I was at the Saturday football match the other day, Bradford City versus Swindon in League one of the football league. I go most every other Saturday when they play at home. I have a long history with this football club as I was a policeman on duty at the fateful and tragic fire in 1985 when 56 people lost their lives. My sons have grown up supporting the club and it has played a big part, being supporters, of who they are, how they are shaped and their thinking and outlook on life.
I got to thinking during a lull in the game, it was actually fairly dire as a spectacle, although Bradford won 2-1 to maintain their place in the playoff places. In a recent twitter post our leader of Ukip, Paul Nuttall mentioned `strivers’ and our support for them. So what and who are the `strivers’…….
Well, they are normal everyday hardworking people. More importantly `strivers’, have a voice, thoughts and feelings. They are very protectionist about their families, communities, groups of friends and of course their football team. They hail from every walk of life, straddle all social classes. They fill all the posts of every job from every spectrum. They pay their taxes, they contribute in all manner of ways to society and don’t complain. They are rhetorically suspicious of politicians and what they say. They do not in the main, believe that politicians walk the walk.
That being said `strivers’ are the voters, they do go out and vote, they don’t just tell you on the doorstep that they will and we really need them on side. They are looking for honesty in their politicians, they are looking for a straight deck of cards. `Strivers’ would traditionally vote the way of their parents or social grouping, that is changing though because the traditional two party system has been invaded by the rise of Ukip, the `strivers’ have a voice, they have a party which, if they are given the right message they would flock to. 4 million saw the light in 2015.
It is safe to say that we have lost a great many of them due to recent events. Paul Nuttall is quite right to talk to them, to engage with them. We need to get them back on board and give them a sound, honest, and very importantly, a common sense alternative to what the Tories and Labour have to offer. Lots of work to do undoubtedly. So as well as the re-structuring of the party being promulgated very eloquently up and down the country by Paul Oakden our chairman, we must have a new up to date manifesto as soon as is practically possible.
Radical yes, out of the box thinking yes, practical yes, common sense yes, but much more than that, the most overriding issue of our manifesto should be that it is honest, down to earth and speaks to the people we have chosen to label `strivers’. These people are the future of our party, they will support honesty and plain speaking. They will connect with a group of potential councillors and MP`s who are local, `one of our own’ who talks their language, however industrial that has to be.
We need to stop talking about `replacing Labour as the true opposition in parliament’ that does not fly with the `strivers’. They know that we only have one MP. They know we failed in Stoke. Local councillors, back to basics, build this party from the ground floor upwards. Talking to local people, understand in depth and deal with their problems properly and with real empathy, whether its dog poo in the park or which bin day it is. This is where we should start the re–build.
On a national level we have a plethora of issues we can explore, let us not dilute the seriousness of the main ones by trying to talk about and fight too many. Choose our national battles, but that message should be honest and from everyone involved in this party. Talking common sense and plain speaking gets that message through. It resonates with people who speak the same way.
The sheer delight at that football match when Bradford scored the winning goal in the 90th minute reminded me of the euphoria I felt at 4 am on the 24th June last year at the count in Hambleton Council when I knew we had won our local referendum and that nationally the `strivers’ had come out in their millions and very plainly sent a message to the political elite in Westminster. ‘Enough is enough and it’s a time for a change’