Ed: Continued from Part I which you can read here.
The Brexit campaign can ill afford, particularly at this crucial stage, to be disunited. Pro-Brexit pressure groups like Leave Means Leave can mount rallies, fine speakers, media interviews, internet videos and other publicity material – given the finance. Their activities can influence electors, but they cannot match the electoral pressure on the main political parties that we deployed successfully in advance of the 2015 general election, when we forced a Tory leader to commit to a referendum against his better judgement.
But our potential to apply crucial pressure against Remainer MPs does not necessarily await the government going to the country once again. Even the slightest possibility of a general election – credible enough in the present febrile atmosphere at Westminster – would enable the mere prospect of our nationwide candidacy to threaten the current grip of the parliamentary Remainers on the course of events.
Sadly, it is all too clear – after six months of his leadership in a year during which the UK has been subjected to serial humiliation from without and within by Eurocrats and so-called Europhiles – that UKIP under Gerard Batten is ineffectual on our raison-d’être: Brexit.
From March 29th next, we shall have lost even the platform for publicity that the EU Parliament has provided – albeit under-exploited by our MEPs, many of whom are supine and whose numbers have been depleted by those who have resigned from the party but shamefully clung on to their seats.
Gerard is far too-shrewd an operator not to have recognised all this. But, with his voluntary tenure as interim leader stretching beyond that date of March 29th – when the UK is supposed to be shaking off its EU shackles – what is his game plan to raise UKIP’s profile in the short time remaining and put pressure on the wretched Mrs May or her possible successor as Prime Minister? Does he even have a plan?
Clearly, something needs to be done. In Mrs Scott’s opinion, however, restoring UKIP’s voice and credibility in the debate would be impossible under its present leadership. But right now, unfortunately, there is insufficient time for a newbie to develop and make his or her mark on the British public, and consequently to threaten the pro-EU establishment.
Whilst there is much talent occupying leading roles in the party, it’s doubtful that any of them possesses the essential chutzpah to take on the task. And, crucially, each of them has either demurred from standing or failed – despite several recent opportunities – to win a leadership election. If Gerard Batten were to stand down early as interim leader, his replacement would need also to be someone not associated in the public eye with our serial failure to elect a suitable leader by membership ballot.
So – which longstanding member of UKIP has the experience, eloquence, single-mindedness and gravitas to hold the Tory and Labour leaders to account on Brexit? That person – for all his so-called Marmite characteristics – is Nigel Farage.
Yes, his relinquishing of the leadership was ill-timed and the three candidates he backed in turn to replace him each turned out to be lemons or worse. But by the summer of 2016 he was understandably exhausted, and physical threats to him and his family had taken their toll. He and Gerard Batten are said not to get on. No doubt, however, the two of them would tell us emphatically that the future of the party and of the United Kingdom is infinitely more important than any clash of personalities.
Gerard Batten would earn the lasting respect and gratitude of members were he to swallow any pride and old resentments and – in the interests of party and country, and with the consent of the membership at an EGM – be prepared to step aside in favour of Nigel as a new interim leader. A single phone call might set the ball rolling, should Nigel be willing and able to play it. Any dissent from senior officials would have to face the wrath of the majority in the grassroots, who are witnessing the steady demise of their party and its cause.
Gerard would remain a popular and, if he so wished, valuable spokesman and electoral candidate for UKIP. After all, his stepping in voluntarily as interim leader probably saved UKIP from financial and political oblivion.
Some people criticise Nigel as loud, dogmatic, and even bloody-minded. Mrs Scott often complains that he is rather loud and too quick to interrupt callers on his radio show. These faults, no doubt, strain relations with his long-suffering colleagues. But in debate against the Brexit naysayers in any forthcoming election or second referendum they would represent winning attributes, as they did in 2016.
Under a refreshed Nigel Farage, UKIP could soon regain its 2015 status as the third force in UK politics, and have every chance of securing Mrs Scott’s vote next time.