On 22nd May 2014 the UK Independence Party topped the poll in the European Parliament Election, winning 24 of the 73 UK seats – ahead of Labour on 20 seats and the Conservatives on 19.
In the General Election 12 months later UKIP attracted 3,881,129 votes which was more than the total number of votes cast for the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats put together (1,454,436 and 2,415,888 respectively), but, as is well known, gained only one seat in Parliament against the SNP’s 56 and the LD’s 8.
In the Referendum on 23rd June this year, which, without UKIP, would never have happened, the majority of voters (17,410,742 ‘outers’ v. 16,141,241 ‘remainers’ on a 72.2% turnout) clearly indicated that they just wanted out of the benighted European Union – another clear victory for UKIP.
So the 64 thousand dollar question now is, where does UKIP go from here ?
In considering some of the potential answers to this challenging question there are one or two features of the current political situation which are undoubtedly relevant.
Firstly, regardless of all other considerations, the country needs a strong and credible Party of Opposition in Parliament to hold Government to account. This it doesn’t have, but the fact of the matter is that without an effective Opposition our current system of Government simply doesn’t work!
Secondly, as things stand, the electorate has a deep mistrust of the three ‘old’ Parties as evidenced by the fact that in a recent opinion poll 57% of those taking part did not trust Parliament to deliver Brexit, even though the message the voters delivered on June 23rd was explicitly unambiguous.
Thirdly, to put it mildly, the three ‘old’ Parties are clearly struggling to adjust to modern times.
Not least of the considerations is that ‘nothing succeeds like success’ and it is apparent that of all the political Parties currently performing on the national stage only UKIP can demonstrably point to positive success – not just at the polls but also as judged by the number of UKIP policies that are now espoused by other Parties !
What an opportunity UKIP now has. Shakespeare had a line for it – something about events taken at the flood leading on to greater things !
The Tories, in spite of all their protestations to the contrary, are sitting on the horns of an innate dilemma regarding Brexit.
Labour, meanwhile, are engaged in internecine warfare which makes them appear unelectable for the foreseeable future …. and as for the poor old Lib/Dems, really what can one say !
So, time for UKIP to take stock and plan for the future.
Let us first of all agree the objective. That must surely be to form a credible Opposition with the strength and determination to hold the Government’s feet to the fire, not least as regards Brexit.
Secondly, in terms of achieving that objective, there can be little doubt that it’s a case of more of the same – winning seats at all levels of government and being ready for the next General Election, whenever that might be.
Thirdly – and this is where it becomes more contentious – we must agree a full range of policies. In this connection a good starting point might well be the excellent manifesto that was put together for the 2015 General Election.
Last, but by no means least, we need to identify our potential supporters.
One is continually reading that the way to win elections is by courting the centre ground. I disagree.
The way to succeed is by appealing to the common ground – to the millions who, regardless of former allegiances, would vote for a Party that shared their aspirations to create a society that essentially lets people get on with living their own lives; that believes in justice and fair play; that puts their own country before other peoples’ countries and one that carries no baggage in terms of its past record.
In a word, a Party that reflects the innate good common sense of the majority of the British people. Indeed, if our Party was in need of a new title, which it isn’t, the ‘Common Sense Party’ would fit the bill nicely !
People don’t like paying taxes; they don’t like seeing their country sold short; they despise politicians who say one thing and mean another; they resent the petty bureaucracy that bugs their lives; they are aggravated by those who abuse the welfare system and they are sick and tired of being patronised by an overweening establishment.
Step forward UKIP !
We have the enthusiasm; the commitment; the courage of our convictions; a veritable army of activists and the imminent prospect of electing a progressive new Leader to follow in the footsteps of the inestimable Nigel Farage!