OPINION: UKIP’s Year Of Transformation
It is hard to believe that this time 365 days ago Henry Bolton was UKIP Leader. ‘MarneyGate’ had yet to break (although it was already brewing behind closed doors) and Bolton at least presented a temporary illusion of stability after one of the longest leadership contests on record which was equally as bitter and divisive as it was long.
However, there was little improvement in the polls nor membership. It had not recovered from the defining mistake of investing trust in the Conservatives to deliver Brexit and, perhaps unwittingly, losing it’s soul in the process. What is more, in saying the blue team could be the agency for delivering Britain’s freedom it implicitly made the case for its own retirement to the knackers yard. After-all what truly could be said to the point of UKIP is the Conservatives were not only capable but willing to deliver on its primary mission goal.
People forget this hopeless sense of drift. Bolton was never really that inspirational. He went on prime time political tv to talk-up his grand ambition to ‘de-claw’ UKIP. Hardly inspiring stuff. As the year has wore on it has become increasingly clear that the British people need a UKIP with claws more than ever. Gerard Batten did more than save the Party in the narrow organisational sense of the word. He restored its sense of pride and purpose exactly at the time it is needed.
Critics of Batten insist that UKIP has become somehow ‘disconnected’ from Brexit and the Brexit cause. However, they have singularly failed to see how the trajectory of events is taking Brexit off a cliff-edge and how the road to it has narrowed substantially. Parliament is, albeit slowly, strangling Brexit to death and 2019 is set to be the year it finally runs out of air.
Lobbying Parliament as some kind of ginger group simply won’t cut the mustard anymore. If anything, it has become a hot-bed of resistance to Brexit and could well next year wheel out the referendum weapon to start firing on Brexit. The situation has changed, this is not 2014. You can’t win Brexit entirely the way the referendum was won. Slowly, but surely, that avenue is being closed down, the establishment is seeing to that, the more they lose control the harder they clamp down in an effort to impose it.
Whether people like it or not we have to be creative in our tactical approach. Whatever you think of him or his politics, the movement behind Tommy Robinson is a key strategic ally in the battle for Brexit. It’s energy and Tommy’s reach right into the heart of the alienated working class communities that powered the referendum victory is not something either UKIP or Brexiteers can simply ignore, that is if they are serious about winning what amounts to a war for independence. Similarly, UKIP’s transformation into what Gerard Batten calls a ‘true populist Party’ is a necessary one.
Freedom movements win when they are as adaptive and creative as the establishment that opposes them. Refusing to adapt, to think that just because something worked once it will work again exactly in the same way is a sure-fire way to guarantee defeat. Passing by and dismissing potentially powerful allies because there are elements in his past that make us feel uneasy or we are not entirely comfortable even with his current mission is to commit the sin of pride. Pride is a luxury we simply cannot afford especially with the odds as heavily stacked against us as they currently are. Winning this war requires UKIP to complete the transformation it started this year not to travel back in time and assume that the same strategies that worked yesterday will work well for us today or even tomorrow.
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