[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?