Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Why Things Never Looked Better for UKIP

Lord Stevens couldn’t have timed his defection to UKIP better as a number of events are simultaneously occurring which should bring the Party even closer than it already is to unprecedented political success.  

First, consider the creation by Nikki Sinclaire of a new eurosceptic party. At first glance this might seem like a negative development as it may split the Eurosceptic vote. However, the birth of the We Demand a Referendum Party is undoubtedly a blessing in disguise.

Think of all the UKIP members who do more harm than good to the Party. Those who’ve caused the party to rack up huge legal fees, waged unnecessary wars on the leadership and those who go out of their way to ensure the party gets bad publicity. Who would be in that list? Surely it’s people like Nikki Sinclaire, the writers of Junius, Greg L-Watkins etc. These are exactly the kind of people who will be vacating UKIP and busying themselves with this doomed political venture.

And, while the prospect of the eurosceptic vote being split may seem scary, it is in fact a very small one. Once the tiny initial fanfare in the media the new party has generated fizzles away, it will be unlikely to gain much press coverage at all.

Consider this too: at the last European Elections there were numerous Eurosceptic parties on the ballot papers including No2EU, Libertas and the BNP. They all did pants compared to UKIP which famously beat the governing Labour Party to second place.

Second, UKIP is riding success in the polls in the build-up to elections where UKIP has the chance to reap real rewards.  The general picture is that UKIP continues to hover around the ankles of the Libdems and there is growing disillusionment among the public with the two main parties.

Third, and finally, UKIP members should embrace the much needed revamping of UKIP’s image. There is simply no question that at least some rebranding is a necessary part of winning an election. UKIP’s pound logo is tired and old now. In the 21st Century political parties, and notably successful ones, constantly rebrand themselves, and this is not necessarily a bad thing so long as it does not lead to party policy being diluted.

In summary, UKIP is in a stronger position than ever before. And, after all, this is a political party that has gone from 4,383 votes in its first contested General Election to well over 920,000 in its last. With the real fruitcakes and gadflies of British euroscepticism leaving to form their own party, things have never looked better.

Julien Conway tweets at @julienconway