In his recent article about the utility of UKIP focusing on the European Parliamentary elections, Ian McKie makes a number of compelling arguments that relegate the Euro elections to the status of a sideshow that will neither do UKIP any substantive good from a profile perspective, nor secure the return of the UK’s sovereignty through a referendum of secession.
While I agree with some of his points, I feel that it may be worth presenting a number of clear reasons that justify the focus that the party puts on success in the European parliament.
Firstly, and most fundamentally, the European elections are a national-level election in which we are coming up against all other parties active in this country. It is another opportunity to articulate our message and our values on a very large scale which cannot be downplayed or ignored. Given that our very reason for being as a political party is to oppose British absorption into a non-democratic, bureaucratic, federal European state, we have to take the election seriously and present the British voters with a way to make clear their opposition to the underhanded and deceitful way that successive governments have dealt with the European question over the last four decades. It may not be a “proxy referendum” in fact or law, but it very much can be in moral terms, which are not to be discounted when it comes to the election that really matters in 2015.
Secondly, if we win the European elections, or even come a close second, it will be almost impossible to exclude Nigel Farage from the General Election leadership debates. If we top the poll, winning a national election, it will be impossible for David Cameron to continue to deny Nigel’s inclusion without appearing immensely cowardly and dismissive, which will not play well with the general public and will provide a great deal of ammunition to Labour and the Liberal Democrats as they try to deconstruct his “leadership”.
Thirdly, we always do well in European elections and we get more even more media coverage than we normally do. While this is of value in and of itself, this time around it coincides with incredibly important local elections. Following on from last May’s successes, this next round of locals will help further identify our “target seats” for the General Election. The strength of our European performance and campaign will directly feed into those results – the two campaigns are symbiotic and the funds used by branches to support the European Parliamentary campaign will result in “market penetration” that far exceeds anything they could do through leafleting and letters to local papers simply due to the high profile of the Euros. Rather than represent a drain on resources, the monetary support given to the European campaign by individual branches is a good investment in their local success.
Fourthly, there is a “Eurosceptic” (silly term) surge across Europe and a strong UKIP showing there will, alongside similar results in France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Austria, Bulgaria, Finland et al contribute to the panic in Brussels. Faced with phalanxes of MEPs bitterly fighting all efforts towards applying “more Europe”, the Eurocrats’ total disdain and contempt for the democratically expressed wishes of millions of “European citizens” will be undeniable as they press ahead with their dystopian fantasy project, further undermining their authority and legitimacy. It is vital that UKIP return as many MEPs as possible to help facilitate this as every action of high-handed, arrogant diktat plays into the hands of those of us who would like not only to see Britain free from the European Union, but also the liberation of our European neighbours from the same.
Fifthly, and finally for this response to Mr. McKie’s article, returning large numbers of MEPs means that they, and their staff, get some “on the job” experience at high level politics. The value of this must not be denied, regardless of our party’s disdain for “professional politics”. Almost all of our elected office holders, from Parish Councillor to MEP, are new to their roles and need seasoning. If we don’t take advantage of the opportunity that the European elections and the subsequent positions to fully prepare for our first MPs in 2015, we run the risk of being side-lined or ineffective at Westminster. Our MPs will need personal experience, as will their senior staff and advisers, in order to properly and effectively work when they get elected, and at the moment the only way we have to get that experience and exposure is by getting MEPs elected.
In my view, these reasons make it clear what UKIP can accomplish during the European Parliamentary election campaign, all of which will serve our aims of getting MPs elected in 2015, making sure that those MPs have the personal skills and the experienced staff needed to effectively and successfully navigate the corridors of Westminster, and, ultimately, to gain our full independence as a sovereign nation, goals which all of us in UKIP have in common.