Wednesday, 9 March 2016

UKIP - The Party that has become a wake as EU referendum reality bites.

Of all the ironies in life at the moment, for me at least, the oddest is the demise of UKIP. If you look on Twitter, it is awash with people who are using the UKIP logo as their profile picture and calling themselves things like @UKIP_ULYSEES (well actually there isn't a UKIP Ulysees - a little bit too Greek I suspect). After years of working tirelessly for a referendum on EU membership, they have their wish. How could life possibly be better? Well the sad thing for UKIP as a party is that it isn't a party anymore. It is a Wake. How can this be, you may ask? Well think about it. Now we've got a referendum, what is the point of UKIP? For the Brexit campaign to have a chance, they will have to work with all manner of people in different parties. Strange times make strange bedfellows and people such as Labours Kate Hoey and Respects George Galloway are suddenly allies. What shas struck me about the Brexit campaign is just how many different OUT campaigns there are. None of this will help the Out Campaign. By not coordinating in a single campaign, you could have the situation where some homes get leaflets from four or five campaigns (all giving different and sometimes contradictory) messages explaining why Out is a good idea.

Rather than concentrating on the job in hand, it seems that there is a lot of squabbling between these groups. Here's just a few

Grassroots Out


We are cross-party, focussed on grassroots campaigning, and have only one objective: getting the United Kingdom out of the EU!



A cross-party campaign advocating a vote to leave in the forthcoming referendum.

Vote Leave EU


Supporting Vote Leave the EU on Thursday 23rd June 2016 - Freedom for the UK



Campaign to Get Britain Out of the EU. Sign up here: Press:
Europe, not EU

Labour Leave


Official Labour Leave Twitter page. Making the Labour case for voting 'leave' in the EU referendum.
London, England

Better Off Out


Cross-party campaign dedicated to explaining why the UK would be better off outside the EU. A campaign run by .

That's just a few that a two minute trawl of the internet threw up. All of the parties have their own groups. For campaigns to really work, there needs to be planning at a national, regional and local level. The Out campaign strikes me as highly fragmented. It seems to me that whilst the remain campaign seems to be quite able to put party loyalty to one side, this is far harder for the Leave campaign. Oddly it seems a bit harder for Tories and UKIP to work together than it does for Labour, Lib Dems and Tories to work for Remain. From what I've seen, there is a lot of mutual distrust between the Tories and UKIP. In fact it seems easier for Nigel Farage to get into bed with George Galloway than with Boris, who is the leading Tory Eurosceptic. If you do a google image search for Boris with Nigel Farage, there are none that pop up, apart from a few photoshopped jobbies.

But as I mentioned earlier, UKIP is now a dead duck. The whole purpose of UKIP is to argue for a referendum and to campaign for an out vote. We have the referendum, but UKIP seem to be anything but useful in the campaign. If the Out campaign win, then it will be the big beasts such as Boris that swing it and the credibility of the likes of Kate Hoey that cemented the campaign. Kate Hoey is an experienced cross party campaigner. She has worked on a number of campaigns which put her at odds with her party, such as foxhunting. If they win, it will be Boris who is the hero and his Euorsceptic wing of the Tories will be in ascendency. With the UK pulling out, UKIp will have lost its purpose. Beyond Brexit, all it can possibly be is something which dilutes the right of centre vote. By siphoning off members, it is a major hindrance to the Tories and actually has guaranteed that the Tories are far more europhile than would have been possible if they hadn't defected en masse.

UKIP always question the Conservative credentials of the Tories, but by leaving they have actually transformed the party into one which is mainstream Stay. It is inconceivable that this would be the case if the UKIP fringe had stayed. Cameron would have had to move far more cautiously. Boris will be straining every sinew to bring the prodigal sheep back into the fold. Without a reason to exist and with a natural allie in number 10 (which is surely what will happen if Brexit win), UKIP will be a pointless sideshow.

The more interesting question though is what  happens if Cameron wins. What if we stay. In this case, the situation is even more difficult for UKIP. They will have had their chance and blown it. There will not be another referendum for a generation. UKIP will have had their chance and blown it. In a democracy, once the die is cast you have to accept it and move on. UKIP supporters won't like it, but they wll definately have to lump it. Sure some will want to claim that the vote was rigged/unfair/dishonest, but they will be a washed up force. Of course there is no reason why UKIP should disband if they lose, but what will be their point? Sit around for 44 years waiting for the next referendum?

I can see no reasonable scanrio where there would be any point remaining a member of UKIP. far better to rejoin the Tories (or Labour) and work to rescue what can be rescued from the car crash. Whatever happens, on June 23rd, Nigel Farage is out of a job on June 24th.

What does this mean for British politics? It can only strengthen the Conservatives if UKIP members rejoin. If we go down the Brexit route, it is hard to see any way Boris won't March into Number 10 sweeping all before him. If we don't, then there will be the mother of all leadership battles. It seems unlikely that having lost the Brexit campaign, Boris will have quite the stock he was hoping for. The Tories are a ruthless bunch and are none too keen on losers. That doesn't mean he won't try. George Osborne will be hoping that his ride on the coat tails of Dave will sweep him in. Theresa May will hope that the Tories record of never picking the likeliest successor will continue. She may also benefit from a stance as a unifying candidate, relatively untainted by the Eton mess which the Dave/Boris/George axis has created.

