Hyperventilating on by-election results

Having had two days occupied by ‘outside interests’, returning home I see that Richard North, EUReferendum, has ‘stolen my thunder’, to a certain extent, with this post.

It is to my continual amazement that so much ‘hype’ is applied by pundits in the media – and also those of the ‘Twitterati’ – about by-elections; and in this respect those writing about – and supporters of – Ukip need to rein in their over-blown and mis-placed enthusiasm for the results of recent by-elections, especially where percentages are concerned – points made by Richard North.

By-elections are renowned for containing two elements: namely, the protest vote and those abstaining – ie, not bothering to vote. Consequently, for the Labour Party to crow that the results of recent by-elections are condemnation of the Coalition; and for Ukip to now attempt to place themselves, in the minds of the public, as the third party in politics, not only stretches incredulity but lays them open to charges of misrepresentation.

If UKIP emulated the LibDem machine of local activism, focusing on community priorities to take seats in local government, they would by now surely have had MPs in the House of Commons. The problem for Ukip is that they don’t think strategically, they only know a ‘grapeshot’ method of fighting – no belay that, Ukip don’t think, period. Ukip have no strategy because they do not have a strategist or anyone who has the slightest idea of strategy.

Tim Congdon, an economist who was once part of the ‘Wise Men’ at the Bank of England and who is now a Ukip member, produces a ‘newsletter’ (receipt of which is free and available by subscribing) and from the latest, one paragraph:

“I have little respect for the politically correct ‘governing class’/’political establishment’ types, such as David Cameron and Nicholas Clegg, who have done so much damage to our country. (Nigel Farage has a nice phrase for them, ‘the rich kid political elite’, as quoted in yesterday’s The Sun.) But – if the ‘rich kids’ want the UK to stay in the EU – I would give them some words of advice. Hold an In/Out referendum on EU membership as soon as possible and – somehow, somehow – win it, despite the opinion polls showing that you will lose. The longer the referendum is postponed, the more likely that the vote will be for withdrawal. Indeed, the longer that the three ‘main parties’ ignore the popular resentment of their country’s betrayal, the more likely that UKIP will over time become the UK’s largest single party and will form a government in its own name.” (Emphasis his)

Tim Congdon may be a respected economist, but strategist he most definitely ain’t – so the message must be: ‘don’t give up the day-job, Tim’……..

Ukip – and those in it  – may well have the best of intentions and are, no doubt, committed people. Unfortunately, until they and the party ‘get a brain’ they are destined to remain where they are – on the fringes of the political scene in this country.

Afterthought: With apologies to those of my readers who are of the opinion that Ukip are the saviour of our country and saviour of democracy in our country.


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21 Responses

  1. Sean O'Hare says:

    With apologies to those of my readers who are of the opinion that Ukip are the saviour of our country and saviour of democracy in our country

    Although I am a member, as you were yourself until quite recently, I’m not sure that description quite fits at least where I’m concerned. I am absolutely sure that the Harrogate Agenda is what we need, but that is somewhat different from the UDI v Article 50 debate. Unfortunately I also think the HA movement is about 20 years behind Ukip. Hopefully it will make progress more rapidly and by not aspiring to become a political party, without the horrendous blunders Ukip have made in that time. Even so I am going to keep up my membership for a while.

    • david says:

      C’mon, you gotta be pulling my …….., surely?

      Ha is 20 years behind HA? HA has an exit strategy – where is UKips? HA have thought about ‘democracy’ – where has Ukip? HA has thought about ‘Referism’ – where has Ukip? Need I go on?

      Of course you have the right and choice to maintain your membership – but as your knowledge grows through HA, how much longer will it last?

      Just asking………

  2. cosmic says:

    By the next GE I can see UKIP being the third party in terms of opinion polls, maybe the first party in terms of MEPs, definitely causing the Conservatives damage in the GE, but still having no MPs. So to describe them as the third party on that basis is a bit strained.

    Which constituencies would be the most likely to elect a UKIP MP? How close are they?

    Again, with this talk of Tory MPs defecting, there just isn’t the local machinery to support them or get them re-elected. OK, there have been independents who’ve surmounted this, but they’ve been popular characters in their own right, or have campaigned on a local issue.

    I agree they just haven’t worked on the local organisations, well as far as I can see they haven’t. The EP has largely been the distraction and corrupting influence many predicted. Lets face it, if all MEPs were UKIP, it couldn’t make any difference. The EP would simply be talked about even less than it is now.

