Posts Tagged 'UKIP'



Tallbloke returns! But he still dodges the question

UKIP candidate and occasional commenter on this blog, Tallbloke, returned here today to leave a ‘told you so’ comment on a blog post where we said that Farage’s comments on the floods indicate UKIP has abandoned its anti-EU role, which dates back to 9th February.

The comment he linked to in his latest contribution was this one.  As it would not be spotted by most readers, we felt it only fair to give it a good airing.  Along with the reply that has been left to the comment, which is reproduced below…

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Nice to see you back here after chickening out of answering the question here. But now you’re back, don’t be silly, Rog.

Farage has deliberately avoided linking the EU to a number of consequences of Brussels governance over the last year.  His shortsighted call for a public inquiry has seen him change his narrative.  He has now chosen to define this mythical inquiry in terms of abandoning dredging, but did not do so previously as you will see in his quote below.  In fact even your previous comment makes yet a different case for a public inquiry, so it’s not actually what you said at all.  In any case he has been caught on the hop by Clegg, and his refusal to immediately accept the offer of a debate has undermined confidence in him.

For clarity, do tell us, why is an inquiry necessary? Is it to explore dredging, or is it to help resolve UKIP’s internal confusion and lack of knowledge? The previous question asking you just what the UKIP line actually is, still stands for reasons the quotes below make all too clear.

1. ‘Ms Reding’s visit took place at the same time as the consequences of heavy rainfall compounded by the effect of EU regulations, have brought about widespread flooding, suffering and the destruction of property.

‘The evidence is that EU directives put wildlife before people. It is starting to be clear that DEFRA and the Environment Agency have been zealous in implementing EU directives’
William Dartmouth

2. ‘Well it’s not Brussels’ fault is it?’
Lisa Duffy

3. ‘I don’t know the truth of the extent to which the Environment Agency is now bound by European Union rules and laws. I just don’t know. That’s why we need to have a public inquiry.’
Nigel Farage

So which is it? Let’s see if you can answer without re-writing history again.

Just so you know, should an inquiry be held it will be chaired by an on-message appointee, the terms of reference will not address what Farage has belatedly chosen to call for, the witnesses will be chosen so as to minimise any adverse reference to the EU and the findings will not change EU laws one iota. So what exactly does Farage think he will achieve? It’s as meaningless as his call for a civil defence corps.

It is just more badly thought out, scattergun rhetoric as he speaks first then tries to decide what he meant by it later, while people like you interpret in a myriad of different ways and put your own spin on it, irrespective of what was actually said.

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We await the reply with interest…

The UKIP delusion

Yesterday, Iain Martin in the Telegraph caught my eye with the article above.  Having been pondering the Scotland independence campaign in recent days and what we are learning from it, with a view to covering it on this blog – and given the added UKIP dimension – it was of interest to see where he would go with his piece.

To be honest Martin didn’t add much if anything to our understanding of the dynamics at play north of the border.  But his opinion regarding UKIP’s fortunes and by extension those of Nigel Farage did make one eyebrow rise somewhat.  As Martin opines:

It is curious that Salmond should be blowing up just as Nigel Farage starts to blow up. The two great guerilla leaders of our age – both expert at mounting effective raids on Westminster and discombobulating their much bigger opponents – are in trouble.

This is a ridiculous assertion.  UKIP has never even come close to mounting a raid on Westminster.  While the SNP has most seats in the Scottish Parliament and also returns MPs to Westminster, UKIP has a relatively small number of councillors in England and Wales and has only once come within a couple of thousand votes of ever having an MP elected under the party’s banner (Eastleigh).  However, setting aside such a daft claim, Martin did rehearse a point that we have made on this blog several times:

Ukip looks as though it has hit a ceiling in terms of attracting support. Its attempts to eat into the Labour vote are, so far, misfiring. The party was also running third in a recent poll on the Euro elections, and the Tory claim that a vote for Farage is a vote for Miliband and a Europhile Labour government looks increasingly potent.

We have mentioned this glass ceiling effect previously and all the current polling bears it out.  The trend of UKIP support in the polling numbers is downward and even in the party leader ratings, Nigel Farage has seen his number decline. There is simply no sign of UKIP being close to breaking through and significantly increasing its stock.

The reasons why we believe UKIP is stuck in second gear on the political motorway have been covered in detail here over many months. But what is worth noting today is the extent to which UKIP’s supporters, the vocal ones who lurk on the Telegraph’s comment threads seeking out criticism to attack, could be responsible for a lack of improvement in the party and letting Farage and his top team get away with poor performance at a time when the party should genuinely be surging ahead.

Looking at this subset of UKIP supporters, we can see from their contributions they are angry about Martin’s observations.  They refuse to deviate from their view that UKIP is on a surge, they see his piece as an attack on UKIP requiring an all-out retaliatory assault while at the same time accusing the media of circling the wagons around the main parties, they are desperate to state time and again that the party increased its vote five-fold in Wythenshawe to come second only to Labour, and a number of them claim that the almost the entire postal vote was fraudulent and that this robbed them of victory.

Is it any wonder the party leadership is able to actively resist change and improvement when in the eyes of an extremely vocal minority of members the party and its leadership does no wrong and when things go badly it’s always someone else’s fault or the result of a vicious conspiracy?  Let me explain by taking the points above in turn.

The fact is all the polls still show UKIP bumping along within a point or so of 13% nationally.  There are exceptions in some constituencies of a particular political composition where the party scores higher, but despite this they have been rooted around 13% for a while, having seen a drop from their polling highs around May last year.  This is in no way a surge that they claim it to be.  Arguing there is a surge merely ignores the evidence.

Perhaps Martin’s piece was an attack.  Journalists have reader numbers in mind, it’s all about the traffic they can drive, so anything that stirs a reaction and draws in more readers is grist to the mill.  Of course, Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems have all been attacked at some point and their supporters resent it, often biting back.  But UKIP supporters act as if attacks have never happened before in politics and believe they are under so concerted an attack it is as if the very core of their being and everything they believe in is at risk of destruction.  The resulting aggression and spite this sparks, as evidenced in their outpourings, is truly a sight.

