UKIP’s future: Ridding Britain of Labour

UKIP now needs to drop the anti-Conservative agenda and fight a more mature battle: to lock out Labour for good. And if that sounds like a strategy designed to help the Tories, well consider this tantalising thought: You Kippers could become the second party in British politics. Ready?

Fresh leadership: UKIP's Suzanne Evans could paint a positive vision for the party
Steven George-Hilley
On 10 May 2015 14:39

On polling day, the Labour Party suffered one of its worst defeats in decades, falling nearly 100 seats behind the Tories and triggering a humiliating resignation from its leader, Ed Miliband.

Nobody saw this coming. The pollsters didn’t. The political commentators didn’t, and some say even David Cameron himself was taken aback at the extent of the Conservative victory which swept Britain on May 7.

One of the main reasons why David Cameron was unable to secure a much larger majority was the strength of the UKIP vote in critical target seats. Under the leadership of Nigel Farage, many believed that the party’s sole interest was destroying the Conservatives, a strategy which could have put Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP in power.

Farage’s strategy played well to the frustrations of millions of UKIP supporters who fell out of love with the Conservative party. But, tough as this may sound from a Conservative, it wasn’t the right strategy for Britain, and many UKIP-inclined voters were aware of this.

That’s why, despite much hype and fanfare, it was only Douglas Carswell who managed to secure his seat as critically important voters put the nation’s future before petty party political disputes, backing the Conservatives.

In September, UKIP will choose a new leader -- perhaps Nigel Farage again, or perhaps the very admirable Suzanne Evans -- and that leader must ensure that the party grows up and starts focusing on the real long-term threat for our country -- the Labour Party.

The new UKIP leader needs to recognise that fielding council candidates in places like Croydon and Hammersmith and Fulham, like they did in 2014, will only hand power to Labour. These two flagship Tory boroughs are now in the hands of a party that will ramp up Council Tax and spend all the reserves diligently built up by years of hardworking Conservative councillors.

Is that something UKIP wants to be known for? I think not.

Instead, UKIP must use its magnetic ability to win over Labour voters who are unhappy with uncontrolled immigration and the party’s relentless support for the workshy.

UKIP has the opportunity to cause an earthquake all right, and in 2020 that has to mean unseating Labour candidates in some of the party’s safest seats, delivering a strong Conservative majority in parliament that will enable Britain to fulfil its true potential.

As Douglas Carswell noted on Sunday: “I think there’s a tremendous future for UKIP in displacing the Labour party with a kind of radical popular capitalism.”

He is quite correct. UKIP has so much more to offer the British people than an EU referendum. Moreover, once that referendum has taken place, UKIP will need to remain relevant on the national stage. Its future lies in delivering the kind of spectacular achievements we saw in Clacton and in Rochester and Strood, only this time it should be at the expense of Labour.

In the final months of the election campaign, Nigel Farage seemed to lose his way.

Instead of meeting the builders, plumbers and workers of South Thanet he was jetting off to America for photoshoots and comparing himself to Republican Rand Paul. Instead of setting out a genuinely positive vision for the future of our country, he was focussing on denying immigrants treatment for HIV. Heaven knows which clown advised him to do that.

This foolish strategy reached a peak when he reported the BBC to the Police after becoming the butt of the jokes on Have I Got News for You.

The image of the man who claimed to believe in free speech using the Police to silence his critics undermined the good work so many of his colleagues had achieved.

So UKIP’s next step is to stop being the anti-Conservative party, and start being the pro-Britain force for good that protects workers from Labour’s taxes, debts and incompetence.

With a charismatic leader like Suzanne Evans at the forefront of the party in the interim post-election period, UKIP has the opportunity to paint a much bigger, more positive picture of the values it shares with working people and traditional Labour voters.

The party has built up a wealth of resources and an effective grassroots operation that could transform the electoral map of Britain, turning red seats in the Midlands and in the North purple. By not standing candidates against the Conservatives, some of our key London Boroughs will turn blue again and all will be forgiven.

UKIP members have a clear choice – to transform their party into an efficient machine that defeats Labour and campaigns to leave the EU or to continue fighting the Conservative Party to the delight of Labour.

This is UKIP’s biggest moment.

Let’s hope that members think long and hard about Britain’s long-term national interest. And just in case this sounds like a Conservative loyalist's view, get a truck load of this: UKIP could replace Labour as the second party in British politics.

Isn't that a thought to tantalise you Kippers?

Steven George-Hilley is Associate Editor of The Commentator and a director at the Parliament Street think tank. @StevenGeorgia

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