We ploughed it then: Stoke, the one we could have won. And the local elections in May will now wipe out much of our council base.
It’s not a total disaster providing we learn well and do three things, quickly.
Firstly, in the search for reasons, we need to address the reality of the following propositions:
- We are not going to win the country by trying to out-Tory the Tories. Mrs May is riding high, and anyway they have too strong a hold on the shires.
- It is axiomatic therefore that our best and only chance of success is to pursue the Labour vote – more precisely, the traditional, patriotic Labour vote. The main reason we lost Stoke is that we didn’t offer economic policies radical enough to attract working people.
- This does not mean losing our existing ex-Tory support. On the contrary, if we get our taxation policies right, we will win not just the patriotic Labour vote but also much of the middle-earning Tory vote too once they realise their pockets will not be hit.
- This is the only way mass immigration into our country, which is the greatest threat it faces, will ever be stopped: to build a patriotic alliance of traditional Labour and less well-off Tory, in the numbers required to achieve power.
Secondly, if we accept the logic then we must have policies to support it. There is no room here to repeat my earlier articles, but in essence we have to grab the country’s attention with eye-catching, radical policies designed for maximum appeal. They come down to four core themes:
- Nationalise the railways, with compensation only for small investors. It’s popular in the polls, would totally wrongfoot Labour, and show working people we’re on their side. This is the headline-grabber, this is the initiative-seizing move which gives us the agenda – and makes people sit up and take notice of ….
- Tax reform, drastically reducing and simplifying the regulations to make avoidance impossible, and strengthening what should be the underlying principle of all direct taxation – the ability to pay – with smoothed sliding scales, so the rich pay more but, critically in the case of income tax, those on under £50K do not pay any more than they do now.
- An industrial strategy which protects vital industries, borrows to invest in infrastructure, productivity and skills, and re-balances the economy both by re-vitalizing manufacturing industry and re-generating the North.
- An immigration policy which reduces net immigration to nil, bans alternative systems of justice and unacceptable cultural practices, and recognizes that an ‘Australian points-style system’ is not appropriate for our overcrowded country.
Some ex-Tories seem addicted to ‘libertarianism’, but so far none has managed to tell me what it means – because in practice it’s just Thatcherite economics, which bears as much responsibility for the present state of Stoke Central as 67 years of Labour city council. With free markets come yawning wealth divides, globalisation, recessions, neglect, agency labour, zero hours, food banks and poverty. What matters isn’t libertarianism, it’s liberty – the real freedoms, of speech, belief, association, movement – but also decent jobs and a greater sense of fairness for all our countrymen and women.
This ought to be absolutely fundamental and elementary, but if doctrinaire ex-Tories don’t re-think their position they will bring on UKIP’s demise very quickly once Labour get their act together. We’ll never have this chance of a dysfunctional Labour Party again. And don’t complain about ‘entryism’ or ‘subversion of the Party constitution’. Nigel Farage changed the original 1993 UKIP beyond recognition – that’s how politics moves on. If you agree our greatest aim must be to stop mass immigration, then recognise too that this prescription is the only way. All this nebulous stuff about ‘libertarianism’ has to go. And please don’t try and tell me about radicalism – I’m the radical here!
Thirdly, we’re going to have to change our leader. I’m sorry Paul, your mistakes will be a millstone around the Party’s neck for as long as you are Party Leader. The details are academic now, the damage is done and will not go away. You owe it to the Party’s hard-working rank and file now to step down in favour of Peter Whittle whilst we hold another election. It’ll be portrayed as more chaos of course, but another change in leadership will be forgotten by the next general election, whereas Hillsborough won’t.
A change in leadership is in any case essential. When any voter casts their vote they can be reasonably assumed to expect the leader of the party they vote for to be at least of potential prime ministerial ability. With the greatest of respect, Paul, you’re not. If we are to have any hope of putting a UKIP programme into effect we need someone with a lighter touch, more fluency and adroitness, credibility and appeal, able to connect with and impress all classes of people. This is harsh for you, I know, but we all owe each other complete candour. The Party deserves nothing less.
And it mustn’t be Nigel. There is no doubt Nigel Farage won us the Referendum, but the problem is that he and his legacy, on all past experience, cannot win elections – unless he changes his spots, which he won’t. Arron Banks is in the same mould. They would both do well to take a leaf out of Marine le Pen’s book, ie with an economic policy geared to embracing the vital support of the working class. By all means let Banks come in and help with the organisation, but he must not be allowed to dictate policy, which is what he will want.
John Rees-Evans’ energy and ability to get things done should also be enlisted, with as much democratic input as possible. We have to sink or swim with policies the membership supports.
We must get on with this, now, so that our battle lines are back in place again by the autumn conference.