The meme that is circulating in newspapers and blogs, that UKIP increased its vote in Wythenshawe five-fold, is a masterclass in spin.  A candidate who only got 2 votes could increase their vote five-fold next time around and it would still only be miniscule at 10.  UKIP supporters don’t like seeing the cold hard fact that they polled only 4,301 votes and although placed second, the party was so far behind Labour it was an irrelevance in the contest.  This is despite the UKIP vote being mobilised and motivated to turn out.  Before the election some of these people were declaring Wythenshawe to be in play and a possible UKIP gain!  Any attempt to point this out then moves smoothly to the next item on the list…

It requires quite a flight from reality to argue that the overwhelming majority of postal votes that went to Labour were fraudulent and that if people had to vote in person and produce ID, the ballot would have been much closer.  But that is what is being said in UKIP supporter circles.  The clear implication is that Asians in the constituency have engaged in electoral fraud and therefore stitched up UKIP.  No evidence has been provided and they say the establishment would ignore it anyway because it resulted in UKIP falling badly at the hurdle.

Farage and Co must love this.  These arguments let them completely off the hook for such a piss poor performance against a backdrop of real anger at the main parties.  While a small number who have rejected the main parties in frustration have indeed gone into the UKIP camp, UKIP is not picking up the majority of those who are turning their backs, because it is being seen as just another party that is no different to the rest.

It could have been so much different and it should be so much different.

‘Stop sniping from the sidelines, get on board, get behind us and influence the leadership if you want to change the approach’, is a mantra often heard from vocal UKIPpers who object to such observations and any criticism.  Incidentally they never engage on the substance of the criticism, but the details above show they never will because they are in an echo chamber, inhabiting a parallel plane where things like facts are dismissed with a sneer and promises of an earthquake to come are made.

But how could anyone try to change things from the inside when the leadership, irrespective of fault or error, is blessed with reinforcing confirmation bias in its totality from people who have gone beyond loyal and behave with quasi-religious reverence for the leadership and repeat every utterance as an inviolable truth that must not be questioned?

Where people cannot see any fault at all, there is no pressure on the party leadership to get its act together.  This is why UKIP is where it is.  This is why Iain Martin, for all his own failings, got the thrust of his piece correct.

This idea that too many in UKIP are deluding themselves about the party’s performance and prospects, has been given more credence by a YouGov ‘Voting Intention Predictions’ exercise – as covered by Political Betting – where people were asked to say where in the polls the main parties will be at the end of 2014.

While supporters of the four largest parties all rated the prospects of their own party more highly than supporters of other parties did, the predictions from UKIP supporters really stand out from the rest, as you can see below – believing they will have double the polling numbers supporters of any other party predict for them.

Until they return to the real world, UKIP supporters, not just the leadership, will see to it that the party never develops and never breaks the mould.  They are no longer an insurgency, they are just another party.

Why EUsceptics should be concerned

We are a bit late to the party with this because of a trip over the weekend, but nevertheless it is a topic that has to be mentioned here.

Two polls reported over the weekend, from ComRes and Opinium.  The results do not make good reading for EUsceptics.

ComRes

Opinium

In addition to these, ComRes also published the latest findings from its Favourability Index of parties and leaders.  There is a pattern that emerges.

The decline in support for UKIP and decline in voters having a favourable view of Nigel Farage stands out from the rest.  This contradicts UKIPs claims to have momentum and to be increasing its support around the country.

Voters are trying to find out what UKIP’s key message is and what the party stands for.  But they are only receiving a confused jumble of information that appears, at best, random.

Since Farage chose to get involved in the discussion about the floods he has, among other things, separately called for the UK to request financial aid from the EU solidarity fund, then called for foreign aid money to be diverted to the west country, then called for the creation of a civil defence force and then called for a public inquiry.  Anyone listening out for the UKIP line on this subject is either suffering from whiplash or has given up trying to work out exactly what Farage’s priority is.

What is interesting is that while William Dartmouth MEP has, according to UKIP’s website, ‘condemned the EU’s skewed priorities, exposing the damaging consequences of EU directives on flooding,’ Farage’s only references to the EU have been to say of the Environment Agency that:

They seem to want to follow European Directives to the letter of the law…

Then to add later that:

I don’t know the truth of the extent to which the Environment Agency is now bound by European Union rules and laws. I just don’t know. That’s why we need to have a public inquiry.

This is Farage all over, hedging his bets, letting other people like Dartmouth speak out so he can stay silent.  This allows Farage to come down on either side of the fence later and claim either that the party did link the flooding to the EU laws followed by the Environment Agency, or that the party did not link the flooding to EU law, it was only the opinion of one MEP.

It is this kind of pin-head dance that leaves voters drawing the conclusion that Farage is absolutely no different to any other party leader, engaging in spin and playing with semantics.

Too many voters, when they think of EUscepticism, think of Farage.  They link UKIP and its performance to the EUsceptic movement.  So when Farage’s or UKIP’s stock falls with voters, the wider EUsceptic movement is tainted by association.  So seeing this developing trend over recent weeks of UKIP’s polling figures dropping is a frustrating cause for concern for everyone else who wants to see the UK exit from the EU.

There has been a lot of bluster from UKIP officials and supporters that the party increased its vote nearly five fold in Wythenshawe last week, that the party got nearly 18% of the vote, that it ‘came from nowhere’ to finish second in the election.  But the harsh reality is that despite most of its supporters being energised and motivated and turning out enthusiastically, they still only received 4,301 votes.

At the general election they will not increase that by much, if at all.  In all but a few areas the reality is the party has limited appeal, and I would wager that a large part of that is the way the party says what it is against but does not explain to people what it is for.  The invitiation is for people to vote UKIP because they aren’t Labour, Conservative or Lib Dems, not because there is any positive message people can readily point to that makes them say, that is a vision I share and I’m going to support it.

There never will be such a compelling message when the leader wants to be all things to all men and offers contradictory manifestos and campaign slogans depending on whether they contest is in the north or the south.  The fact therefore is that after 20 years of UKIP the effort to free the UK from the EU monolith is no closer than it was before.

So Tallbloke, which is it?

Tallbloke is not only a UKIP candidate but also one of the party’s most trenchant supporters and a dogged defender of Nigel Farage in this blog’s comments section.

In recent comments on this blog, he has maintained that UKIP’s previous refusal to reference the EU’s role in making flooding far worse than it need have been was ‘strategic’, giving the impression that he has taken advice on this from party leadership.

