Saturday, 8 May 2010

We need answers

Well, all the results are in and for UKIP they're pretty disappointing.

There are some positives to take from the results though, it's certainly not all negative.

UKIP received 917,832 votes across the UK - not that far off a million votes.  By vote share, UKIP is the fourth largest party in the UK by a considerable amount.  The fact that UKIP secured 3.1% of the vote but returned no MPs whilst the far left Green Party only managed a trifling 285,616 votes nationally and managed to return an MP is proof, if proof were needed, that some form of proportional representation is desperately needed.

This time round, 62 candidates achieved 5% or above of the vote and kept their deposits.  This is a great improvement on the 2005 general election and reflects in an increase of about 1% in the overall UKIP vote.

So why the poor result?  The Leaders "Debate" programmes had some bearing in the poor performance of anyone not in the LibLabCon coalition, as did the Tory newspaper adverts on the fictitious and spurious "dangers" of a hung parliament.  But ultimately it was down to sheep-like voters doing what they've done for decades and voting for the same dishonest, corrupt, thieving politicians based on nothing other than the colour of their rosettes.

Sadly, UKIP is still seen as a predominantly single-issue party and to a certain extent the mentality inside the party bears that out.  But UKIP does have a full manifesto and most members aren't focussed entirely on the EU.  I don't know how we can shake of these misconceptions but it has to be done.  The media don't help by concentrating on the EU whenever they talk to Nigel Farage or Lord Pearson but then how much effort does the party put into presenting spokesmen (or women) for other topics?  That's a rhetorical question, by the way, the answer is "not enough".

Incredibly, there are still people who haven't heard of UKIP.  I say incredibly because UKIP came second in the EU elections last year and came close to getting a million votes in the general election this year.  Most people have heard of the Green Party, the BNP and even the Monster Raving Loony Party yet by vote share, UKIP is bigger than the Greens and the BNP combined.  However, if someone says they don't know who UKIP is, they often know who Nigel Farage is and that's another one of the problems facing the party - Nigel is still seen as the de facto leader of the party and is the most (perhaps only) recognisable figurehead.

If Lord Pearson intends to stay on as leader then he needs to have some answers.  How is he going to raise our profile?  How is he going to improve communication with candidates, activists and other supporters?  How is he going to increase membership?  How is he going to bring us some big name supporters?  How is he going to bring in some serious cash?  And most importantly, how is he going to bring us electoral success?  I'm not saying that Lord Pearson should resign or that members should attempt to oust him because of this disappointing election result but if he can't answer these questions and somebody else has then he should step aside and let them do what he's so far been unable to do.

A lot of people put an incredible amount of hard work into this election and the result really didn't reflect the effort that was put in.  There will most likely be another election before the year is out and we must be ready to fight it but we need some answers before we get started.  The question is, who is going to answer them?