Wednesday, 14 August 2013

 UKIP: a sea change in British politics 

 Wednesday 14 August 2013
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It is rather interesting that, despite UKIP being splattered all over the silly season media, when this blog joins in with a small fraction of the volume of analysis, we get rushes of comment suggesting that we should stop focusing on the party and get down to the "real" issues.

Nevertheless, for a blog actually called EU Referendum, and one which is dedicated to the UK withdrawal from the EU, it would be entirely logical to assert that the fate and behaviour of UKIP should be high up amongst this blog's concerns.

If anything, I actually devote less space to UKIP than I have done the Tory Party. For a time, I was even giving very close attention to the BNP. At times also, I have been rather focused on Respect. And now, for a brief period at least, it is UKIP's turn – and rightly so.

What those who are most critical of me tend to mean, though, is that I can write about UKIP, but I must not be criticise it or its leadership.

Not a few people tell me I should actually help UKIP. "Rather than engaging in hubristic carping at every move Farage makes", one correspondent wrote, "why not offer your considerable knowledge to UKIP so that they can better formulate their policies since they seem to be sympathetic to your direction of travel".

Fortunately, I am not alone in my travails – although it does get a little lonely being so "arrogant" and holding myself to be right on everything. Everybody but myself is "moronic", or so I am accused of asserting.

On the other hand, "Bloom's remarks were undoubtedly crass, but in the scheme of things of little importance", we are told – which seems to be one of those rather feeble damage limitation ploys. No mention is there of any problems in UKIP being represented by a hard-core racist, an ignorant, uncouth, loutish fornicator. That is fine as long as he isn't "arrogant".

But also of significant importance when considering Bloom, pointed out already by me and now byAutonomous Mind, is that we could well be seeing UKIP walk away from EU withdrawal as its electoral priority.

This, AM suggests, could mean that UKIP has fallen into a "Tory trap", especially with Matthew Elliott sniffing round the margins. And I would not disagree. This is exactly the sort of tactic your would expect a rival political party to adopt, especially when it is competing for many of the same voters.

If this is true, then it is a major issue and one of vital concern to the entire eurosceptic community. It is also of vital importance to UKIP members – or it would be if the party were not shaping up to be closer to a cult than a political party. Cult members do not want analysis. They demand uncritical fealty.

Thus, two bloggers are left to comment on what may have been a crucial change in contemporary British politics – both of us well-positioned to detect such a change. And we are not supposed to discuss this? We are not supposed to offer our analyses, and try to work out what is happening?

And, with that, we see another comment on our forum, which offers another strand to the analysis:
From my time in UKIP I've arrived at the conclusion that the party is probably beyond saving. The problem is that if Farage leaves there is no-one of stature who can replace him. Most of those who have any capabilities in that regard have long since left the party. And the party is so split between the Faragistas and those critical of how Farage has run the party that the new leader will automatically have half the party believing him to be the devil incarnate and scheming against him. Anyone who has served under Farage is automatically presumed by many to be "bent" and anyone who doesn't have that handicap has probably had a dustup with Farage at one point or another and is therefore seen as a "traitor" to the Farage loyalists.
When you see that quality of analysis in the legacy media, maybe we can begin to slacken off. But, for the time being, UKIP is the main story in town. I know its shocking having EU Referendum discuss UKIP, but there you go. Shit happens, as Mr Bloom might say.


Richard North 14/08/2013

 A message to my readers 

 Tuesday 13 August 2013
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It was only yesterday that I was standing on the cliffs at Sagres, the most westerly point of Portugal, which the Romans once thought of as the end of the known world.

There I was looking across the bay to witness an extraordinary phenomenon (above) of a wind-driven layer of ground mist being swept off the cliff top, cascading into the sea. As I watched the spectacle, though, my thoughts were elsewhere, as they are today, on developments which could look slight, and have been misinterpreted but which are of profound importance.

Hence, even as I watched the mist spread over the surface of the sea, I strengthened my resolve, from the night before, to publish a considered post once I had returned home and was able to devote the time and the all-important concentration to the task. For, unlike many, I cannot write complicated work when away from my home base.

Now, in addressing my readers, I suppose that, technically, anyone who reads this blog is a reader. Many who should read this blog won't, and some of those would not understand it if they did, so it would be a waste of their time reading it. But I trust that those to whom it is addressed will understand what I mean.

My starting point is a forum post this morning, in part responding to another , which expressed concern that I and Autonmous Mind might give up blogging over the response to the Bloom affair.

I must say one is occasionally tempted, as we see the response to our work. I am less affected by the bigotry and stupidity of Daily Telegraph and other readers who infest newspaper forums with their trite comments, but when I see some of the same style of comments infect this forum, I do begin to wonder why I am writing and, more particular, what I am achieving.

The interesting thing is that the several posts I have written about the Bloom affair have not been about racism, per se - or even foreign aid. They have been about UKIP and in particular, Bloom. The discussion about rascism, immigration and sundry other issues are all very interesting but typical of so many forums where you throw the audience a bone and they go haring after it ... in the wrong direction.

Further, one can go round the houses in discussions about racism, but it is one of those things that you know when you see it. And Bloom is it. This is a man with a minds so foul that if you used it to clean up dog mess from the pavement, the result would be even worse. You want to define racism - it is called Bloom.

But then we get all these clever people pile in and say, ah, but at least he got a discussion going ... and if he had not been so forthright, there would have been no debate. That, it seems, it enough to justify the excrescence from the man.

I wonder, though, how many of you coming up with this trite stupidity realise just how offensive it is? In my past professional experience, I represented egg producers in the wake of salmonella and eggs, at a time when they were being branded baby and granny killers and had taken on the mantle of outcasts. And you think UKIP has problems getting publicity?

