Friday, 16 December 2011

Woe is Ukip

For 'yonks' this country's membership of the European Union has never registered with the British public as an election issue; albeit that the politicians from the Lib/Lab/Con have refused to discuss it; the media have refused to raise it at election time as an issue; and the only party against said membership - Ukip - has gone about their business in what can only be described as an amateurish manner.

It is accepted that for what is considered a 'minor party', in political terms, to gain media attention is extremely difficult - especially with a media that is undoubtedly 'influenced' by the Lib/Lab/Con with their dire threats of 'non-access' should what may be termed 'negative copy' be filed. Having made that basic point, one would have thought that in the current climate, where the subject of membership of the European Union - and of that body itself - has been one of the main topics in the news, Ukip would have polled highly. That this did not happen may be due to the 'bounce' Cameron and his party received from Cameron's non-veto on the non-treaty. Digressing slightly, that was some 'bounce' when considering that the Conservative candidate actually lost votes compared to the 2010 general election.

That there is something greatly amiss in Ukip's strategy is even more self-evident, especially considering what can only be termed their dismal showing in Feltham & Heston. Ukip have, of late, made much of the fact that nationally they are polling 8%, compared to the national figure of 7% for the Liberal Democrats - but one has to say that surely, in these circumstances Ukip should have been polling in the 'upper teens' as a bare minimum. I think that all - maybe with one or two exceptions - would agree that Nigel Farage is charismatic, likable and appeals to a great number of people because he tends to speak in 'plain English', unlike most politicians. Yet the point has to be made - what is the benefit of making what some have termed 'barnstorming' speeches in the EU Parliament, or on Russia Today, when they are only available to those with internet access, said speeches and interviews being totally ignored by our MSM?

The problem that Ukip has is not just with the strategy, one presumably 'directed' by Nigel Farage - it goes much, much deeper. Those of us who are members of Ukip are continuously reminded that to gain national seats it is absolutely necessary that local seats are obtained. Yet when, in conversation with a Regional Organiser, I raised the question of how many branches had anyone conversant with election law, or had anyone with the faintest idea how to conduct an election campaign, the answer received was that the figure would be extremely few. Having done both with the Conservative Party - when I was a member - and offering to visit branches to talk about these two aspects, among others,  I was advised that it would be considered. Since then - four weeks ago, come next weekend - the response has been deafening by its silence. That a 'following' can be gained is only too apparent when considering Aylesbury or Ramsey at the time of the last local elections - yet, again, it is obvious that 'lessons have not been learnt', something 'par for the course' where politicians of any party is concerned.

Richard North, EU Referendum, together with Helen, Your Freedom and Ours, pass on their own views on this subject. Richard North is of the opinion that it may be worthwhile to formulate a gathering together of  interested parties and disaffected 'eurosceptics' to see whether there is a common, positive ideology that could unite us all, and provide a standard around which the disaffected of this nation can muster. I am of the opinion that the core already exists and it exists within Ukip. The problem is the present strategy - and those dictating said strategy - and both need changing. Perhaps it is possible that those within Ukip who recognise that a problem exists - and those ex-members, who could perhaps 'bury the hatchet', got together to discuss a way forward.

This is not to suggest creating a division within Ukip, but merely to educate a few people in that party. When considering the standard of response the Albion Alliance received from Ukip candidates during the campaign they carried out with candidates of all parties, prior to the general election of 2010, there is definitely one hell of a lot of education required where Ukip is concerned. As readers will be aware, I am a great advocate of 'Referism' and 'Direct Democracy' and I would have thought that those ideals would be the cornerstone of a party that has the word 'Independence' in its title - independence not only for the country, but independence for the people.

Just saying..............


TomTom said...

UKIP is a joke party because it is a Southern English Party. The Labour Party emerged from The North largely from a Mill Strike in 1891 in Bradford, itself a consequence of the 1890 McKinley Tariff in the USA costing major export markets.

That was a real issue, not some disaffected Tories wanting a different leader. The only way to create a new party is to do it in The North because that is where disaffection is great and established parties are owned by hedge funds and are metropolitan.

