet the implication is that the private company is being blamed.

So, far from being a crime crying out to heaven for vengeance, the “gender pay gap” seems to be something that only politicians and media pundits believe in. The general public, whatever their political stripe, are not taken in. The concerns of the political/media elite are simply not shared – and indeed are mocked and vilified – by the rest of the population. And yet they carry on regardless. In a democracy this can’t go on forever.

Who will Police the Police?

Earlier today I tweeted about a case in the news involving the arrest of a 78-year old man on suspicion of murder after a suspected burglar was stabbed to death.

“What are our police thinking?” I said “He should be given a bloody medal!”.

Nothing better illustrates the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the public and the forces of law and order than the reflexive reaction of the police to arrest a member of the public for defending himself against an armed criminal.

I am not of course saying that finding an intruder in your house gives you carte-blanche to kill them. The facts of the case are crucial. According to the BBC:

“The homeowner discovered two intruders in South Park Crescent, Hither Green, south-east London, at about 00:45 BST.

“One suspect, armed with a screwdriver, forced the man into his kitchen where a struggle ensued and he was stabbed, Scotland Yard said. [My emphasis].

“The 38-year-old was taken to hospital by paramedics but was pronounced dead at 03:40.”

In other words the police had established to their own satisfaction that the 78-year old man (who has not yet been named) was the householder, the deceased was a burglar, and the burglar was holding the householder prisoner and threatening him with a deadly weapon at the time of the stabbing. And knowing all this, they arrested him on suspicion of murder.

“When someone dies the police have to investigate” said a member of my household. Well, of course. But they don’t have to arrest all the witnesses in order to investigate a crime do they? Because that is what the householder is in this case. A victim and a witness. On the face of it this is a clear case of self defence, and the only crime to have been committed is burglary.

When a death has occurred there has to be a thorough investigation, and it remains possible that when all the facts are examined the police might decide there is a case the householder committed a crime. That would be the time to arrest him and charge him.

My point is that when there is a prime facie case that a member of the public has not committed a crime (though a possibility they may have done), and no reason to suspect they will flee, destroy evidence, or fail to cooperate with the police, then there are no legal grounds to arrest them. I am sure from reading about similar cases that police in the United States would not arrest under these circumstances, and they are also a common law jurisdiction.

The police could have taken a statement from this old man as a witness. Or they could have interviewed him under caution. According to reports he suffered minor injuries and he must surely have been traumatised by being burgled, threatened and involved in a life and death struggle with an armed criminal. As far as we know he is still being held in custody. This is inhumane, unnecessary and very probably illegal. Yet we have come to accept the arrest of law-abiding citizens guilty only of defending themselves against criminals as normal.

We must hope this unfortunate pensioner is released without charge as soon as possible and allowed to return home. And unless the facts turn out to be very different from those that Scotland Yard were happy to report to the BBC, a medal for bravery would not be out of place.

On a brighter note, Alison Saunders’ mission at the CPS to imprison everyone with a penis has ended. We must hope the fiasco of putting the police and CPS under political pressure to increase rape convictions, irrespective of the requirements of justice, has been recognised and is at an end too. This is well covered by the Daily Telegraph by Allison PearsonRowan Pelling and Gary Bell.

These episodes could not make clearer the need in this country for a genuinely populist party, by which I mean one representing the populace, the ordinary voters, reasserting our rights over identikit politicians, metropolitan elites and faceless bureaucrats.

After taking back control of our democracy we need to take back control of the police, the CPS and the courts, whose purpose should be to protect and serve the people, not to oppress them.

Update – 9 April 2018

The OAP involved in this case, named as 78-year old Richard Osborne-Brooks was released on bail on Thursday 5 April and on Friday was told he will face no further action.

In a statement, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, of the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said:

“As expected with any incident where someone has lost their life, my officers carried out a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the death.

“We have approached the CPS for early investigative advice, as required under the guidance.

“We have received and considered that advice, and, at present – on the evidence available – we will not seek a charging decision.

“Therefore, no further action will be taken against the man.”

So far so good, but we have no explanation of the decision to arrest a man who, on the evidence available to the police at the time, had committed no crime, and had in fact been the victim of a crime. Only this:

“While there might be various forms of debate about which processes should be used in cases such as this, it was important that the resident was interviewed by officers under the appropriate legislation of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act; not only for the integrity of our investigation but also so that his personal and legal rights were protected.”

That really is not good enough. Police powers of arrest are explained here.

“To arrest you the police need reasonable grounds to suspect you’re involved in a crime for which your arrest is necessary.”

Yet in this case, the original police statement (see above) clearly indicated the householder had done nothing illegal. What is more, grounds for the arrest being “necessary” even if there were reason to believe a crime had been committed, seem to be lacking. Such grounds might include the likelihood of a person committing another crime, destroying evidence, or absconding. None of these would be likely in the case of a 78-year burglary victim, even if subsequent investigations had thrown doubt upon the strength of his “reasonable force” defence.

