I have been in two minds whether to publish this post or not. While it may not always be apparent on this blog, I tend to pull my punches when it comes to criticism of UKIP. And I do so out of deference to the many hard working UKIP volunteers on the ground (of which I have also been one of them). They are the unsung heroes of the cause- the backbone of the party.
On the other hand there is also the consideration that some issues within UKIP need to be addressed – the issues that fundamentally, and possibly fatally, undermine the very same hard work by volunteers. It saddens me and frustrates me greatly.
I rejoined UKIP just over a year ago – albeit reluctantly - trying to help out with the impending local elections in May 2013. My membership now over a year old expired last month and I have taken the reluctant decision to let it lapse without renewing it.
The final straw for me I guess was Farage’s recent description
of the 2010 manifesto as “drivel”:
"Malcolm Pearson, who was leader at the time, was picked up in interviews for not knowing the manifesto.
"Of course he didn't - it was 486 pages of excessive detail. Eighteen months ago I said I want the whole lot taken down, we reject the whole thing...
"I didn't read it. It was drivel. It was 486 pages of drivel...It was a nonsense. We have put that behind us and moved onto a professional footing."
This would be the same "drivel" manifesto that Farage and Lord Pearson signed and approved of:
Mr Farage signed the foreword to the 2010 manifesto as the "chief party spokesman," along with Lord Pearson and Mr Campbell Bannerman.
The clue here though is David Campbell Bannerman, the man who drew up the 2010 document, and then later defected
back to the Tories.
As a consequence under intense questioning from BBC's Andrew Neil
, Farage decided to make a personal dig at Campbell Bannerman by dismissing the manifesto in derogatory terms. For the sake of the party he could have instead played a straight bat and simply argued that UKIP had moved on from 2010. But the personal dig was evidently more important – further evidence that UKIP is Nigel Farage’s plaything.
Nothing demonstrates Farage's priorities more clearly than when he is prepared to effective dismiss for personal gain, not only the work of those who spent their time drawing up the manifesto, but the hundreds of UKIP volunteers (in the main) who stood in 2010 in front of hustings meetings, and knocked on doors, defending that manifesto.
Only now are they to be told that Nigel thinks it was all "drivel" despite him approving it at the time and standing at the last election on its promises. Well thanks a lot Nigel... for knowingly sending out hard-working volunteers to the electorate with nothing more than “drivel” to defend themselves. His comments are quite a smack in the face to UKIP members from the “Dear Leader”.
With no surprise the fallout from Farage's comments has already happened, UKIP supporters' arguments are now easily dismissed by using their leader's remarks, as Dr Eric Edmond observed:
Click on link to call Clegg to see how the Lib Dems are profiting from Farage's stupidity. The relevant call is about 10 minutes into the tape. Clegg was able to
brush off a UKIP supporter by simply refering him to Farage's denouncing
of the 2010 manifesto and decent honest hard working UKIP members.
All that hard work undone by one interview. And, as to the next manifesto for 2015, how do we know that this one won't be "drivel" as well? It's certain that Farage will be asked whether the next manfesto is "drivel"; questions will be asked as to its content in those terms.
Then reflecting on the running theme throughout UKIP's history we have another example of "falling out with Nigel", by Nigel's drinking partner Godfrey Bloom no less: Godfrey Bloom has hit out at Nigel Farage
for scrapping Ukip's 2010 manifesto, saying the party has adopted a "no-policy policy":
In a strongly-worded warning to his former colleagues, the independent MEP said the party was turning into a "don't-frighten-the-horses, all-things-to-all-men, pale blue party. The current lurch to the no-policy policy will damage Ukip in 2015,"
Nigel seems to have developed an unhealthy habit of "falling out" with people; UKIP's history is littered with many many examples. Thus Bloom's comments resonate. Though it's worth noting that Bloom was quite happy to take the shilling while on board the EU gravy train without complaint and many of his troubles
have been brought upon himself by himself
We have evidence of UKIP's "no-policy policy" when we come to the recent flooding, particularly in the Somerset Levels which has dominated the headlines. As Richard North
have demonstrated there is a very significant EU dimension to the Somerset floodings. This is a complete open goal for UKIP if ever there was one regarding how our country is run - low hanging fruit in plain sight.
It's a chance for Farage and UKIP to lead the media debate, a chance to fully expose normally secret EU laws, a chance to reveal the damage EU laws are having on our country when flooding has and will dominate the headlines for weeks. But no, Farage chooses not to despite being informed of the details.
Instead the leader of the UK's most prominent Eurosceptic party has this to say (via Autonomous Mind
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.
That is an astonishingly pathetic response. Where's the detail? Where's the research?
What is clear is that UKIP - by its leader's actions - is removing itself from the EU debate. The question is why? We are reminded of Dan Hannan who indulges in convoluted intellectual gymnastics
to pretend he supports exit from the EU but acknowledges as a consequence inadvertently that his priority is power which comes via his membership of his party.
In light of Farage's deep reluctance to highlight the EU's involvement in the current flooding crisis, does one conclude he doesn’t want to upset the establishment after all? Is he a Judas goat - not really wanting EU exit because it would not mean being a member of this
or does he really want to become a member of this.
Like many I voted, and joined UKIP, because I had no other political home to go to with regard to EU membership. Sadly as an opponent of our membership of the EU, the clear policy of UKIP to now vacate that arena means I no longer really have anyone to vote for at all.
Farage's current actions are a betrayal of the hard working volunteers; they - we - deserve much better.