Under such circumstances, there is a way to get your voice heard. In this instance, I made us become the "go to" guys on salmonella. With officialdom closing down on information and issuing dubious statistics, we produced a constant stream of well crafted, relevant information to fill the gap and soon there was hardly a week when we were not in the media.

There is nothing special or rocket science in this. It is standard PR. The same technique is used by Open Europe on EU matters, and by TPA on official waste. As a result, they have become the respective "go to guys". But for what does one "go to" UKIP for?

As Autonomous Mind notes, they have nothing to say. Their research is rubbish, their grasp of issues slight and their ability to think on their feet virtually non-existent. Hence, as in most other areas, they underperform ... and then whinge about the "MSM".

A point here to be made is that the reason UKIP's research effort is rubbish is almost entirely down to Farage. It is not that he got rid of the best researcher he was ever likely to have, but something far more serious.

In 2002-3 – in anticipation of a breakthrough of the then forthcoming euro-elections, I put to him an outline scheme to create in Brussels a team similar to the once famous and election-winningConservative Research Department

With a minimum of ten MEPs (we actually got 12), I calculated we could top-slice their staff allocations and with political group funding, we could have put together a full-time team of 20 researchers - and more with interns. And with that team, we could be churning out a huge amount of research material to inform the campaign and build the UKIP identity.

Farage, however, turned the idea down flat. He wanted to put the resource into election campaigning and party work. And, seeing the proposal as a threat, engineered my replacement on the MEP list with his drinking pal and fellow fornicator Bloom, thence my removal from the party and my post in the European Parliament.

So, in exchange for the prospect a fully-funded, rocket-fuelled research department, Farage got Bloom. You work out if the party was well-served.

Further, most revolutionary groups have found problems breaking into the mainstream. A goodly many therefore either started their own newspapers or bought one. The chartists did it, the Communists Party of Great Britain did it, even Hitler did it. But UKIP hasn't.

That leaves UKIP with a website of extremely poor quality, and a periodic propaganda sheet which vies with Council freesheets for inanity. In other words, UKIP communication skills are dire. Their competence is next to nil.

But they have Farage ... and Bloom. In the absence of any ability to deliver coherent, high-quality content in diverse forms, feeding every possible publicity opportunity across the entire spectrum, they go for the cheap shots. They use the "shock jock" tactics which appeal to the crowd, broaching "man in pub" topics in the sort of loutish way that so easily gets you a round of applause amongst your half-drunk mates.

But there is another name for this: demagoguery. This is an appeal to the baser instincts of the masses. Both these foul creatures, Farage and Bloom, have some skills in this direction ... but then so did Hitler. Interestingly, Stalin didn't. He was just a foul creature.

But if people want to applaud the cheap shot, and think it clever, and think it is advancing the cause of euroscepticism, then they are fools. This sort of approach never did achieve anything that anyone wanted and most time people vote in demagogues, they regret it. Farage may be the acceptable face of demagoguery, with the "cheeky chappy" demeanour, but he is just as foul in his own way as Bloom.

Together, these and the rest of the claque are leading euroscepticism up a blind alley. In twenty years of its existence, UKIP has achieved nothing. It is a party which, despite claiming to seek our withdrawal from the EU, has yet to publish a coherent exit plan, leaving diverse party members to produce their own, of child-like naivety.

Then, under the tutelage of Farage and Bloom (two peas in a pod), UKIP will never achieve anything of substance. When it comes to real politics, the party hierarchy is filled with useless amateurs who have not only learned nothing - they are incapable of learning. And that is so because Farage has made it so.

Worse still, the indications are that the UKIP hierarchy are preparing to walk away from the EU as its core issue. We saw this emerging at Eastleigh and it is instructive to note that Bloom's excrescence was not about the EU, but about the UK's foreign aid programme.

Then we have Farage in the Daily Telegraph writing about family values. Never mind the irony: a serial adulterer who employs a mistress on his EU payroll, who paid for the attentions of a prostitute and who buys off his long suffering wife (his second wife) with a £39k EU salary after promising everyone that he wouldn't employ her. In his whole piece, he did not mention the EU or "Europe" once.

Farage's personal ambition has always been to get a seat in Westminster and, for twenty years, he has used UKIP and the anti-EU campaign to further that ambition. Now he is beginning to realise that it is better served by ditching the "single issue" of the European Union and concentrating on "dog whistle" issues which will enable him to pick up the protest vote.

But, while UKIP reinvents itself as the protest vote dustbin, pulling in former BNP voters on immigration and other such subjects, that leaves a political vacuum that others are ready to fill.

There, as Autonomous Mind warns us in his latest piece, we have Matthew Elliott, a Tory "plant" planning to steal the coming referendum "no" vote by putting himself up as the potential "no" campaign leader.

Thus, as Farage deserts the field, another Tory moves his place, this time with a darker agenda and the support of a goodly proportion of the business community. These are dangerous times, where we run a serious risk of losing a referendum, whenever it might be.

For us, of course, The Harrogate Agenda is part of the way forward, and it is so because it seeks to empower people. That is why we crafted it - to give the people a way of regaining control. However, that requires people to to engineer their own salvations, instead of waiting for the second coming, a new Messiah to arise and lead us to the promised land.

In truth, though, too many people want followership. They want somebody to hold their hands. They seem to revel in their own powerlessness. And if that is want you want, you my readers, then be my guest. But if that is really what you want, don't expect applause from me.

Alternatively, we have a few places left for the next workshop in Harrogate on 19 October. You can be a follower, or a leader. The choice is yours, as indeed is the destination. To book your place, e-mail Niall Warry via this link and he'll process your application.


Richard North 13/08/2013