Having won the referendum, what is the purpose of our party? Do we still have a role to play and if so, what is it?
I firmly believe that we do and that this is a time not for shutting down or winding down, but a time of truly unique and truly great opportunity. Either we will choose the right leadership team and grasp it, or we will waste it. It is entirely up to us.
I lay out here what I believe the our party’s vision should be, both externally and internally.
Externally, our short term priority must be to ensure
(a) that Brexit happens, either by invoking Article 50, by repealing the 1972 ECA unilaterally, or by whatever other means necessary;
(b) that Brexit takes place in a timely manner and is not kicked into the long grass;
(c) that Brexit leads to the right deal for Britain and (
d) that Brexit is delivered by the right team – since only the right team will deliver the right deal at the right time for us. Appearances may deceive, but none of this is assured yet, and there are a million ways we can still be stitched up. We have to keep the establishment’s feet to the fire.
Longer term, I believe the natural place where we need to be is also clear.
Political parties are traditionally seen as divided along the rich vs. poor divide. According to the traditional view, we are meant to believe that the Tories are the party of the rich and Labour are the party of the poor. Whatever the original intent, this story today is entirely phony as I believe is this divide even in principle. Designed for the charade and the theatrical performance which is the fake battle between the large political parties, fought for our entertainment with fake wooden swords.
In reality, politicians of all traditional political parties may have their differences, even fierce disputes, but these are mainly over their power struggles and their interests. Ideologically and in relation to the ordinary people, they are all allies. We, the ordinary people, are their enemy.
The true divide is between the outsider, whether rich or poor, and the insider, whether rich or poor, although usually rich at your expense and mine. It’s between the givers and the takers, between those of us who pull our own weight and those who piggyback on the rest of us. This creates an open underserved niche still screaming for a champion of their own. Turnout at general elections remains low because voters feel they have no one to vote for, no one to champion the regular, decent, hard working people.
I thought UKIP used to want to be these peoples’ champion, but somehow, somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost our way. It is time we find this way again. UKIP must be as much the party of the poor man or woman who aspires to better herself through her own hard work, inventiveness and innovation, as it must be the party of the formerly poor man or woman who made it through her own success.
It must as much not be a party of the wealthy special interest insiders who live off the sweet crony deals and bailouts paid for by the taxpayers – you and me and all the other ordinary hard working income earners – as it must not be a party of those who are not so well off but take advantage of the provisions we have made for the needy, which they are not.
Some are calling for UKIP to take the centre ground; this is expressly where I believe we should not be. The centre ground is where everyone else already is. It is overcrowded, it is not honest, and it does not satisfy what those who have been driven out of the voting system altogether look for.
We are naturally a party of decentralisation of power. Withdrawal from the European Union is just the beginning. Our greater vision has to be to liberate the individuals from all the artificial obstacles – some created by the European Union, others by other levels of government – that stand in the way of them bettering themselves and creating their own happiness, by unlocking their own potential, motivation for hard work, creativeness, inventiveness and entrepreneurship, by creating valuable products and offering valuable services which at the same time contribute to all the rest of the society as well as better their own lot in life.
Every decision where there is no compelling reason to the contrary should be left exclusively to the individuals to make for themselves. An Englishman’s home shall once more be his castle, freed from unnecessary interference from Big Brother. Every communal decision must be made at the most local level possible. Every decision which can be taken by a local council, should be taken there, not in Westminster. And so on.
We must unlock the potential of the unemployed and the underemployed, not by pushing them further into desperation, but by creating an environment and a set of incentives where productive work, innovation and entrepreneurship is not a pointless exercise in futility and a hard slog for no tangible return, compared to the dole, but something to look forward to with enthusiasm and an opportunity to better oneself.
Internally, I believe the direction we need to take is equally clear.
Nigel is a unique and exceptional individual. There is probably no one who can match his ability, grit, boundless energy, charisma and outstanding oratory performance. It is said that taking up the baton of leadership after a great leader is frequently a poisoned chalice.
I believe that this is not such an occasion. Nigel as a leader largely did it all himself.
I firmly believe that a new leader, even if not quite the star that Nigel is himself, can nevertheless take this party to an entirely new level. How? I suggest by knowing how to pick the right team, knowing how to make this team work together and working well with this team himself or herself.
A truly unique open opportunity awaits us – both for our party and for our country.
Our country is soon to cease being a member of the European Union. We once were the world’s largest economic power. We still are the world’s fifth largest economy. We will be able to forge our own trade deals with parts of the world which are growing, and decouple ourselves from being tied quite so intimately to the millstone moribund economies of the European continent. With the USA and other greater powers suffering a real crisis of leadership, which, it appears, could well be ongoing and long term, this is a real opportunity for Britain to start becoming a greater economic power again – not a declining one tied to a sinking ship.
The opportunity is also there for our party to improve our act, learn from our past mistakes and become a well oiled machine.
In this way, a few years down the line, we can be the ones who can take Britain to this new level, or at least play an important part in this opportunity. For no other party will.
If we pick the right leader, who will pick the right team, the world is our oyster; if we don’t, it is a massive – and probably for quite some time, unique – lost opportunity.
I have been watching the leadership candidates putting themselves forward. Which of them is up to this challenge to be the brave hero who can take us to these greater new heights?