The Conservatives cannot win the North and cannot win without the North. Labour is crumbling and the LibDems are loathed.

With a new Northern Party led by characters like Philip Davies it would be possible to clean up the North and build a coherent party encompassing all groups simply by getting a better deal for the North and blocking the other parties from ever getting a majority

Anonymous said...

I suspect that even if less than HALF of the immigrant population in that constituency turned out to vote then they would have voted in whom ever they chose and by a huge majority. If there was a breakdown of the voting statistics - especially for postal voting - I reckon the answer would be quickly seen.
That's not to say the UKIP 'supporters' were pro-active enough though.

cosmic said...

First, too much can be made of a by-election result; they can be perverse.

Second, we go back to the question of whether UKIP should have MEPs. It's an invitation for their MEPs to join in the EU fun and the EP can really have no impact on anything by design. The local Libdems, I can't stand, but they are an active presence locally and the LibDem MP is apparently a nice bloke who takes up local issues. He has a large majority. I doubt many worry too much about what the Libdems stand for and they stand for different things in different parts of the country. UKIP haven't concentrated on local pockets of support leading to MPs who are apparently good grafters. Then when that's been done, maybe think about MEPs.

TomTom has a good point. There was a Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern MP.

Third, Farage's eye catching schoolboy stunts don't give an air of gravitas.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the heartlands of the Midlands, the North and indeed Scotland should be good hunting grounds for UKIP [or ANY new vibrant anti; the big three claque and EU party] but it [UKIP] is perceived, as too English, very bumbling and far too middle class, civil servants masquerading and playing politics.

The EU laugh and laugh and sometimes though my friends think I am a little paranoid. I [often] think, who could possibly be a better foil for the EU and the political status quo in Britain, than old lovable [still a rabbit after all these damn years]rogue Nige himself? Am I right?

Joseph Takagi said...

Sadly, under FPTP, UKIP won't win seats for a very long time. The voting system creates inertia towards two main parties (not just UK but US too).

The only way for a small party to have influence under FPTP is entirely counterintuitive, and that is to wreck the large party that is closest to them. Find the Conservative marginal seats, concentrate your resources in them, and take enough votes away that Labour wins. Do it enough time and they'll have to stop calling you cranks and racists and start making a deal.

TomTom said...

to wreck the large party that is closest to them. Find the Conservative marginal seats

So you make UKIP a surrogate Conservative Party which is exactly where it is and why it has no traction in the North and never will

Anonymous said...

"As readers will be aware, I am a great advocate of 'Referism' and 'Direct Democracy'...."

Mornin' WfW, I note this observation and have to say that as a longtime UKIP member (first joined in 1995) that the single reason that I joined was the inclusion of direct democracy in their agenda.

This is the only political party in the UK that advocates binding DD. The problem is, that they have never made this the most important issue… realising that the problem with British politics is not the European Union, but that the Westminster consensus that passed their responsiblity to Brussels in the first place, and that changing the relationship between government and people was paramount, is unique. But then, it has never been followed through.

We have seen this writ large over and over again, in the implematation of EU directives, both major parties (the Lab and the CON of the LibLabCON) have always 'goldplated' every single directive.

The rot is resolutely housed in Westminster.

The Feltham by-election ought to be a wake up for UKIP, I am not sure it will be though. As Richard North and yourself point out, having an impact on UKIP leadership is a difficult thing to do. Richard points out that the party does not have an intellectual base… I disagree, I think that the direct democracy thing, is it… A fundamental change in the way that we are governed, the government serving the people, rather than the other way around.

If all of those (floating) voters that (even if they don't admit it) like to pick a winner and vote accordingly, understood that a UKIP vote that led to bums on seats in Westminster, would lead to interested groups ACTUALLY getting a chance to influence events, I reckon UKIP would start to actually pick up seats. There is a comment that I frequently come across… "Splitting the Tory vote"… Completely ridiculous, there is very little of interest in the current CONservative party (or Labour), that would lead to splitting the vote, they are completely different. UKIP and the others bear no resemblence to each other, UKIP being almost completely ordinary folk from left and right, that don't regard politics as a career, more a matter of life and death.

