Necessity is the mother of invention, goes the old saying, and never a truer word has been spoken when we consider UKIP’s position as the dust settles on an extraordinary election. On the face of it, UKIP did badly. In the 2015 election, we secured 12.6% of the vote, just shy of 4m votes. In 2017, the figure was 1.8%, just shy of 600,000 votes.
But hold on a moment.
This election, we were told, was about Brexit; the bigger the Tory majority with Theresa at the helm, the better the mandate. The implicit message being that if you wanted the full Brexit, vote Tory. Paul Nuttall went along with it, advising Kippers to lend their vote to the Brexit candidate in their constituency, and put their faith in May.
Unfortunately, this policy did lead to confusion as UKIP still stood candidates in most seats, contradicting the advice given by Paul. Of course, in some seats, such as Thurrock and South Thanet, UKIP did stand a fighting chance on its own terms. But whatever.
We know the rest. Domestic issues quickly dominated; with the benefit of hindsight perhaps we should have realised that Brexit alone wouldn’t fill 6 weeks’ worth of insatiable newsprint, rolling news, blogs, posts and tweets.
The Tories, inexplicably, carried out a two-pronged hari kari.
Firstly, they prodded and poked the Labour dragon, and, to many, the Labour leader actually seemed to be a decent cove, actually. So what if he was going to shake the magic money tree? Someone promising the earth, however unlikely this would be in practice, seemed like something to dream about compared to the Tories’ drab, austere, reality.
At the same time, many saw the ‘real’ Teresa May peek out from behind the curtain for the first time, made the comparison and thought, ashen-faced: “OMG; is this who we’ve put our faith in?”
And, secondly, thinking they were riding on a sea of impregnable supremacy, the Tories imploded with a masochistic manifesto conveniently alienating both the young and old with ill-considered and ill-thought out social care, and other, policies
You would have thought the Tories would have learned their lessons in ‘bad news policy management’, coming as it did hot off the heels of a disastrous budget when Hammond proposed adding 1% extra NI for the self-employed, citing ‘this will make for a fairer tax system’. The nation’s SMEs simply pointed, open mouthed, to the mass tax avoiding tactics of Google, Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks to debunk that nonsense.
In any case, UKIP votes were lent out on election night, alright; but the confusing picture meant that both the Tories and Labour were joint beneficiaries and the moment was lost. But I was personally relaxed about UKIP’s vote shared being decimated; it was, given the nature of the election, expected.
That’s not to say the voting share could not have been higher. The enigmatic Nigel Farage still in charge would have doubled or perhaps even tripled the vote; and conversely – it has to be said – Paul Nuttall’s infamous “economy with the truth” in respect of his history and achievements holed him below the waterline with many.
Before the election I was asked what I’d like to see. I replied: The Tories in power, but with their wings clipped; I didn’t want to see a runaway majority. I certainly didn’t want to see Labour in power.
I was half-right.
What I didn’t foresee, along with many of us, was just how chastened the Tories would be and, of most concern, the resultant collateral damage to the Brexit. We are now in grave danger of a weakened Tory administration delivering a Brexit not worth its name and that cannot be allowed to happen.
As Nigel Farage has made very clear, it is likely we need to galvanise once more, and there is only one place to make our voices powerfully heard.
As my fellow Kipper, Pete Smith, Regional Organiser for Essex, put it:
“It’s like the ebb and flow of the tide. Kippers will ebb away from UKIP if they believe Brexit will happen. But if Brexit’s in danger just wait for the roar and power of the incoming waves of Kippers returning.”
We need a strong UKIP to welcome our Kippers back.
We need Nigel back at the helm of a reorganised, and in parts reinvented UKIP machine.
We need the leadership, NEC and grassroots all pulling together.
We must fulfil our duty to help deliver our primary objective: the Brexit that the people of this great country voted for.