Sunday, 24 July 2011

To PEPP or not to PEPP?

That is the question facing Ukip presently, one that may well cause a potentially damaging division within the party. The debate and subsequent ballot which is being conducted will decide the question of whether or not Ukip should become a Pan European Political Party.

luikkerland posts on the dilemma and links to articles by Gerard Batten, Trevor Coleman and Professor Tim Congdon who are all against the idea. From the links of the first two mentioned the views of those in favour can be accessed, amongst whom are Nigel Farage - and one does wonder whether the 'sheep-like' following that the latter has, within the party, might just sway the result.

On a personal level I have voted 'NO' on the basis that to enter the PEPP 'arena' would mean Ukip being subsumed and thus losing their identity, as luikkerland explains. If the vote results in a 'YES' then I would, unfortunately, be forced to end my membership of the party - although on that score, no tears will be shed by the hierarchy. It seems to me that Ukip appear to have forgotten that they have the word 'Independence' incorporated into their name.

For some time, as regular visitors to this blog will be aware, I have been of the opinion that Ukip's direction, presentation - in fact the general strategy - has been at fault, which bearing in mind that the pros and cons of our membership of the European Union has been rising within public opinion must surely be the reason that the party is still only polling an average of 6% throughout the country.

For Eurosceptics, Ukip is probably held as the best possible option in order to secure a divorce from the EU, bearing in mind the Lib/Lab/Con are all Europhile in nature, therefore unless they are able to raise their game then perhaps Richard North's suggestion of independent candidates will be the only viable alternative - laced of course with a good dose of "Referism".


cosmic said...

I vote for UKIP, because I'm in favour of their manifesto and I'm not voting for Lib/Lab/Con, but I've got no faith in them as it were, so I'm not really surprised at anything they do.

I remember the debate over whether UKIP should be involved in the European Parliament, also something of a contradiction for UKIP. One of the concerns was that UKIP MEPs would soon 'go native', which has to some extent proven true. I wonder whether this isn't another phase of 'going native'.

One of the objections to Declan ganley's Libertas was that it aimed to be pan-European and the implication that it was legitimising pan European political parties in a way that the groupings in the EP don't manage.

Goodnight Vienna said...

I sometimes wonder if UKIP, in common with the likes of Hannan & Carswell, are stalking horses - sending us on a wild goose chase, if you'll forgive the mixed metaphors. Cosmic makes a good point about legitimising pan-european politics.

Edward Spalton said...

When I was in UKIP, I voted for the change of policy which allowed MEPs to take their seats and their perks. With benefit of hindsight, I now believe that was a profoundly mistaken decision. It turned the party into the luxurious blind alley of Brussels.

Sinn Fein shows more principle in not taking the Westminster seats they win.

Since leaving the party, I have usually voted UKIP and leafleted when there was a local candidate of sound character.

A Pan European party is something entirely different. It seems to me that Nigel Farage aspires to ever closer union with EU funding -- and where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. It hasn't done the party any good so far in the only place that matters - Westminster.

I understand that the Electoral Reform Society will not be troubled to count the votes - but perhaps I'm misinformed.

john in cheshire said...

WfW, I voted NO, too. I can't see what is to be gained by playing the game according to the rules of the socialist EU. We need to play by our own rules and take the battle to the enemy.

TomTom said...

One of the objections to Declan ganley's Libertas was that it aimed to be pan-European

Course it was: he wanted EU funds and was not interested in leaving the EU, itself a condition of EU funding....

You cannot be in the EU Parliament and propose withdrawal simply because you need the Westminster Parliament to stage the rebellion as the EU Parliament cannot propose legislation nor veto a Commission Budget

WitteringsfromWitney said...

c: As GV says you make good points. On the question of 'going native' I would suggest that Batten, Nattrass and Sinclair (expelled) have not gone native......?

ES: Have regrettably come round to the same opinion as you re NF - and your understanding about the EC is the same as that which I hear.

jic: Pleased to hear it!

TT: Agreed!

cosmic said...


From Tim Congdon's article, "the money would have to stay in Brussels to pay for ‘research’ from a new ‘foundation’ (that is, a think-tank)."

So really nothing in it obviously or necessarily to do with the stated purpose of UKIP.

Through my cynical mind goes, "Deliberately putting temptation in the path of weak people. Graft, jobs for the boys, Daniel Foggo reveals stories....".

This is a poison pill with a sugar coating.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

c: Exactly and as Gerard Batten points out it would be against the rules to use any of that money for Ukips purposes in any referendum in the UK.

Chris Palmer said...

UKIP has absolutely no chance of securing a British withdrawal from the European Union.

Whatever the UKIP strategy may be, it will not poll very highly. This is because so long as the Conservative Party continues to hold the unthinking tribal allegiances of millions of voters then other smaller political parties will not be able to gain traction.