I don't think that there are many ordinary folk, those that are not members of parties, or partial to a good blog, but rely on the juvenile antics of Pravda and the Daily Mail etc., could care less about the EU… They do not realise that this is now OUR government… they don't realise Westminster merely rubber-stamps reams of decisions and regulations without even getting as far as debate.

All they see, is the politics of personality, a sort of beauty contest for some really ugly (inside and out) people, and have decided to not bother with it, or if they bother at all, feel good about being on the winning side, or keeping the other lot out.

UKIP have to understand this and understand that this is the main reason that they do not make as much headway as they would like.

I do not see any good reason to form a new party, rather that the people that don't like Nige, should actually get over it, join UKIP and try to influence events from within. Nige is actually the best mouthpiece that we have, so there is obviously room for more, but people should be aware that there is a very good reason why he is rather suspicious of people challenging him, which is that there have been several attempts by incomers at taking over for their own rather more prosaic reasons.

I am thinking Richard Suchorzewski, Robert Kilroy-Slik, David Campbelll Bannerman and others, two of those being CONservative party plants, the other a shameless self promoter. There have also been incursions by the BNP types, that have led to UKIP being tarnished with their hate message, which might be a tendency for hangers and floggers within, but has never been part of the UKIP message.

Anonymous said...

Just acouple of observations.
We have a pretty good following in Yorkshire.
Traditional labour territory here in Rotherham and we have a good percentage of ex~LABOUR supporters.
A good long term active branch in Feltham would have greatly improved UKIP's result.
HARD work and support from members and ex members is still needed.

Anonymous said...

Just acouple of observations.
We have a pretty good following in Yorkshire.
Traditional labour territory here in Rotherham and we have a good percentage of ex~LABOUR supporters.
A good long term active branch in Feltham would have greatly improved UKIP's result.
HARD work and support from members and ex members is still needed.

PeterCharles said...

Most of the comments clearly illustrate UKIP's inadequacies, although it has to be noted that they are indeed a Conservative party, I would put them in the small 'c', traditional class, far away from Cameron's Social Democratic Conservative Party, but Conservative none the less.

I suppose if I was in charge of strategy I would change the damned name, dump the one policy image, start a newspaper or even a blog cabal using people of the calibre of Richard North, John Ward (WfW's blog roll has a wealth of accomplished, informed and informative people as examples) and our own WfW, of course, that could both present real news, real analysis and honest comment and be looking for a few highly articulate candidates to really target certain seats at an election.

The first step probably would be an attempt to form a new party drawing from the established political class in order to inject some gravitas and profile. As I said before, the next election could have a fair few potential recruits from dissolved constituencies and new constituencies without a traditional party vote. Wouldn't it just serve Cameron right if his changes let in the first handful of domestic UKIP MPs.

Anonymous said...

@Peter Charles…

What would you change the name to?... bearing in mind two things:

1. It has taken UKIP fifteen years for this name to be widely recognised.

2. When Nigel became leader, he attempted to change the name to 'Independence' but was informed by the Electoral Commission that the name would not be allowed.

As I indicated above, I joined the party in 1995 not because of its position on the EU, though important I felt that the most important policy was the introduction of Swiss style direct democracy.

It has constantly irritated me that the party does not make more of this, since it is in my view the 'intellectual base' that Richard North talks about, the implications of that policy are huge.

If you have read any of Richard North's commentary, you already know that he was one of the very early members, coming from The Referendum Party, when it merged with UKIP, and becoming Nigel Farage's researcher.

What you might not know, is why they fell out… As I understand it, from one of the MEP's that was there at the time, Richard wanted to be an MEP, but it was felt that after a couple of disastrous public meetings in which he took part, that he, despite his remarkable abilities as a thinker and researcher, was not MEP material, and he was passed over for someone else.

