What kind of party is UKIP going to have to be in order to survive? This is the real question underpinning the speeches of recent comers, YouTube stars Count Dankula and Sargon of Akkad at this weekend’s conference.
Wings of the party have long lamented the lack of youthful figures bringing UKIP’s message to the younger generations, in a country where the youth vote is heavily in favour of open borders and remaining within the European Union. Many see the recent band of YouTube heavyweights as bringing a much needed breath of youthful fresh air to the party, as well as millions of potential new members who may follow the example of this new generation of internet celebrities. But it appears that UKIP may have to become more than just the “Brexit party” to keep these new allies interested.
Virtually ignoring the topic of Brexit, both Dankula (Mark Meechan) and Sargon (Carl Benjamin) placed a heavy emphasis freedom, a topic that Gerard Batten touched on during his keynote speech earlier in the day – an unsurprising addition, given his willingness to stand up for his beliefs and controversial figures such as Tommy Robinson.
“I want to see UKIP expand its remit from being the only party for Brexit to being the party, broadly speaking, for British values,” Sargon said in a short pre-recorded video presentation, as he was unable to attend in person. Giving profuse thank yous to Gerard Batten and the party membership for standing up for these values, as well as Brexit, he nevertheless urged UKIP to broaden its agenda. “British liberty is under threat from many different sources. Whether it’s communists at our universities, Islamists in our northern towns or censorious MPs in our own Parliament, the people want to change out way of life, forever” he said, adding UKIP needs to become a party prepared to “re-establish the moral good within our shared British values.”
Meechan’s speech unsurprisingly focused on the themes of free speech and policing, and included a description of his own experience at the hands of today’s thought police that resulted from his now famous prank involving a pug and the Nazi salute. Giving a rundown of similar cases and the shocking figure that 3,300 people are being prosecuted for social media posts per year, Meechan went on to say that people are losing faith in the British police and the state authority behind it.
As the British state infringes on its own citizens rights – of freedom, speech, privacy and culture – in an ever more flagrant manner, voters will be drawn to a UKIP that seeks to protect these rights. Whether Meechan’s suggestion of a U.S. style British Constitution and Bill of Rights to remedy this disturbing trend will make it into party policy has yet to seen, but one thing is clear: If UKIP hopes to attract and keep a new, youthful vote, it cannot afford to be a one-issue party.