The question I want to ask Tallbloke is whether the UKIP strategy included quietly dripping out an admission of the EU’s role in exacerbating the flooding through EU law, on the party’s website rather than using a major public media platform; or if it included a party representative, Lisa Duffy, going on BBC Any Questions to say: ‘Well it’s not Brussels’ fault is it’?

It would be nice to know just what the UKIP line actually is.

Cheers.

The challenge that UKIP has yet just will not grasp

Labour fanatic Dan Hodges has taken to his Telegraph blog in light of the Wythenshawe election result to dismiss the notion that UKIP is any kind of electoral threat to Labour:

So now we know. The narrative that Ukip is as much of a threat to Labour as it is to the Conservative Party is rubbish. Though to be fair, some of us always suspected as much.

Lest we forget, last night’s Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election was supposed to be the moment that Ukip made the big breakthrough into Labour’s heartland. As my colleague Toby Young wrote recently, many commentators were claiming that an outright Ukip win “is not as far-fetched as you might think, as Mike Smithson points out in this post for PoliticalBetting.com.

Hodges is clearly a man who likes to stir a reaction.  And as expected, this has turned out to be the literary equivalent of taking a stick and poking a nest of angry purple and yellow wasps, with the resident UKIP commenters swarming out to attack, ridicule, criticise, berate and insult Hodges as much as their keyboards will allow.  I think he’s actually quite enjoying it.

But one of the comments left in response to Hodges rightly observing the party has no national message, typifies the lack of awareness or political nous that characterises so many UKIP fanatics who have convinced themselves the party will deliver an electoral earthquake in the near future.  I left a reply to the comment making the point that so many UKIP followers do not seem able to grasp.

What this highlights is the absence of a political strategy at UKIP.  Some people have an idea of some of what UKIP is against, but ask people what UKIP is for and blank stares will form on their faces.  It’s not good enough for ‘kippers to say ‘you can’t criticise our lack of message because the others haven’t got a message either’.

Rightly or wrongly the other parties are established and people have a perception, accurate or otherwise, of what they stand for.  This just isn’t the case when it comes to UKIP.  I stand to be accused once again of waging a campaign against Nigel Farage, or bearing some yet to be defined grudge against him, but the fact is Farage is UKIP and UKIP is Farage.  It isn’t possible to separate the two, such is the control he wields over the party.

Holding Farage responsible for these basic political failings and strategic errors will upset some ‘kippers and the angry comments and emails will arrive again, but it is the reality.  If not him, then who is responsible for it?  UKIP has underperformed for 20 years.  Against a backdrop of anger against the political class it has made a little bit of headway to rise to around 13% nationally, higher in some individual constituencies, much lower in others.  But that is all.  It is not setting the political weather to the extent its supporters imagine because it has sent to the back burner the one cogent message people did understand, that of wanting to leave the EU.

Unless UKIP defines itself and outlines a positive vision that people can aspire to and want to vote for, the party will remain trapped below the glass ceiling it has created for itself.  It doesn’t require the spelling out of huge amounts of detail, but it needs more of a vision that ‘we aren’t the other lot’. Under Farage with his random approach and lack of depth it just ain’t gonna happen.

Unless this nettle is grasped UKIP will be a perennial protest repository that sometimes makes a nuisance of itself but can otherwise be discounted as a genuine threat by Labour or the Conservatives.  Worst of all, it will undermine the wider EUsceptic movement that the media lazily associates with the party.

EU responsibility for scale of flooding has been laid out clearly, but…

I don’t know the truth to the extent the Environment Agency is now bound by European Union rules and laws, I just don’t know, which is why we need to have a public inquiry.

    Nigel Farage

Even the editor of Country Life gets it, Nigel

It really has come to something when the editor at large of Country Life, despite only a limited summary, is more clued in to the EU dimension of the excessive flooding in the Somerset Levels and more vocal about it than the leader of the UK’s EUsceptic political party.

It is a shame that Mr Aslet, upon identifying the key role played by Baroness Young in preparing the way for this debacle, didn’t go further in ramming this home to Telegraph readers.  But he’s certainly gone further than Nigel Farage, much to the detriment of the EUsceptic movement.

Farage the policy-free zone

Guest post by Richard North

Richard North of the EU Referendum blog, who has done so much to expose the EU’s involvement and responsibility for exacerbating the extent of the flooding in the Somerset Levels, shares his assessment of Nigel Farage’s failure to use recent media opportunities to shine even more light on the EU’s role – and those who are defending this political error:

There is a certain constancy to the “Nigel can do no wrong” brigade. Whatever he does, ex post facto, his little claque will leap to his defence, saying he’s done exactly the right thing.

There is no getting away from the premise here, though, that Farage has scored a massive own goal. The EU dimension of the floods has, on my blog, been the most popular post I have ever written, attracting a massive level of interest. Yet “our Nige” has chosen to play a derivative game, all but ignoring the EU dimension. The sight of an anti-EU party leader ignoring the EU sends its own message.

Further, the populist dimension of the Farage message also sends a message. While there can be no doubt that more money will help in this growing crisis, above all else for the longer term, there is a massive policy deficit. You can throw money at a problem but if the policy framework is not right, the spending will have little effect or even – as we are seeing – a perverse effect.

Thus, it is absolutely essential that the deficiencies in policy are identified and corrected, which provides a magnificent opportunity for a focused and sustained attack on the EU. Farage, however, has walked away from the open goal. UKIP, as always, is out to lunch.

Nigel’s defenders can now blather all they want. But once again, Farage has shown himself to be a policy-free zone, a lightweight who is good for the “man-in-pub” routine but not a serious politician.

Latest Farage comments on floods indicate UKIP has abandoned anti-EU role

While it was not the press conference Nigel Farage referenced in his tweet to me yesterday, this morning he was interviewed for over 4 minutes by Sky News’ Dermot Murnaghan, in Somerset, about the floods there. UKIP have put the full interview up on their website.

Despite having days in which to take on board the extent of EU’s responsibility, for turning what would have been annoying floods into a major incident that has gone on for weeks, the sum total of Farage’s effort to explain it to Sky’s audience was this reference to the Environment Agency’s role in the matter:

They seem to want to follow European Directives to the letter of the law…

This from a man whose primary focus is allegedly fighting tooth and nail for the UK to leave the EU.  Presented with yet another golden opportunity to highlight who really runs Britain, following his Farage on Friday piece before the weekend, and help voters understand and reflect about whether this is in British interests or whether we should determine laws for ourselves, he again passed it up.