Richard left and never forgave the party and he has ever since directed most of his ire at his former friend and colleague Nigel, although Nigel would never reciprocate in public.

Anyway, I will persist in my view that the party has legs, and will eventually make a breakthrough. I will also persist in reading what Richard has to say, and regret that he and the party do not seem to be reconcilable.

I dispute your assertion that UKIP has a one policy image, even if partly true, they did not create this, that was the responsibility of our friends in the meeja… They have always had a full set of policies, perhaps you should take a look at the policies section of their website.

However, as I indicated above, I wish that they would make far more of the DD policy than they do.

PeterCharles said...

Oh right-writes, where to begin?

I cannot conjure a new name but the reality of public conception is that UKIP are a one policy party and this is partly due to the name which expresses two things, they are a protest vote and are primarily concerned with British withdrawal from the EU. I know they are far more than that, have a full hand of policies and I have looked closely at their site. But that is me, the ordinary punter doesn't, they rely on the MSM and the BBC where I can never recall seeing any mention of UKIP outside of a discussion on Europe. It's not fair I agree, but neither is Ian Duncan Smith being seen as intellectually lacking because he is bald or John Redwood seen as similarly lacking because he has pointy ears and doesn't blink enough. Not fair, but it is reality.

I know Richard North hates Farage with a passion, it is pretty obvious on his blog, but I was not promoting him, or anyone else, as potential candidates, only using them as examples of the quality of correspondent needed.

I also hope they do succeed in breaking the LibLabCon hegemony and if things get bad enough they very well may. For myself I feel they spend too much effort preaching to the converted, but that may just be a result of the MSM desire to sideline them.

Without a mainstream voice to bring their voice to public attention and the energy to shape debate rather than respond to the status quo they are not likely to make a breakthrough. The lone voice in the British political system has huge hurdles to overcome, look at the Liberals, after 40 years in the wilderness they had to prostitute themselves to Labour discards before they got any public attention, then wait another 40 years before they got even a sniff of influence.

Trooper Thompson said...

As someone who is outside UKIP, I advise you to change the name. It's ugly. A new name could open a new chapter, and the party, not to say the country desperately needs to open a new chapter.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Interesting comments from you all. Intriguing idea from TT (as in satnav, to differentiate from the other TT, the squaddie) and one that needs thinking about.

Anon (1) and c make a good point about by-elections not necessarily being a good barometer. Also I believe that the nearness to Christmas was a factor in the low turnout as people have other considerations (That an election should be at the top - but I digress).

Anon (2) and JT actually, inadvertently, home in on the 'core' problem that Ukip has, in my opinion. It is the presentation that is wrong with EU first. Sell their policies first. Get people on-side then explain to them that none of them can be enacted until we leave the EU. The point about its representatives is well made, they are too middle class, too old in some cases - that needs to change. Ukip would do well to invest in courses to 'smarten' their candidtes up (dress, appearance, speech etc). JT's suggestion is well answered by TT's following comment. Yes, what Ukip should do is concentrate on areas where they know they have a following (South West for example).

PC makes some good points, while being very kind to me. I am of two minds about forming a new party though. I do believe that Ukip should invest a little time talking to those MPs of known anti big govt beliefs who will be without a constituency and see if they will come on board. They woud bring with them 'knowledge' of how a campaign should be run, an area in which Ukip is plainly abysmal.

r_w is correct in that Ukip do believe in DD and binding referendums, however they also believe in maintaining the present status quo where the number of MPs is concerned etc. The two are incompatible and Ukip should adopt true DD, one along the lines of the Swiss. I will not comment on RN's 'disagreements' - I leave that to him, should he visit to reply to. Suffice it to say anyone wanting a good history of Ukip and those who have and still are involved in it would do no better than to get a copy of A Hard Pounding by Dr. Peter Gardner. That book is a 'definitive' history of the party and is available from public libraries. That the press have undoubtedly had a hand in presenting Ukip as a one trick pony is accepted, yet what has Ukip actually done to dispel this belief?