I'd be interested to see a  few comments from local UKIP'ers to hear their view of what the party does next. I daresay that none of them want to publicly comment on a remain vote, but if any do they will be very welcome. I'd be equally interested to hear what they think will happen to UKIP in the event of a Brexit. Is there a role and a future. I suspect that UKIP will hang around for a while just to make sure Boris doesn't go into a huge U Turn once he's the PM. But if the UK votes to go and the poiticians honour their word, can anyone see a future. If I was a right leaning UKIP member, I'd be joining the Tories as we speak, so that I could have a role in shaping the post Cameron settlement.

As I was researching and writing this blog, it occurred to me that I didn't know who the UKIP candidate for Mayor of London was. Do you know? I like to think I'm fairly well informed politically. It is Peter Whittle.  The UK polling report shows that the public see UKIP as an irrelevence in the Mayoral race. It says

It’s been almost two months since we’ve had any polling on the London mayoral race, but Opinium have released a new poll today showing Sadiq Khan still ahead. First round preferences are Khan 31%, Goldsmith 26%, Whittle 2%, Berry 2%, Pidgeon 2%, Galloway <1 1="" 3="" 42="" 48="" all="" and="" are="" at="" berry="" don="" figures="" galloway="" goldsmith="" hence="" including="" it="" khan="" knows="" low="" on="" out="" p="" pidgeon="" scores.="" t="" the="" these="" whittle="" without="" work="" would=""> Given the low level of support for all the candidates outside the main two Khan is close to winning on the first round anyway, but after asking a forced choice and reallocating preferences between the final two it works out at Khan 55%, Goldsmith 45%. Full tabs are here.
It seems that UKIP is a total irrelevance in London. It is amazing to think that two years ago there was serious talk of mass defections from the Tories and even a UKIP win in the 2014 general election.

It seems that the EU poll is too tight to call.UKPOLLING says the following
YouGov have released some fresh EU polling, a batch of five new polls conducted in the last two weeks. The most recent poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, has topline figures of Remain 40%, Leave 37% and the three polls before that also showed Remain with a small lead. While YouGov have been typically showing a very tight race, their 2016 polls up to now have shown small leads for LEAVE, so four YouGov polls in a row showing REMAIN ahead suggests some movement. It will be interesting to see if that is reflected in other polling, and whether movement continues in that direction. 
What amuses me is watching twitter and looking at people preaching to the converted and shouting at the opposition. My take is that Remain will win unless between now and polling day there is some cataclysmic event which the public blame on the EU. I believe that ultimately people vote for stability and are fearful of change, however much they seemingly yearn for it. Many people have entrenched views, but it seems that neither side have made any decent game chaning arguments. The leave campaign has to convince us of three things. These are 1. The UK is broken,  2. This is all the fault of the EU and 3. Leaving the EU will fix the problem. As the UK has the highest growth in G7, low unemployment, growth in wages and a stable economy, I suspect this could be a harder job than the Brexit campaign realise. Their main argument is that migration is all the fault of the EU and Brexit will fix it. Given that the refugee crisis is nothing to do with the EU (beyond the fact that the EU is politically safe and stable and therefore a good bolt hole), it amazes me that the remain campaign aren't making this case. 

The message I am heqring more and more is one of frustration that neither side is presenting any facts. Is this because neither side has properly costed arguments? I find it quite amazing that UKIP seem so unprepared for the referendum, given that it's the only reason they exist. I 100% get the emotional arguments for Brexit. What I don't get is the fact that they seem to have not bothered to have prepared and distributed fact sheets with simple and verified numbers on to win the intellectual argument. There is plenty wrong with the EU. We hear very little of this. It seems that UKIP's fascination with immigration has so fixated it that they have been unable to prepare a leaflet saying "quit the EU and you'll have £2,000 a year more in your pocket" (that was a number I made up to illustrate the point. I have no idea whether you'll be any better or worse off).

I actually have a feeling that both sides know damn well exactly how much better off you'll be. The trouble is that this isn't £X,000 per household. It depends on where you live, what your job is and what your age is. I also suspect that both campaigns know that there will be many losers in their core campaign supporter demographics if they win. Therefore both campaigns are scared to death to tell the truth. I've also been told that it would be perfectly possible for either campaign to put together a web page where you put in your details and it tells you the likely economic effect on your household finances. Just to explain. If you are a manager at a bank in the City and live in Mill Hill, the effects are likely to be completely different to a someone working as a manager for an international shipping company living in a port town. With such things there are always unexpected and unforeseen consequences. Some are good, some are bad. I did some research and the only parallel I could find was when the confederate states seceded from the USA. If I was a  UKIP member, this is clearly one example I wouldn't want to quote. I wonder whether 150 years we'll consider UKIP rather like we now consider the confederacy? Many (white) people in the South of the USA are still fiercely proud of the Confederacy. I suspect that even if the UKIP project goes equally horribly wrong, their supporters will feel the same.

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