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A Hundred Seats

[Ed: This is the second article (first article here) in a series of eleven articles which will be published in the coming days.]

There is insufficient realisation in UKIP how radical we now have to be in order to prosper, and too much reliance on Labour’s problems to see us through to some modest gains in by-elections. Yes we might make a few, but we should not be contenting ourselves with such unambitious targets: we should be going for a hundred seats, not ten.

The May Government’s dancing to Brussels’ tune over Brexit negotiations will mean Brexit will run for some time yet, but over and beyond that the same old battle needs to be fought, to convince the British people that we have our own sensible programme for government covering every area of policy. It is not enough to rely on not being Tories or Labour, or claim we did have a jolly good manifesto in 2015 showing how very reasonable we are, because it did not sufficiently capture the public imagination then and a similar approach will not do so the next time either. The EU and immigration have never been enough to win us seats, and that is unlikely to change. We cannot just offer more of the same: we might just as well put our faith in a fairy godmother.

The first rule of politics is to get people’s attention, and the way to do that is to be bold, innovative and radical. We took the first step after the 2015 election when Nigel started talking about going for the traditional Labour vote. We might make a little progress just talking, but we should not be taking anything for granted and merely hoping for the best: we should be putting every ounce of our weight behind the movement in that direction, and giving it an enormous shove with policies specifically designed to make it happen. We may never again have the great fortune of a Labour Party in turmoil; already there is a distinct prospect they will come to their senses on immigration in time for the next general election. There is an urgency here, but our luminaries show little sign of grasping the great opportunity we have been given. As Jonathan Arnott has claimed, “we don’t need different policies, we just need to market them better.” One hopes the fairy godmother is listening, because this is a strategic misappreciation of worrying proportions.

Here we get to the difficult bit. The reason we have not actually done anything to make our policies more attractive to traditional Labour voters is because of the Thatcherite tendency in the Party, personified by Nigel but inherent in many ex-Tories who joined us when Cameron’s Conservatives were not actually conserving anything. Of course we should rejoice in being a broad church and welcome anyone who can unite under the great cause of independence, and fully recognise too that we will continue to need the support of Conservative-inclined voters, especially in the south where they are most numerous. You however – and it is ‘you’ ex-Tories who need to be addressed – should recognise that our only chance lies with that Labour vote. All our experience tells us we are not going to get many more Tories coming across, at least not until we have made our great breakthrough and they too come to realise we are a perfectly feasible alternative to their lifetime voting habit.

If you think unbridled free-market economics is still the answer you should seriously ask yourself why the wealth gap grows ever wider, why wages at the bottom are so stagnant and productivity so poor; why we have to run off to the French and Chinese to build our power stations; why for the first time in our history our young generation faces a poorer future than their parents. You might acknowledge that selling off the family silver and relying on shareholders’ pursuit of profit and ‘the market’, with next to no initiative by the state, simply is not working. It is not working when it comes to cheap foreign imports undermining the little that is left of our manufacturing industry, and it is not working in encouraging it even to meet domestic demand.

The unpalatable truth is that despite long-standing claims to one-nation policies, Tories have always looked after the rich first. That at least is the perception of the less fortunate, and you – our own ex-Tories – have to come to terms with that and recognise that we simply will not win those Labour votes, unless we put our common bonds of nationhood first and start giving a hand-up to our fellow countrymen and women.

Here comes the good news. The rich tend to be Tories, but most Tories are not actually very rich, and it is this much larger element, as well as patriotic Labour, that can be attracted by well-pitched policies since not-so well-off Tories are caught in one of the great cons of our time. They have been beguiled into voting to support the really rich, whose chief concern is to preserve their wealth, while their less well-heeled neighbours have been persuaded that in order to preserve their own little slice they too have to vote Tory. How else do you suppose the truly wealthy manage to defend their position so well? How else do you think the Conservative Party is funded? It is all a self-perpetuating scam and its watchword is ‘no socialism here.’ What we have to do is break this link between the middling and the moneyed classes, so the former start seeing their interests are not the same after all. The way to do that is through a fairer tax system, but more on that another time.