Thankfully, Christopher Booker published a valuable piece about the EU’s role in degrading Britain work on flood prevention in his Sunday Telegraph column today.  At least someone with a substantial profile has tackled this head on while the politicians and lamestream media tip-toe around it and do their best to avoid any mention of the part our supreme government in Brussels has played in making flooding in recent years far worse than it ever would have been.

With a sizeable number of UKIP members not seeing leaving the EU as the number one issue for the party, it seems the leader is one of their number and EUscepticism is being forced off the party political agenda to make way for other topics.

Open letter to Nigel Farage

Dear Nigel

There are many matters on which I could correspond with you and offer a viewpoint I doubt you will ever hear from the people you choose to surround yourself with in UKIP.  But for now I wish to content myself with addressing the issue of your ‘Farage on Friday‘ piece in today’s Daily Express and enquiring where on earth your mind was when you wrote it.

Your story selection of the floods in the Somerset Levels was entirely appropriate.  This is a major issue with enormous consequences for the lives and livelihoods of many people, deserving of proper examination of how such a dramatic, large scale event has been able to come about.  It therefore required someone with a high public profile to bring the facts to the fore, air them, and ensure that those who have contributed to this disastrous situation feel the discomfort of unrelenting scrutiny.

Presented with this golden opportunity, to add value by bringing little known but vital facts to a wide audience, you bungled it with a conflagration of superficial waffle.

As you are the leader of a political party that professes to oppose UK membership of the EU, and presumably therefore having a vested interest in highlighting where EU legislation has had a malign impact on British people, it defies belief that nowhere in your 759 words did you find space to reference and explain the role that EU directive 2007/60/EC, also known as the Floods Directive, has had in bringing about the conditions for this flooding.

The shift away from flood prevention to flood ‘management’ is detailed on the Commission website which underlines the priority being given to the ‘environment’, and calls in aid a number of EU measures, including the Water Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive, the Environmental Impact Assessment and the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive. The Floods Directive is part of the package and, the EU sternly warns, has to be implemented by 2015.  One would think this would be red meat for an EUsceptic party’s leader.  But not for you it seems.

The fact you are a leader of a political party that has railed against quangos suggests you would have an interest in exposing this complicity of quangocrats in making such serious flooding possible, particularly when they hand you a gift of a comment to hang around their necks.  But it seems that you did not feel the staggering comment of Baroness Young – as quoted in this segment of a Guardian piece from 2008 (emphasis mine) which explains the Environment Agency’s agenda with regard to land that was formerly marsh or wetland such as the Somerset Levels – was sufficiently important in putting the Environment Agency’s part in this debacle into its proper context:

If water truly is the stuff of life, then the world’s wetlands are the key to the survival of all living things on our planet. They provide a unique refuge for a wealth of plants and animals: a complex ecosystem which helps sustain life not just in the wetlands themselves, but in their surrounding habitats as well.

But wetlands have a problem. Because they are usually in low-lying areas, and easily accessible, they are prime targets for development. By draining a wetland, and building homes, roads and factories, a nation may boost its economic performance; but this is almost always at the expense of biodiversity.

Yet it’s not all bad news. Uniquely, wetlands can be created – or recreated – much more quickly and easily than other vital habitats such as ancient woodlands, hedgerows or rainforest. As Baroness Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency, says, “Just add water!”

These actions, or more correctly inactions, by the Environment Agency are germane to the situation in Somerset.  But instead you chose to focus your piece in terms of money rather than dealing with how this was allowed to happen and who oversaw the agenda that was followed.

It is with not a small amount of irony that UKIP rushes into print on its website and with comments to the media from your deputy, Paul Nuttall, to respond to inaccurate stories about supposed EU meddling in British matters, such as the use of flags on food packaging or the volume of water in toilet cisterns.  Yet when the EU actually has direct contributory involvement in the shocking scale of the floods in Somerset – a matter of real substance and appalling impact on British people – and a sustainability agenda has been vigorously pursued by your political opponents, whose placemen reference the restoration of wetlands in places where they used to exist, such as the Somerset Levels, with glib comments such as ‘Just add water!’, you are nowhere in the debate.

It will not come as any surprise to you that the details above were extracted thanks to the forensic research skills of your former colleague, Richard North.  One is moved to ask if it is because North is a former colleague that his valuable work is routinely passed over by UKIP, to the detriment of the EUsceptic movement?  If that were the case, then it would be a disgrace that you would put personal issues before doing all you can to realise your stated aim of getting this country out of the EU.

Your Express column was a terrible missed opportunity and has let down the people of the Somerset Levels, who deserve better for all they are suffering.

Regards

AM

UKIP’s failure will be due to flawed strategy

‘UKIP’s failure?’ I hear some UKIP supporters ask.  ‘We are rising in the polls, we’ve added 13,000 members since 2013, we are taking votes from the Tories and Labour, we are the main challengers in a number of seats, we are favourites to win most votes in this year’s Euro elections, the other parties running scared,’ are comments that are repeatedly made in threads on newspaper websites and blogs. But there is good reason to believe the foundations underpinning these claims are soft.

We will come to the polling in a moment, but first we need to set the scene and look at UKIP’s prospects in this year’s Euro elections.  Farage has talked up the party’s prospects and its members are highly confident that UKIP will win the most votes in the election.  However the Euro polls are still showing that UKIP is behind Labour and will likely only come second at best.  There is even still a chance the Tory vote could just squeak them into second at UKIP’s expense.  It’s worth remembering UKIP’s total vote in 2009 (2,498,226) actually fell from that in 2004 (2,650,768) despite a larger electorate.

This time around, if the party can’t secure the most votes in the Euros, even in these perfect conditions for a protest vote, huge media coverage and a core support that will definitely turn out while millions of Labour and Tory voters will not bother themselves with a trip to the polling station, then success in the 2015 General Election is a pipe dream. Don’t forget, just a year after the 2009 Euro elections, in 2010 at the General Election, UKIP’s total vote fell to 919,546 (with the BNP on 564,331).  That’s a lot votes loaned to the party in meaningless Euro elections that go somewhere else when people are asked to elect a government.  Although with UKIP hoovering up BNP supporters and votes along with disaffected Tories and previous non voters who wish to register their disgust at the three main parties, it would be realistic to see UKIP get well in excess of 1,700,000 in 2015 – possibly even clearing the 2 million mark with room to spare.  But that won’t translate into seats.

