UKIP – A wounded and feckless lion with but one hand to play

UKIP have an image problem. It’s hardly a secret, even the most politically passive of individuals will likely find themselves experiencing almost innate feelings of unease should so much the UKIP brand flicker into their consciousness for but a brief moment. The reasons behind this are many and exist at many intervals across the entire absurdity spectrum; whether it be a, shall we say, reluctance  to provide aid to the third world or a perhaps overly aggressive approach to handling internal party disputes – the outside perception of UKIP remains one of near universal revulsion.

So what were the UKIP top brass to do? A public image, once foisted upon you, becomes seemingly set in stone and the act of shifting it a monumental task. Besides, the farcically regressive aura was hardly ill deserved. The only realistic shot they had at vanquishing the rot would have been to tear the whole thing down and to quietly set about starting from scratch, hoping beyond hope that the ever settling dust masks their intentions.

But of course, such a bold gambit would have taken vision, discipline and professionalism – qualities that have consistently failed to seep into UKIP’s isolationist cabal. So they just changed their logo instead.

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Surprise, surprise – it’s shit

Ever the populists, the UKIP re-brand played to its base – or at least attempted to. The ‘all the better colours were already taken’ purple and gold colour scheme remained of course,  but no longer was this the canvas for a fusty old pound sign to serve as their motif. Ideologues require something more fearsome rather than being merely symbolic and so, the lion won the day – inspiring a backdrop of groan inducing predictability.

Though, from the very outset, something seemed amiss. This was a recurring theme; a smog of farce had accompanied UKIP at every turn they attempted and it took but mere moments for incompetence to take centre stage once more. As to how much of these apparently inevitable blunderings are down to design or simple negligence is open to debate. Did they unwittingly re-purpose the Premier League logo? Do they appreciate the irony in appointing a lion, a creature that only currently roams these shores by virtue of being imported from a foreign land, as mascot to their hard line anti immigration party?

Who the hell knows? But one thing’s for sure – that lion sure doesn’t look happy. A sullen expression adorning its face and exuding a sense of beaten down impotence – one could argue that it epitomises UKIP perfectly.

However, occupying a state of feckless irrelevance hadn’t always been the norm for UKIP. Why only back in the 2015 General Election they achieved 3rd place in the overall vote share standings. Though this only ended up amounting to one seat, it still presented a significant victory and in part almost justifying David Cameron’s ill fated scheme to ensnare UKIP voters to his cause. With it being successful enough to grant him the majority he perhaps didn’t crave, the simultaneous rise of UKIP applied further pressure for Cameron to begrudgingly deliver upon what he had promised.

Leading the party during this period of unprecedented success was a peculiar chap named Nigel Farage. A former city trader turned populist war cry, who possessed a fashion sense so peculiar you could easily imagine it being the result of a night spent binging on 1940’s media whilst impaired by some sort of extreme narcotic. Nevertheless, this bewildering anachronism managed to prosper in grassroots politics, a world away from the uniformed halls of Westminster – a world that also contained the so called “unheard majority”.

Nigel set to work on schmoozing with the proletariat; he wasn’t like the stuffed shirt elites who littered the Houses of Parliament – he was just like them. He even had the ‘Fisher Price – Beer and Fags Accessory Set’ to prove it. He charmed them, he inspired them and, depending on the narrative to which you subscribe, he came to represent them – because he was just like they were; disenfranchised and pissed off at the corrupt system holding the little guy down.

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Here’s an unrelated shot of Nigel Farage, surrounded by needlessly extravagant decor, buddying up to a cunt.

As divisive and morally dubious as Farage could be, he was most certainly an effective politician – all the while assuming the guise of a vengeful outsider. However with Brexit secured the party’s overall purpose had become increasingly unclear. The war was viewed as won and, with his name recognition having soared, the general decided to step down. He’d “got his country back”, now he was going to pursue getting his life back; though, having spent his entire political life chasing the Brexit dragon, with the dragon now quelled it didn’t seem like there was much else to get back to.

Still, losing their figurehead (arguably their only prominent figure in the entire party) didn’t sit well at a time their entire relevance was dwindling. Some sense of stability was desperately needed. If they were ever going to save the sinking ship then robust, reliable and enduring leadership was required – to hold the party together as their entire reason for being faded around them. This task fell to Diane James, coming right out of the blocks with defiant proclamations of UKIP’s potential to thrive – going as far to say that they would become the de facto party of opposition.

Diane James quit after 18 days.

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Can’t possibly imagine why.

Nigel, ever the maverick detective for who circumstances never allow him to retire, took less than a day to swoop back onto the throne – albeit on an interim basis until a suitable heir could be elected.

Indeed an heir was eventually chosen – but if UKIP were hoping for a suitably cunning rabble-rouser to extend upon what Farage had created then they were to be sorely disappointed.

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This is Paul Nuttall. I repeat – this is Paul Nuttall.

