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What does UKIP do now?

It is clear that the internal organisation of the party has consistently frustrated UKIP members. Nigel Farage was hugely successful at articulating the increasing discontent of the British public with the EU. The extent this resonated with the electorate was the only reason that the UK had a referendum.  But as brilliant as Farage was on stage he was no party organiser.  In his book “The Purple Revolution” he readily admits that he felt he had to do everything himself.  This may have worked in a small brokerage office in the City; it is a disastrous recipe for running an organisation of 40,000 plus.

It seems that under Farage appointments were not subject to any professional selection process other than being part of the social inner circle that surrounded the Leader.  If UKIP is to grow out of this “family firm” mentality it needs to restructure to reflect the changing demands and become more professional. Organisations that don’t make this leap fail to grow or perish.

UKIP’s failure to meet this challenge was cruelly exposed in a book called “UKIP” by Matthew Goodwin. He observed UKIP at close quarters in the run up to the 2015 General Election.  He described in detail how individuals were parachuted into the national campaign at short notice while at the same time those established in key positions deserted them to go and stand as candidates out in the country.  Not clever.

UKIP proved in 2015 and again in the Stoke-on-Trent by-election that it does not have an election winning machine.  Its membership has stagnated since 2010, rising before elections and falling dramatically after as many activists deserted what they come to see as on organisation that was not worthy of their spare time.  However good the platform speeches and policy statements elections have to be won – and they are a battleground.  Battles are won by trained, competent and motivated front line troops who believe in their mission.  That is not UKIP today.

The other real key issue is this. With Teresa May committed to Brexit what political role should UKIP now play? Those of us actively involve in the post referendum Stoke-on-Trent by-election observed at first hand the lack of a coherent and relevant strategy that made sense post Brexit. That UKIP needs a new direction is implicate in its own constitution that states the Party’s key objective as “ the United Kingdom should be governed by her own citizens. ______  To that end it shall be the policy of the Party that the United Kingdom shall cease to be a member of the European Union.”  Mission accomplished but where to now?

The lack of a clear new direction was cruelly exposed the morning after the Stoke by-election defeat when the UKIP Chairman, Paul Oakden, was asked on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show

“The Tories are pushing forward with Brexit which was previously the raison entendre for UKIP; what is the future for UKIP now?  Where does it go as a Party?”

The response? A blank stare and then a rambling statement about the 2015 general election. To this key and fair question answer there was none.  If the Chairman of the Party cannot articulate a clear strategy for the future that resonates with the electorate it is game over.  In the intervening months nothing appears to have changed.

So is UKIP doomed to fail?  Is there now a role for the Party in British politics?

Some of us would say yes. Judging by the increasing numbers who do not vote and the general disenchantment with elitist and self serving politicians there is scope to refocus the UKIP brand.  One famous USA entrepreneur started a small construction company in the mid-west that became a global conglomerate on the company mission statement “Find a need – and fill it”  There is a need in British politics for a radical and truly democratic party that is fit for the 21st century. Britain now has an educated electorate desperate to have a better say in their future.  UKIP can fill that need at some future general election – but not this one.  Paul Nuttall needs time to sort the Party out. The leadership needs to develop a new core mission and also build an effective election winning organisation. These are not processes that can be rushed.

Regardless of the election result UKIP needs to gear up to adopt the role of an activist pressure group that ensures Brexit is delivered on the best possible terms.  Properly organised pressure groups can have enormous political power. Think of the success of Greenpeace and radical feminist organisations.

So were does that leave UKIP in this coming election?  In 2015 the policy was to put candidates up in every constituency in order to get media time and increase the overall vote share.  This naturally dissipated precious human resources over the country regardless of what gains could be realistically achieved.

This election is effectively EU Referendum Part 2.  Teresa May has made it clear that the key reason for calling it was to obtain a clear mandate from the British people to make a real Brexit happen.  Why should UKIP be fighting in constituencies where all they will do is to undermine a Conservative candidate who is prepared to back UKIP’s key objective?  The real opposition are those who want to water down Brexit so that it becomes meaningless.  That of course includes the Labour Party. UKIP has until Thursday 11th May to stand or withdraw candidates.  Let us hope that at constituency level the good sense of UKIP members prevails.

There is a wonderful Arab proverb that says “My enemies’ enemy is my friend”. Here and now Teresa May and the Conservatives who back her Brexit stance are our friends and we must unite to fight the Remainer enemy. When this battle is won we can then return to the political fray with new vigour and purpose.


David Howell was the Campaign Manager in the 2015 General election in the traditional Labour stronghold of Stoke-on-Trent Central. The UKIP candidate achieved second place and came within 5,200 votes of Tristram Hunt.

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30 Comments on What does UKIP do now?

  1. UKIP should be the populist party we’re constantly told we are. That means identifying the top public concerns and prioritising our efforts accordingly with Nationalist/Socially-Conservative policies. We must tread softly on issues such as Islamification until the public are ready to confront them.