Back to polling then.  While polling in some marginal seats funded by Alan Bown has UKIP, when the figures include undecided voters and those who refuse to say who they will vote for, as high as 19% (Thanet South) and 16% (Great Grimsby), nationally the party is still rooted stubbonly around the 13% mark.  But the polls are not telling the whole story here because it is impossible to tell from them what the effect of the BNP’s collapse is.

We know a number of white working class Labour voters defected to the BNP.  With the BNP imploding we know anecdotally that many of their members have been attracted to UKIP as the next best alternative by the immigration message that has taken centre stage.   This 13% average UKIP polling figure is a lower percentage than before the May 2013 local elections in which UKIP won a number of district and county council seats.  There is no breakthrough at the moment and UKIP’s position, third in the national polls, is only that way because the Lib Dems are being punished by former supporters for being in coalition with the Conservatives and have seen a lot of their support desert to Labour. These numbers and other factors considered, we will not see UKIP win any Westminster seats in 2015.  Despite much bravado, it seems that UKIP is hitting a glass ceiling of support.

What does this suggest?  A failure of UKIP’s own making.  What voters are now seeing is a party of blatant contradiction they cannot trust, whose offering is nothing more than a dustbin for protest votes,  ‘vote for us because we’re not Conservative/Labour’, which is offering nothing positive or differentiated of its own.

In the south people see UKIP promoting itself as the alternative to the Conservatives and trying to appeal to those who want low tax, smaller government, shrinking welfare budgets, stronger defence etc. People who are attracted by Farage lauding Margaret Thatcher, in a clear message that he is positioning himself to them as Thatcherite.

In the north people see UKIP promoting itself as the alternative to Labour and trying to appeal to those who believe in government running most things, funded by higher levels of tax than the south want, preserving or even increasing welfare budgets, who would like strong defence because many young men and women from the region join the forces in the absence of other opportunities.  People who are attracted by pictures of Farage drinking bitter in a pub, in a clear message that he is positioning himself as an ordinary working class bloke.

The two are too mutually exclusive, and thanks to national media and 24 hour news, this ‘all things to all men’ strategy employed by Farage is all too visible to voters who will rightly feel it is nothing more than an electoral ploy, saying different things to different people based on what UKIP thinks they want to hear.

While some voters will feel moved to support UKIP regardless, when it comes to putting an ‘X’ on a ballot paper, will that be enough for UKIP to hold on to enough potential supporters in the north and south respectively, who see the party’s schizophrenic pronouncements in different parts of the country?  People who loathe the blue or red side so much they would vote tactically for whoever is best placed to form a government that would keep Cameron/Miliband out of Downing Street.  That’s the crux of the matter.

No matter whether the party is comprised of enthusiastic amateurs or professional political animals, as a strategy it may result in some short term gains.  But in the long term it is doomed to failure. Depressingly, as that happens, so the Eurosceptic cause as a whole will be adversely affected.

The delusion of some UKIPpers undermines their party

Boredom is a terrible thing.  It can lead to doing things one shouldn’t do, such as scanning through the letters page of the Telegraph.

For it is there we find a UKIP Euro election candidate talking unmitigated rubbish (no, really) about trade after a UK exit from the EU.  The claim made is an old canard that seemingly remains a sacred truth among some ‘Kippers, despite it being debunked in several locations over many months.

Should the media choose to put its microscope over this particular claim about free trade under WTO rules, Janice Atkinson will crumble under it just like her leader crumbled under a little cross examination by Andrew Neil.

If a British exit would result in a free trade agreement within days with the EU under WTO rules, how is it that the US and EU are so far unable to cement a free trade agreement?  How come China and the EU are unable to sign a free trade agreement?  How come a free trade agreement with Canada took around five years to complete?

Why is it Janice Atkinson thinks the UK is solely capable of establishing a free trade agreement with the EU in a matter days after a Brexit, when every other country in the world requires years of painstaking negotiation, internal lobbying by industry and special interests, disagreements over the terms and reference backs, to establish such a deal?

Perhaps Ms Atkinson is banking her hopes on a two-year negotiation with the EU initiated under Article 50, which will primarily focus on governance, having satisfactorily concluded everything that needs to be addressed from a trade perspective?  But then, she doesn’t refer to Article 50, so who knows what her vivid imagination visualises a Brexit will look like and how it will take place.

It is ludicrous assertions like that by Atkinson that have anyone who has ever been involved in any kind of business or trade deal, shaking their heads in disbelief at the sheer ignorance and wanton stupidity of her position.

Only on Planet Atkinson, an entity fuelled by the self deception and immature delusion that denotes UKIP, could a trade deal of such complexity and intricacy between the UK and a bloc of 27 other countries with varying interests and demands – across a wide range of industries and sectors – be concluded more quickly than a transfer negotiation between two football clubs for a Premier League footballer.

Farage counting cost of being all things to all men for too long

The digital wailing and gnashing of teeth is a sight to behold. It was always only a matter of time before it came to the fore.

Nigel Farage has a track record of masterful inaction and silence when he wants to be all things to all men.  Article 50 is a case in point.  With some in UKIP wisely recognising Article 50 as the only legal process available for commencing Brexit from the EU, and others loudly declaring it to be a vicious trap to be avoided at all costs, Farage stayed silent on the subject for years lest he alienate one of the divergent sections of UKIP supporters.  Eventually he came down on the side of Article 50 in a conference question and answer session, leaving UKIP ‘heavyweights’ like Rodney Atkinson, Torquil Erikson and Professor Tim Congdon on the wrong side of the party’s policy.

But that was an EU related matter and therefore an issue of steadily declining importance in UKIP, which has instead opportunisitically positioned itself to become a rallying point for the disaffected anti immigration/anti asylum constituency as part of Farage’s grand plan to eclipse the BNP by wooing their supporters.  As intended, many former BNP supporters who saw the Nick Griffin bandwagon coming off the tracks saw UKIP, with its own sizeable, vociferous and unchallenged ‘the UK is full, no more migrants or asylum seekers‘ anti immigration rump, as their new natural home.