The Conservative Party must collapse before EU withdrawal is possible (presuming the EU doesn't collapse under its own weight). Only then could we actually create a party which is capable of gaining a Parliamentary majority and taking us out of the European Union.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

CP: I sadly have to agree, but that is entirely due to the half-arsed way in which they go about presenting themselves and their policies.

As to your comment about the Tories and their 'hold' on the electorate, again have to agree - but that is only because they are dealing with a load of sheep.

Re your last paragraph, the only way that will happen is with a change of leader, a change in how candidates are selected (open primaries) and getting candidates that tell the whips to **** off!

We have to have a 'representative' system of democracy, use of referenda and a good dose of Referism!

Chris Palmer said...

You can't change the Conservative Party from within - that is why it has to collapse. There are no mechanisms to do so and organisations without ideologies (the Conservatives don't have one - literally) cannot be given another ideology, in this case an anti-EU stance.

Changing the leader and candidate selection is not going to happen, since it would require the party leader to bring about such a change - and there is little chance that would happen. Cameron has considerably consolidated his grip on the party in terms of candidate selection. Even vaguely 'eurosceptic' candidates are being booted off the list now.

cosmic said...


I'd say there's no chance whatsoever of electing a withdrawalist government. The Conservatives would rather not be in office than be in office and withdraw from the EU. I don't quite see the circumstances in which the Conservatives would collapse although they seem to be building a head of discontent in many of their followers. I think they may well be humiliated in the next Euro elections, for what that's worth.

It's far more likely, in my view, that the EU will start to come apart because of events outside the UK. Whichever party was in power in the UK would have to come to terms with that, although it would be resisted to the last and to our great cost. They'd be desperately attempting to salvage something from the wreckage, rather than walk away.

All Euroscepticism in the UK has managed to do is to stop us being drawn into the EU with quite the full enthusiasm which would have otherwise been the case.

Chris Palmer said...

There is a chance of elected a withdrawalist party, but as I said it requires the destruction of the Conservative party. There are millions of people out there who tribally vote for (or indeed against) the main political parties. There are huge numbers who vote Labour, and yet are against immigration and the EU for example. There are just as many who vote Conservative. And there are even quite a few who vote Lib Dem because they don't like the Tories (or Labour) who also don't like the EU or immigration, or high taxes etc.

Once the Conservative party collapses (and possibly the Labour party along with it, since its tribal enemy has disappeared, and its members realise that they are held together only by their loathing of the Tories and are in fact quite different in their opinions) then for the first time in generations, millions of people who vote without thought may be required to examine why they vote and who for. This might actually lead them to vote for parties that represent their views rather than the three at the moment that do not.

The Conservative party is very weak at the moment. It has a significantly declined membership and activist base (this is why Dave and company are moving towards centralisation of the party machinery and state funding of political parties) and is deeply unpopular. It just happened to be the case at the last election that Labour (and Gordon Brown) were more unpopular - but only just. Had the Tories lost the last election, particularly from such a comfortable lead then it may have been the end of them. Faced with another five years or indeed more in opposition, the remaining party membership would have become disillusioned as well as its financial backers withdrawing support.

As for the present, again, as you mention there is significant discontent with the party - and this will only get worse with time.

cosmic said...

It seems like a question of timing as many of these things are decided by events. In this case I suggest events external to the UK will shape what happens here. I believe that the disintegration of the Tories could happen in the next five years, but is unlikely in the next year or so. There's no real sign that tribal voting has diminished to such an extent that there's any immediate crisis in the political set up. Membership of the main parties is declining along with electoral turnout. Meanwhile EU integration and attempts to enforce the Euro continue apace. I think it all revolves around whether they'll manage to turn the crisis into a beneficial crisis. My belief is that the Euro will fall apart, but I accept that they may pull it off.

There is no credible withdrawalist party now and the likelihood of one arising in the next year or so looks remote. What's more, I don't think the idea that the EU game is up is prevalent in the Civil Service etc; they still think it's all still to be played for.

The coalition could come undone and posturings from William Hague courting the Eurosceptic vote suggest this thought is going through the minds of the Tory brass. They may be in for a surprise, but I don't altogether see them being wiped out in the next GE or even being reduced to the state they were in after 1997.

Other events are creeping up on us, such as the general debt crisis in the Western economies and the electricity crisis in the UK which could easily lead to rolling power cuts in the next few years.

As I say, I think there's more prospect that the EU will be falling apart and whichever combination of Lib/Lab/Con is in office will be reluctantly forced to accept that.

Chris Palmer said...

We missed the best opportunity in a generation to destroy the Conservative party at the last election. You're right that we won't get that opportunity again for a while - though the next election may provide it unless EU events get in the way and do it for us.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

c & CP: You both make good points in your comments, ones that I agree with.

c: There is, however, a withdrawalist party, the only problem is they appear to have lost their way!

CP: Unless the withdrawalist party get their act together and do so pdq, then I fear we are indeed doomed to wait for the EU to break up - and the longer that takes the more chance they have of cementing their existence, if necessary by brute force!