UKIP is a party of large personalities and personal grievances run deep. The party here in Brecon and Radnorshire is currently in tatters after a rift between the long-time local leader and the party’s Welsh leadership, meaning only a ‘paper’ candidate was put forward for the constituency.
In addition, Hamilton’s experience of government is nearly 20 years out-of-date, and from another place. It is possible he has underestimated the size of the challenge ahead of him.
It is a challenge that will include overcoming the shadow of the claim that ended his Westminster career – that he took cash to ask questions in the House of Commons.
Hamilton has always denied the accusation, but many will be watching UKIP’s new leader in Wales like hawks preparing for a kill.
The former Tory MP Neil Hamilton has been elected to lead the seven-strong Ukip group in the Welsh assembly, winning by four votes to three.
At last week’s elections, Labour remained by far the largest party in Wales but Ukip’s wins were striking. As well as Hamilton winning a seat, the former Tory MP Mark Reckless and the Ukip leader in Wales, Nathan Gill, were also successful.
The choice of Hamilton as leader at Cardiff Bay will be seen as a blow for Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, who is a fan of Gill, and could signal the start of a challenge both to Gill’s leadership in Wales and possibly even Farage in the UK.
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