To really clinch the headlines we need an even more eye-catching move.   Let us nationalise the railways, with compensation only for small investors.   It has been popular in the opinion  polls for some time. It would wrongfoot Labour. And it would form the basis for a touch of state initiative – again, more of which later.

Do we want to win – or not?     

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26 Comments on A Hundred Seats

  1. If Paul Nuttal’s only Parliamentary ambition is for ‘double figures ‘ of MPs – which could be achieved by eleven MPs, then straight off that demoralizes me from even standing again ( I am an Approved List candidate ).

    I believe that triple figures MPs is achievable and should be the stated aim : maybe we won’t get there but if we announce in advance that we do not expect to then why would any waivering Labour voter bother to cross over to UKIP ?
    Why would previously motivated candidates bother to stand / pay huge sums for leaflets and all the rest of it ?
    As to possible policies try out these for size:
    http://www.rhys4nec.co.uk

    • Rhys, thanks for comment, good questions, quite agree.
      Like your policies. Sorry you didn’t get into NEC. Think I voted for you but can’t remember now! The election was poor insofar as too many people cast their votes for people just becasue they are well known. Firstly older hands should step aside for new blood. Secondly it should be regional to help control no of candidates and local association.
      We must win this fight to make this a truly people’s party.

  2. Quercus, you argue for the nationalisation of the railways.
    I wonder, have you had first hand experience of what British Rail was like?
    Do you remember the national strikes;the inefficiency;the overcrowding;the government failure to properly maintain the network etc.?
    The nationalised rail system was rather like a larger version what Southern Rail, and London Tube, are like today.
    Is that what you really want Quercus?

    • I remember it very well Howard. It got like that because it was deliberately starved of investment, and the Beeching cuts were part of the same mentality – how we could have used the extra capacity now.
      The most efficient railways in the UK are N Ireland Rail, protected by the NI Agreement, and East Coast mainline, which had to be taken over from a failing franchisee.
      I am not proposing any nationalisation where there are genuine markets, but the railways and utilities are not in this category.
      Rail nationalisation is very popular in the opinion polls. It would get the headlines and the message that we’re on working people’s side. That is what we need to do to start winning, whether we like it or not. And we’re not going to control immigration any other way.

  3. A Northern Voice // January 9, 2017 at 8:28 pm // Reply

    No i’d say concentrate our scarce resources on a smaller number of seats. Of course stand in as many places as possible, but concentrate effort where we’ll get the best return. I hope the leadership is doing that analysis, and if they need any help they should ask. Re the positioning of of UKIP; there is no doubt in my mind that working class people are not, fundamentally, Socialists. That kind of thing is a middle-class Guardian reader phenomenon. Working Class people are very sensible and they distrust green/socialist/PC nonsense.They have been proven to be quite supportive of Right wing views, as was seen with Enoch Powell’s popularity and, indeed Margaret Thatcher’s. Blue Collar Conservatism is where it’s at these days as has been seen in the US with Trump’s victory. We need to stay on the right. Effectively this is a party of Conservative ‘Drys’ as opposed to wishy washy Conservative ‘Wets’.
    There are no answers on the left. I could never be in a socialist or left leaning party myself.

    • Then we will lose.
      Yes concentrate – on 100 seats or so and win them.
      This is not socialism! We’re talking about very limited nationalisation, some state initiative on investment, training and enterprise, the rich paying a bit more. If you don’t think working people don’t agree with that then I think you’re mistaken. They deserve respect, not patronising, and we shouldn’t think Essex man represents the whole working class.
      Powell was popular only because sue of his position on immigration, Thatcher union militancy but more the Falklands, and she was hardly popular at the end.
      Right on foreign policy, security etc, leftwards at home – SuperMac said something similar!

  4. Not much I can add to Q’s laudable ambition for 100 seats and a mix of Q and CK’s method of getting them. I am dubious about re-nationalizing railways but it would certainly be a vote winner imo. Perhaps there is a way of doing it that dilutes the state. I know nothing about economics, but I think that everything we have left to run should be run for the benefit of Britain. Most has been sold off, can any of it be regained through taxing profits of foreign companies or is that too simplistic? To this economically illiterate person it seemed that the capitalist system was no longer fit for purpose once Banks were bailed out. Is there a way to fix that?