    It also means offering solutions that the public think UKIP is capable of delivering. We should not pretend we are a party of government. We are not. Having a fantasy manifesto means nothing. Our strategies and proposals should be obviously based on forcing the government of the day to debate and action our policies. It’s what UKIP has done best so far and the public would be much more likely to buy into that approach.

    We also need to address our presentation. The public like UKIP to be entertaining and feisty but without Nigel we’ve lost that. We need it back. We should be deliberately combative and disrespectful with the mainstream media, calling them out when they misrepresent us or call us “far right” (for instance). We need to get more involved with social media and start using YouTube to fill in for what the mainstream media deny us. If we can do all this with good humour we’ll quickly recover our plucky underdog status.

    In other words we need to be a fun Populist/Nationalist Protest Party fighting for the public and bringing democracy to everyone.

    • The only way to “force the government to debate and action our policies” SK is to get votes – and your contention we can do that without a full manifesto is itself a bit of a fantasy.
      And the country is quite capable of confronting Islamification – on which we should be leading, as we did on the EU. It just needs to be incorporated into a much wider range of policies – hence the need for a full manifesto.
      All we need is the right policies and the right leadership!

      • We managed better than fine up until 2015, and made a huge impact on UK politics up to that point. In fact it was only when we started pretending that we’re a conventional political party that we stopped winning.

  2. The new front line in politics is between avaricious globalism and enlightened nationalism, which makes the old left / right argument redundant. All the main UK parties are effectively globalists, although Mrs May has rather fatuously claimed to support a ‘third way’ between them. We all know what happened to the previous attempt to claim ‘third way’ politics. UKIP is the only party with the potential to structure its policies around ‘enlightened nationalism’ and defeat at a stroke all who question ‘ What exactly does UKIP stand for?

  3. eu target taken out, now direct the guns on to the Liblabcon political order that’s destroying England & Wales.

  4. Reading the piece on Brexit Central today about Paul Nuttall apparently agreeing that UKIP’s future is at risk if Mrs May actually does deliver a hard Brexit, seems to reveal why there is a fundamental problem in our party. Why cannot our leadership see that the shape of British politics today cries out for a new party to challenge historical holy grail’s of public policy and be the champion of common sense. That is a party so many voters are crying out for. This is far wider than BEXIT and if we do not embrace that opportunity we will indeed die.
    Tim Pope

    • I’m sorry to say so at this point, when loyalty should be our watchword, but post election we can have no confidence in Nuttall’s leadership to be the party that it must be, for Britain. No rebranding! Independence is crucial.

  5. “With Teresa May committed to Brexit what political role should UKIP now play? “.

    I don’t believe that May is committed to a full and clean exit from the EU even if she were an experienced negotiator which clearly she is not. So it is far from “mission over” and we should have UKIP barking at her heels and calling out every indication of her weakness. That does not mean we must forget the immigration aspect where numbers and government are already on the side of the invader.

    The leadership need to be wakened up but it is too late for this election.

  6. Why would anyone want to vote UKIP under the current circumstances? Whether you hate the Tories or not, Mrs May by calling a snap GE has played a tactical and strategic blinder. UKIP is in disarray after months of internal squabbling and is unlikely to return any MPs. The reality is that many who voted UKIP in the past have rationally worked out what is at stake at this GE and the only option is to vote for alternative Brexiteers who are more likely to be Tories. Getting more Brexit friendly MPs into Parliament must now be our aim. The more Brexiteers elected, the more chance of UKIPs other ideas and policies being accepted and implemented. At this GE we should only field a small number of candidates where there is a genuine chance of winning or where a “remainer” candidate needs to be stopped. It is after the GE and the dust has settled that UKIP will have to reanalyse its purpose and come up with a strategy to influence as much as possible the Brexit negotiations and domestic policies. I’m afraid that is the stark reality.

    • No John. Tbe stark reality is that if we don’t try and maximise our vote and keep going, there may not be any UKIP at all for next time.

      • No Quercus. A good military principle is to concentrate your forces at the weak points. That is how you achieve breakthrough. A scatter gun approach will only weaken UKIP further and give our media friends more ammunition: “what’s the point of UKIP”. Taking another military analogy, this time insurgency – then it’s important to know when to contract and limit your aspirations and rebuild. UKIP is not prepared to fight a full GE.

        • No John, I didn’t say “fight all those seats”! We only fight the dozen or so where there’s any chance.
          But the rest we should stand as many paper candidates in as possible, to get as many national votes as we can and thus keep UKIP on the radar (except the other dozen or so, where we don’t put up against good Brexiteers).
          Otherwise there is a risk of early annihilation.
          If you want a military analogy, it’s keeping a screen whilst concentrating for attack – in a defensive battle that screen is vital.

          • Ah! I think we are on the same page. I like your military analogy but it is inappropriate. Screens and defensive battles apply to open conventional warfare. UKIP is really an insurgent party and should act accordingly.

