That lack of a Farage knighthood could prove a godsend to UKIP.
It is true the party is at a crossroads and that the referendum vote has allowed UKIP’s detractors to continue the narrative of the party’s demise. But as in all arguments it is merely one view; from another side it could just as easily be described as a golden moment, a crossroads of opportunity.
By tradition, the typical Leave voter occasionally votes Conservative but more likely votes Labour and more commonly of late, not at all. But if Brexit proved anything it is that the silent majority can be aroused. And when aroused they can make what at first appears impossible almost inevitable. For while those within the metropolitan bubble were shocked by the result, those who live, work and socialise in the North of England or any of the South Wales valleys weren’t. Any straw poll in any working-man’s club would have told you that an upset was on the cards. Indeed you could hardly find a Remain voter and when you did, soon discovered they were doing so somewhat grudgingly.
A little more than a decade ago I was working as an agent for the Labour Party. Tony Blair was PM and we were attempting, not very subtly, to add to our membership. To aid this we rang known Labour supporters and engaged them by asking their opinions on government policy, what the government was doing right, but more often what they thought we were doing wrong.
At the time, as now, there was only one topic anyone wanted to talk about. Immigration figures had gone through the roof and rather understandably 99% of the concern expressed reflected this. However, far from recognising these concerns as legitimate, the response from the party hierarchy was usually one of indifference. And where there was a response it was always dismissive, to label these concerns as simply racist. Since that time the fears of those respondents have been justified, yet Labour’s beliefs and responses have remained unchanged.
Strange then that any of these electorate still support the Labour Party. But to understand why, you would have to have been raised in a Labour Party supporting area. It wasn’t just everyone in your family that supported Labour, but all your friend’s family. All of your neighbours. Everyone you knew or were ever likely to know. And although I knew some people didn’t, I genuinely didn’t understand why everybody didn’t vote Labour. A party created by the working class to be the voice of the working class, it really was a no-brainer.
That a party of the workers now supports uncontrolled immigration only goes to demonstrate how far it has travelled from its roots and core values. In very simplistic terms, workers’ pay and conditions are subject to the laws of supply and demand. If the worker is in demand their pay and conditions will reflect it.
Thus the reason for Labour’s terminal decline is not, as the media would have you believe, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn may well be a poor leader and he certainly doesn’t help, but it is the liberal elite that control Labour Party policy and it is they who are the problem. It is their values that are now respected and reflected, not those of the traditional Labour voter.
Understandably, these voters are becoming desperate. Many have already deserted politics, more are still hanging on by their fingernails. Walk again in to any of those working-man’s club and now ask them what they think of politicians? They will tell you that they have lost faith. That all politicians are the same. Only in it for themselves.
These are the people UKIP needs to target and then win over, because when you have them, more will follow. For what they believe in is exactly the same as what the majority of people of Britain believe in. Fairness. There are far too many examples of just how unfair Britain has become, from housing to health. But two are just criminal.
Firstly, a compulsory TV licence fee. A wholly regressive tax predominantly persecuting and imprisoning poor women. Two thirds of all prosecutions are against women, whilst the number one target by profession are carers.
And how can it be fair that the men and women who risk their lives in order to protect us should be left so wholly unprotected when the legal profession begins to circle them, smelling blood? But in their case we don’t just persecute our armed forces for doing something that only a fraction of us would be brave enough to even contemplate, we pay these sharks handsomely to be able to do it.
Paul was right then to fight Stoke and Nigel was right to think UKIP would win it. What both of them didn’t count on was the Labour Party’s ability to fight dirty. Labour found a weakness in Hillsborough and exploited it.
The demise of the Labour vote is why I believe Nigel missed a trick by never standing in a Labour stronghold. And that he could miss another by not standing in the Gorton by-election. Yes it is the ninth safest Labour seat in the country and is in an area that voted 60/40 to Remain. And yes, on the surface he wouldn’t have a chance of winning it. But the reality is he couldn’t lose. Not because he is a brilliant politician who’s difficult to knock off message. But simply because he would be giving the voters an opportunity to vote for change; to vote for a party more interested in the voters than the interests of any party.
It would also ensure UKIP were back at the forefront of the news agenda for the right reasons; it would galvanise the party and provide a much needed fillip for the local elections.
It may be a fight he has no right to win, but fighting it can only be a win-win.