Presidents and Prime Ministers are traditionally given a ‘honeymoon’ of 100 days when they start their new office.
UKIP not being a government and our new leader not being a PM, a ‘grace period’ of one month seems sufficient. It’s now 32 days after the election, and the ‘natives’, that’s us members, are becoming restive – and not just those who’ve been criticising Henry Bolton’s election from the moment the results were revealed at Torquay.
So let’s look at the balance sheet to date:
We had a few letters, starting with the obligatory ‘thank you’ letter to all members. We were told in another letter that Henry would report to us what he’d be doing. Then we got the letter where he introduced his shadow cabinet. That was 14 days ago – nothing since.
We’ve seen (if we happened to check his twitter account) our new leader on telly and on LBC, with certain of his remarks making the rounds of the gasping MSM, from badger-strangling to selling his house to support himself. We’ve also noted that there’s more up-to-date content on the ukip.org website.
Those with contacts to members in other parts of the country are aware that some travelling around to regional meetings is in the offing. Other members tell us that branches have been closing. There were no official announcements on these issues though.
We recall that one of Henry Bolton’s planks in his manifesto was to have a ‘shadow cabinet’: spokespeople who’d work together with members to formulate policies. David Allen (one of the very few non-MEPs in that cabinet) briefly explained in his article here how that is supposed to work.
We have not seen any attempts of the new shadow cabinet members/spokespeople to engage with the wider membership, initiating an urgent review of UKIP policies or asking for input from our experienced members, especially the more critical and vocal members congregating here on UKIP Daily – with four notable exceptions: Stuart Agnew MEP, David Allen, Mike Hookem MEP and David Kurten AM.
One could perhaps make the case, if one were lenient, that the rest of the MEPs all have far too much to do. Tweeting – something our MEPs do! – is faster and demands only 140 characters. Never mind that a large number of members aren’t even using twitter, and never mind that ‘politics by twitter’ is not a winning proposition unless one is Donald Trump.
One could perhaps make the case that the MEPs haven’t quite grasped yet how this S.A.G.E thing is supposed to work, although I suspect it’s perhaps because they’d still not have fully taken on board that many members have great expertise in a huge variety of areas, not just in delivering leaflets and manning stalls. We have been clamouring for some time now that this expertise be used.
Why isn’t it? Who knows – perhaps some contacts have been going on behind closed doors …
And here, I think is the main point of why we natives are becoming restive: the impression that yet again members are not being told what is going on; that communication with members comes rock-bottom on the list of ‘priorities’; that the cloak of secrecy which we have been criticising for so long seems to shroud management and policymaking once again, that it’s the same old same old …
Many of us gave our vote to Henry Bolton because we thought there’d be an end to this. Instead, it seems, we’re being relegated back to the mushroom-zone.
Yes, we understand that Henry needs to know what’s what in UKIP management, but surely, 32 days should have given him at least an inkling by now? Surely even a meager note to members that the situation is still being investigated would have been better than silence?
There’s been no change at the management level: the same people are still running things, still keeping things ‘confidential’, are not allowing light into the murk. The Party, new leader or not, seems still to be stuck – intentionally or not – in the same old rut.
Given the brewing sex scandal in the Tory Party, chances are there soon will be a whole host of by-elections. Has anybody in the leadership or management teams actually connected the dots yet, namely that we cannot hope to fight one, never mind two or more, by-elections without some sort of organisation and without some sort of message!
Us Purple Army foot soldiers are used to fighting on thin air and shoe leather exclusively, but what the heck would we be fighting for? Whom would we be fighting for? Local candidates? MEPs trying their luck yet again? Wasn’t there supposed to be some …. change, some directive? Is anybody in the shadow cabinet working on this? Will branch chairmen, never mind members, be asked for their input? Is nothing known because no work has yet been done? Or is it ultra-super-secret and mustn’t be spoken about by us little people?
Meanwhile, Brexit – and btw: where is this ‘OUT NOW’ campaign which was initiated at Torquay? Who is doing it? Can we be told? – doesn’t seem to be such an urgent theme for the Party. Tweets are not enough!
After 32 days in office, we ought to have seen more than just a shadow cabinet by now. While some things may take a while, that there is still a severe lack of communication is very worrying.
So – are we going to see some action? Will we get less secrecy and more information? One thing I can state with confidence: we members will never go back to the ‘good old days’ of shutting up just because “there’s an election coming”. Those times are over, as is the ‘grace period’.
Thus my appeal to the leader, shadow cabinet, and management: tell us, communicate with us, talk with us – all of us! – and show us what we are going to be fighting for, for the Party and the Nation!