Can UKIP come back from the dead?
There is a need, can UKIP rise to meet it?
Graham Eardley and David Wilkinson
Before you read this article I would like you to set aside one idea: that there is a tribal division where everyone is either a UKIPper or a total Tory. Some people have total contempt for both UKIP and May's Tory party. We write this article as voters, voters who believe in the independence of this country (and all others ) .
The starting point of this article it that Theresa May's government, or any other likely government, will only deliver the minimum Brexit it can get away with unless pressure is exerted. It is the duty and the purpose of the authentic anti-EU movemnet in this country to apply that pressure. This involves performing the usual tasks of a political movement including intellectual, moral and spiritual leadership as well as popular organisation.
It is our observation that these tasks are simply not being accomplished and consequently we are heading for a cosmetic Brexit. There are fewer and fewer people pretending that May's government see Brexit as anything other than an error to be mitigated and minimalised and that success is , for them, the least harmful Brexit.
The question we investigate here is: could UKIP still play a significant or even leading part in that movement?
This is part one, posing questions. Part two will follow after the EGM and should indicate some answers.
Admiral Dönitz - failed to lead his party to a come-back
I had intended to interview Henry Bolton before Christmas but the practicalities could not be arranged and the oportunity slipped away. I would have asked him, as I would of an officer commanding, what forces were available to him, which elements actually took his command and what strategies he might have. Today, at the end of January 2018, there is no point asking Bolton these things. The people who matter are the remains of the organised membership of UKIP. So this article takes the form of a conversation with Graham Eardley. Graham is a committed and loyal UKIP man. For many years he has also been one of the key members of Bruges Group's organisational and executive team. He commands some respect and his views should represent fairly opinion in the quality end of UKIP.
Graham, UKIP is having a spot of bother at the moment and maybe we will come back to that but first we need to recognise that the political task before us today is not the same at all as what UKIP has been doing for the last couple of decades. I think Farage understood this, understood that he could not continue to do what he has been doing for the last decade or so but was not capable do what is required now and decided to exit the stage. Does UKIP, or at least the thinking part of UKIP, understand what needs to be done now?
GE I think most definitely that people in the party Do understand what needs to be done.
There needs to be a period of calm and stability at the helm of UKIP.
There are people who have suggested that the party should have an interim leader for a period to at least see the party through to the local elections in May 2018, if not longer and help sort out what appears to be a mess with the Party’s constitution a job which Henry Bolton was elected to do.
Theresa May seems to be failing on Brexit and now seems to favour some sort of quasi Norway/Canadian deal and seems increasingly unable to hold the Conservatives together on this.
Labour, like UKIP, still has its own internal struggles particularly after the recent elections to its own NEC and the threat that some Labour MPs will break away from party if they are deselected by members of their own CLP and is now in favour of the U.K. making “a single market and a customs union”with the European Union.
UKIP is the only party that says succinctly we want out of the European Union now. No second referendum and has a huge opportunity to deliver true independence from Brussels once it gets its act together.
It is difficult to accept that UKIP can take on that role for two sets of reasons. First of all I do not think UKIP were much responsible for us having a referendum and certainly not for winning it. Cameron had the idea of the referendum but not that it should be lost by the EU, it was part of his strategy. The founding concept of UKIP was not to campaign for a referendum because (at least Sked) understood that this was not the way to victory but that wresting power from the EU-run elite was all that counted. That is why it was not called the Referendum Party or the Referendum Campaign. Individual members of UKIP worked hard with everyone else in the referendum campaign but the culture of UKIP was entirely harmful. UKIP could only ever attract support from people who already agreed to leave the EU. Actually, not even many of those. UKIP, on a good day, could win about 16-18% of the vote. That is about a third of those who voted to leave the EU. As the turn-out was much more in the referendum than in the elections where UKIP did well, we have to say that only a much smaller proportion of those who wanted to leave the EU could bring themslves to vote UKIP. UKIP was, as the figures show, repellent to most Leave voters. Of those who voted remain, a very significant percentage did not much support the EU at all but were voting against Farage and UKIP culture.
I think the BBC knew this very well when they created Farage as a media celebrity. He served their purpose of the eurosceptic they knew they could beat, the image of euroscepticism that would repel the very people in society most likely otherwise to clamour for change.
The second set of reasons are around the fact that if UKIP did get us the referendum, why did they have no plan nor capability to fight the referendum and nothing at all for after the referendum? It is as if Lenin had urged people to storm the Winter Palace and then himself run away back to Germany. It rather shows that UKIP never had anything to contribute at all but rather exploited the naturally occurring phenomenon of opposition to the EU for its own benefit. UKIP cashed in.
This is my big doubt about UKIP now, what is required is precisely what it has failed to do since they purged Sked. And if they could do it, would they do it in such a way as to repel the same majority of Brexiteers that refused to vote for you under Farage?
When the Referendum Party folded a lot of former referendum party members were absorbed into UKIP. The history of my own Walsall branch is that the whole of the former Walsall referendum party branch became the Walsall UKIP branch. By which time Sked had gone off the scene as far as UKIP was concerned. I would argue that this was catalyst for UKIP calling for a referendum.
As for UKIP gotting the referendum, well they played a part but not as much as Dave Cameron’s own ego did , in my opinion.
I would say undoubtedly there are good Eurorealists in both Conservatives and Labour Parties hence the disparity in the referendum result and GE results. Also during the last lot of European Parliamentary elections I know a lot of card carrying Conservatives voted UKIP so that their party hierarchy would get the message.
Nigel Farage is unique . I bet the BBC did expect him to turn into his own media personality .
Since the early days, UKIP has purged anyone who had any talent or integrity. I was victim of one of the first purges (although Helen Szamuelly was purged a few months before I was) and that is how I came to be there when Sir James Goldsmith founded Referendum Party. It seemed that Farage only allowed spivs and half-wits any where near the top of the party. The purging was so extreme that now the integrity and intellect of any leading UKIPper must be under question. Indeed that has been demonstrated over this last chaotic year.
The EGM is just days away, how do you think UKIP could revive, reorganise and rebrand? Could a new leader bring back the salvagable elements, discard the rest and build something?
In terms of reorganisation and deployment, UKIP was always popular with activists because it gave them something to do: campaign in elections. This is great fun and it was the reason it out-competed the likes of Deocracy Movement for supporters. But, will newKip continue to be a one-club golfer? Can a reorganised UKIP be the mass=membership wing of the movement or would we still be looking for something else as well to do that job?
Let’s face it and I can say this now with hindsight when Henry Bolton was elected leader of UKIP the members were sold a pup because he is not completely cutting himself off from a person who not only issued racist texts one of those texts was an insult against a future member of the royal family. And I think the party should issue an apology to Ms Market because of Henry & Jo’s behaviour.
At the time of Henry’s election to the leadership I was most impressed with his CV and supported his campaign publicly how wrong I was.
However, the fact that following his relationship with Jo Marney with whom despite her racist texts he still wishes to keep in contact with and has not ruled out the possibility of rekindling the relationship, a woman who had to be suspended and thankfully resigned from the party I think he has shown a complete lack of judgement and understanding not only with these own party members but with the British public as a whole.
Graham, the UKIP EGM is in just a few days, let us see what happens and conclude our assessment of UKIP's participation in the continued struggle to leave the EU.