DCI Harding’s statement appears defensive on this point. No one is going to argue with the view that the circumstances of the death had to be investigated. But he gives no reason why taking a statement under caution would not have been appropriate. According to the Daily Mirror.

a law enforcement source said Mr Osborn-Brooks would have been arrested as a matter of course. [My emphasis]

And I think that is the explanation. But arrest is not a tool for dealing with witnesses, or with victims of crime. We should not accept that the police “as a matter of course” arrest anyone from whom they wish to take a statement. Such an attitude is corrosive to the generally good relationship that has obtained between the British police and general public, and of which both the police and the public have reason to be proud.

The Bolton Legacy

This article was first published at kippercentral on 19 February 2018.

On Saturday (17 February 2018) I attended the UKIP EGM at which Henry Bolton was removed from the leadership, and Gerard Batten replaced him as interim leader.

I voted against Bolton, so I was satisfied with the result: the members were right to conclude that he was no longer a tenable leader.

But I don’t want to pick over the flaws of the Bolton leadership. That is now in the past. I want instead to concentrate on one thing that I think he got right, that we are in danger of losing sight of as we move forward.

He was right about constitutional reform being needed, and he was broadly correct about the form that it needs to take. I was not recording or taking notes so I may not have got this quite right, but I remember him to have said this:

“You can’t have the the day-to-day running of a modern political organisation in the hands of a body that meets for three hours once a month”.

He was of course talking about the UKIP NEC, and he is surely correct. Nigel Farage has also called for reform, memorably calling the NEC total amateurs who come to London once a month with sandwiches in their rucksacks.

Bolton’s supporters had tried to paint the EGM as a battle between the leader and the NEC, and furthermore a battle about reform vs the status quo. In response his opponents trashed his “back of a fag packet” new constitution, and it was fairly easy to do so. But thoughtful members on both sides recognised the need for reform, so let us try to see what we can retrieve from the wreckage.

I have a long-standing interest in the Governance of representative organisations, having been one of the authors of the constitution of the freelancers trade association IPSE (formerly PCG) in 2000, and a member of its Consultative Council (the rough equivalent of UKIPs NEC) ever since.

The basic dilemma in the Governance of a democratic organisation is that you need an elected body with real power drawn from the rank-and-file members, and to represent a cross-section of views it needs to be quite large. But such a body is by definition amateur. (If you were to pay them a salary , even if you could afford it, they wouldn’t be ordinary members any more). So they won’t have time to spend more than a few hours each week keeping up to speed with developments, and they can’t react quickly enough to keep pace with the media cycle.

On the other hand it is well established that effective executive decision-making is done by a body of 6-8 people: enough to provide a range of views, but not so many as to induce paralysis. And you need a professional full-time staff to implement those decisions, issue press releases, write briefings, produce newsletters, answer the phones, give interviews etc.

So your directly elected body can’t run the organisation on a day-to-day basis, and should not try. But professional politicians and administrators necessarily have quite a different perspective to the ordinary voters they are paid to represent, and may not always accurately reflect their concerns. So the elected body must not be sidelined either. It’s members are not professional politicians but they will often be professionals in their own fields with a wealth of experience to bring to the organisation.

The problem, common to many organisations, is to strike the right balance between the powers of the part-time directly elected representatives, the smaller and more focussed executive with day-to-day control, and the full-time paid staff.

The problem with the current UKIP constitution is the one that Farage, Bolton and others correctly identified, namely that the NEC is effectively all-powerful and the leader is therefore unable to lead without fear of being overruled by the next monthly NEC meeting.

So the basic idea of a Party Management Board (PMB), with clearly defined responsibilities for the PMB, the NEC and the leader is valid. Indeed I think any professional Governance consultant would have come up with the same idea in one form or another. It is not rocket science.

The PMB must have day-to-day control and must be able to decide the party’s response to political events without having to wait for NEC approval. The leader is also elected by the members and the members expect him to be able to lead. Conversely the NEC should be consulted about, and have a role in formulating new policy initiatives. Direct involvement of the membership in the policy process via the internet should also be written into the constitution. The role of the NEC should then be primarily one of oversight. In order to do that it must be kept informed and consulted. Annual budgets should be approved by the NEC. Day-to-day expenditure should be in the hands of the PMB, etc.

How can we address the perceived democratic deficit involved in ceding day-to-day control to the PMB? There are a couple of ways. One is to have the PMB members appointed by the NEC, or appointed by the leader subject to confirmation by the NEC.

The other mechanism to keep control ultimately in the hands of the members is the one we exercised on Saturday, namely the EGM called as a result of a vote of no confidence by the NEC. (Bolton’s proposed constitution retained this power). This power should be used rarely, but the possibility should be enough to ensure that the leader and the PMB do not go off the rails or compromise the principles of the party and the interests of it members. It worked this time.

In summary, while Bolton’s proposed reforms were hastily thrown together and contained some ill-advised novelties, to dismiss them in their entirety as Stalinist is misguided. Any serious attempt to address the shortcomings of the present rules is going to have to include the main features discussed here. The division of powers between the NEC, PMB and leader needs to be carefully formulated and widely discussed.

The main priorities of the interim leader should be to project a clear policy agenda, re-assert UKIPs place in the debate about of leaving the EU, and energise the party to fight the local elections in May. But in parallel with that a working party of the NEC should be tasked with turning Bolton’s draft into a document ready to be put out to consultation with the members. This can be put off no longer.