In physics terms momentum describes the characteristic of a moving object in seemingly wanting to continue to move even when the initial force is no longer being applied. This aspect has many uses in engineering, a common one being the flywheel of an internal combustion engine that will continue to rotate against resistance between ignition points and when the initial driving force is absent.
In political terms it works in much the same way. All physical motion sustained by momentum will eventually stop without further stimulus and the same thing applies to politics. Once the People’s Army has begun to march stopping overly long for lunch will have the effect of walking backwards.
At the moment the momentum is with us and we need to keep it going, adding stimulus at every possible moment to maintain maximum velocity. Optimum speed has to be maintained right through the general election and that means certain things have to happen.
Critically UKIP must field a candidate in every parliamentary seat. Even though there will be target seats that may well attract more attention and money, every ballot paper must have a UKIP name on it or the effect upon momentum will be akin to a shattered big-end bearing. We have support nationally and cannot let these people down by not being there when they want to vote for us. If we don’t it’s possible that those votes will be gone forever. (See “The Case of the Spoilt Ballot Papers“)
We must begin to strengthen the connection between members and their constituency groups and the constituency groups and the hierarchy and that is an area that worries me.
An interesting question is:
‘how do political parties select and decide upon manifesto items’?
Followed hotly by
‘what would be a robust and inclusive mechanism’?
‘do parties do it this way’?
My suspicion is that they do not and I’m concerned that UKIP will follow suit in what must be a tempting situation to allow the gurus and money to dictate most of it following a path well trodden by the other two parties. I rather hoped we might be a little different. Not having any particular insight into the machinations of parties manifesto processes I make this judgement simply based upon the idiotic stuff that sometimes manages to get in them.
I’m not suggesting either that we manufacture ‘circular democracy’ with vested interests carrying the way through interminable in-party voting but I am strongly suggesting that we need a RED team or the equivalent.
Back to momentum for a moment
This phenomenon carried us to second place in the Newark By Election which is an astounding result bearing in mind it is a parliamentary seat and we had no manifesto other than the well known need to dump the EU. Like the internal combustion engine the momentum will fade with no further stimulus and for us that has to be a range of policies that resonate with most voters. Optimistically, one might think, we have to prepare a manifesto for government and not one for souls unhappy with the miserable establishment. In this sense criticism of the party as a home for the protest vote would have a deal of validity but we can change that.
There is much scope to be different and ground breaking. It’s no good pandering to the middle ground as that is overflowing with the current crop of parties who believe they have the right to rule. It is a fact that, in reality, there is just a miniscule difference between them and that creates a particular opportunity for UKIP, the new kid on the block.
It is often said that UKIP may not even win a seat let alone a majority and that conclusion is based upon fairly recent history and the only other real example of the failed SDP, probably the only other attempt at government by a new party. However, what that analysis fails to take into account is the real lack of any choice between the establishment parties and…
Tribalism in voting patterns
For example tribalism means that the North, Wales and Scotland will not be home to a Tory landslide victory anytime soon regardless of policy and likewise for the South of the country for the Labour party. This is a bizarre yet understandable situation and leads to the opportunity that now presents itself.
If you weren’t familiar with human emotions you would I find it odd, to say the least, that tribalistic voting patterns completely disregard abject failures of the preferred clan when the only seemingly viable alternative is the hated enemy. But, these people are ready to change allegiance, just not to the parties that, for whatever reason, cannot be supported regardless of their manifesto. In that sense we are neither Labour nor Conservative and that is a huge advantage.
Middle ground is another reason why political earthquakes don’t happen. Quite simply it really doesn’t matter who you vote for as the overall effect will be the same. We know that Labour will try to buy votes and eventually run out of money as they have always done and the Tories will try to correct that but progressively make our society less equal by overly favouring their own elitist sect in everything they do. Critically they will both stay in the EU to our long term detriment.
Deliberately I have not mentioned the LD’s as they seem to have dug their own pit very successfully.
So, our momentum needs another kick and we need a groundbreaking manifesto with no catastrophic own goals lurking in the shadows. We have a truly remarkable opportunity in a climate that is absolutely ready for something new. How can we ensure that we don’t screw it up?
We need thinkers and not managers or gurus, we need a process that is capable of embracing contradiction so that when a pet item loved by some is, in reality, a disaster electorally it can be binned. It is not too late. However, will it happen?
What this process might be comprised of is a subject for another comment but we must remember that being like the others won’t work, momentum does run out and earthquakes do happen.
And earthquakes do occur when certain conditions come together as in our current political landscape.