With UKIP back from the brink under a new and credible leader, and steady support as indicated by the local election results, true UKIPPERS can look to the future with hope. But hope of itself is far from sufficient. There needs to be confidence that we are moving forward and the direction of travel is correct; and from that will come the enthusiasm to put in the time, effort and money needed to gather support and achieve our objectives. But what are those objectives? And what is the plan for achieving them?
As I understand it, Gerard Batten has said policy will be developed taking the 2015 General Election manifesto as a the starting point. I am happy to go along with that: the 2017 Manifesto is OK, but there was more with which I was not happy. Reading through the 2015 Manifesto at the time I was in full agreement with most policy positions and dubious about only a tiny number. And its unique strength being the only party manifesto that was fully costed and independently judged to be financially sound.
So if the 2015 Manifesto is to be the base from which we go forward we all need a copy. I still have my printed copy, and while it is probably not practical to print more it was also available as a pdf, which I also have. Checking the UKIP website it no longer seems to be available to download, but that should be easy to remedy. So the first part of the plan is to start with the 2015 Manifesto and for us all to be able to read it.
We know for certain there is going to be another general election in due course. The only sensible objective for UKIP is to put up candidates in as many seats as possible. Those candidates will be standing on the basis of the manifesto produced for that election. We will need a new manifesto, and work on evolving it from the 2015 Manifesto needs to be underway now.
This is a large task and the work has to be shared. One sensible thing Henry Bolton did do was to appoint what he called his “Cabinet” with people given the responsibility for the full range of policy areas. It is my understanding that Gerrard intends to make his own appointments: some we already know about but mostly we are waiting for more information. Hopefully very soon we will know who has been appointed for each of the policy areas.
Policy heads will need to take the lead for evolving the 2015 Manifesto into the one for the next general election. I would like to think they will do this in collaboration with the UKIP Membership; handing down a fait-accompli is not a good method for keeping enthusiastic, thinking supporters enthused.
You do not have to read UKIP Daily for long to realise there are plenty of people with knowledge to bring forth and comments to contribute. But this of itself gets you nowhere. While an understanding of the problems that need to be addressed is an excellent starting point, it is not policy. Policy is moving from what is wrong with the present situation to a future where the wrongs have been corrected. A credible policy is one that does not simply say what you intend to do but how you intend to do it, especially when it comes to spending money. The 2015 Manifesto was fully costed and judged credible; the one for the next general election must be as good.
The recent article by Mike Hookem on Defence is a good pointer as to how to proceed. It gives a description of where the Country’s defence capabilities are now and an assessment of how they match the likely needs. UKIP Defence Policy needs to make the next step by defining what the defence objectives should be: inevitably a compromise between the ideal and the practical. There is also a need to state a basic strategy as to where our primary alignment should be: EU or NATO – an easy one to answer but needs saying. Once we know the objectives we need the plan for achieving them; we know they are achievable because the choice of objectives must be so constrained. It would seem logical that the person to lead the development of policy is the person with the responsibility for that policy area. So I would welcome more from Mike as to involving UKIP Members who feel they have something to contribute.
Given the wide geographical spread of UKIP, contributors will likely be widely spread around the UK, making physical meetings impractical. So an exchange of ideas will have to be based on the internet in one form or another. This ought to be facilitated and administered by UKIP centrally.
UKIP is not and never has been a “one-trick-pony”. But currently BREXIT is the dominant issue, and rightly so too for if this goes wrong it undermines our Country’s ability to address all the other issues in the way we want. BREXIT dominating is fortunate for a revival of UKIP fortunes as this the issue with which the Party is most closely associated in the minds of the Public. So UKIP must concentrate on BREXIT issues, and everything else, for the time being, must come second.
Well, that is what I think. I hope Party Management is working along similar lines.