A review of Paul Oakley’s book
Paul Oakley’s book will be out on 1st of May – you can pre-order it at Amazon. It’s available in hardcover (very expensive), as paperback (still pricey) and on Kindle (very affordable).
Having read the review copy I was given, here’s my recommendation – no, wait, I’ll tell you at the end of this review if you still need telling by then.
“Housekeeping” remarks first: the book is 442 pages long and it is, as it says on the tin, about Paul Oakley and his time in UKIP up to now. He is, of course, the General Secretary of UKIP in case you forgot.
It is written as diary, and these diary entries are not a literary ploy. They are based on entries made at the various times of writing. That is obvious because as times change so do his assessments of certain people. They are not amended to give the impression, ‘after the event’, that he knew it all from the start … That honesty lends weight to the impact the whole book has.
The events described are generally London-centric because that’s where Paul is based, where he worked and works, both in his profession as barrister and as branch chairman and later, for a time, as Regional Officer. The book is thus a bit like a ‘history of UKIP London’. National news is only touched upon insofar as it relates to UKIP’s inner deliberations.
Names of prominent and not-so-prominent members past and present fill the pages, but since there’s no index you’ll have to buy the book to find out if you’re in it. I’ll refrain from naming names here as well – you’ll just have to go and read the book if you want to find out what really went on, won’t you!
As the title shows already, Paul has a breezy style of writing. He delights in using some strong language on occasion which I think is wonderfully appropriate. Those of us who’ve been living through the past five years, haunting websites, have become accustomed to that sort of expressing oneself. Well, I liked and relished it anyway!
His descriptions of himself are gloriously over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek – they might offend some but they kept me smiling, nay grinning and even laughing out loud while reading and turning the pages: a great plus.
Dirt-washing in public? Nope – but the actual, real dirt certain ex-members dished out in public are not swept under the carpet. Instead they are given new perspectives in those diary reports of what happened at that time.
Irreverence? Loads, and it’s spread even-handedly and gleefully across top Kippers, lowly members and outsiders.
Throughout the text Paul very elegantly sinks the odd stiletto into the backs of certain members – naming no names, you’ll have to read the book – but he makes no bones about sticking that big knife into the chest of a certain Henry Bolton. You might have heard of him. That was a proper, up-front stabbing.
The descriptions of earlier campaigns Paul was involved in, from candidate selection and leafleting to street stalls and canvassing, take up a great chunk of the book. As we’re facing another set of local elections and an EU parliamentary election, they are a must-read, certainly for any elected officer. Paul describes what was happening, what should’ve happened and what did not; the scandalous behaviour of the Electoral Commission in both 2014 (EU) and 2015 (GE) getting a well-deserved airing.
All through these 30-odd chapters so far, the mood is light, upbeat and the hilarious remarks keep coming.
As you’d expect, we get the whole shebang, from AGMs (yes, Margate in 2015 was indeed freezing – I was there and remember it well!), from the appearance of Carswell and Reckless to their disappearance, from Nigel’s resignation and un-resignation to the leadership elections in 2016, 2017 and 2018. And as you’d expect, the mood darkens perceptibly towards the end of the book, where ‘The Assassination of Henry Bolton’ is described in terse detail.
The chapters following on deal with the difficulties facing UKIP after Gerard Batten took over, reluctantly, at that EGM in February 2018: from the Jane Collins case to Tommy Robinson and the horrendous local elections a year ago. As a prime example for how our dear MSM works, here’s the original ‘Black-Death’ quote when Paul was asked if it wasn’t all over for UKIP:
“‘No, it’s not over at all. Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It comes along and it causes disruption and then it goes dormant. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Our time isn’t finished because Brexit is being betrayed and there’s a lot of anger in the country about that.’ ‘Can I just clarify? As General Secretary of UKIP you’ve just compared your party with the Black Death?’ ‘Absolutely. What’s wrong with that?’”
Now compare this with what the MSM and UKIP enemies made of it …!
The chapters up to the end of the book record the events after that local election disaster: from the Lewisham by-election to the AGM last September, from the resignation of MEPs at that time – you remember who they were, and if you don’t, you’ll have to read the book – to the No-Confidence motion against Gerard Batten brought to the NEC. I simply cannot resist to quote Paul on that meeting:
“I’ll tell you everything that happened when I write my memoirs. Not these memoirs, silly! Later ones. When I’m really old. You’ll have to wait.”
So this is not “The End” – there will be a second volume coming. Sometime. Probably after I’ve popped my clogs, alas ..
The final chapter has the title ‘Brexit Betrayal’, wherein Paul closes the circle from his first speech as Kipper to the one he made at the December Brexit rally. These are his concluding words:
“It hasn’t occurred to the Brexit betrayers that they’re presenting that small group, and half-a-billion EU citizens at large, with a clear and logical statement of fact. Namely: it is impossible to leave the European Union by peaceful, democratic means. The naïvety of that arrogance is terrifying.
Bella, horrida bella.
Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno.”
If you still wonder about buying the book: go and do it! You know it makes sense, especially now as we face the latest instance of Ms May’s Brexit Betrayal. Above all else, in these grim days of Betrayal when we look around to find a smile, a grin, a laugh: you’ll find those when you read Paul’s UKIP Memoirs. Guaranteed.