Monday 5 May 2014

The "Life On Mars" Option Lives On In UKIP...

Not unreasonably we assumed that the question of how we exit from the EU had been resolved by UKIP. Farage made clear that we would need to invoke Article 50 and rightly so for reasons that have been well rehearsed here and elsewhere.

However as can be seen in the image above policy consistency within UKIP on how to exit is still frustratingly elusive. The image has been scanned in from a UKIP newspaper from an article titled "We Expose The Top 10 Myths About The EU".

The paper was delivered to me today along with an election leaflet as part of a campaign for the upcoming Euro elections. Given that the newspaper has not been "localised" in any way we can only assume this newspaper has been sent to households across the country as part of a nation-wide campaign.

We are initially perplexed why a UKIP newspaper directly contradicts Farage himself on major party policy? In addition it is an idea that prompts a "head in the hands" moment that we can undo 40 years of integration, trade agreements and regulation in one single day and carry on as normal. It is simply beyond a joke.

To give an example of the complexity of international relations, the UK's entry into the then EEC took 11 years - we first began negotiations in 1961 and didn't sign a formal agreement until 1972.

Another example is Greenland, a vastly smaller country than ourselves who voted to leave the then EEC in a referendum in 1981. But it wasn't until 1985 that a Treaty was formalised. It was hugely complex and even now it still has a special relationship with the EU as part of its overseas countries and territories.

Switzerland demonstrates other complexities with its bilateral agreements which are now falling apart; bilateral agreements which are still ongoing 22 years after rejecting the EEA agreement in 1992.

Thus should we have an "in-out" referendum the europhiles and the pro-EU media would rip the "Life On Mars" option to pieces, liberally sprinkled with FUD on top. Any referendum would certainly be lost.

I guess though on a very slightly upbeat note if nothing else at least the UKIP paper resolves one long running dilemma for me. I have always been a very reluctant participant in Euro elections. If I voted at all, it was always done through very gritted teeth. To vote in the Euro elections is, for me, to legitimise a system I fundamentally disagree with.

However I understood the pragmatic point that the Euro elections provided a political platform - and money - to help UKIP grow in the face of a hostile domestic political system which inherently is heavily weighed against the rise of new parties.

Yet despite 15 years of MEPs, and all the money that goes with that, UKIP has still failed to provide any coherent strategy or plan to leave. A failure compounded by the fact that very workable and coherent strategies are freely available on the internet, not least by Richard North.

This then leads to two conclusions; that a vote for UKIP is to put more people on the MEP gravy train for no obvious benefit to the eurosceptic cause, and even worse that a vote for UKIP would actually mean we remain in the EU for generations to come by virtue of losing any forthcoming referendum due to a complete lack of a feasible workable exit plan.

The question is often asked when critising UKIP, if not them then who? The answer is now simple - no-one. A vote for UKIP is no different than a vote for the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems: The outcome will be precisely the same - we remain EU members.

After 20 years what a waste...


  1. I fervently believe in trying to bloody the LibLabCon establishment. There really is no other way than packing the EUSSR with MEPs prepared to thwart the Commission. I agree getting out of this dreadful EUSSR construct will take decades but anything to show it could be done is not wasted. Hope and eternal as they say!

    1. I agree with the sentiments of bloodying the establishment.

      Sadly even if the UK were to send 78 UKIP MEPs (the full quota - though very unlikely if not impossible) it wouldn't really make a great deal of difference even to the Commission.

      The point was always UKIP could use the experience, and money, to fight the battle where it really mattered - at home. This they have not done in a way they should have.

  2. Politics is an imperfect business.

    Sending 78 UKIP MEPs to the EP would be an embarrassment to the establishment and it's clear that the Tories and their fellow travellers, like the Express want the CP to have a good enough showing in the Euros, but if it happened, it would just mean that the EP was talked about even less than it is now.

    The idea of sending the least suitable candidates to the EU must have some appeal?

    The quote shows a disturbing lack of coherency in UKIP about this subject. However, I see them as being there to make waves. Now, it would be nice if they were directed waves putting all of the energy into exactly the right spot, but for now, it's good enough that they make waves.

    Yes, we can leave the EU tomorrow and leave the details to sort themselves out - provided there's the absolute assurance to do that and live with the consequences - and I suggest there isn't and not even close.

    It's a shame there's no intellectual framework behind UKIP, because if there was, there'd be fewer of these conflicts, but operating as a political party in the current set up, an intellectual framework doesn't really apply. After all what intellectual framework do the Conservatives have? Looking after their pals and paying lip service to right wing principles. And the Labour Party, looking after their pals and paying lip service to left wing principles.

    1. The Conservatives and Labour are established parties and have in built loyalty over many years, In addition they support the status quo of EU membership so they don't need an intellectual framework to win a referendum. All they have to do is "draw", however eurosceptics have to "win".

      The lack of an intellectual framework, and lack of coherence as you note, from UKIP therefore is hugely damaging to winning.

    2. About the last thing we need is another faction of managers which will inevitably be drawn into being the same as the others, which is a definite danger for UKIP as they stand.

      However, for now they are worth voting for. I see them as likely being a blind alley, but that's a better bet than a choice of two motorways both of which obviously go nowhere I want to go.

    3. UKIP is perfect. It at least had the sense to realise that its 2010 Manifesto was a set of contradictions thrown together in a hurry. It has ditched it in a manner so severe that you can't even find it on the party website.