Certainly, Farage wasn’t saying anything that would alienate them so it seemed the perfect fit .  But what they did not note was that Farage was also saying nothing on the subject to alienate the more rational and realistic members of his party, who recognise that controlled immigration is necessary for a country with an economy like ours and providing asylum to those in fear for their lives is a humane act.  But that has been Farage all over, letting everyone believe he is on their side and in tacit support of their worldview because he was able to stay quiet on anything contentious.  That is they way it remains until silence is no longer an option, or Farage decides there is capital to be made by coming down on one side of the fence.

Over the weekend, calculating a potential advantage that could wrongfoot David Cameron and make UKIP seem more cuddly to potential voters who are otherwise put off by that UKIP faction which wants all immigrants to leave and no more immigrants or asylum seekers – particularly not Muslims – to be admitted, Farage threw one of his legs over the fence and called for the UK to accept refugees from Syria.

Cue the digital equivalent of a collective howl from the small minded little Englanders who had, until that point, believed Farage was in lock-step with them and would pursue a policy of pulling up the drawbridge.  Moderate ‘kippers have been celebrating Farage’s call, as much for the manner in which he has exposed Cameron’s Conservatives as lacking ‘compassion’ as for it being the right thing to do.  However, for the true believers who abandoned the BNP cult for the UKIP cult, some of whom infest the comment threads of the Telegraph and the Mail, Twitter and UKIP’s Facebook page with their obsessive and often illogical rants, the sense of betrayal has been too much to bear as the selection of the comments below shows:

ukip_asylum_2ukip_asylum_3ukip_asylum_4ukip_asylum_7ukip_asylum_8ukip_asylum_9ukip_asylum_10ukip_asylum_11ukip_asylum_12ukip_asylum_13

Their reaction is akin to being courted, bedded then dumped just before a big date, after they have spent lots of time being told this is the real thing.  UKIP is going to lose members and gain vocal, bitter critics that were previously sworn brothers in arms.

For this schism Farage has only himself to blame.  He could have avoided getting into bed with these people by making clear what he believed in from the outset.  But his view is why bother alienating people who are in the tank, spreading the word, plastering ‘Vote UKIP’ in every comment thread on news websites and supporting the claim that UKIP is growing and winning new supporters.

Farage might have finally realised that UKIP has a ‘toxic brand’ far worse than the one that causes the Conservatives so much anxiety, but it is one that might now be too embedded for moderate people to ever give the party their support.  That is something for which Farage will have to count the cost.  Sadly for the EUsceptic cause, it is a cost borne there too which adversely affects the likelihood of securing the essential Brexit from the EU.

Time spent on this UKIP infighting is time not spent fighting for UK independence

UKIP is in a state of civil war in Scotland.

A parachuted ‘Friend of Farage’ candidate, resignations, sackings, dissolution of the party’s Scottish committee, internal party intrigues, accusations of control freakery, a party spokesman so detached from events he can’t offer comment.  It’s political self destruction driven by egos, vested interests and patronage running amok.

This underlines the point made on this blog several times that relying on a political party, to drive the campaign for Brexit and independence for Britain, is a mistake.  Party management and maintenance uses up energy and focus and the time spent by UKIP as Farage tries to impose his control on the party in Scotland is time not spent on the pressing issue.

What is even more frustrating is that this is all about who UKIP sends to Brussels as an MEP if they secure sufficient votes in Scotland.  It is ultimately meaningless to the Brexit campaign, but means a lot to the likes of David Coburn who is top of the UKIP candidate list, and would climb aboard the Brussels gravy train and by the end of the next European Parliament would have received well over £1m in pay, expenses and perks.  That is a pretty generous thank you from Farage for Coburn’s loyalty – albeit a thank you paid out of our tax pounds.

This latest internal spat in UKIP harms the whole Brexit cause.   Those of us who want the UK to withdraw from the EU deserve better, much better, than this.  With Farage as leader we are not going to get it.

This is a little more encouraging, but only a little

In all my criticisms of Nigel Farage and UKIP, I have always made clear that I would prefer to be praising them for pushing the right agenda.  So it’s nice to be able to say that Farage’s op-ed in the Telegraph this evening represents something of an improvement for the UKIP leader.  It’s far from perfect, but it is better than much of what we have seen in recent months.

The major and worrying problem is that Farage is still riding his immigration hobby horse and trying to suggest that leaving the EU is the antidote to this country’s migration issues.  This is disingenuous and risky for EUsceptic credibility because, as has been explained at a superficial level on this blog but in greater detail on EU Referendum, leaving the EU will not resolve our immigration problems.

No one is proposing leaving the Council of Europe (which includes a much wider range of countries that are not in the EU),  and we are still party to conventions and standards of the International Labour Organisation (contrary to the understanding of the UK’s Attorney General).  UK involvement in both of these means even after a Brexit we will still be bound to observing certain conditions on immigration.  This is another example of the global governance agenda that makes the EU little more than ‘Little Europe‘ – a proxy for handing down regulations and directives that the UK has had no opportunity to shape at the global top table where they originate.

Further, because it would be political suicide to attempt to sell to the British people the idea that the UK should not be part of the Single Market now or after Brexit, we would almost certainly have to maintain Single Market access through membership of the EEA – perhaps via EFTA – which would mean we would still be bound by the ‘four freedoms’, which include the freedom of movement and freedom of establishment.  As Richard has explained, this means the UK would be required to permit Bulgarian and Romanian workers to take up residence here in any case.  Farage is only outfoxing himself by not understanding this and shaping his policy accordingly.

But at least Farage has dared once again to reference leaving the EU.  He has at least aligned that imperative with the fact that as EU members we are effectively powerless and cannot change rules that cause this country harm or our people frustration.  He needs to go further in stressing the core issue as being about ‘Who should run Britain‘ and he needs to get off the immigration bandwagon because under scrutiny people will discover his ‘solution’ is nothing of the sort.  It’s a lot more complicated than simply leaving Brussels behind.

Farage’s time would be better spent countering the EuroFUD on economics and dragging the debate and argument to where it should be, on governance.  The whole Brexit issue is about one thing – sovereignty.

