If we are to have a major direct influence on the future of the UK by emulating the electoral successes of other countries’ anti-EU parties, we need to reach out in the first instance to the other 17.16 Million Leave voters and not just consider narrow aspirations of some of the 24K of us who are already UKIP members.
As these other 17.16 Million Leave voters – and even many Remainers who’ve accepted the result – have become increasingly disillusioned with the three Establishment Remoaner legacy parties for failing to get on with competently and honestly delivering a proper Brexit, they are there for the taking if we UKIPpers play our cards right. The potential realignment in UK politics – from many moderate Labour MP’s likely losing their seats (due to the reduction in Parliamentary seats and Momentum-driven deselection), and the Conservative Steve Baker MP’s predicted likely split of his Party – is a golden opportunity for us.
Whether we like it or not, Main Stream Media has a tremendous influence on huge numbers of voters. Thus to even get our message out via MSM, we have to do well in political opinion polls and actual election votes, so that MSM, in having to appeal to and thereby maintain a significant percentage of their paying customers, then feel obliged to properly feature us. MSM will always gladly cover someone saying or doing something MSM considers will likely be to our detriment.
Given that the Godders women/Michael Crick incidents overshadowed that particular UKIP National Conference MSM coverage, and that this year’s EGM comments got into the MSM, the dangers of just having a huge spoken debate, complete with gloriously quotable, intemperate, in-the-heat-of-the-moment comments are enormous, especially as Gerard has acknowledged that “the motion will elicit strong opinions on both sides of the argument” ,and emotions could run high. Even just debating the proposed single exceptional breach of Party rules – one of our key defences to accusations of racism – potentially further toxifies our brand in the minds of the thousands of moderate, common-sense people we need to win round.
There’s the same fine line between patriotism and nationalism as between UKIP’s pre-2017 General Election policy of banning all head-coverings in public places for security purposes and the shrill cries of “Ban the Burka” which sent UKIP’s 2017 GE vote share plummeting to BNP levels; thereby, together with various post-GE own goals, all but completely banishing us from MSM political discussion, and de facto the Brext playing field – proving Nigel Farage’s contention that “if UKIP becomes an anti-Islam party it will be finished”. What effectively became UKIP’s flagship policy failed because the majority of voters who, not being particularly religious or having strong views on religion, don’t see Islam as a problem and therefore not only see any solution as irrelevant to their everyday lives, but also perceive anything remotely anti-Islam as equally being anti-Muslim and therefore racist. Were history to repeat itself, and UKIP were once again to become seen as a racist anti-Muslim Party, we would undo all the progress of the last half year or so and the pro-Brexit Establishment would rub their collective hands with great glee.
Thus, right at this critical point of the Brexit process, what purpose would be served by potentially allowing recent history to repeat itself, symbolised by allowing membership of a BNP bone-head lookalike, other than to give out the unwanted message, again, that UKIP is an anti-Muslim racist party?
Furthermore, falling into this temptation could also potentially put the personal safety of UKIP leaflet delivering and door-knocking campaigners at greater risk.
Because of Gerard’s “strong opinions on both sides of the argument”, would there be mass resignations both from the NEC as well as in general, if the NEC voted by majority to accept Tommy Robinson’s membership application? Was the question even put to NEC members at their last meeting as part of a thoughtful planning process?
The video link [Ed: TR’s speech at the Oxford Union] to which Gerard pointed us is interesting but nonetheless is now history. We need to consider far more recent events and widespread potential UKIP voter reaction. Excluding the debatable issue as to whether Tommy Robinson has or has not been over-harshly treated by the UK’s law enforcement agencies, if he is as clever and articulate as his supporters like to think, then, being an adult fully responsible for his own actions he should surely have seen how his protest was going and whatever were the rights and wrongs of the situation, he should not have gone so far to have got himself arrested. His own actions – never mind anyone else’s – and his political misjudgement of this situation surely means that at the very least the answer is: not for now. We, UKIP, need to stay on the political battle field and focus on winning the Brexit war first.
Thinking post-Brexit: even if for a moment we give Tommy Robinson the benefit of the doubt in terms of raising the issue of the Islam threat, I do not consider his proposed clumsy, bull-in-a-china-shop way of dealing with it will ever find traction with the majority of voters with their easy-going ‘live-and-let-live’, fairly apathetic approach to religion.
The fact that the Tommy Robinson motion has, after publication, now been declared ultra vires shows that, sadly and indeed rather worryingly, there has been a lack of competent teamwork and careful thought being applied – not just to the Tommy Robinson aspect, but to the whole potentially explosive issue. Attempting to discredit Islam by seemingly ignoring the context of controversial Koran verses is as ineffective and unnecessarily inflammatory, to our own detriment, as someone attempting to undermine Christianity and the UK’s Judeo-Christian culture by quoting the Biblical verses, without reference to their context, saying women should be quiet and wear hats in church, and not shave their heads.
Thus, for Brexit’s sake, follow the old adage “if in doubt, leave it out”, and bar Tommy Robinson.