    To return to radical policies, I watched Paul Nuttall on Sky last night and it seems UKIP’s ambitions are one more MP and councillors the length and breadth of England. I thought I was listening to a Lib Dem. No mention of the huge opportunities when we repatriate our fishing grounds, and an admission that there would be “short term pain for long term gain”, instead of an accentuation of the positives. Surely he knows them by now!
    I am afraid that Q and CK will have to sit our Leader down and explain to him that a jovial please everyone persona is killing UKIP.
    On the plus side, he did tweet this morning that we must bring back the Crown on pint glasses and the British passport. Give me strength.
    I so agree with CK, the more we make the Hate not Hope lot squeal, the better we will do. Under #Team Sensible it ain’t going to happen.

    • Thanks for comment Dee, and your forbearance on a bit of nationalization! I know the state has become a dirty word after 50 years of Tory demonizing, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
      A happy coincidence of principle and pragnatism is how I would describe our approach.

    • If it’s as bad as that with Paul Nuttall then give thanks that Nigel Farage is a UKIP party just on his own going round the media. Something is happening at least! At least he is ambitious.

  5. It is free market capitalism Mike because that is the natural progression to oligopoly and being too big to fail. That the authorities have gone along with it shows how they are sucked in as part of the system. Various monopoly commissions since the 1970s have utterly failed.
    Reform of institutions yes, but that can only be by the state. It ain’t going to happen voluntarily.

  6. THINK CREATIVE AND TRUMP THE REDS
    Not nationalise the railways but take into control 1/2/3 rail companies and run them via a not for profit company to develop a strategy and model to be used on say energy production etc.
    Nationalisation of say bus companies would lead to a worse service in my opinion and the main beneficiaries would be the executive/senior staff who would operate primarily to suit themselves. Ergo Sheffield trams were so badly planned and run that the entire operation – loss making – was handed over to a private company – it is now profit making for the same level service.
    To gales of laughter and abuse I predicted a Trump Presidency 12 months ago.
    We need to learn to operate like Trump.
    In the coming Copeland by-election blame the reds and the blues for uncontrolled immigration/false asylum seekers/false child migrants/wasteful overseas aid. A leaflet to every household warning them of the disaster to come from unlimited continuous immigration.
    The red fools and the MSM will squeal and scream and be utterly abusive PLAYING INTO OUR HANDS.
    The whole of England will hear that UKIP will end the nightmare of burqa clad aliens embezzling the monies needed for our schools/hospitals/pensions.
    The more Hate not Hope demonstrate against us the more our vote will go up.
    Copeland is still dominantly British and voted last June for BREXIT by 68%.
    With Corbyn defending no bar to all immigrants and ditto the libdems this left leaning working class seat is ours for the taking.
    FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE

    • CK
      What is ‘taking over a company to get the best model’ if it’s not nationalization? – which is what the government found with East Coast main line. Northern Ireland Rail is the most efficient in UK.
      As for executives operating to suit themselves, you put systems in to make sure that doesn’t happen – including workers on boards.
      I’m as worried about immigration as you are but if we want to stop it we’ve got to be a bit cleverer with all our policies.

      • There is a downside to nationalisation in a word sterility.
        Without the private profit motive and competition in the market place the system seizes up viz Post Office Telephones circa 1975 – wait 3 months for a phone line and pay in advance and you can have any colour as long as it is black.
        A couple of not for profit companies offering some sort of consumer choice and district/regional accountability is better than trying to rum all the railways from Whitehall.
        Last time round a man called Beeching was paid ( in todays terms) millions to simply close down most branch lines and to move towards a minimum service. We are still paying for that mistake. Ask any train enthusiast how bad it used to be. Closure of canteens in stations at 1700 prompt, dirty late trains, out of date stock, timetables etched in stone. It is not the panacea you think it is to simply put it into the hands of civil servants.
        Let the train enthusiasts run it bit by bit till a new system is in place.

        • CK
          Where there is scope for a true market then nationalisation is a last resort, but this hardly applies to railways, or utilities – they’re false markets created to appease the marketeers and their ideologues.
          Beeching was doing what he was told, and the common strategy was to starve all the old nationalised industries to make them ripe for plunder. The people who ran them were not civil servants and they were not given the chance to modernise them.
          Train enthusiasts?! – I hope you’re joking.