The whole EUsceptic side needs to rally around that issue, own it, hammer home the reality continuously to expose and deconstruct the lies of the CBI, Open Europe ad the other proxies for the EUphile side, and make ‘Who should run Britain‘ the defining issue of the campaign.  The current immigration focus may be convenient for Farage to score some easy hits, but it will damage UKIP eventually and that represents a huge risk to the EUsceptic cause; because as Farage clearly has no comprehension of our true situation, it follows that he can have no credible solution either.

Things always look better after a bit of a polish

When you pay the cherrypicker and get to pick out the cherries you like the look of, you tend to get what you want.

This is true of this week’s Alan Bown-funded poll for UKIP, carried out by Survation in the Thanet South constituency.  Political Betting makes the polling its main story with a headline that UKIP is just 5 points off winning Thanet South, pushing figures that have UKIP polling at 30%, ahead of the Tories on 28% and behind Labour on 35% as shown in their graph below, if a General Election was being held tomorrow.

The problem is this selective snapshot is only made possible by excluding from the model those people who replied ‘Don’t know’ or refused to express a party preference.  That is 35% of the respondants, and makes the cherrypicked data virtually meaningless.

If you look at the poll numbers themselves rather than this top level take that Guido and others have seized upon without looking at the actual data, and include those who are yet to make up their mind and those who may well vote but refuse to tell the pollster which party they will support, we find somewhat more realistic figures (rounded from page 3 of the data).

Labour 23%
UKIP 19%
Conservative 18%
Lib Dem 3%
Other party 2%
Undecided 24%
Refused to say 11%

Make no mistake, 19% for UKIP, given their diminishing focus on the core issue of sovereignty, isn’t that bad.  As this is Kent, we are talking about a county that has suffered more than most from illegal migration, via France, of people from around the world.  In these circumstances, UKIP should be out of sight – not trailing behind the very Labour party that more than any other political entity threw open our doors to migrants regardless of the legality of their status or value to our society and skills base.

Thanet South is reportedly one of the constituencies Nigel Farage is considering parachuting himself into, in the hope of achieving his burning ambition of becoming an MP.  If he chooses to drop himself into Thanet based on the figures being played up, he should prepare himself to be disappointed.

Given previous polls about which parties voters would never vote for, the likelihood is that a majority of the undecideds will break towards Labour or the Conservatives, reducing UKIP’s overall share in the constituency.  UKIP’s core base across all polls is around 13-14%, and there is much between now and 2015 that could see floating voters drift elsewhere.

There is also a possible ’embarrassment factor’ to consider, which came to prominence in polling models after 1992 when Tory supporters who did not reveal their voting intentions because of the party’s unpopularity skewed polls to make Kinnock’s Labour appear more popular than it was.  The 11% who refused to declare their preference could easily break for the Tories, Lib Dems or even Labour.

When you take all this into account the picture looks rather different.

Immigration: How UKIP is missing an open goal

In the Daily Mail was a story that exposes UKIP’s immigration platform as flawed.

For we learn from Bulgaria’s ambassador to the UK,  Konstantin Dimitrov, that not one request from British employers to hire Bulgarian immigrants – where the paperwork was in order – has been refused since 2007.

Given that the restrictions on freedom of movement for Bulgarian nationals to come to the UK have not even lapsed yet, this is more evidence that the EU cannot be blamed for most of the immigration to these shores.  UKIP’s attempt to blame EU membership for the immigration explosion in this country may be music to the ears of many EUsceptics, but it undermines EUsceptic credibility because the reality is very different.

Popular as UKIP’s immigration demonisation focus may be with many of the party faithful, the BNP leaning constituency in the country and a fair number living in multi-ethnic areas, the fact that UKIP lays the blame for our immigration ills at the door of the EU is a fundamental error borne of ignorance, and represents the party missing a huge open goal.  Public anger and frustration, and UKIP’s campaign, should be directed at the real guilty party – the UK government.

Over two-thirds of immigrants to the UK come from non-EU countries.  Much of the immigration is from India and Pakistan, particularly through the rules permitting family members of those already here to come and join them.  Chinese, Africans, South Americans all come here in significant numbers.  This has nothing to do with EU rules and everything to do with global rules and domestic decision making by British politicians.

But UKIP is not attacking the UK government, despite it bearing responsibility for the number of migrants from non-EU countries it allows to stay in the UK, most of the total.  And for years prior to Bulgarians having the right of freedom of movement thoughout the EU, the UK government has allowed thousands of them to settle here.  UKIP could be making mincemeat of Labour and the Conservatives for their record on immigration.  But they are missing an open goal by focusing on EU migration, which even if it was stopped overnight, would reduce by less than a third the number of migrants coming here.

Paul Sykes should be careful of what he wishes for

To see Paul Sykes is going to put substantial financial resources into funding UKIP’s election advertising is not a surprise, but is nonetheless a pleasant boost for UKIP.

The party has seen its polling fall back and stagnate since its high in May; it is in the throws of yet another internal punch up about a friend of Nigel being parachuted in to the MEP candidate list – this time in Scotland; and it has been all but silent in the face of a concerted campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt being sown by the EUphiles – who are desperate to talk about economics and avoid addressing the fundamental point about ‘Who should run Britain?’.

There is no doubt Sykes has his heart in the right place.  He wants an independent Britain and his interview on BBC Radio 4 this morning, and follow up story on BBC Online, shows he recognises the need to negotiate a settlement with the EU if Britain announces its intention to leave the bloc – a clear rejection of Tim Congdon’s scorched earth policy of abrogating all treaties with no agreements in place regarding trade, standards and movement of people and capital.  So far so good.

But for Sykes’ money to make a difference and boost the wider EUsceptic campaign, we have to hope he insists his money is used wisely and focuses on the core issue of sovereignty.   That is where the battle for an independent Britain will be won or lost.  Fighting a battle on economic interest or immigration would be doomed to failure.

Sykes’ comments on immigration do seem to mirror UKIP’s focus on Bulgarians and Romanians becoming eligible to migrate to the UK.  While that does play to a certain consituency in UK politics, those who did or were considering lending their vote to the BNP, it does not play well with the majority of eligible voters who find the current UKIP approach of scaremongering without a solution distasteful.

Too few people understand many of the immigration problems this country experiences are not so much to do with EU policy as UK government policy.  Where migrants are unable to support themselves in this country, they can be removed back to their own country.  Italy and France have both done this.  The UK government however has not acted where it has the legal ability to do so.

