The election result though unexpected it not really inconceivable. The Conservative and Labour core voters are still something of the order of 13 million electors each. The core vote of smaller parties like Liberal and UKIP is also 100 times the paid up membership. 40% of voters, that is around 2.4 million, were and are unattached.
In the past some of these voted against both the major parties by giving the vote to the Liberals. The remainder either elected the Conservatives or Labour. The winner normally is the one holding the centre ground of politics, such as Tony Blair or David Cameron. On this occasion it definitely wasn’t Ed Miliband and Labour.
UKIP was hoping to hoover up floating voters and some from each of Labour and the Conservatives who wanted our country back from the EU. Unlike the SNP of course that doesn’t actually want nationality it wants Socialism, and if it can’t get it from the UK it will try to get it from the EU.
When I joined the local UKIP group in March 2013 it was like many of us in the belief that I want my country back. It came as a bit of a surprise when two of our members stood as paper candidates in the local elections. Then in 2014 there was of course the European Parliamentary Election so that was an opportunity for all to vote for an anti-EU party.
Immediately following the success in that election the focus started on obtaining a prospective parliamentary candidate for 2015 and as 2014 progressed there was pressure from the group to have candidates for local councils again.
It is clear that many members of the local UKIP constituency branches were not interested in parish, town, and district council positions because such things can be incredibly boring and don’t in the short term aid us in getting our country back. So this brings us to the purpose and future for UKIP as a political party.
Nigel Farage has always said that he doesn’t want to be a cabinet minister and all he wants is our country back. If that is the case and our primary objective is to have a referendum on EU membership then I don’t think UKIP will prosper. The Conservatives will give us a referendum, which will be fixed and run in a way to get the required result of a ‘stay in’.
If UKIP is still around after that it will be out on a limb. People keep saying, ah yes, but look at how the SNP prospered. Actually the SNP prospered because it had a clear message for the Scottish people that one way or another it would end austerity and get more money to throw at its public services. Labour in Scotland and England had unclear messages and promises that couldn’t be pinned down or reconciled with money raising taxation.
If you look at past general elections you will see that Labour has always been unelectable on English seats alone and needed Scottish MP’s to give them a majority. One of the things the English liked about the idea of Scottish independence was that we would never have another Labour government.
That’s where we now are unless of course Labour can move back to the centre ground and displace the Tories, like Tony Blair did. So in reality a Socialist government in unelectable and what we will always get is centre Conservative or centre Labour.
Getting back to the UKIP situation, each and every member and the party overall need to decide if we only exist to get out of the EU and if that is ever a possibility in our lifetimes.
Or do we wish to be a political party in the UK, or even of England, with some of the other policies in our excellent manifesto. Unfortunately most of our policies relate to leaving the EU, and if that is not likely we are just wasting time and money.
At branch and sub-branch level we also have the problem of group dynamics. Many branches are newly formed or reformed and as membership has rapidly grown there have been challenges to those who formed the branches. These challenges often get beaten off and in other cases new committees get elected.
It is only when competent people democratically chosen by the members form committees that branches can function properly with the members supporting the cause. Where originators fight off challenges or use undemocratic methods to cling to power there is division and a disconnect between members and committee.
This is normal in the animal kingdom and with the human animal as well. Whereas in the animal kingdom it is normally the dominant male that is challenged, here in human society we have made it so male and female can be the contestants for group dominance.
In our groups the process always goes through the following stages;- Forming, storming, reforming, and performing. Unfortunately with the rapid growth of UKIP we in many places are still undergoing the storming phase where newcomers are challenging the group originators. I always said that if we worked this through we might be in a position to fight the 2020 election with well performing groups but 2015 was just too soon.
So do we change our party name to be reflect a party that has more issues than just ‘leave the EU’ and to take our place as an ongoing political force in the UK. That will mean we need to start recruiting members willing to stand in local elections and build and councillor base. I cannot see how we otherwise can grow our membership on the single issue to have 100,000 members necessary by 2020 to win more than 25% of the national vote and have sufficient MPs to make us a force in UK/English politics. Think well on it.