    I do think the talk of the LibDems being wiped out totally is wishful thinking, but I can see them being reduced to about a dozen MPs. They do have the local machinery and a lot of their MPs are good constituency MPs who seem to be interested in local matters and weren’t involved in the expenses scandal etc.

    I think there’s also a lot of wishful thinking over a referendum. I’m happy to see pressure for one and have it denied, creating more pressure, actually having one is a different story.

  3. kenomeat says:

    If Nigel Farage is right and UKIP and Labour were neck and neck on the basis of votes cast on the day in Rotherham (50% of the votes being postal votes and nearly all for Labour) then their future electoral prospects may be a lot better than you suggest.
    I am not a member of UKIP but will do all I can to support them at the next GE. David, I know that you and Richard North have your axes to grind with Farage but you must surely accept that UKIP are our best chance of gaining freedom from the EU in the foreseeable future. If you and Richard and the rest of the anti-EU bloggers would get behind UKIP between now and the next election you might just make a difference. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t criticise them, but the reaction of both of you to the Rotherham result was disappointing to say the least. Yes, they could have done even better, especially in the other two constituencies, but two seconds and a third isn’t bad and support is growing.

    • Sean O'Hare says:

      I don’t mean to pull your chain (or whatever) David. I simply meant that UKIP have taken 20 years to get where they are, which is admittedly not very far. not to say pathetic. Having said that 21% of the vote even though it was a pathetic turnout is a good boost for UKIP moral. I thought Andy’s talk at LeaSpa was very good, but for me he didn’t really address the problem of getting the population animated about the HA demands and I can’t see how, unless a means of getting the message out there and widely accepted, the Agenda is going to do any better than any other pressure group.

      I mentioned before that I was ready Carswell’s book “The End of Politics and the beginning of iDemocracy”. I think you dismiss Carswell too lightly. I thought the first half of his book provided a brilliant definition of what is wrong with our “democracy”. The second half attempts to be upbeat by telling us that it’s all going to get better mainly because of the power of the Internet. I was more than slightly disappointed with the second half. I think that in the long run he is right. Also as RN said “we are in this for the haul”. I am concerned because I really don’t think we have that much time to p**s around. I honestly believe that if things haven’t changed significantly by 2015 then it will be too late as we will have been subsumed into the anti-democratic EU. From there it will not be too great a leap into our being totally subsumed into a global NWO. Can we risk throwing away 20 years of UKIPs efforts?

      • Sean O'Hare says:

        ready = reading

      • kenomeat says:

        Sean I agree with your comments (except the one about Carswell’s book which I haven’t read). I fear that if UKIP don’t make a breakthrough soon then it’s not too fanciful to imagine it being banned by the EU in another ten years or so, along with all other anti-EU parties and organisations. This is another reason why the anti-EU bloggers must unite behind UKIP.

    • Sean O'Hare says:

      Sorry I replied to the wrong comment. But I guess David will read it :-)

    • Sean O'Hare says:

      I agree!

  4. david says:

    Well, that stirred up a little hornets nest……..

    In reply to cosmic: With all the faults with the common fisheries policy would not a good place to concentrate on be those constituencies with those? A constituency or local ward needs ‘working’ and it is no good appearing 4 weeks before voting day with a leaflet and expecting the public to support you – which is what Ukip tend to do generally. Repetition I know, but MPs are presently careerists and not one is going to throw away a career on a point of principle – so talk of Tory defections to Ukip is just that: talk.

    kennomeat: you do perhaps have a valid criticism of Richard North and I, however what we both write is, I believe, true. I also think that the support they gained in Rotherham is the sum total of that support and would be willing to bet that come the GE in ’15 their share of the vote will be smaller, assuming of course the maintain their present lack of strategy. I would wish to support Ukip, but cannot at the moment for reasons given plus they would need to support and embrace the HA which they won’t.

