Given the last few tumultuous years in mainstream politics, it was a relief to witness perpetual irritant Paul Nuttall getting defeated in Stoke. Political commentators and optimists would knowingly claim that Nutall never really stood a chance in Stoke, yet the Union Jack of the right has been creeping its way up the national mast for at least the last five years. The defeat of the UKIP leader in a majorly anti-European city, is the first brick removed from a house sloppily-built on a foundation of lies, immigration propaganda and racism.
In a resounding rejection of Nuttall, the ‘Brexit Capital’ of Britain rejected UKIP’s scouse messiah, and instead opted to endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s flailing Labour party and their candidate, Gareth Snell. This result was certainly more a rejection of UKIP’s divisive politics than a ringing affirmation of Labour. In fact, it was a poor day for Labour, whose vote share decreased in Stoke by 2 per cent, while statistically UKIP’s, despite losing, went up by about the same amount.
Although UKIP’s vote share has crept up at a miniscule rate, they have continually failed to get any of their high-ranking members into her Majesty’s Parliament. In what was of course the biggest body blow in recent years to UKIP, former leader and now media whore, Nigel Farage was given a thoroughly good thrashing and sent on his way with his smoke stained tail flailing between his legs. Same old UKIP, always losing.
Of course, it would be entirely disingenuous to forget the effect that the party had on Brexit. The centre ground and left-wing may relish the individual failing of UKIP members in constituency seats, but the influence that they had on the 24th June’s referendum result cannot be understated. In this case, UKIP very much won the day.
Politicians, political analysts, pollsters and journalists are still trying to deconstruct the voting demographics and the complex socio-economic influences that inspired Brexit. It is likely that many of the variables that culminated in the vote will never be understood. The right-wing side of the Tory party certainly appealed to affluent Middle-Englanders and pensioners, while UKIP did their part by compounding many citizens fears of mass-immigration and free borders. Of course, it’s a load of old bollocks to boot, but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Apparently, the lunacy of the decision must be adhered to; lest the ‘Will of the People’ is subverted, while traitors’ heads must be stuck on spikes atop the Tower of London etc.
Yet, for all the Brexit hysteria and ‘need to understand’, the thing that seems most incomprehensible is how the UK Independence Party can even consider being a tangible entity after the triggering of Article 50. Once Saint Theresa presses the big red Brexit button ( subsequently plunging us into the murkiest period of trade relations and financial uncertainty), what have Paul Nuttall and let’s face it, Nigel Farage, got left to fight for?
The original UKIP party, the Anti-Federalist League, were set-up by Alan Sked in 1991 in opposition to the Maastricht Treaty. It was formed entirely to fight the joining of the EU, no more, no less. No bold political statements or immigration rhetoric. In fact, Sked said of his original UKIP party that: “It is a non-sectarian, non-racist party no prejudices against foreigners or lawful migrants of any kind. It does not recognise the legitimacy of the European parliament and will send representatives only to the British parliament in Westminster (taken from a 2014 interview in The Guardian).
Thus, the party made sensible Euro-sceptic claims and logical reasoning as to why joining the EU was a mistake. The former leader and ex-Liberal Democrat, Alan Sked, is a Professor of International History at the London School of Economics who argued in sensible terms for a Britain separate to the EU. Whether or not his arguments were agreeable, the arguments he put forward were certainly not dictated by a fear of immigration or from a motivation to ‘take back control’.
After 1993, the party changed its name to UKIP, and attracted the attention of a young Nigel Farage. After disagreements about the quality of members (Farage urged Sked to accept applications for membership from the British National Party), Sked subsequently quit the party in 1997.
In a candid interview in The Guardian, Sked claimed that Farage: “wanted ex-National Front Candidates to run and I said, ‘I’m not sure about that,’ and he said, ‘There’s no need to worry about the nigger vote. The nig-nogs will never vote for us.’” Since these claims, Farage has strenuously denied this and has insisted that he’s not a racist.
For UKIP, the rest is a laughable sort of history. The party grew through Farage’s eventual leadership (elected in 2006), and flourished in areas of dense migration and conservative middle-England towns. After constant pressure from both UKIP and the right-wing Euro-sceptics of the Conservative Party, David Cameron yielded to pressure and announced an ‘In-Out’ Referendum on the UK’s membership to the UK. The vote, as has been detailed, was 52% win for ‘Vote Out’, and for UKIP- job done.
So, why is the party clutching to remain a relevant entity? This ramshackle group of eccentrics are supposedly ‘led’ by a rejected Paul Nuttall, a proven liar and would-be NHS dismantler. Other notable personalities include the deplorable money-roller Arron Banks, now considering challenging as an MP, who recently tweeted that his delicate ears were “sick to death” of hearing about the Hillsborough tragedy (in which 96 people died). The less said on Suzanne Evans and Lisa Duffy the better.
They do however have one MP; Douglas ‘tin-can-mouth’ Carswell, who has basically remained Clacton’s Tory MP, but in a purple tie. In-fighting, leadership cock-ups, constant evidence of racist councillors and an endorsement from Katie Hopkins should be enough to sink any pirate ship organisation. Moreover, achieving the lifetime goal that your party has set – leaving the EU- should be enough to make you just call it quits.
Of course, UKIP will continue to be a presence, at least for the next few years. They seem to believe that the Brexit vote is a mandate that they can exploit. But this gruesome group of self-indulgent narcissists and racists have misjudged the British public. There is no taste for them anymore- while Brexit happened for a multitude of diverse reasons, the UK is a fundamentally fair and tolerable society that won’t be represented by egotistical hypocrites and liars. Stoke, the Brexit capital, proved that when tested, it, like the UK, won’t be taken for a fool by UKIP’s chest beating jingoism. Article 50 will be invoked by the end of the month; you can clear your desk and lock the doors on the way out, UKIP. You’re done.
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