Further, too few people stop and ask what effect on immigration would we really experience if we left the EU.  UKIP present withdrawal as the answer to immigration.  In reality it would change little.  Two thirds of the migration to these shores comes from non-EU countries.  Too many people refused asylum are actually removed, rather they are given exceptional leave to remain.   So if UKIP maintain a focus on leaving the EU as the answer to the negative effects of migration, it is selling people a pup.  If Sykes backs this UKIP policy initative with his money, he may as well give it away, because UKIP have not ‘got it’ on immigration and its complexities yet.

If Paul Sykes wants to get maximum punch for his pound, he needs to ensure the awareness campaign he bankrolls focuses attention on who runs this country, and helping people understand how so many of the issues that frustrate them are linked to or originate from EU governance.  Any campaign needs to stick to the politics and the core issue, ‘Who should run Britain?’.  It will have a more significant impact with those who will vote and it denies the EUphiles the victory of pulling UKIP onto a false fight on economics that will only lead to a confused public sticking with the status quo.

All credit to Sykes for putting his own personal money into the fight.  He is a top man for doing so.  But please, let’s hope it will be spent on awareness of the right issues, upon which a successful ‘out’ campaign can be waged.  Otherwise it will just be an expensive folly.  And let us also hope he sees that an early referendum, thanks in large part to UKIP’s refusal to speak to the issues loudly and consistently, puts the EUsceptic side at a disadvantage.

Perhaps Sykes should spend some money on private polling to get a real idea of where people are based on the arguments being made and the status quo factor.  Too few will be on our side until the sovereignty issue is put front and centre and dominates all other arguments and distractions.

Farage channels his inner Pol Pot

UKIP, the party keeps telling us, is not like all the other political parties.

Yet as the Conservative and Labour parties are coming in for justified criticism for trying to conceal their broken promises and ridicule-worthy releases by removing significant chunks of content from their websites and YouTube channels, UKIP has joined in the party political airbrushing of history with a Year Zero moment worthy of Pol Pot.

The party has, according to Bloomberg, wiped everything from its web archive prior to January this year and there is not a single Farage speech pre-dating March.  The story highlights a topical, apparent change of policy that has been erased as part of the disappeared UKIP 2010 election manifesto:

While the party now opposes the planned high-speed north-south rail line, the 2010 document advocated building three new routes. “We’re in the process of updating everything,” Heaver said by telephone. “We’re going through a policy review.”

We can but imagine on what other subjects UKIP is going to change tack now it thinks it has hidden its previous positions from scrutiny in an effort to avoid allegations of flip-flopping on policy.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to identify differences between the cynical mainstream party approach and the way Farage runs UKIP.  The long journey from idealistic mould-breaking party to full member of the establishment continues apace.

How long are UKIP members going to continue kidding themselves their party isn’t run in every bit as cynical a manner as the ones they profess to be so different from?

Thanks for nothing, Farage and UKIP

In May this year, when UKIP had its ‘big’ electoral ‘breakthrough’ opinion polls asking people their views on the UK’s membership of the EU had 47% in favour of leaving, and 30% in favour of staying.

Despite Eurosceptic UKIP’s ‘surge’ the signs have been clear that the number in favour of staying in the EU would rise.  This is because of the concerted campaign that has been conducted by the Europhiles and their corporate sponsors to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about the impact on the UK of leaving the union.

This blog has not held back in accusing UKIP of failing the Eurosceptic side because it has utterly failed to use its prominent platform to even attempt to counter the flood of misinformation, lies, manipulated statistics being pumped out.  This isn’t a case of UKIP struggling to get attention for its rebuttals of the Europhile FUD, it has simply not devoted a single moment to rebutting the Europhile nonsense.  In return this blogger has been attacked by some UKIP supporters who refuse to accept any criticism of their party.  Time and again this blog has said that if there is no rebuttal by the prominent Eurosceptics to counter the lies, using evidence and facts, voters will start to believe the Europhile claims are true and increasingly – however reluctantly – opt to stick with the status quo.

This blog’s UKIP detractors and naysayers have rubbished this argument. Voters, they claim, do not want lots of detail in rebuttal of the Europhile lies.  UKIP’s simple ‘we want out’ message, they assert, is far more effective than explaining the truth.  No one is that interested, they say, in an argument that extolls the opportunities and benefits of the UK freeing itself of EU control.  This blog explained why these arguments are wrong, but to no avail.

So it is that a YouGov poll question, ‘If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, how would you vote?’ returned the following results:

Taken from PoliticalBetting.com

Richard has his own analysis of the findings over at EU Referendum.  He points out the trend that is emerging, this being the lowest margin of the year so far, dropping 17 points from the peak in 9-10 May when the “outers” stood at 47 percent and the “inners” took 30 percents. By August, the margin had dropped to 12 points and last month it stood at a mere five points.  While Richard points out the linkage between anti-EU sentiment and UKIP support is no longer clear-cut, for me the linkage between this decline in support for the ‘out’ campaign and UKIP’s silence in the face of Europhile FUD is clear.

It does not give me any pleasure.  There is no smug self satisfaction about this.  But it was so bloody obvious.  What it does is make me want to scream in frustration at those cult-like morons who blindly follow Farage regardless of any evident failings, both political and strategic, and adopt a tribal defence of UKIP even though it is clearly letting down the Eurosceptic side – even reducing the argument to things such as misdirections where they demand I compare how many Google returns there are for UKIP as opposed to The Harrogate Agenda, as if that refutes UKIP’s failure.

With only a small handful of blogs reaching out to their audience of readers in low five figures, getting the message across to voters is an almost impossible ask.  With UKIP having run  away from the fight, because Nigel Farage is frightened of the debate that needs to be had and won, it is clear that no political party is going to devote the kind of focus to this issue that a campaign requires.  A non-party political campaign is not now preferable, it has become essential.

For all its talk of a ‘surge’ in support, its boasts of thousands of new members added to its roll, and its predictions of a big result in the European elections in 2014, UKIP has done the sum total of nothing to push the positive reasons for leaving the EU and nothing to counter the flood of spin and deception that characterises the Europhile media blitz.  The Europhiles are in the ring throwing punches while UKIP is searching for the fastest car away from the venue.

My message tonight to Nigel Farage and his Praetorian Guard in UKIP, is short and sweet.  Thanks for nothing.


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