A week ago I was hurriedly trying to finish an article before going to our monthly branch meeting. I didn’t quite complete it, but promised Viv I would shortly be able to send across a radical manifesto. So much has happened in the intervening period however, I’ve had to completely rewrite the first part of the article. In fact the article has morphed into a monster which has had to be split across several parts. Please indulge me. I’ve saved the radical manifesto until the end.
‘TNS’ is an abbreviation for “The Next Step”. I borrowed it from the title of a newspaper sold each week by the Revolutionary Communist Party at university and I’m still using it 30 years later. I’m not interested in being in a communist party. I’d quite like to be in a revolutionary party. Instead I’m in UKIP, which hasn’t been anywhere near as revolutionary as I would like it to be in recent months.
Last week I was just about hanging on in here in UKIP. My confidence in the leadership and central organisation was at rock bottom after the previous 9 months, with the public perception of UKIP not far behind. Everyone on this site seemed to be feeling much the same. Paul Nuttall had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Stoke. The press and the public were asking, “What’s the point of UKIP now?” with Teresa May ready to invoke Article 50 and get on with Brexit. The leadership didn’t seem to have a clear message as to where we were going next, despite contributors to this site having some firm opinions. Those running the party just didn’t seem to grasp the gravity of the situation and how let-down people felt.
Instead we got emails from the boy Oakden telling us everything was in hand, with veiled threats to us to stop all this criticism, because it was doing down UKIP. A party which had only received £35K in donations in the last quarter of 2016 and then spent £100K on a disastrous campaign to parachute its leader into parliament, spent several thousand on a mailshot to reassure members that it was solvent, while begging for money – a move both counterproductive in its primary intent and also demonstrating that it still hadn’t moved into the 1990s and the digital age. On top of this, following a terrorist attack on the home of our democracy, our leader circulated a weak and equivocal statement to members.
It would take dramatic turnaround to renew my faith.
Might a new party emerge which is more strident, focused and savvy than UKIP? Sad to say is a supposedly democratic society, any political organisation which is going to speak out on issues such as immigration and Islamisation needs powerful friends. UKIP has got this far partly by having the support and involvement ofmillionaire businessmen, Tory-linked public school educated establishment-connected persons,one or two lords, sympathetic journalists and editors and a high-profile talented spokesman like Nigel Farage who can tread the line between telling the stark truth and still getting invited onto Good Morning Britain. We’ve seen over the last few years what happens to predominantly working class grassroots organisations who try to tackle these issues. They get crushed and demonised. Their leaders are personally destroyed, dragged through the courts, bankrupted and even imprisoned.
I was therefore excited to receive an email on Friday night from Arron Banks announcing the launch of a new movement called the Patriotic Alliance. Could this it be it? The new movement to be the standard-bearer of the Patriotic Spring in the UK? Well-funded, well-organised and with its finger on the pulse of public opinion? I would join in a heartbeat. Sorry Paul but history sometimes only gives you one chance and you blew it.
As I read the detail of the email though, it wasn’t clear whether this was a new party. In fact it wasn’t clear at all what the Patriotic Alliance would be or who else was involved in it. It vaguely said it would assist independent candidates to win seats in Parliament from the most corrupt and negligent MPs. It also talked about an Australian-style points system for immigration into the UK, when anything short of a near-moratorium is totally inappropriate for a country which is now the fourth most densely populated in the world.
Sadly Arron Banks is just another of those factional egotists which UKIP seems to be plagued by. He’s been talking about setting up a party like the Italian M5S for a couple of years. Instead he just creates bad publicity for UKIP. I thoroughly agree that Paul Oakden should go (as he promised he would) and be replaced with someone who can put a professional organisation in, but really Banks should have made his criticism and offer behind the scenes. There’s no way Nuttall could have caved-in publicly. And the claim be had been suspended from the party after not renewing his membership? Arron Banks is a timewaster who hasn’t given UKIP any money since the 2015 general election.
I was overjoyed on Saturday to hear the news that Douglas Carswell had left the party. It’s a shame he was allowed to leave of his own volition, giving him the opportunity to spin it that UKIP had now served its purpose. A case of too little too late methinks. He should have been kicked out of UKIP. Nuttall was trying too hard to be a unifier though to bring him into line. He’s gone now at least. I had been seriously asking myself, “What am I doing in the same party as this man?” I am exactly the kind of Brexiteer who Douglas Carswell joined UKIP to neutralise and support just the kind of populism he wants to avert. There’s an outside chance that he was right that the referendum campaign wouldn’t have been with Nigel Farage leading it. In that case I say, “Thanks Doug. I now intend to use the result as a springboard to usher in exactly the kind of nativist populism you despise.”Anyroad, it seems to have set UKIP free.
On Monday UKIP announced its six tests to prove Brexit means Exit. Nothing to disagree with here.Then I’m reading more reports of UKIP statements in the media. Nuttall is talking of rebranding the party – not top of my list of priorities, but it all helps. Freddy Vacha joined the debate on this site to bring out the nuances of how we approach Islam.
On Tuesday night Paul Oakden has emailed members to say the leadership will work with John Rees-Evans on building our direct democracy credentials – something which several UKIPDaily contributors have been calling for. He produces a good video too. So long as he’s kept away from interviewers, I cautiously welcome this.
Nuttall is promising wide-ranging reforms of the party, its structure and its constitution, along with involving the membership in policy and decision-making. I was astonished to learn that I my place at UKIP’s Environmental Forum in June has been confirmed, despite my history of environmental activism. Hopefully it won’t take until June for us to have a full set of policies.
Could it be true? Could Paul Nuttall and the party leadership final be getting themselves in gear and stepping up to the plate?
To top it all, Teresa May has finally, belatedly invoked Article 50. Hot Dang! Even Johnny Rotten has been praising Brexit.
Seriously though, we’ve got a lot of work to do – and we haven’t done ourselves any favours over the last 9 months to put it mildly.
To borrow a book title from Lenin: ‘What is to be done?’ ….
[To be continued in Part II tomorrow!]