Did you know that Google reported that the most searched for term in the run up to the general election had been “UKIP”? Millions more than eventually voted for UKIP had been researching the party.
The web site was the party’s chance to speak directly to people – in their millions at the time – free of distortion from biased media reports. So when these potential UKIP voters arrived on the party’s site what did they find? Were they drawn in and persuaded? Did we look like professionals who could be trusted, who had a coherent vision for the country? If they entered a name and email or phone number were they referred to local branches to be further wooed? Had UKIP maximised the potential from a well-designed website?
I ask because I was comparing party websites to see who had the best presentation. I did this because the one party that really does not communicate well at all is our own barely sentient UKIP. I can tell you that the Lib Dems are the winners with their `Our Vision’ page. It is vacuous nonsense of course, complete drivel in places, but it is an attractively laid out page and, had you arrived at it from a Google search while pondering who to vote for, you would find your questions answered. The web page works.
To spare you the nausea of looking at a Lib Dem policy page yourself let me describe it for you. It comprises a mosaic of picture tiles, one for each policy area, and on clicking a tile you are taken to a summary of the party’s policy (or its totality of policy perhaps given the vapid nature of what you read) on whatever topic it is you had clicked. On the right-hand side of each page is an area where you can sign up for more information – i.e. have the Lib Dems contact you and work on you to join and support the party. The page serves prospective Lib Dem voters and the Lib Dem party very well. Visitors are not just invited to make contact on the index page but also whenever a particular policy area attracts them.
I need not describe what is wrong with our party’s website for we all gave up on it a long time ago. The lamentable state of UKIP’s website is common knowledge. The question I want to address here is why is the party’s web site so bad?
It cannot be for lack of money. Donations to the party were at record levels in 2014/15. There was -erm – a lack of discipline over spending but that is no excuse. The website could have been prioritised. The website – I repeat, the chance to speak directly to people – just wasn’t a priority. A decent website is neither difficult nor expensive.
Money is an issue these days as donations drop below the level the BNP receive but the party had, and spent, £100,000 on the calamitous Stoke campaign. Might the party not have been better served by spending a bit less on damaging its reputation with an amateurish and naïve campaign and putting some resources into a decent website instead? If truly strapped for cash the party’s 20 odd MEPS can give a couple of hundred pounds each to fund it. Their salaries and generous benefits and pension amount to a very good life indeed on the back of UKIP. So, a website is not too much to ask for in return.
It looks as though, and it is entirely consistent with this, the leadership did not want a decent website because they were reluctant to spell out any policies relevant to domestic elections – leaving the EU was an aim not a policy – and so vagueness about policy may reflect the leadership’s desire to keep things ad hoc according to their pick ‘n mix approach to emulating the other parties. The disastrous halal leaflet, and the u-turn it represents – was kept under wraps and not where it should have been, under a policy tile on a website where we could have spotted it. If the leadership cannot be straight with its own members how does it expect to have credibility with the wider electorate?
It is time we had a decent website, one where anyone, but members in particular, can see what we stand for and what our policies are across a range of subjects. I realise that the leadership are not capable of deep thought – Stoke showed that – but our leader did say at the Weymouth conference earlier this month that the party needs to be radical (as did Nigel in Bolton) and I would very much like to see what that means. If they are having trouble writing up some policies, then I am sure readers of UKIP Daily will be happy to help. We could start with Anne Marie on Sharia and go back to our opposition to the non-stun slaughter of animals. There is, for an example, a Belgian YouTube video showing what happens when a cow’s throat is cut when killed the halal way. It tries to cry out but can’t because its windpipe has been severed. It takes time to die in evident pain and terror. We could link to that video to show why we say non-stun slaughter is callous barbarism toward animals and would be eradicated in the UK by UKIP. Does anyone doubt that such a policy would be popular? (With the civilised that is).
We could _ _ _ well, fill in the blanks yourself because the leadership are certainly not doing that. It is time the troika of Nuttall, O’Flynn and Evans came clean with the membership. After Stoke they cannot assume donations and ground troops will come forward again without clarity on the policies we campaign on. Time we had a decent website with some substance. If people ever again use Google to find out what we are about let them find a professional, persuasive and informative website at the very least.