Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The United Kingdom Thatcherite Party

Some members and ex members of UKIP may be frustrated by the Party's leadership apparent inconsistencies in going about the business of getting the UK out of the EU. Clearly after 17 years in existence and recording just 3% support at the last General Election, it is going to take the Party a very long time to take the Nation from the Union - since the only way out is through Westminster. This slow development is concerning, not only because the longer we are a part of the EU the more the people become accustomed to our membership and all that entails, but also the youngest voters, those who are replacing the eldest - who are most against our membership - are generally in favour of membership.

What is not recognised of the UKIP leadership, or not recognised sufficiently, is that they are essentially Thatcherites and although this is valuable for those wishing to leave the EU, because she was against its increasingly federal structure - but happy to belong to a free trade organisation, she was passionately against the ERM [the preparation for monetary union] which was the next necessary step to full political union.

This blind support of Thatcher's policies does have a downside unfortunately, because for those in the Party and in the leadership positions, the whole package has to be taken on board - not just her opposition to a federal Europe. Analysis shows that, if a political party wishes to gain the support of the majority who are against our membership of the EU, its policies need to be of the centre ground because, although it is true the most ferocious opposition is from the right wing, the healthy opposition from the centre and left is needed to take us out.

Objectively, it must be concluded that UKIP's leadership, in recent times, is more concerned that UKIP is a Thatcherite party, than one which takes us out of the EU. Also, a very strong case could be made that the recent leadership's primary aim is to prepare the Party for a split in the Conservatives between the old 'one nation Tories' and those who believe that Thatcherism should be at the central core of the Party. Clearly, under Cameron, the Thatcherites have been sidelined, however, those Tory MPs who support this cause are very unlikely to risk their future careers at Westminster on a matter principle.

Thatcher may have been admired as a strong leader when in power, but she was never liked - polls consistently showed that she was less popular than the Conservative party. So even if the current leadership are successful and are able to attract those Thatcherites currently staying loyal to the Tory Party, UKIP will never be much more than a fringe party doomed to increasing obscurity. However, before those members and ex members who would like the Party to put getting out of the EU first try to wrestle UKIP away from these Thatcherites, they must feel confident that this is the wish of the mainstream members. The danger is if, in the main, they are also committed Thatcherites, a great deal of energy could be wasted - energy which could better be used finding an alternative way out of the EU.

It does seem as if Tory supporting males of a certain age were captivated by her [Nigel Farage a prime example] and she has become a Jungian anima figure, making her seem some kind of, all-seeing, goddess figure. If this is the case it would be a hopeless task trying to convince them differently - realism may strike at some time, but it is not something that can be instigated by others. Those who became fully mature before she came on the scene were able to see her for what she was and, of course, those who born after her term in office will not be so deeply enslaved.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Lord Pearson Resigns as UKIP Leader

Lord Pearson of Rannock resigned, unexpectedly, yesterday as the leader of UKIP. It had been speculated that he would resign soon after the General Election as, on taking office, he had promised to remain leader only until the election was over and then to review the situation. However, as time went by, it began to seem that he would stay longer, using his deputy or deputies to take on a good proportion of the day-to-day responsibilities. A statement from Paul Nuttall, the Party Chairman states: "The National Executive Committee will meet as soon as possible to appoint an interim Leader before a leadership election will be held following the Annual Party Conference, which will take place in Torquay from 2-4 September 2010."

Lord Pearson's leadership of the Party was something of an oddity - even for UKIP. Nigel Farage stood down as leader in September 2009, earlier than needed - his leadership would have lasted beyond the General Election. Giving his reason for resigning to be in order to concentrate his efforts on becoming MP for Buckingham in an attempt to oust Speaker John Bercow, his actions did not follow the traditional pattern of leader's of political parties. These would have attracted considerable criticism if they took similar, what might be judged as, highly self-interested action.

Speculation arose that Farage resigned because he was all too aware that the Party was extremely lucky to do so well at the EU elections and did not expect the Party to have anything like this success at the General Election - which was indeed the case. The EU elections, coinciding as they did with the Telegraph's exposure of MP's excessive expense claims - which lead voters to shun the big 3, made UKIP the natural party for the protest vote. Prior to this exposure, polls were predicting that UKIP would get 3 or 4 MEPs, had this had been the case, Farage's leadership would have been rightly deemed a failure if, as a result, the Party had only a third or a quarter of the MEPs elected in 2004.

