The Case for UKIP’s Future: A Gap in British Politics!
Where I Come From
My parents separated when I was just three years old. My father was a Tory while my mother supported Labour. Dad was descended from a long line of business people. Mom was the daughter of a prominent trades unionist.
Since we lived with my mother I was brought up to support Labour. I spent many hours and days delivering leaflets, knocking on doors and of course as a teller outside polling stations. Doubts began to grow in my mind about what the Labour Party offered but despite all that, in the early 1980s, I stood for election as a Labour Candidate in remote parish in North Derbyshire, where I then lived.
I wrote my own campaign literature, organised my own campaign and built a loyal team of supporters who worked tirelessly in this campaign in a safe Tory seat. Against the national trend we made this local authority ward look like a marginal. The local Labour Party had determined that its entire efforts should be devoted to “safe” seats. They performed relatively badly in those and the local chairman grudgingly conceded that I had kept the Tories busy by posing a threat in one of their permanent “safe” seats.
What I published then remains what I still believe. I later realised that the Labour Party could and would never deliver a just and fair society. It had never offered a balanced programme and it had moved further and further from those principles I hold dear. I explored the other parties and found no commitment to the sense of fairness that promotes my beliefs. There was no political party capable of reflecting what I believe is the majority view. That is not “centrist”. It is, rather, pragmatic. Pick and mix politics, driven by an ethical philosophy, is what the majority will support. Any political party ruled by pure slavish adherence to dogma will never inspire the kind of support that will sustain it through difficult times. This explains the apparent paradox where the majority of Tory voters support the re-nationalisation of the railways and perhaps why those same people wish to retain the NHS. It explains why Labour voters despise the “Nanny State”.
A New Party is Born
Along came UKIP and with it a new vision. Like any other new born it endured teething troubles. It still has to reach adolescence. This means its views remain in the melting pot. The “splits” in the party reflect the natural tensions between the various groups who came together to form this new party. We need to be honest among ourselves about who these groups are.
Tensions and Splits
There are those who founded the party based on the urgent and pre-eminent need to leave the EU. These include a fair number of traditional Tories who were dissatisfied with the performance of their own party on the issue of the EU. Those people are likely to remain Tories and we have seen many of them depart. There are those who came from the other two old order parties. Then there are those who believed there was an opening for a party which not only fought for the restoration of sovereignty but also offered a solution to many social ills that have arisen due to the mismanagement of the nation’s affairs over many decades. I place myself in the latter group.
The founders of UKIP have tended to be rather jealous of its aims. Their initial aim has, largely, been achieved and so it is more important that the other aims of many of UKIP’s members should begin to take pre-eminence. Regrettably the old guard appear to oppose this. Some of them want UKIP to be the Conservative Party reborn. That is not going to happen. The Conservative Party is not the oldest political party in the world for nothing. It has a tradition of re-inventing itself whenever necessary in order to hold on to power. That is what the Conservative Party is really about. It is a mechanism for ensuring power is held by a small oligarchy in perpetuity. My experience suggests that, too, is what Labour wishes to achieve for its own clique. The Liberal Democrats are a spent force and the remnant of an obstinate old guard of the sector that the Labour Party was born from.
A Wake-up Call
This general election will be a wake-up call for UKIP. Despite the predictions of the notoriously unreliable opinion polls the party could well end up with MPs in the House of Commons. Whether or not UKIP does gain seats makes no difference to the longer term. Indeed having MPs, at this stage, might well hinder UKIP’s future development. Each of our MPs will, likely, be a bit of a maverick. There has not been time to develop a consensus on policy and strategy. The debate among members has not yet happened and there is little sign the present leaders understand how that needs to be approached. What there is, among the membership, is a thirst for a party that is not devoted to the lust for power but which, instead, seeks to serve.
However this election turns out, this needs to be the moment when UKIP turns its attention to focusing on a realistic vision. It must not be a party obsessed with some minority issue. The party needs the breadth of vision to look objectively and un-emotively at every aspect of society and its governance. Then it is time to set out novel, new and imaginative solutions to the long term ills the old order has left us with. No-one else is going to do this.