    • Unfortunately, I think the leadership would rather keep to uncontroversial, “sensible”, safe, policies as demanded by the MSM and no free speech Left

  7. “Tories have always looked after the rich first.”

    Well, not just the Tories, Labour too. At the time of the financial crisis, Gordon Brown used taxpayers money to prop up certain banks and started printing like a lunatic to this end.

    When you listen to economists, journalists and others talk about the economy, you realise that nobody has a clue, they’re usually wrong and we’re in uncharted waters with the economy. Most don’t understand, that in reality we no longer have free markets and now Theresa May is prescribing more of the same.

    This is an impending disaster, politicians in their desire to protect their masters have created a monster that they no longer know how to control. They won’t loose face and will keep at it until the whole financial and economic system crashes around our ears.

    Free markets are not everyone’s ideal, but left alone they do tend to correct themselves. Businesses and banks should be allowed to fail, not to live as zombies at our expense.

    • Yes Flyer, but Brown would argue he propped up the banks for everyone, rich and poor, which has some truth. Ironically of course the same argument is used by the marketeers to defend ‘trickle-down’.
      You’re certainly right in that nobody has a clue. ‘Free markets’ however still rule the roost – you seem to be arguing for an elixir of wealth, when in reality free markets are just part of capitalist economics and the globalization that goes with it.
      Yes banks should be allowed to fail. The system deliberately let them get too big to do that without unacceptable cost to everyone – another victory of unbridled capitalism.

      • I remain convinced that Brown was / is corrupt and only acted to support his cronies. The way the sale of our gold reserves was carried out can only indicate corruption or incompetence beyond belief.

        • Incompetence,I would suggest David. Plenty of failings but I don’t think we can accuse him of corruption.

          • Quercus, I don’t do conspiracy theories.
            May I suggest you research the lustrous Gavyn Davies, multimillionaire, former Goldman Sachs partner, BBC Chairman 2001-4, Tony-crony and spouse of Gordon Brown’s diary secretary (herself rewarded with a life peerage)?
            He sure had McBruin’s ear throughout the key periods.
            No doubt coincidentally, which bank gained enormously from shorting gold at the right time?
            The irascible, arguably unhinged, former MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath has much to offer… but I doubt we’ll get to hear about it.
            Personally, I find incompetence at the staggering level required to explain what happened to our money hard to believe. Nonetheless, I concede it is possible. Indeed, if Corbyn is replaced by his logical successor – be it Tom Watson, John McDonnell, Len McCluskey brought in via a by-election, Diane Abbott, David Lammy or (if possible) worse, we may be reminded about the depths of incompetence which Labour can plumb.

      • The trick here is to have a banking system which cannot be allowed to fail or the ATMs would run out and no one could pay their bills. The banks aim to be in this position! They know what they are doing. But things don’t have to be run like it. It’s certainly not free market capitalism. The answer is reform of institutions.

        I don’t think it’s quite true that no one has a clue. They have a big clue about how to run things in the interest of the elite!

  8. Does UKIP want to win? I’d say no at the moment. Not if it means having to be radical and controversial.

    • Those of you lucky enough to be able to go to the Spring Conference must force the issue please.
      I only know there is one from Twitter, I wrote to HO and said as I was a paid up member please could I have communications of some sort, and I got quite a rude email back saying my email address was in their database so I must have stuff, look in Trash! Nothing there of course, and as I email every week asking, no surprise they have my address – hopeless.

      • Worrying indeed; perhaps they don’t want people who might challenge them in their comfortable positions. It is not as though managing communication to 34,000? members is an impossible task.

      • Dee, I found this:

        https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/GFHMMI

        No detail of course but even more worrying that the title includes “and Local Government Workshop”. Local elections need to be fought but is that to be the focus? What about a coherent national policy too? It is not good relying on the 2016 manifesto which is coming up to 2 years out of date.

        Maybe someone can confirm that such a policy is under development or am I hoping for too much?

        • David
          This is the spring conference rather confusingly titled.
          Not the Derby meeting later this month, which we haven’t been told about yet and don’t know the arrangements for.
          I agree with you entirely about the need for coherent national policy. We live in hope.

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