Very sad about Stoke. I just read Vivian Evans’s piece and heard Gerard Batten. You’re both right about the unfair treatment from the media. I know that is to a large extent responsible. But, given that, could we have done any better?
Here is my tupp’orth, after looking at the voting figures.
1) We have to face the fact that a fair chunk of those who voted to Leave on 23rd June last year (70%), must have voted for the Labour candidate in this by-election (he got 37%), despite the fact that he had manifested his contempt for them when he said “Brexit is a pile of shit”, even though later saying he would support the triggering of Article 50.
We had counted a lot on the fact that Stoke was the ‘Brexit capital of England’, and UKIP was the only party that had always been 100% pro-Brexit ever since its foundation 24 years ago. So we ought surely to have sailed in on that basis.
Possible explanation: for years the EU issue was sidelined by the LibLabCons and the mainstream media and not presented as important or crucial to the public. We fought against this for many years and we convinced enough voters to reach a point where Cameron felt he needed to shoot our fox by promising an In/Out referendum.
However we did not convince enough of them, perhaps, that the EU issue really was crucial. When faced with the question Leave or Remain on the ballot paper, a majority (slender in the country, albeit massive in Stoke) voted to Leave. But evidently not enough of them felt strongly enough about this issue for it to outweigh other issues and feelings that came into play for them when faced with choosing a candidate. Class feeling in a 65-year Labour stronghold like Stoke must surely be a major factor in Labour support. Working-class families who have always voted Labour, have undoubtedly absorbed many of the values that Labour has promoted over the years, and would never ever think of voting Conservative, nor anything remotely like the Conservatives. Now here UKIP faced a barrier, for we have always been seen as a Thatcherite party as regards economic policy, even leaving aside malignant mis-representations such as ‘BNP in blazers’.
More recently we have explicitly aimed for the Labour vote but evidently not done enough to beat these lingering, earlier impressions. For years we were presented by the mainstream media as the ‘Tory party in exile’, basically Tories who accuse the Tory party of not being Tory enough. Might our, more recent, announced intention to target the Labour vote have been viewed by Labour voters as a move dictated by opportunism, attempting just to profit from the current shambles in Corbyn’s Labour party?
2) We were expecting and had predicted to be neck and neck with Labour, but instead we ended up neck and neck with the Tories in second and third place with a little over 5000 votes each. Labour stood streets ahead of both with over 7800 votes. This was not what was supposed to happen. We did not make sufficient inroads into the Tory vote. Why not?
Well, the present Tory government of Mrs May has so effectively stolen our clothes and appeared to have adopted our policies that – as the BBC commentators are now taunting us and as many traditional Tory voters are surely now thinking – what is the point of UKIP any more? Doesn’t it just divide the vote? And so let the other side win? I wonder how many of the Tory voters continued to vote Tory rather than UKIP, on this thinking?
We need to put more clear blue water between us and the Tories. I wonder to what extent we focussed, on the doorsteps, just on Mrs May’s shortcomings in delivery of policy, and not also on the glaring gaps in the policy she has announced. For example, her failure, or refusal, to tackle problems like: the return of our fishing grounds (OK, Stoke is not a coastal town, but they surely eat fish, with or without chips); our need to withdraw not only from the EU but also from the ECHR, where our human rights are regulated unappealably by politically-appointed judges from places like Romania and Turkey; and above all on security: the EU Justice and Home Affairs measures she pushed MPs to opt back into, as Home Secretary in 2014, and which she wishes to continue even after Brexit is completed.
Chief among these is the European Arrest Warrant. This is presented by the police as a means of ‘keeping us safe’, but it is actually a threat to the personal security of each and every one of us. As things stand, any dodgy judicial authority in Europe can have anybody in Britain dragged out of their bed in a dawn raid (this has even happened to a British JUDGE, Colin Dines) and whisked off to duress vile for many long months “pending investigation”, on no evidence and with no right to a speedy public hearing. Each and every one of us is therefore at risk of having their personal freedom ARBITRARILY and suddenly removed by a foreign authority applying laws alien to our own traditions. Our traditions descend through eight centuries from Magna Carta. Now Magna Carta crossed the oceans, but it never crossed the channel, where they got the Inquisition instead.
This is a threat not only to our personal freedom, but also to our national security, for with the lack of any requirement for evidence gathered before an arrest, and the lack of a right to a speedy public hearing where the prisoner can demand to see the evidence against him of a prima facie case to answer, the charges can be trumped up and they can be politically motivated. It is a potential tool for despotism.
As long as this is the case, we are still a vassal state.
We in Britain must realise that criminal law is not just about catching criminals. It is the handle for controlling what is the defining power of any State – the power to use violence – legally – against the bodies of the citizens. I wonder how far these arguments were used on the doorsteps. The other side used ‘Project fear’ against us in the referendum campaign. But there would be far more to be very, very, afraid of if they had won, and there still is. A victory for Remain would have been taken as a total acceptance by the country as a whole of the entire EU project to build a single European State. This would have received fresh impetus from the collapse of the British resistance, and we would speedily have been given the full nine yards – not just the EAW, but the Corpus Juris criminal code, trashing Habeas Corpus, Trial by Jury, and other safeguards, setting up the European Public Prosecutor with powers of command over national prosecutors, and then the lethally-armed, paramilitary European Gendarmerie Force on our streets, forcing alien laws down our throats, in the classic Napoleonic-inquisitorial style as used in continental Europe.
Our focus on immigration as a source of the lowering of working-class living standards has been stigmatised as being ‘a mask for racism’. This is of course nonsense, but the stigma has stuck in the minds of many. I am not for a moment suggesting we should abandon this theme.
But if at the same time we also protest more loudly than at present against the elimination of Habeas Corpus and our subjection to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment by alien judicial systems, that will carry no possibility of any such stigma. For centuries, freedom from such oppression has been at the very heart of what it means to be British. I believe that UKIP needs to raise the profile of this issue in our future campaigns. It is also an aspect of our subjugation to the EU that Mrs May is NOT intending to discontinue, so it can provide much needed clear blue water between her government’s stated policies and our own, and a strong reason to vote UKIP and not Tory.