Paul Nuttall was a interesting bloke, but how much of this interest was down to his actual credentials and qualities as a person was infinitesimal at best. For you see not much about who Paul Nuttall really came out; at least not direct from the source. Apparently concerned about stepping into the shoes of a man who, at least partially, had achieved some measure of success by playing the ‘Cult of Personality’ hand, Nuttall seemed determined to cultivate his very own cult of personality. Unfortunately for Paul, likely being misrecognized as Eddie Hitler more often than being acknowledged for who he actually was, such a task didn’t seem especially feasible. Hell, what did he even have to work with?

So he set about crafting his own mythos and it was one that needed to tick certain boxes in order to be effective. UKIP aren’t especially well regarded by the would be intelligentsia so hey, by all means bolt a PhD next to your name.  Then there’s the working man to appeal to; your core demographic – the base. There must be some high profile yet highly emotive cause to latch onto out there, surely? Don’t forget to throw a footballing past into the mix. Everyone loves football, right? Politicians being deceitful is just the way of the world, it’s accepted. Even if someone were to check, who the fuck cares?

They checked, they cared and UKIP’s descent back to being a mere political punchline was all but confirmed with the unsurprising revelation that they’d appointed a jobsworth as their leader. Nuttall had staggered on to fight the 2017 snap election but he was a beaten man long before the battle had even begun. UKIP were vanquished, Nuttall resigned (seemingly disappearing into the nothingness from which he came; legends and all) and the stage was set for Nigel, ever on call for “one last job”, to return.

Only he didn’t. Nigel kept his name decidedly out of the hat and they were forced to look elsewhere. Following a fairly fractured party election campaign, (so much so that one of the unsuccessful candidates immediately jumped ship to start her own party; a kind of UKIP for the especially deranged) Henry Bolton OBE reigned supreme. A man described by Don Farage himself as “a man of real substance”. Could Henry be ‘the one’? Become Neo to Nigel’s Morpheus – finally stabilising the party in the process?

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The “substance” in question being the blood of executed badgers.

Perhaps not.

For that’s where this increasingly circular tale of near perpetual calamity (with the odd smattering of unforeseen success) catches up with the present day – aptly punctuated by a timely scandal. A UKIP leader, still green to the role, had become embroiled in another PR nightmare of his own creation. With what little credibility he may have once had dissolving away by the minute, the ever lingering phantom of Nigel circles overhead – seemingly prepping the waiting public with hints of a potential re-animation. Where have we heard this story before?

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That sound you can hear is Humphrey Bogart rolling in his grave.

Today’s news isn’t shocking; it’s merely part of the UKIP cycle – lurching from one slapstick episode to the next with little respite, each time having to fall back on Farage to keep their heads above water. It’s often been suspected that UKIP are a one man show and time has only served to provide evidence for the prosecution. At this moment the Bolton debacle is still ongoing and he’s remains in charge but, without any particular cause to avoid destabilisation for, it seemed his days are already numbered.

What happens next remains to be seen but expect a predictable path to be followed, in turn serving to further highlight the increasingly laughable notion of a future for UKIP. Whilst it’s undeniable that UKIP are a somewhat more potent proposition when fronted by Farage their dependence on him seems certain to be their undoing. They’re mired within a high stakes game of Pontoon yet find themselves hindered at every interval when they’re inexplicably dealt a joker with every second deal. It’s not just that they’re struggling to replace Farage, they simply can’t. The party rose to prominence with Nigel at the helm with his colleagues relegated to background extras in the recollection of the general public – hardly an environment within which a potential successor can thrive. Above all, it’s Nigel who, whilst not bringing respectability, at least brought some sense of feasibility to the cause; not least with his apparently permanent residence on the nation’s television screens getting the message heard.

Alas, it’s with a certain irony that the man who established them will also be their undoing. Without Nigel there’s no feasibility and without feasibility the enthusiasm among its members is destined to fade away – finally bringing an end to this miserable and misguided tale of attempted populist upheaval.

Not that the UKIP lion gives a shit. He’s foreign.

 

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Forget the polls, just have another referendum

It’s been a long time since the 23rd June 2016. Perhaps not in the chronological sense but certainly in terms of experience. A vote was held and a decision was made (albeit marginally) but are we really the same electorate over 18 months on?  After all, it wasn’t until after the results had come in that the majority of proclamations and promises were torn to the ground, often by those who had happily stood by such pledges merely a few days prior. There was scepticism sure, but nobody of prominence really seemed eager to attempt the killer blow, much less deliver it.

Circumstances have undeniably changed but the lingering question remains, have we? Do we still hold the same values? Have we been swayed by the ensuing omnishambles? Most crucially of all though, how would we vote now?

This final poser continues to haunt the debate, not least due to the echoing mantra of “Brexit is the will of the people” seeping into any and all discussions on the matter. Owing to its perceived trump card status, it’s especially understandable that the truth behind the claim is sought; whether to rebut or reinforce.

This is where polls come in.

I’ve touched upon polls before and how the actual results often don’t match the narrative that’s imposed upon them but a recent Twitter poll held by the Brexit backing Lord Ashcroft brought a certain quandary to the forefront of my mind once more.

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“Resounding” doesn’t quite do this justice.

