THE FUTURE OF UKIP: A Voice For The Patriotic Working Class
The pundits are right. Henry Bolton was right. UKIP died on Saturday 17th February at the EGM. More accurately, the old UKIP died and is still in the process of decomposing and a new one is being born. This new Party, under the [Interim] leadership of Gerard Batten MEP, is the one that thousands of veterans are joining. It is telling that in their video, the veterans make two key points, they praise Mr Batten as a “working class man of the people” and attack the “traitor” Jeremy Corbyn. They are the dispossessed, the ones who Mr Corbyn’s embrace of Islington-chic Marxism has totally disenfranchised and they are literally the future of UKIP as in the ones who we must now appeal to as the Party is reborn.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the Alternative For Germany, (AfD) is now the second biggest party in the country. It is polling on 16%, behind discredited Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU coalition on 32%. Significantly, however, the pro-European Social Democrats are polling on 15.5%. Like France’s Front Nationale, the AfD has skillfully capitalised on the schism between the pro-EU leadership of the Social Democrats and its patriotic working-class base of support. This is something that UKIP has thus far failed to do. Arguably, it has seen itself as a pressure group whose core role has been to apply pressure to the Conservative Party either to achieve the referendum, something to which we can justly say ‘Mission Accomplished’, or latterly to ensure that Brexit is actually delivered ‘on-spec’ and on schedule.
This approach however no longer serves us well. In fact, it is a root cause of the existential crisis of identity we find ourselves mired in. In practice, it has seen the Party become gripped by widespread confusion and disorientation from the top down and when confronted with an issue outside the immediate comfort zone of Brexit, like say, Islam it has contributed to a spectacular loss of nerve when it comes to speaking truth to power. Gerard Batten’s leadership, be it interim or otherwise, presents us with an opportunity to grasp that nettle and yes learn from our continental brothers and sisters.
We will have to be bold and ready for radical change. The internal structures of the Labour Party were pre-Momentum democratic, how else, after-all do you think Momentum was allowed to flourish? It’s ruling NEC is vastly more transparent than the current UKIP arrangement but it is also structured in a way where that body represents a far-broader cross-section of the Party – while there is a directly elected element, there are also seats for every section of the Party. NEC members write regular reports for wide circulation blogs. You may scoff but it works, as of June 2017 Labour had over 550 thousand members making it the biggest social democratic party in Western Europe, and if we are to challenge it and I believe we must not only for self-serving reasons but to save Brexit we must understand why and how it works. If they can do that with their rotten politics, imagine what we can do with our patriotic politics. The possibilities are limitless. We should also learn from the organisational practice of the AfD and FN – speaking personally, I am utterly against not using an idea that will help because it wasn’t my idea first and I think we all realise the status quo cannot continue.
In terms of policy, we need to stand ready to promote policies which will better the lives and prospects of the forgotten Labour heartlands substantially – they suffer doubly from a heartless central Conservative government and local Labour administrations which are often run as self-appointing and also often corrupted fiefdoms. In order to win the trust of these communities, we have to do the hard yards over a span of years to win and build trust and confidence. I am not offering a quick fix here people but what I am offering is a purpose, a calling, one to which I believe the new UKIP has been born.