General Election Reflection

You’re surprised the way this country voted? Me too. I thought the public would give the Tories a mandate for getting on with a clean Brexit and return them with a comfy majority. Totally wrong. And I was shocked by the way that UKIP were annihilated. I was prepared for a big drop in support, but never guessed beforehand how much of our vote would evaporate.

Here are some reflections on the most unpredictable General Election result in my lifetime.

The Tories sabotaged themselves. As I was finishing primary school in 1983, the Labour Party produced a General Election manifesto known as ‘the longest suicide note in history’. The Magic May Manifesto rivalled it. Solid Tory votes disappeared. The tax-demented, triple-locked pensioners gave the craggy-faced PM one big arthritic finger. Why? It transpired Genius May formulated policy with virtually no internal party consultation or consensus, and presented it to the public from her secret manifesto box like an ebola virus. “Nothing has changed” she pleaded, trying to explain a hasty election U-turn on the ‘Dementia Tax’. Dear oh dear. Her demeanour through her campaign was awkward and wooden. Zero charm or charisma. Everything strictly by the numbers. Jeremy Corbyn on the other hand came off looking warm and likeable and eager to engage with people. May’s chronic inability to answer a direct question was so obvious it was embarrassing. It was retreat after retreat to default soundbite and lines of evasion.

Very bad night for the Tories. Calamity for UKIP. I was relieved when Paul Nuttall resigned. He did a good job in the latter part of the campaign, losing the apologetic air and handling hostile interviews well, but the months leading up to that were dire. He was clearly a man who never wanted to be leader. I think he felt duty-bound to step up to the plate in the absence of anyone else. Nuttall was the loyal and competent second-in-command, but lacked the charisma for leadership and the top-drawer skills to dominate TV debates. Following Farage was not an easy job. He promised reform, but given the anodyne centrists he surrounded himself with; Paul Oakden, Patrick O’Flynn, Suzanne Evans, Steve Crowther, Lisa Duffy and Peter Reeve – all people who tried to make UKIP ‘respectable’, the fools. The political centre-ground is stuffed full of social democrats splitting hairs on public spending. For God’s sake, UKIP grew because it spoke truth to power, not cringed in apology when someone said something controversial. Dull manifestos like the last two don’t win votes.

His successor? I want a fresh face. I hope it’s not a comebacking Nigel Farage. Farage still bestrides UKIP like a colossus, but if the party is to re-grow, it has to move away from the past, including its most successful leader. It needs a new vision, new policies, a new leader and new brand. Re-arranging the furniture won’t cut it this time.

The future options:

  1.  going after the Labour vote in the northern and Midlands heartlands – doesn’t appeal to my brand of politics (economic liberalism and ending the welfare state) but probably a sound strategy in light of any Brexit backslide
  2. Being the party that tackles Islamisation and Islamic Jihad – to me, UKIP is the party of leaving the EU. Always was and always will be. That’s why I joined.  Let the issues of this option be tackled by a new grassroots organisation without UKIP’s baggage
  3. Reclaiming discontented Tory votes – likely on the back of a Brexit backslide

I’d vote for having UKIP continue the rest of its possibly short existence as the “guard dogs of Brexit” (quoting Paul Nuttall) and either exit stage left once that goal has been accomplished, or grow again if Theresa Maybe backslides.

1 comment on General Election Reflection

  1. From the start the Tories manifesto backfired on social care and pensions and labour capitalised on this during the campaign, I felt this backlash on the doorstep while out campaigning, people couldn’t believe May would do that to her own voters and there was real anger among some pensioners who I met. On the night of the Election the UKIP vote went to the Tories and the Green vote went to Labour squeezing the smaller parties and setting up a two horse race with a photo finish. The only problem – “one horse fell and the other pulled up before the finish line” leaving a hung parliament the next day.

    I think the conservatives will lose the next general election if they do not put some real policies on the table that help the working classes or the poorer people within our society, it’s that simple. Most people haven’t had a pay raise since 2008/09 and over a million are on Zero hour contracts and 1.5 million on in work benefits which really means their wages are that bad they can’t afford to live so the government are subbing their salaries! The gap between the have’s and have nots is growing and is not being addressed. How will these people ever escape this and get on to the housing ladder? When nobody is building affordable housing or address the issues effecting the less well off in society the many hard working families that are struggling to make ends meet.

    So along comes Corbyn and says free university fees like they have in Scotland, free hospital car parking and free health care so you never have to sell your house to pay for it in old age. And in Scotland they have free proscriptions as well which England helps to pay for by the way but we can’t have this in England.

    All the parties were offering something on free university fees except the conservatives really. The lib Dems would have again if they could but it’s to soon to go back there in light of their famous U turn on the subject and the old wounds that will open within their own party and with the student vote.

    And the conservatives still can’t work out why 12.5m people voted for the far left! Yet they rejected a softer left in Miliband back in 2015.

    “Nigel Farage once said forget this left or right politics the worlds moved on and it’s about common sense politics and doing what’s right for your own people”

    The pensioners the people who are well off and vote for the tories and bail them out at each General Election found out this time round they had just been kicked in the teeth by their own party for staying so loyal over the years on the triple lock and selling yr house in old age to pay for your our adult social health care.

    This Tory voting base is getting older and will be replaced by generations of people that spent their lives working in poorly paid jobs or who were on in work benefits only to turn around in retirement and say this Tory dream failed me! After 40 years of following it. A lot of these people will never own a 4 bed house with a garden like their parents did and yet they are better educated than previous generations and can only afford a one or two bed flat at best.

    Then there’s the debt question, the older Tory voters understand this and grew up on this, save yr money and only buy what you can afford mentally, yet the younger generation today aren’t interested in the debt that’s for the politicians to sort out after all that’s what they get paid for. The under 35 or even 40’s grew up in a debt culture in this country, personal loans, credit cards, cheap car loans, mortgages etc they don’t look at it in the same way like the older Tory voting generation do. Most of them wouldn’t even know what the country’s National debt is if you asked them and they probably don’t care either.

    There are more factors obviously to it then just the ones I have mentioned and tactical voting plays a part. It doesn’t matter if you are far left ish or far right ish you still need 30% or more of yr policies to be aimed at the centre ground. Thatcher went to this area as did Tony Blair with new labour to mop up the swing voters and win out right.

    The tories need to deliver by the next General Election otherwise we will have a socialist government in power.

    I believe ukip had the right balance in our policies with scrapping Foreign Aid and putting 11bln of that into the NHS. Also offering free university fees on some subjects ‘STEM’ and taking low paid workers out of tax all together, and good affordable housing schemes. But for Brexit and lots of other reasons including tactical voting people didn’t vote for UKIP on the night, just like they didn’t vote for the greens.

    So the people are left with a Labour party that has become elitist and turned it’s back on the British working classes, and a Conservative party that is slowly deserting the pensioners and the lower middle classes.

    God help us!

    Paul Hickling
    UKIP Worcester City Candidate

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