    SO’H: I totally agree with your summation about the state of play come 2015,which is why I am doing all I can to hasten the progress of HA (as you will shortly find out)

    There is a gaping hole at the moment in the political arena where the EU is concerned and Ukip need to fill it. Not one party is prepared to look at how we get out, what happens if we do and how we as a country would proceed once out. They must organise themselves locally and the ‘top’ should be looking at each and every branch, how it works (or doesn’t work) and taking remedial action. Ukip are no doubt pleased with their 21% in Rotherham, but as a percentage it is meaningless for the reasons Richard North and I both gave – ie 79% of Rotherham didn’t think or couldn’t be bothered to vote for them. Perhaps their campaign message was wrong? How did Jane Collins actually campaign? If she went ‘knocking on doors’, how was that done? To do that properly needs a group of at least 6 ‘helpers’. There is an ‘art’ to it – trust me, I have done it for the Tories and the method works. Witney branch of Ukip was extremely difficult to motivate – it seemed there were those on the committee who wanted to be on it but weren’t that eager to get out and actually do anything; and that is something that seemed pretty widespread when I was involved with Ukip in Oxfordshire.

  5. DP111 says:

    The electorate is so disenchanted with the present parties – UKIP included, that there is great danger that it will follow any charismatic leader that fulfills their need. Gone will be a sober assessment of HA or Article 50. What will count is hatred of the political establishment, and a desire to do them real physical harm.

    I have no doubt, that given the opportunity, the electorate will turn to a “saviour”. Do we have time for three election cycles for the UKIP to mature? No. The danger is real and present.

  6. Ian E says:

    Personally, I rather agree that UKIP are poor on strategy and tactics, but I still find the hostility towards them from some HArriers a bit surprising! [Actually, I often worry about the North blood pressure at times.]

    • cosmic says:

      I know a couple of people who were involved in UKIP from the early days and left because Nigel Farage was turning it into the Farage Show. He’s a powerful personality, but he can’t manage or cope with other powerful personalities.

      He says now that UKIP is about more than just him, but really? Salmond is a powerful character for the SNP, but if he was struck by lightning tomorrow it wouldn’t make that much difference, because the SNP has always been about more than a personality.

      It makes you think what would happen about these eight Tory MPs considering crossing the floor. Say one of them was Carswell. How would he be accommodated? Made to feel he was realising his ideas but was tempered a bit.

      RN gets carried away IMHO and it does no good, but he makes valid points. You can’t sell a negative very well; the SNP aren’t selling a negative. You can’t sell a magical solution if you are going to be called on to deliver. If it’s extremely magical it tempts a few magical thinkers, but most people can’t see it working.

      UKIP have no realistic plan for leaving the EU and no enticing vision of life thereafter.

      Yes, the main parties sell total bullshit and the LibDems mistake was to take office after a fashion and have their magical solutions judged in the light of reality. In the present electoral system, UKIP as they stand will have to have something like 25% of the popular vote before they start gaining MPs. They will come under sustained fire and be much more fragile than if they were advancing from a few strongholds in the South West say.

      I want to see them succeed and I realise it’s a dirty business or at least nowhere near as clean a business as many would like, that’s why I never like to see them walking into punches.

      • david says:

        Good comment – make no mistake, I would like to see Ukip succeedbut not with their present strategy and not without acceptance of the HA demands.

    • david says:

      Criticism taken on board – but trust me, I have for yonks when a member of Ukip and afterwards, tried to make them ‘think’.

      And you think that North’s blood pressure is a problem – what about mine?

      Apols, that response was to Ian E – comment out of sync

  7. Edward Spalton says:

    I have to own up to being one of that generation of UKIP members who agreed to put imagined political advantage before principle. The original policy had been to stand in EU elections but not to take any seats we won. So most of the party’s energy was subsequently diverted into the luxurious , powerless but winnable cul de sac of Brussells. This diverted attention from real campaigning at local and constituency level for Westminster, the only place where the battle can be won.
    In retrospect, it is a lesson that something which is morally wrong can never be politically right.

    • cosmic says:

      Not just the distraction and misdirection of energies, but the fact that the EU is corrupt and corrupting.

      At the time a lot of people were afraid that the MEPs would ‘go native’. At the least, it’s hard to argue there has been no element of that.

      • kenomeat says:

        It can’t do the cause any harm to have Nigel speaking in the European Parliament as President of the Freedom and Democracy Party and to have access to these speeches on Youtube. It gives him and the cause a bit of clout.

        • cosmic says:

          It doesn’t do much harm, but there’s a limit to the amount of good it can do.

          Actually the harm comes in the same form that harm from lefty comics comes to their cause. OK, you can take the piss out of Thatcher, which these days doesn’t amount to much more than saying the name then cue the taped laughter. Err, what exactly are you proposing, if anything?

          • kenomeat says:

            I’m not proposing anything Cosmic. I’m just suggesting that it can be beneficial to have someone in a position of influence, albeit in the European Parliament.

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