      The party knows it needs to produce something more consistent and properly costed. If it does this in 2015, then the party will have my vote.

      The European Parliament elections are a bit mickey mouse and not to be taken too seriously. I'd rather have a UKIP MEP taking a seat, rather than a member of a pro-EU or bogus Eurosceptic party.

    4. Sorry - meant UKIP ISN'T PERFECT :)

    5. We don't claim to be perfect. Considering that the driving force behind UKIP is the new members who joined in the last 18 months, that we're nearly all amateurs, have little money and a tiny paid staff, I think we've done rather well. Don't expect us to be like the legacy parties, we're nothing even similar, in outlook, organisation or structure, that's the point of us. We have a whole year to complete the reorganisation of our party, time enough. The Euros are not the culmination of our efforts, they're just the start.

    6. I would agree that the party contains amateurs, have little money - I used to be one myself. That though can't justify the lack of an exit strategy when the party has well-paid MEPs.

      UKIP's failure in this regard, after 20 years, is brought into sharp relief by the fact 17 unpaid amateurs (one of them a 15 year boy) managed to write one for the Brexit competition within just 4 months.

      Sadly, and with some regret, I've heard the "reorganisation" theme many times and it never amounted to a tin of beans.

  3. The EFD group of which UKIP is a participant put out a lengthy and well reasoned document about a month ago shooting down every myth that has ever been expounded about how we can't leave the EU and how we'd never survive without them.

    There was a lot of it, but I persevered and consider that it was well constructed and well argued. I see no reason not to leave.

    I don't care if people agree with me or not but what I do say is that it's important that you vote on 22nd May even if you go to the polling station and write 'no suitable candidate' across the ballot paper. IMHO people who don't vote have to right to complain about what they end up with...

    1. "IMHO people who don't vote have to right to complain about what they end up with..."

      With local and generals I would agree with you, however the Euros are different in the sense that voting cannot change the EU executive - we can't throw them out.

      If it wasn't for UKIP I would never have voted in Euros at all on principle and not voting sends its own democratic message. The EU are desperate to have high turnouts as they can then argue that the peoples of Europe are partaking in their wonderful project. Low turnouts worry them no end.

    2. Almost agree! Where we differ is that I wouldn't fail to vote, I'd vote for nobody by spoiling the ballot paper. Not voting is written off as voter apathy and they get away with it. Spoiling the ballot ends a positive message that you think they're all useless...

      Just imagine - 95% turnout with 65% spoilt ballot papers. Never going to happen, but that really would send a message (not that anybody would be listening!)

  4. 'Nuther thing which has escaped the attentions of the UKIP-route withdrawalists is the nature of the political administration in the UK itself, and I don't mean the party-political setup.

    Both the House of Lords and the Civil Service remain irrevocably wedded to EU membership and that won't change overnight no matter how overwhelming any theoretical electoral mandate might look. The current host of our negotiating technicians and experienced back-room operators simply don't have any sincere intentions to commit to such a negotiation. Long time ago I heard (Sir) Crispin Tickell - who staffed some major Civil Service inputs into UK\EU negotiations - on interview state that he believed Civil Servants should decline to take part in any withdrawal negotiations. It's not unreasonable to suggest his attitude has a significant following among the figures we would have to be reliant upon to negotiate a successful deal. It will be hard enough battling against the vested interests in the EU even without having a continuous rearguard action against the Lords.

    Just on a small matter over the EU elections, Labour and Conservatives are poised to write off the massacre as 'protest voting'. Academically I don't think it's worth pursuing them on that in terms - it would descend into a 'tis-t'aint' barrage and a waste of time. The LibDems however can't claim that. Clegg has made it loud and clear, and in public, that pro-EU voters should place their vote for him. It was one of the main reasons he challenged Farage recently.

    Being the LibDems have predicated their elections as the definitive pro-EU vote for these elections, if they preside over a disaster, which is currently the most likely outcome, it's a valuable illustration for the Eurosceptic camp. A very specifically - for my own reasons I'd call it 'extreme' - pro-EU campaign proves a disaster, then that can be pinned on the pro-EU movement. That EU integration is definitively unpopular. (The Conservative and Labour campaigns are invisible - the vote for them will be essentially tribal, and divorced from the matter at hand). There will be value in amputating the LibDems from the future debate.

  5. I have in the past voted for UKIP just as a protest vote, but no more. I had decided that putting no name on the Ballot paper may, just may register as notice that I do not give consent to any of this nonsense. UKIP have failed in their primary function, exit from the EU and have put in jeopardy those who want just that orderly exit we wish for.

    1. Agreed, I was undecided whether to leave the ballot paper blank so it counts as a "none of the above" option but on reflection have concluded that a low turnout is more effective.

  6. In my area I can vote for "No2EU" which is a hard core Commie anti-EU party. So I'll vote for them. UKIP have had their chance and blown it.

  7. Shame then Mark on your blog your poll is showing 61 people voting Ukip with I think 2 or 3 going for No2EU.
    If Ukip is on my ballot paper I shall be voting for them, if not I will vote for an independant, there are more parties than the Lib/Lab/Con and Ukip to vote for. So if you can't stand voting Ukip (as your doing) put your vote anywhere but the big 3, it will still show a revolt.