This is part 2 of Torquil Dick-Ericson’s piece. Part 1 can be read here.
In 2015 we could have done it even more strongly, drumming home the message loud and clear that we were the number one party in the country. Of course Cameron saw this danger and that is why he stole our thunder by himself promising a straight In/Out referendum on EU membership. This meant that UKIP’s potential voters whose main interest was in exiting the EU would vote Tory, as in effect happened. This is also because if two parties want the same policy but stand divided, then even if their combined vote is a majority, FPTP means they will lose. Voters are aware of this, so if two parties put forward the same or similar policies that they like, they will flock to the party that they perceive stands a better chance of winning, even if in their hearts they would have preferred the other party.
But we also shot ourselves quite unnecessarily in the foot on both occasions. In 2010 we campaigned saying “We are the FOURTH party in British politics”, and in 2015 we said “We are the THIRD party in British politics”.
This is SUICIDAL.
With FPTP nobody who wants their vote to influence the outcome will vote for a party that describes itself as number three or number four, ie dead-cert losers. You have to be perceived as a number one or a number two contender. That means you yourself must tell people that you are number one or number two, so that they can vote for you with confidence. If you don’t say so yourself, why should anyone else think you are?
The previous EP election result, where UKIP beat the other parties was only the year before, so could be pointed to. But of course the MSM would not want to point it out, and so people needed to be reminded that in 2014, UKIP was the first party in the land.
Unfortunately we ourselves forgot it. Our minds reverted to FPTP probability voting, and we went around saying: “We are now the third party in British politics”. This added to Cameron’s stealing our thunder by himself promising an In/Out referendum. As a result, having been voted the top party the year before, we won no seats at all.
Of course in March 2019 the UK seats in the Europarl will be abolished so we will no longer have that chance of showing we are again the top party in a PR election.
There is really no point in pushing for electoral reform; there was a referendum on it which reconfirmed the present FPTP system and the existing parties are highly unlikely to approve a system which will weaken their influence. It would be a waste of our limited resources. And in any case, with PR there would be many more parties competing for votes, most of them winning seats, and it would be very difficult to then form a governing majority, as the Italians and other countries using PR have found. It might however well be worthwhile to campaign for a reform of postal voting, which lends itself to abuse.
So, at the next general election we must stop hiding our light under a bushel, being over-modest, saying “we are the fourth or the third party in British politics”. We must come out strongly and say we are the ONLY party that represents national independence and it was our policy that gained 17.4 million votes in 2016. We will stress the dog’s breakfast that Mrs May has made of Brexit, and convince those 17.4 million voters that they have been betrayed by the whole LibLabCon establishment.
I would recommend that some exceptions might be made in constituencies where a genuine Brexiteer Tory or Labour candidate is standing, where we could consider not fielding our own candidate.
I think the Party should consider spending money on a credible opinion poll, to ask people “Regardless of who you think might win the election, which party do you think best represents your interests?” That way people will say how they would vote if they felt they could vote for their heart’s desire (e.g. how they might vote if we had a PR system). It could also be helpful for the pollsters to ask a preliminary question: “What do you think are the most urgent issues that the UK needs to face, out of a list of ‘Brexit, immigration, Islam, the NHS, law and order, jobs, house-prices…?’. Of course Theresa May having called the election precisely on the Brexit issue will cause many if not most people to choose ‘Brexit’, and this encourages people to answer ‘UKIP’ for the main question as to their preferred party.
The result of this opinion poll would surely be highly favourable to UKIP and should be used on the doorsteps and in campaigning generally to impress on people that UKIP is a major player, a party that not only represents what people want but that can win seats. It will thus stand a good chance of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Opinion polls that merely ask: “Who do you think will win?” or: “How do you intend to vote?” are useless for us.
Of course it would be marvellous if we won a withdrawalist majority (UKIPper MPs + others) in Parliament. However we should aim at electing enough MPs to form a blocking minority, or as a second best, at least enough so that we will at last have a voice in Westminster.