  7. Nigel’s status was built on provocative and entertaining speeches in the EU parliament and attracted the votes of Eurosceptic Tories in the 2014 MEP elections.
    Approximately 2 million who voted for UKIP MEPs in 2014 failed to vote UKIP in the 2015 GE. Thye were replaced by a different 2 million. UKIP’s core vote is 1.5 to 2 million people who would not vote at all if the choice was just the usual mainstream parties. That equates to the 6% or so that polls say still support UKIP.
    Getting out of the EU was a necessary first step in the party’s constitutionally mandated goals of lower taxation and a less intrusive state. But some in the hierarchy forgot that and also forgot that single issue parties do not succeed in domestic elections. For that you need a range of policies.
    There has been never ending, tedious lament about internal structural issues ever since the referendum result. While such matters are important they are irrelevant while there is a huge policy vacuum – what do we actually stand for? For me and others to get involved in the internal debate about structure etc., we need to know first that the party is about policies we can support or why bother. A single issue can be built around a personality cult, as happened with Nigel, but a whole raft of domestic policies cannot.
    Eleven months on the party has no updated manifesto. That says it all about what has been wrong. The manifesto promised for later this month will be crucial to the future of the party. UKIP cannot be just another chancer party like the Lib Dems trying to mark out some territory on an already over crowded social democratic space. What a waste of time if it pursues electoral success for the sake of it but a transformative, radical vision for Britain. The forthcoming manifesto will make or break the party. What’s likely to be in it? Any guesses?

    • Stout, I’m just hoping it might be put out before the actual Election Day! One,thing I do know is that far from being a Direct Democracy Party (our Leader told The Daily Politics that was one reason he was elected) we have had no input, discussion or choice about what will be in it…..Like the Stoke Leaflet….that went down well with members…..

  8. Gerry Robinson // May 9, 2017 at 9:36 am // Reply

    Exactly. Well said, David. And with the news that Peter Whittle is to stand against Brexiter Stephen Metcalfe in Thurrock highlights the egotism and hubris at the upper echelons of the party. The Paul Oakden cabal do not deserve our support – and they’re not likely to get it…

  9. I was right; my 0918h comment dated 9.5.2017 above would be sent for moderation and then disappeared!

    • Seton – your comment did not ‘disappear’! Please be aware of these ‘facts of life’ on UKIP Daily: the daily duty editors are all volunteers (so am I) and are not available to moderate comments 24/7 immediately they come in. Other posters cope with this, without moaning.
      Furthermore: we have tried different comments ‘facilities’, which have always left us open to severe trolling, requiring post-moderation, i.e. a duty editor having to go and delete posts after they’d been posted. That of course meant that the usual suspects were able to point to UKIP as a toxic Party yet again.
      So you either learn to live with the way the site is run – or stop posting.
      Respectfully, your Editor-in-Chief.

      • Well said Viv. And Seton, in case you are unaware, ‘UKIP’s leadership at Head Office’ have no say whatsoever on what goes into this site and what does not.

        • Indeed not, Debbie – unless they write a proper article which we publish and which is then available for readers to post comments on.
          Also, just in case there’s any doubt: we do not receive one penny from UKIP HQ. So they cannot threaten us with withdrawing funds if we don’t toe their line.
          (They do moan at me when some article upsets them, though – not that they’d demean themselves from posting comments on that article themselves …)

  10. UKIP’s leadership at its Head Office is diseased with compatible stagnating sycophants hell-bent on and about defending the indefensible – a national tragedy. This input like most others preceding it is likely to be sent for moderation and then “disappeared” – disliking unpleasant truths!

    • Seton, I am one who constantly moans about the UKIP Leadership – and never have my comments disappeared – except for once, when I wrote an extremely long comment – in case you aren’t aware, there is a word limit, although I’ve no idea what it is – on an iPad I would have to visually count them, and life is too short!

      I must also tell you that our UKIP Daily Editors are absolute stars, we value enormously this independent site, where we can discuss, complain and pontificate as much as we like, only personal insults are subject to censure.
      If you have something to get off your chest you can do so here like we all do – but one thing that might put me off taking you seriously is if you disrespect our Editors collective integrity.

    • I can’t agree. Speaking as a totally independent and impartial observer I can tell you that some of the finest political minds in the world work in Head Office. Their brilliant Stoke Election Plan would have reaped huge dividends had it not been for the rotten msm.

  11. David
    Within 5200 votes of Tristram Hunt? – a chasm which has only got bigger!
    Yes there is a schizophrenic confusion of identity which we have to resolve. Are we to follow the Farage aim of a Thatcherite party devoted to neo-liberal economics, or are we to build a true people’s army – which must include those who will never vote to further entrench wealth and privilege? We say we want the patriotic Labour vote – but what are we actually doing to get it? The EU and immigration never were enough, and aren’t now.
    Yes we should not be putting up against really committed brave Brexiteers of ALL parties – of whom there are very few indeed – a dozen at most. But we must not, either in this election or beyond, be seen to allying ourselves to the Tories, who are actually our worst enemies.
    Our only prospect of success is to appeal to patriots of all classes – and that must include economic policies which will appeal to the less well-off.
    There is no time for a pedestrian approach. We should have been using the last 9 months to get this identity crisis resolved with some direct democracy, and had some robust policies in place by now. Even now the leadership can do a lot to grab attention with some imaginative moves.

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