23rd June 2016 will be a date long remembered in British history – the date that the British people clearly and unequivocally voted to break away from the shackles of the shambolic, undemocratic, corrupt power bloc that the EU had become, and re-establish their country as an independent and proudly national one again, instead of just being the twenty-eighth state of a dystopian European Federation.
If there’s any justice in this world, 23rd June, Independence Day, will become a national holiday in years to come and Nigel Farage, love him or hate him, will receive the recognition he deserves as one of the main architects of that victory. It will go down with other dates that persist in the British subconsciousness:
- 1066 – the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest;
- 1215 – the year of Magna Carta;
- 1805 and 1815 – British victory at sea and on land: the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo respectively;
- 8th May, 1945 – VE Day, and 15th August the same year – VJ day;
- And of course 11th November, every year – Remembrance, or Armistice, Day.
Turning to politics closer to home, I wonder if 4th May 2017 is also going to be memorable? But, if you’re a UKIP Member, Activist, Supporter or even just a Voter, possibly memorable for all the wrong reasons … Because on the 4th May, in less than two months time, the voters go to the polls again for the Local Government Elections in England, Wales and Scotland (as well as Mayoral elections in England), and UKIP is not looking well prepared to fight them.
Frankly speaking, since June 23rd 2016, UKIP have lurched from one crisis to another. Whether it’s abortive Leadership campaigns, fisticuffs in Brussels corridors, concerns about the NEC election and its subsequent transparency or the farcical Stoke campaign, the political capital that UKIP had managed to build up during Nigel Farage’s tenure has been thoroughly squandered. The antics of Del Boy Oakden and Boycie Nuttall in their matching tweed three-pieces and flat caps during Stoke simply served to underline that fact.
Here in Rutland, following the resignation of the Conservative Council Leader, we’ve just had our first Ward election since January last year and the results make for uncomfortable reading.
In 2015, a year which saw UKIP gain nearly four million votes nationally and achieve second-places everywhere, (Rutland & Melton Constituency saw a four-fold increase in the UKIP vote and a move from fourth to second place, compared to 2010), as well as adding UKIP Council seats across the country, our candidate for Exton Ward took 19% of the vote, coming third behind the Lib-Dem in one of the safest Conservative Council Wards in Rutland, one of the safest Conservative Seats in the country. It’s probably a fairly safe assumption that if we had not had a vote-splitting Independent candidate, she would have gained half of his 111 votes (with the remainder going to the Lib-Dem) and ended up with 21% of the vote (237 votes).
Fast forward to last week and the same candidate, already well-known to the Exton electorate, saw her vote share halved – or more than halved if you accept and take into account the rationale according her a possible 21% vote share in 2015.
It seems to me that UKIP is facing a perfect storm. Riven with internal squabbling within the Party, very poor leadership by both its officials and its political electees, (to pick out just one example – Paul Nuttall’s decision to disappear ‘on holiday’ immediately after Stoke followed with a petulant insistence that where he’d been was secret) and burdened with political electoral management which, to put it charitably, can only be described as ‘naïve’, it faces a revived Conservative Party who moved quickly to resolve their own leadership issue, unlike both UKIP and Labour, and who, under their Black Watch tartan-suited leader are, at least on the face of it, making a good hand of Brexit, also pinching Grammar Schools and sundry other policies which UKIP once regarded as their personal preserve.
It’s no secret and becomes glaringly obvious at UKIP Meetings and Conferences that many Members and Supporters are ex-Conservatives who were deeply dissatisfied with a liberal-leaning Conservative Party which was weak on Europe, as perfectly demonstrated by the Chamberlainesque return of Dodgy Dave, empty-handed from his ‘Great European Negotiation Tour’.
If our Members and Supporters are seeing a Conservative Party that they feel they can once more get behind – then why shouldn’t our Voters?
And that’s why, I for one believe, that unless UKIP can do some serious growing up in the next six weeks and demonstrate that they clearly have something to offer other than ‘internal unity’, they’re in for a drubbing on the 4th May.
I hope I’m wrong but my gut tells me different.