And so to UKIP.

A short history of UKIP and other things.

Dr Alan Sked 1993 Dr Alan Sked 1993
Nigel Farage is to start another party. In time we will see if this is to put one across the bows of Gerard Batten and 'old' UKIP, or if there is something else going on. The rivalry between these two could well be the force that causes both great damage. Also for long term Farage watchers there is a hark back to old times with the announcement that Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of leading Conservative Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg will stand alongside Farage. In 2004 Farage announced that TV celebrity Robert Kilroy-Silk had joined UKIP. It was if Farage had played an ace in a game of cards as nobody in the party outside of the Farage inner circle knew this was coming up. However, in another nine months Kilroy-Silk had left UKIP, game over. But we live in strange times with the date for leaving the EU now put back and both the main parties in disarray Farage is not the only person to think change is needed. A small number of MPs have left their roots in Labour and the Conservatives to form an independent group which is in the throes of turning itself into a party. Although due to both circumstances and the people involved not much has happened yet. After an initial flourish of interest from the media there was the ritual period of ridicule. This was no doubt promoted by the parties they had left who need not have bothered as the new group seemed to be sinking fast. Other people suggest the chances of splits in Labour and the Conservatives turning into a total division is more likely. This would gives us Leave Labour and Remain Labour matched by Leave Conservative and Remain Conservative. But come an election would the poor old thick as mince voter know what their were voting for?

UKIP, like it or loathe it UKIP has created something in UK politics that has been both powerful and successful; it needs to be looked at and thanked for this. The political party now called UKIP was started in 1993 which followed the closure of the Anti-Federalist League in 1991. The short life of the A-FL was due to many things and its most notable founding figure was Dr Alan Sked of the London School of Economics. Sked has a brilliant mind but as the A-FL was not a political party to many people listening to an academic talk about European integration and the dangers to the UK was something they could do without. Sked stood in several elections and in one got just 1% of the vote. Eventually Sked formed UKIP as a political party but was soon removed by a coup led by David Lott and Nigel Farage. We should also mention the Referendum Party here, this was indeed a political party but run by and paid for by its founder Sir James Goldsmith. He was a very successful businessman but his way of working was both astute and ruthless. This made him very rich and loved and loathed in equal measure. He was a fine example of what it is to be 'well connected'. Goldsmith eventually grew weary of the Tory party because of its position on the subject of European integration. Goldsmith came from a German Jewish background and was convinced that in time Germany would run the EU. His party folded upon his death and most of his followers joined UKIP. There they would have found that just like the Referendum Party one man was soon to dominate the party. Also the way Farage did this was in part due to the membership allowing it to happen. At first the UKIP membership was very broad based and was made up from people who had stayed on when Sked was deposed and had decided they could put up with this. Others came from the Referendum Party and following its closure had nowhere else to go.

However, in time the largest group came from the other parties, these people were dismayed at the way the traditional parties had misread the loss of sovereignty and the rise of European integration. We must remember that initially there had been a left/right split on what we now call the EU. But now we see how this has changed. This gradual slide towards the Labour party simply being a metropolitan elite began with the de-industrialisation of the UK. In a way we go back to student politics in that with fewer industries all job opportunities were reduced, blue collar and white collar alike. Teaching, from schools to universities, became stuffed with graduates who previously would have had a head office role in industry but now had a 'calling'. This brought about other changes in that these graduates knew they had become not just metropolitan but cosmopolitan too. In fact the challenge is to find a retired teacher who is not a Labour voter, who just loves the EU, but in truth fails to understand it. In time, but by a slightly different mechanism, this trend also became the driving force between the North South divide. The media could never quite come to terms with UKIP. On the one hand they loved it because they could portray its members as knuckle-draggers, only to find out this annoyed their readers who supported the UKIP aim. Then moving the focus from the members to the higher echelons of the party the media found a rich seam to mine. The top end of UKIP was always in turmoil but then so it was for the other political parties and in time the readers grew bored again and the media confused again. However, things changed with the 2016 win for Leave in that this win was not wholly down to the work of UKIP.

The reasons for the win are complicated and to this day generally misunderstood by Remainers, and neither is it part of this narrative. What can be said is the win showed that whilst UKIP was a very useful part of the win it was not the only part. This relaxed the bonds between the public and UKIP and it was at this point that UKIP missed a trick. Ideally following the Leave win it should have presented itself as the party of the future. However, this would have entailed a huge reworking of the party including its soul. But this would have taken effort and like so many Leavers they preferred to at best rest on their laurels or at worst squabble over the part of the win they could claim as their own before someone else did. And so the moment passed and wise people in UKIP may come to regret this. In this case there would be the question of who to blame? Clearly Nigel Farage would be the obvious choice as he dominated UKIP for so long, in fact few people could name the other recent party Leaders. People with an inside knowledge of the party can give numerous examples of this, all aspects of the party from future policy to administration could find they get a phone call from a Farage office minion saying how Nigel 'does not like' or is going to 'send someone along to sort out the mess'. Internal democratic procedures counted for nothing and were swept aside. It was strange how many of the members accepted this, 'Nigel is all we have got', was their response. Strange indeed that there was little opportunity for other leading figures in the party to have media exposure and strange that while the members raged about the EU bossing the UK about they were happy for the UKIP Leader to treat the party in the same way. This hypocrisy cost UKIP a lot of credibility.

So will those people still in UKIP and conscious of this follow Farage over to his new venture? That's not certain as Farage made no effort to transform, as opposed to control, UKIP when he had the chance. So the question must be will the latest Farage venture, the Brexit Party, be any better managed than UKIP was when he was in charge? As a protest party, in the Euro elections, it may well look good and attract votes. But what is needed over the long term is a fundamental change in UK politics and it's hard to see a badly run new party, in any form, helping this along. Also this division of the old anti-EU vote will be watched by other parties to see if they can learn from it. As of now we see the Tories worn out by their own stupidity and a lot of help from the civil service. The Labour party is beyond hope mired in a mix of Marxism and anti-Semitism. This suggests they will find it hard to convince people they are the government in waiting. So it could well be the only viable thing in UK politics is the reformation of the existing major parties. Following the stupid move by the PM to seek help from Corbyn and ignore her cabinet, MPs and crucially the activists. It is the latter who have been most vocal in their condemnation of this move. So much that many are cancelling their membership of the party. This is going to cause trouble at the upcoming local elections across the UK as the Conservatives were planning on good results to be used as a stepping stone to a good general election result. Well not now.

No party can manage without activists and the PM will pay the price for her stupidity in going for Corbyn over the activists as Constituency Chairmen report the resignations coming in. Many of the disgruntled would welcome the total split of the Conservative party, along Leave and Remain lines, as mentioned above. Indeed there is something to be said for doing this sooner rather than waiting for Labour to lead the way on the same issue. The reason being that the party that goes first would appear to be dynamic and worthwhile and would win support across the political spectrum. However, along with the stupidity of the PM we have the absurd notion of party loyalty which acts upon the Conservatives as a hydraulic damper and prevents anything dynamic happening. So seeing this from the point of view of the legacy media with all that going on who needs a UKIP sideshow? But then the recent by-election at Newport showed that the stay-at-homes can have an effect. Only 37% of those registered bothered to vote, yes Labour won, as they have for about the last 20 years in that seat. But along with the Conservatives their share of the vote was reduced the only party to gain votes was UKIP.