Lord Pearson never appeared eager to take on the Party leadership, but judging by Farage's glowing accounts of his potential - which significantly contributed to Pearson winning the leadership contest, it must be assumed that Farage was extremely enthusiastic that he not only stood, but won. Suspicions that Farage's plan was to avoid any adverse judgement falling on him, as the Party leader, at a time of General Election failure, which may have ruined his chances of being re-elected as leader once the GE was over, are strengthened since it is clear he would like to stand again in this capacity when the leadership election takes place later in the year.

Unfortunately for Farage, if this was his plan, the fickle finger of fate [or was it a higher authority?] intervened in the shape of the plane crash he was involved in on the day of the General Election. This brush with death clearly shook him and the resulting injuries have left him far from his peak. In the meantime David campbell Bannerman has stated his intention to stand at the leadership election - which appeared as something of a surprise to Farage. Does DcB see this as his time to step into Farage's shoes and at last gain the recognition he believes he so richly deserves?

Bannerman's reputation within UKIP is something on a par with NF's description of Herman Van Rompuy "charisma of a damp rag" so is unlikely to win if some of the more popular members of the Party stand. Tim 'Unbeknown' will no doubt press Gerard Batten to stand - Batten came second in the last leadership contest.

For certain, it is time for the only political party, of note, to be established expressly to get us out of the EU to start functioning on all cylinders. The majority still want us to leave, but unless the case is made clearly and convincingly at every opportunity, the establishment machinery will grind away this desire for independence and democracy and the chance to leave because of public opinion will disappear indefinitely.

As Petrina Holdsworth, the former UKIP Chair wrote "What UKIP desperately need is a good communicator who can reinvigerate the party into a campaigning machine. There are masses of opportunities to bash the EU going to waste at the moment, it seems that the real opposition is the Daily Mail and sometimes the Telegraph.

The MEPs have masses of money at their disposal but as ever there seems very little action from that quarter. Tragic."

Who will be UKIP's next Leader?

Which candidate UKIP member's pick as their next leader will be more important this time than ever before. In the most simple terms, this is likely to be, for those wishing to leave the EU, their last chance to get out by their own endeavours. As the years have gone by, although the majority still want to leave, the young voters who are replacing the dying elder voters, are in favour of, or at least are not implacably against our membership as the older generation are - probably because they have no memory of living in an independent country. So if the next leader also fails, the game will, effectively, be up for UKIP and it may as well disband.

UKIP has now been in existence for 17 years - at the last General Election they obtained 3% of the vote. There is only one way out of the EU and that is through Westminster which means obtaining enough votes to win seats in the House of Commons - this clearly is not happening and a root and branch reform of the Party is required if there is to be any chance of success - what has been happening is not working!

The most obvious reason for this failure is that UKIP's leadership has been, as MEPs, based in Brussels, but it is in the UK that the work to convince British voters to vote for the Party must be done. It may be that the odd abusive speech by Farage is reported in the UK and the occasional appearance on a TV show might keep the Party in the public's memory, but it is clearly having little effect in terms of votes.

In order to re-adjust the Party's focus it seems essential that the next leader is not an MEP, but is someone who is based in the UK. This does open up the problem that the Party does not have the funds to pay a non MEP a reasonable salary and, as the majority of the MEPs do not seem eager to hand over much of their overly generous salary package, it means that a non MEP leader will have to mostly fund themselves - this essentially confines the search to someone who has retired on a healthy pension or has a significant income from elsewhere.

Tim Congdon is the only one of the current leadership candidates who fits this bill, although Dr Eric Edmond, the former NEC member, is actively considering standing as is Frank Maloney the boxing promoter and possibly Lord Monckton.

There is little doubt that the Party has been in the grip of Farage and his supporters - mainly MEPs and the staff paid for by the MEPs budgets. The current election of new NEC members coupled to the election of a new leader does offer the chance for a new group to manage and direct UKIP, whether this will be accomplished is yet to be seen, but it will not be an easy transition - these leading MEPs have enjoyed their highlife in Brussels for far too long to give it up without a fight.

Of the MEPs, David Bannerman has already said he will stand for the leadership. Another possible contender is the Earl of Dartmouth, although Gerard Batten should be amongst the favourites to win, coming second in last year's contest, should he decide to throw his hat into the ring.

Should the battle to seize the control of the Party away from Farage and his cabal be successful, clearly the rules governing the MEPs responsibilities will be an issue to be reviewed at an early stage by the leader and the new NEC. Perhaps Nikki Sinclair would be willing to set up and run some training courses for the most wayward MEPs, as she has clearly demonstrated her devotion to the cause and has been prepared to donate a considerable amount of her salary package to the Party.