The result is due before the end of this month of the election for the new leader of UKIP in the Welsh Assembly – in which the outspoken UKIP Assembly Member for Penarth – Gareth Bennett – is amongst the candidates.
Mr Bennett, is Assembly Member for the constituency of South Wales Central (which includes Penarth) but is an outspoken and frequently controversial figure – and one who infuriates the politically-correct elements in the Welsh Assembly.
There was trouble following a speech he made December 2017 in the Senedd about the alleged encroachment of “minority rights ” on the rights of the majority population – an issue since brought into sharp focus by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s controversial “Transgender Toolkit” for schools .
When, last December, Bennett cited, in particular, the potential impact of rights claimed by the “transgender community” Labour AMs could be heard gasping with faux-outrage. Female Labour AMs cackled with contrived laughter as Mr Bennett – ploughing-on unperturbed – asserted that there should be “limits to minority rights”.
In that same December 2017 debate, when Mr Bennett had questioned why minority rights should trump those of the majority, the would-be Labour First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething (AM for Cardiff South and Penarth) could be seen rolling his chair back and turning to his colleagues with a “can you believe what this guy is saying?” expression on his face .
Taking aim at trendy left-wing trangender activists, Mr Bennett said “There is only so much deviation from the norm that any society can take before that society completely implodes and if we carry on down this road of appeasing the nuttiest elements of the transgender movement, then what we will face as a society within a very short space of time is total implosion.”
Later the politically-correct presiding officer Elin Jones demanded that Mr Bennett should apologise. When he refused to do any such thing he was suspended from the Assembly Chamber .
Fellow UKIP AM Neil Hamilton rallied to Bennet’s defence and had a “frank exchange of views with the presiding officer” saying that UKIP was also a minority whose rights needed to be protected . Mr Hamilton said “We were elected to confront the Cardiff Bay consensus and political correctness and will continue to do so.”
Mr Bennet’s suspension – which was supposed to last for the whole of 2018 – has since been lifted.
Both Gareth Bennett and Neil Hamilton are standing for election as leader of the UKIP group in the Welsh Assembly. The results of the ballot will be announced at the end of this month.