Today’s letters reflect the turmoil in our Party, after the Stoke By-Election. Here is a proposal by our contributor Ted Wildey:
I did not come into UKIP a Socialist (or even a Social Democrat) and do not wish to be pushed into supporting such policies. The turmoil within the Party is, I believe, caused by the division between the traditional pragmatic approach of many members, including myself, and the more mainstream political thinking of the RedUKIP supporters as described by Dr Tomaz Slivnik here. This I believe will lead only to electoral disaster for the party. However, I see little chance of the differences between these two groups being resolved by the Party hierarchy.
I therefore propose that a day-long Debate/Conference be held one Saturday to discuss the matter. All Branch Committee Members and, possibly, other validated activists, should be invited to attend and both sides given the opportunity to put forward their points of view in a structured environment. No salaried UKIP staff, MEP’s or London/Welsh AM’s should be in the audience or, if they are, should have no speaking rights. They can be part of the panel of speakers, of course. Nor should journalists be present although videoing the proceedings might be appropriate.
I suggest one of the Party’s peers, if non-aligned, should be asked to chair the meeting and that it be held somewhere in the Midlands. If necessary we can all pay for the hire of the hall, etc.
I am not sure what the authority of such a meeting would be but the final vote would certainly give an indication of members’ desired future direction for the Party, even if it means the formation of two parties.
Respectfully, Ted Wildey, East Hampshire Branch
The following two letters were written in the direct aftermath of the Stoke By-Election. The first is by our reader and contributor Phillip Smith:
Now that the Stoke by-election is over we can retire to lick our wounds. There will no doubt be quite a lot of crying-in-the-beer for a while but we must focus our attention on coming out fighting whenever the next by-election occurs, hopefully having learned some lessons. The one good thing to come out of this is that Jeremy Corbyn is now unlikely to be unseated as leader of the Labour party.
One lesson to be learned from the referendum is that in order to attain our objectives we simply have to exist. The public believe that the referendum result is all that is needed for our liberation and UKIP is now superfluous to British politics. How wrong they are. The political and corporate elite that is the establishment is using every dirty trick in the book to try and reverse the referendum decision, and they are powerful and resourceful, as they have shown in the “Miller” court case. Our main problem is trying to convince the public that the referendum was just the first hurdle, and there will be many more before we reach the finish line.
I think that we should also remember the words of Rudyard Kipling in his famous poem “If”: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same; […]”. Well I have been in UKIP almost twenty two years, and I have certainly seen more disaster than triumph, but I am still here and will be for the foreseeable future. In my early UKIP years we thought that we had scored a triumph if we retained our deposit in an election, whereas now we feel it a disaster if we only come second. How times have changed! The poem goes on: “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken, Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, […]”. We should also remember these words when we are out campaigning. That particular verse in the poem finishes with the lines: “Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools; […];”. These are also words well worth remembering. Keep the faith and we will prevail eventually.
Respectfully, Phillip Smith
The second letter, also putting events into perspective, is by Cllr Paul Foyster:
About 3 months ago UKIP was in chaos and totally unelectable. Our leaders were more interested in scoring points against each other than building the party, the Tories were stealing our policies left right and centre and claiming the responsibility for Brexit, which is still undefined and has not moved forward after 7 months. Some of us came close to giving up, a few did, including individuals who simply regarded UKIP as a shortcut to elected office.
In the minds of the public we are still a rabble. We have just suffered from the most evil and nasty election campaign, greatly assisted by the MSM, that I’ve ever seen. Hardly any mention of our policies was made outside our own literature.
To expect a new leader to pull everything together in such a short time, reorganise the party, solve the problem of restricted finances, combat the continuous smear campaigns and fight a election at the same time, is asking too much. It was simply too soon in his tenure. This is not some sort of disaster, we simply need to keep our nerve and fight on. Running an insurrection is never easy and an entrenched establishment is no pushover.
The last thing we need is speculation about our leadership. Paul was the best available choice by a country mile but he’s not Nigel, who was teflon coated and any new leader who is not snow white can expect exactly the same treatment. The more the media try and push us into a change the less we must listen to them, they want the worst UKIP leader, not the best. A change now will finish us.
What we must do is get behind Paul, produce a few easily understood main policies, speak the truth loudly and clearly but without intemperate language and avoid any temptation to blame a particular group for the nation’s problems, which are entirely of past and present government’s making. This applies to the open door immigration policies too, it’s our EU membership that’s responsible, not individuals or minority groups. Proper border control will solve the problem for the future but it can’t turn back the clock. That does not mean that we can’t insist that all citizens and residents obey the same law of the land or that religious beliefs are not a cop out.
There are calls for us to be more radical, something we already are, though we can do more to drive our position home more clearly. There is nothing whatever in our present policy position to be ashamed of and our spokesmen have expressed them quite clearly, even if their statements are usually ignored. Let’s keep it that way. Radical is fine, “nasty” is not.
Respectfully, Cllr. Paul Foyster
Finally, we received this video of Liz Jones, NEC member, on the Daily Politics show of March 2nd, on the ongoing debate on Douglas Carswell. Do watch it: