Nigel Farage has been described by his own general election campaign director as a “snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive” man who is turning Ukip into a personality cult.
Patrick O’Flynn, Ukip MEP for the East of England, made his devastating comments in an interview with the Times.
The blunt statements appear to be the latest sign of Ukip’s descent into civil war following Farage’s failure to win the parliamentary seat of South Thanet, and his U-turn on standing down as party leader.
O’Flynn also hit out at Farage’s “inexperienced” aides, who he said needed to be cleared out.
He called for a more consultative and consensual style of leadership to avoid the appearance of the party being an “absolute monarchy”.
But late on Wednesday night, a senior Ukip source questioned whether O’Flynn was “behaving in a manner befitting a professional political party”.
O’Flynn is not the only senior Ukip figure to reveal tensions at the heart of the party in recent days following its failure to win more than a single seat.
Farage has clashed with the party’s only remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, over whether to accept £650,000 in public funding as a party of opposition.
Carswell, the MP for Clacton – who defected from the Tories last year – had dismissed suggestions from Ukip aides that he used the money to hire 15 members of staff for his parliamentary office, calling the idea “completely inappropriate”.
Farage and Carswell failed to resolve their standoff at a meeting on Wednesday.
Amid speculation that Carswell could leave the party over the issue, a Ukip spokesman said: “Nigel Farage met with Douglas Carswell this afternoon and there’s ongoing discussion about how best to represent four million Ukip voters in a way that is sensible and correct.”
Carswell has denied suggestions that he could attempt to rejoin the Conservatives; the bookmaker William Hill now has him at evens not to be a Ukip MP by the next election.
Should Carswell resign from Ukip, the party would lose the £650,000 a year in so-called “short money” to which it is entitled after getting 3.9m votes overall.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, Carswell said: “There are one or two rather excitable staffers in Ukip who came up with a proposal that involved hiring 15 extra people.
“I mean, I’m not an American senator. I doubt that even Ed Miliband when he was leader of the opposition would have had 15 staff in his office.
“Ukip is meant to be different and Ukip is going to be different. And I think we need to make it absolutely clear that when we spend money, we are doing it because it is the right thing to do, not just simply because the money’s there.”
A senior party staffer told the BBC that it was up to the party how it spent the money, which would go to Ukip regardless of Carswell’s views.
“This is him throwing his toys out of the pram because he thought Nigel wouldn’t be leader any more,” the staffer said.
This week Carswell declined to comment to reporters about Farage’s decision to withdraw his resignation as leader of Ukip four days after standing down.
However, on Wednesday he said he was “very pleased indeed” that Farage was returning as leader.
Farage had said for weeks that he would step down if he did not become an MP, arguing that it was not credible to lead the party without being in the Commons.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 14th May 2015 00.38 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010