Ah, the second referendum question. This one’s been doing the rounds ever since we woke up to the 24th June 2016. Anger and incredulity were common themes, the former of which only grew in prominence the moment this particular charmer confirmed that many had been duped. As for the latter, it can’t be denied that there was a certain complacency amongst the Remain campaign as the referendum vote crept ever closer. There was a sense that, not only shouldn’t a Leave victory happen, it simply couldn’t. It was perhaps owing to this particular naivety that the Remain cause failed to land a fatal smackdown throughout the entire campaign, instead finding itself breezing somewhat passively from issue to issue – never really engaging in the matter at its core and preferring to offer up vague warnings should their advice remain unheeded. Almost as though it didn’t take its opponent entirely seriously.

Mistakes were made and whether it was through unwarranted assurance or misplaced trust in a cause, the instinctive reaction to a mistake is a desire to correct it.

Thus the movement for a second referendum was born, prompting sympathy and scorn in perhaps equal measure. However, even if the majority isn’t quite behind the cause, it would be foolish to ignore the rather significant demographic that are.

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Remember this recent attempt for some semblance of control that was dismissed out of hand?

Of course it would be disingenuous of me to act as though there’s no counter viewpoint to this, that there’s not a significant number of hardline Leave voters who are desperate to unshackle from the nefarious EU as a matter of priority so we can ride off over the horizon of prosperity on our magic unicorns. I mock but hell, this petition to trigger Article 50 immediately edged out the ‘Referendum on the final deal’ petition by a fair few signatures. Which way the wind is blowing depends entirely on who you ultimately believe and therein lies the real problem.

We simply don’t fucking know.

 

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If there isn’t a referendum on the final Brexit deal the 12% desperate for their McBrexit with fries will be left without a voice.

Right now the debate has become almost static, sure the steady stream of broken Brexit promises continue to filter through as the days drift by but it’s not quite as impactful as it once was. We’re creeping up to the two year mark since the referendum and the news that Brexit is actually shit isn’t really surprising anymore and, as such, the battleground has shifted. It now seems to be primarily concerned with second guessing as to which side of the fence public mood is currently leaning towards.

As such we find the discourse peppered with polls, petitions and questionnaires – almost to the point of parody. Furthering the farce, we’re also provided with hysterical displays of indignation when the result doesn’t quite go the way the original poster had envisioned.

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Boo! Sneaky old Remainers! Didn’t they realise that the ‘retweet’ option was for Leave voters only?

As hilarious as Ashcroft’s reaction and accompanying sophistry is, he does have a semblance of a point. Opinion polls are only representative of the people who acknowledge their existence long enough to bother voting in them and, in the case of Twitter polls at least, it then becomes more a battle to get the word out to those who subscribe to your views rather than an earnest endeavour to actually find out the truth of the matter. I don’t deny that it provides a small morsel of both satisfaction and assurance when an opinion poll suiting my desired narrative comes along but this is essentially cold comfort. The lack of any form of control whatsoever fatally dilutes the result and ultimately, irrespective of the message the outcome was supposed to convey, the trumpeted cause remains unfortunately stranded with its wheels ever spinning in the mud.

Not that this ever deters anyone mind, exponents from both sides of the argument will continue their quest to uncover what the British people really think – or at least try to paint a picture of what they want the British people to think.

Though curiously, despite such an apparently popular desire to uncover this information, there’s also a notion cropping up simultaneous to this that it ultimately doesn’t matter. That the British people spoke back on June 23rd 2016 and they stand by their decision. Those espousing such an idea are, by and large, members of the Brexit Bunch – each equipped with the results of their own Twitter polls that oh so obviously weren’t shared predominantly within anti-EU circles.

The trouble being that there’s an inherent contradiction afoot here.  A prevailing concept behind the entire Brexit campaign was the idea of the country (and by extension, its people) taking back control. So much so that it was the slogan for the official Leave campaign.

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Let’s take back control and never have a say on anything ever again. Right?

Forgive me for perhaps being obtuse but it’s rather baffling to me as to how you can be a self proclaimed bastion for democracy one moment, yet insist that a contentious issue is settled beyond doubt and no further input from the people is required the next. It’s often claimed that any attempt to undermine the referendum result, even in the form of a second vote, would be undemocratic though I’ve always found this argument to be patently absurd. I mean if a second referendum was put to the public and this time the majority opted for Remain that would surely be a democratic decision, right? If not then I’d be curious as to the justification behind how one vote can be less democratic than the one that preceded it. After all, a second referendum would inevitably be more informed; Brexit has remained a hot button issue to this day with time failing to heal the divide. You almost can’t help but assimilate the discussion as it rages on around you.

In closing I would simply say this. For every time you’re frustrated with the direction Brexit is taking make sure to ask yourself whether you’d like more control – irrespective of where your loyalties lie. If it’s control that you’re after then presumably you’d like an opportunity to express it in a meaningful way? If you find yourself answering in the affirmative once more then there’s only one thing that will satisfy your desire – a shiny new referendum, complete with all new choices and each potential consequence finely detailed. Best of all, unlike Ashcroft’s latest poll, the result actually has enough clout to potentially change something.

Unless of course, that’s too democratic for your tastes?