Trooper T does have a point, especially should Ukip eventually get MPs elected in any numbers to affect matters as the name would then become redundant. At the moment it is also perceived among some in UKip as the Farage Party - which says a lot.......

graham wood said...

I am not a UKIP member, but interested to know why UKIP is not impacting much electorally speaking.
Nige is charismatic, appealing, and knowledgeable, and in terms of appeal to voters, tick all the right boxes. Yes UKIP remains inert as a party. Why? Someone suggested, I think rightly that voters will not go for a party that they think has no hope of winning a UK election.
OK some truth in that.
Others: UKIP is a one trick pony - always on about the EU. More truth in that.
UKIP Poorly organised party machine? Maybe.
Whatever the reason I believe with WfW and "write" that a radical change of approach is needed, and that UKIP should disassociate itself entirely from the corrupted 'westimnster village' and the current anacrhronistic party set up, and go for DD in a big way - a la Swiss model.
If Nigel and the party could articulate this powerfully, pointing out that all three main parties are EU tolerant and therefore undemocratic, then there is room for fundamental change.
Also, I believe that DD if promoted with energy and vision will appeal to the public which are inclined to say to the current party political cosy consensus 'A plague on all your houses'.
DD is attractive and doable, and UKIp should pick it up and run with it. Is there any alternative to the political impasse we have at present with "dead" political parties?
Somebody tell Nigel please!

Anonymous said...

WfW… Re bums on seats in Westminster… We are where we are, but if UKIP did suddenly take off and form a government, you would be able to raise a petition, collect signatures and have a referendum on reducing the number of MP's… As you know, much of the Swiss system is voluntary, and even the federal government is part time, with only seven cabinet ministers… But they have had 800 years to practice!

Graham Wood…

"DD is attractive and doable, and UKIp should pick it up and run with it. Is there any alternative to the political impasse we have at present with "dead" political parties?
Somebody tell Nigel please!"

As I wrote earlier, Swiss style binding local and national direct democracy IS their policy, and it is (for me) such a game changer, that I joined the party in 1995… (I have left and rejoined since).

BTW: I may well see Nigel at our Christmas party, he is a member of our local group and he lives 100 yards away from the venue… (A pub, of course). So I'll remind him if I get the chance.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

gw: but if Ukip did 'sell' their policies - and I also believe that a good number of them would resonate with the public at large, that would dispel this myth of them being a one trick pony.

Trust me in that their admin is utter crap - it has been pointed out many times and still nothing happens. Likewise their website.....

r_w: Re last paragraph: now that is when I would like to be a fly on the wall!

Methinks head and brickwall will be the pertinent words if you do get to tackle him...... nfortunately.

graham wood said...

Right writes & wfw. Thanks for the comments and points noted.

Yes do remind Nigel. I'm sure there is massive potential in exploring and promoting DD.
With so many years passing without a single MP for UKIP, many in the party must be wondering 'what must we do to make an impact upon the public in elections?'

Looking at PMQs's and the whole 'ambience' of Westminster does make one wonder if the whole antique contraption is now well beyond its sell by date - and utterly unable to return to democracy, and return it to the people since they are all (apart from a few europlastics) in hoc to the EU.
Parliament to some degree "worked" once but does so no longer and we have but the shell of representative democracy. One root cause and cancer is the iron grip of the party political system per se, and the rule of the Whips. As many have point out, our governemnt IS Brussels. Logically then, little point in wasting time seeking to 'reform' Westminster.
Surely Nigel and those at the top of UKIP must be asking similar questions?

Joseph Takagi said...

Graham Wood,

With so many years passing without a single MP for UKIP, many in the party must be wondering 'what must we do to make an impact upon the public in elections?'

You have to replace the Conservatives as the 2nd place in a seat, and become then when the LDs/Labour become unpopular, you take the seat. That's what you have to do under FPTP.

That said, wrecking the tories may be good under this policy. If business interests don't see the Tories as likely to win elections and serving their interests, they'll stop funding them. The tories don't have a very healthy membership. Putting them out of business would allow another party to take their place.