If President Macron and his party could come from nowhere in about a year to rule France, and the Liberals likewise unexpectedly won the famous landslide of 1906, why didn’t at least the 17.4 Million who voted for Brexit, vote for a team of the chief Brexit architects, UKIP to negotiate it, rather than revert to voting for Theresa Re-May-n or Jeremy Corbyn?
President Macron’s success has been attributed to many voters deciding that neither the Left nor Right had the answers to France’s problems, and so wanting change but being equally uncomfortable with the type of populist anger that had upturned politics in the UK and USA.
Psychologically, we are by instinct creatures of habit, conditioned by such adages as “better the devil you know than the angel you don’t”. A key difference between the UK and French political situations is that BREXIT is now underway and for many represents huge change with the risk of going into the unknown, whereas for Remainers, erroneously in my view, staying in the EU was a continuity vote. Thus a vote for an untested UKIP Government would have been tantamount to a second risky change. Voting for Macron was a vote for one change. Apart from some unease about its past, a vote for Marie Le Pen and her Front Nationale would have been a vote for two major changes: an untested party which wanted Frexit.
As seen in TV competitions such as Britain’s Got Talent, selection is often a process of rejection with the winner being the last (wo)man standing. Seen from this perspective, a hung parliament represents a rejection of both Labour and Conservatives because of unease about aspects of both parties and their respective leaders.
If Conservative and Labour MP’s do not implement their full Brexit Manifestos’ policy, including ceasing to be a member of the EU Single Market, upon which they were elected by 80% of the electorate, such a betrayal of democracy could indeed go a long way to persuading people to vote for an untested party which will implement the full Brexit for which 17.4 Million voted. But I don’t believe that that can solely be relied upon: part of such a rejection would be voters being convinced that such a change would be for the better by having seen a united UKIP top team consistently showing themselves to be an effective constructive opposition, and so an alternative government in waiting.
Voting positively, largely on the basis of the Leader and his/her top team and their Party’s policies, translates into a simultaneous appeal to heart and intellect, or emotion and mind – a bit like courting! While opposites can attract, playing the percentages implies that if we want most voters to see the UKIP Leader/PM-in-waiting as ‘being like me’, (s)he would probably be a mother or father – ‘who knows what I, the typical voter, am going through, because (s)he have been, or is going through the same.’
Just as a song only stays for a limited time as No. 1 of the Pop charts, bluster and anger have had their day, at least for the time being: both may well have contributed to the Brexit vote and to Donald Trump getting elected President, but staying angry when the aim is already starting is unattractive – and achieves what?
UKIP needs a leader whose tone, as much as compelling common sense policy content, has gravitas and does not appear to be deliberately abrasive as if trying to irk your average wishy washy centre ground voter, with at best a casual interest in politics, whom we need to win over. We need to meet them where they are, rather than where we’d like them to be, which means they now need to be politically caressed rather than kicked and screamed at.
When talking about controlling immigration, would it not sound less ‘migrant-bashing’, and so more reasonable to suggest that it’s as much in any potential migrant’s interest as ours not to uproot on a false prospectus, and so an Australian points system is in fact to everyone’s mutual benefit?
How about substituting a butchery-sounding ‘cutting’ of Foreign Aid to fund the NHS – which left us open to charges of depriving the world’s most vulnerable – for a gentler shifting of non-essential foreign aid such as £400 Million to Pakistan and India (who have their own nuclear submarines and space programme respectively) to fund the NHS where it will achieve a better humanitarian outcome? Doesn’t that sound more reasoned and less shrill?
In the context of so much of the excellent UKIP manifesto being unknown to so many and acknowledging the policy is increasingly being adopted by many European countries, was the disproportionate concentration on the Ban the Burka policy, seemingly to the exclusion of so much else, really going to determine the next UK government and thereby win votes in a General Election or reinforce our detractors’ now predictable, but still damaging distortion of what we’re really about?
If UKIP is to succeed, we need to communicate our Common Sense policy stances on a wide range of issues – even if some change over time, as the world changes – to show that if like President Macron we can capture the UK public mood and imagination, there is indeed relevance and life for UKIP after winning the EU Referendum and post-Brexit negotiations. We need to ‘do a Spassky’ (the Soviet world champion chess player who caused outrage by walking around the board to see the position from his opponent’s viewpoint) and improve on our ability to predict how both our policies and the manner by which we present them will be perceived from an average voter’s viewpoint.
If UKIP can get these things right, there’s every reason why we should be able to grow The People’s Army to match Labour’s. An essential first step will be selecting the right leader: if we UKIPpers can’t see them as a PM in waiting, you can be pretty sure nobody else will.