There is a Populist Wave Sweeping the West and UKIP Must be Surfing it
There is a populist uprising across the globe, from the rust belt of America to the working-class North of England. We saw it with the rise of UKIP, Brexit and more recently the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. We are seeing it the growth the relatively new populist parties across Europe like the Swedish Freedom Party and the French National Front. Now I’m not defending all of these parties – I very much dislike some of them. But what they represent is something I have fought for and something that I so passionately in – change. Back in Britain, it is clear from Brexit that this value is cherished by many, and UKIP must do the utmost to fight for it. As the great Winston Churchill once said:
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”.
But what is populism? The word is often thrown about like it is an offence or slate against a movement, but I take quite the opposite view. I am a populist, and I am proud to say so. That doesn’t mean I’m a Nazi, that doesn’t mean I’m a racist. In fact, it means the contrary. The Nazis believed in the state controlling everything but populism is all about weakening the state because of how controlling it is. And racism is about believing one group of people are superior to another simply because of where they come from or what colour their skin is. Populism is about giving everyone a good chance at life, not just those who live in the world of big business and powerful governments. No, you see, populism is the belief that the people are great and have been given a rotten deal by their politicians.
In fact, a survey collected in 2012 (a bit old, granted) shows that 62% think that politicians lie “all the time and you can’t believe a word they say”. You would think that this would give them a little kick up the backside, but they carried on just as before and told just as many lies. Look at Osborne’s prediction that each family is £3,400 worse off. I know mine certainly isn’t, and I very much doubt yours is. The only people who are that much worse off ironically are George Osborne and David Cameron, who are out of a job. However, UKIP is not filled with liars, fraudsters or career politicians. David Cameron, George Osborne and many other Tory and Labour frontbenchers all seem to have one thing in common; they’ve never had a job outside of politics. Then look at UKIP. Nigel Farage, Diane James, Paul Nuttall, Peter Whittle and almost every other politician in the party has had a career outside of politics, often giving them decades of experience.
The rising support for populist movements around the world and the desire for change in Britain make a perfect environment for UKIP to grow – and possibly even form a government. So why isn’t it? Well, since 2005 we have been steadily rising in the polls, to the point where we won the 2014 European elections. This was a huge achievement, but I believe we started to become a bit complacent at this point. Of course, we were right to celebrate (and maybe have the odd drink or two in many cases) but we should have realised very quickly that we were only a year away from a general election, a key event that we needed to capitalise on. We should have had every member leafleting, every councillor spreading the word daily, we should have spoken in every pub on a weekly basis. UKIP has a great potential but we need to do away with the media lies about us and the only way of doing that is drilling our message into everyone’s head until they start to realise that we are right. If we can root ourselves into local communities across the country, we will automatically start picking up votes. But that’s not what we did. Yeah, we made a few big speeches, yeah, we produced a great manifesto. But it was all in vain because we didn’t work on local campaigning until the last minute. Don’t get me wrong – we had a great election! We got 4 million votes and our first general election MP. But we could have done far better.
Take seats like Hartlepool, Thurrock and Rochester & Strood. UKIP came a very strong second in Hartlepool, with former leadership contender Phillip Broughton as the candidate. It is a mainly White, middle aged, Christian working-class seat. The exact type UKIP aims for. We lost out by only 7.6% of the vote. Then look at Thurrock. We came third place, within 2% and 1,000 votes of winning. Not only is the seat also the perfect demographic for UKIP but we have a huge presence on the council, so should have a very good chance of winning. And finally, the famous Rochester & Strood seat. Mark Reckless was elected as the Conservative MP here in 2010 and then defected to UKIP in 2014, winning the subsequent by-election. So we’d had an MP here for a year and our candidate was well known and had been elected once. That and perfect demographics should have made it an easy win. But we lost out by 14%. We hadn’t campaigned for long enough or hard enough. Mark is extremely talented and could have done an amazing job as the MP, but we failed him as a party.
I don’t blame any individual for this, I blame the party as a whole. I believe that local campaigning should be a key priority for the new leader, whoever that may be. I know that Paul Nuttall MEP is speaking the right words about this and I hope the other two candidates will focus on this as much as he is if elected.
So next time you have nothing to do, or are a little bored; get some leaflets from your branch chair and get delivering. Even as little as 20 a week will make a difference – you’d be surprised. If you think about it, if all 33,000 members delivered 20 leaflets a week, that’s 660,000 leaflets every week! It’s little but frequent campaigning that makes the biggest impact on election results because no campaigning does nothing and too much regular campaigning will annoy people.
My fellow populist, if you agree with what I’ve said, share this post on social media, or even bring the ideas to your next branch meeting. The opportunities populism is bringing around the world are far greater than we are capturing right now!