JOINT STATEMENT: A Communications Strategy For UKIP Members
A joint statement by Kipper Central and UKIP Daily follows:
Proposal: A Communication Strategy for UKIP members
Currently, the Party has a top-down communication model i.e. communications from the Party Leader and Party officials to the members. The only bottom-up communication model, i.e. from members to officials, is a point-to-point communication between two persons (e.g. deputy leader → one member). It is not public and is akin to normal private communications, taking place by by email or phone. This top-down model is: one sender → many recipients. It is adequate to disseminate party political information but it is a monologue, not a dialogue. It discourages openness and transparency and reinforces the general attitude of ‘confidentiality’ prevalent in the Top Party, which for example has led to so much trouble for the NEC.
The Party – that is everyone, from leader and officials, from MEPs and AMs to the grassroots, must be able to talk with each other.
By providing a platform for members and indeed the Party Top level to voice opinions in articles, letters and comment posts accessible to all, Kipper Central (KC) and UKIP Daily (UKIPD) have already established such horizontal model which is: many senders → many recipients → many senders, all interacting and exchanging information. The comments facilities at KC and UKIPD allow such exchange of views and debates in a flourishing community and in a timely fashion which all members want and need.
It is our opinion that this model must be encouraged.
It is an addition to the official, top-down communications channel from the Party, not a competitor – although Leader, deputies, spokespeople, Party officials and NEC members can and should, of course, use this horizontal platform as well, engaging with the grassroots. That means sending articles, letters, even press releases to Kipper Central (KC) and UKIP Daily (UKIPD), especially when such material is going out to the MSM anyway.
We strongly suggest that the official Party website install a link to both KC and UKIPD and encourages visitors to that site to also visit both these sites.
We suggest further that official holders of social media accounts (e.g. ‘UKIP’, or any of the Party officials) be asked to link to articles published daily on KC and UKIPD as a matter of routine and that MEPs and AMs do the same on their websites and facebook pages.
In this way, news and opinion pieces of interest to Kippers beyond the articles in the MSM will gain a wider audience. ‘Private promoters’, i.e. ordinary members holding such accounts, also ought to be encouraged to do so.
The usefulness of thus promoting such material on social media by many different account holders, not just a single one, should be obvious!
We finally suggest that regional organisers and branch chairs be strongly encouraged by the Leadership to link to KC and UKIPD on their own websites and facebook pages, to encourage their members to read and indeed write for KC and UKIPD, and to send their appeals about action days/events to KC and UKIPD so they can be published to the wider membership. In this way, members of other branches can be made aware of important dates enabling them to participate. In this way, cooperation between branches would be facilitated. This would help hugely in our recruitment drive.
Using KC and UKIPD as vehicles for horizontal communication importantly allows members and indeed branches to exchange and debate views and opinions amongst themselves. This is akin to what Kippers are doing best in real life: talking to people across the garden fence, in the pub, in the grocery store, at the school gate. Doing this online helps hone arguments which can then be used in real life.
Many of the ‘Old Guard’ believe that UKIP must be extremely vigilant and not allow any sort of criticism of the Party, any sort of queries, any debate on political issues, to be accessible to others outside the Party (and outside their control), so that “The Enemy” , i.e. the Establishment Parties and the MSM, won’t make use of those issues, either to smear and discredit us or to steal policies. Thus being over-cautious, it often feels as if we, the grassroots, are also part of “The Enemy”.
We respectfully suggest that things have moved on. We’ve hopefully become inured to such smears by now. We suggest instead that possessing a trail of evidence – e.g. links to articles posted on KC and UKIPD – which documents what was actually said and when is a most powerful instrument of refutation. Above all, if we cannot debate amongst ourselves, from leader down to foot soldier – how are we and how are they going to successfully convince the voters of our policies?
We believe now is the best time to set up cooperation between the communications team and ourselves so that we can work out an integrated strategy. We are fighting the same fight, after all.
One final and important point: our proposals cost precisely nothing. The structures are already in place or can easily be tweaked. All that’s needed is permission to proceed. The Party has nothing to lose – but it has much to gain.
For Kipper Central: Reece Coombes and Darrell Goodliffe
For UKIP Daily: Viv Evans