REECE COOMBES: Nigel Farage Is A National Hero, But It Is Gerard Batten Who Must Lead UKIP
Nigel Farage, since I was 14 years old, has been my hero. Without Nigel, and his fantastic achievements as UKIP’s Leader prior to the EU referendum, we wouldn’t have got that glorious referendum and we most certainly wouldn’t have won it.
My great admiration for Farage led to me being known by more students at my college as ‘the guy with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Nigel Farage in his bedroom’ – a description which was not inaccurate – than those who knew me by my name.
But alas, my cherished Nigel cut-out was hastily folded up and shelved away in February of this year when my political idol came out to back Henry Bolton’s UKIP leadership ahead of the party’s crucial EGM. Mr Bolton was, as far as I was concerned, a traitor whose sole aim was to destroy UKIP and who had already gone a very long way in achieving that. Henry and I had a number of rows on this topic and, quite frankly, he should be proud of the fact that as many as a third of our members supported him after his display of total incompetence.
Despite all of this, Nigel supported Bolton and told the party that we should stand by our pathetic leader, even implying that we’d “die” if we sacked him. Of course, I don’t believe for a minute that Nigel was also a traitor; I think he simply got this one very wrong.
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Thankfully, UKIP’s grassroots membership took little notice of Nigel’s advice and two thirds of us rejected Bolton anyway. Since that historic day for our party, we have seen our membership rocket upwards, a 44% (and counting) spike in our young membership and a courageous – but effective – shift in UKIP’s direction towards freedom and liberty.
As the age-old saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ And believe me, UKIP couldn’t be much further from broke right now. We haven’t seen such a positive lurch in membership and such an air of optimism since years before the referendum, and we may never see it again if we choose to divert from our newfound road of success.
But don’t just take my word for it; the most obvious measure of political success is poll ratings, and UKIP’s polling has not stopped rising under Gerard’s leadership. In fact, just this morning a poll was published giving us a 2% increase in support, up to 5%.
Westminster voting intention:
CON: 39% (-2)
LAB: 39% (-1)
LDEM: 9% (-)
UKIP: 5% (+2)
GRN: 3% (+1)
via @YouGov, 08 – 09 Jul
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) July 10, 2018
Gerard has been absolutely loyal to the UKIP cause since the very beginning. As a founding member, he helped to shape our policy, action and direction and as one of our first MEPs, he helped lead the way to establishing opposition to the EU within its institutions. Even since we won the Brexit referendum, Gerard remained extremely active, serving as our Brexit spokesman under multiple leaders before taking up the leadership himself. Of course, most of that can be said also of Nigel Farage – to his credit – but sadly the post-referendum loyalty is not so evident.
When Nigel stepped down, the first permanent leader to take the UKIP reigns was Paul Nuttall; a well-meaning but ultimately unprepared leader of our party. Within a few months of taking over the party – after an extremely troubling few months following Diane James’ resignation – Nuttall was faced with the challenge of a set of locals doomed to failure ahead of a General Election which, even if we hadn’t fought awfully, was never going to return anything even vaguely purple.
What we needed to at least retain some sort of electoral dignity was a well-known Brexiteer willing to call out the Tories on their fraud. That should have been Nigel Farage. However, Nigel decided that his name would not be in the hat this time round, and that he would barely even show his face during the campaign other than popping up at the occasional action day.
Gerard Batten, on the contrary, was not only active in our campaign as UKIP’s Brexit spokesman but was challenging Prime Minister Theresa May in her own seat of Maidenhead to directly call her out on her Brexit failures. This is just another example of Batten’s total, consistent commitment to not only Brexit but to the UKIP cause.
But throughout his entire career playing an instrumental role in achieving Brexit, Gerard has been extremely vocal on a great variety of issues, particularly those relating to Islamism and Freedom of Speech, two issues which UKIP was noticably quiet on compared to the majority of its membership under Nigel’s leadership.
My twitter account was suspended recently because I said ‘Islam was a death cult’. Well I am back now, and Islam is still a death cult.
— Gerard Batten MEP (@GerardBattenMEP) 3 October 2017
After recent events surrounding Tommy Robinson, Count Dankula and a number of other victims of state persecution, there arose a very major gap in British politics for a party defending free speech and standing up for our rights. Thankfully, Gerard Batten has morphed UKIP into that party, and we have reaped the benefits.
Count Dankula, Sargon of Akkad, Paul Joseph Watson and Milo Yiannopoulos have all joined UKIP – bringing with them thousands of new members – as a direct result of Gerard’s shift in our party’s focus towards what are becoming the defining issues of our time – Islamism and freedom (especially freedom of expression) while of course retaining our major focus on Brexit. This approach is working wonders for UKIP, bringing in new supporters, new (and old) donors and, crucially, new members.
Of course, going forward Gerard must do everything he can put Nigel in the centre stage within UKIP – giving him the role of Brexit spokesman would be a very positive move to this end – and Nigel must continue fighting for Brexit with his non-partisan approach that he has adopted at the same time. It is only by working together and allowing Nigel to take his campaigning in his own direction whilst remaining prominent within the party that we will truly prosper.
I could continue listing Gerard’s successes for days more but I think my point has become clear; UKIP under Gerard Batten is finally a serious electoral force tackling a broader range of issues than any other political party in Britain, and the public couldn’t be more grateful for it! Provided Gerard is happy to continue leading us down this path to victory, we must do everything within our power to help him.