Last Thursday, UKIP gained nearly four million votes at the UK general election. This was a little less than half what the 100+ year old Labour party achieved, and a little more than a third of what the victorious Conservative party achieved. UKIP also overtook the Liberal Democrats to firmly establish itself as the third force in UK politics, despite the infamous ‘first past the post’ voting system giving UKIP only one parliamentary seat to represent its nearly 4,000,000 voters.
The party leader, Nigel Farage, narrowly lost in the contest for the Thanet South constituency. Having previously said it wouldn’t be tenable to remain as leader if he wasn’t able to lead the parliamentary party from within the house of commons, he offered his resignation. However, it turned out that the UKIP parliamentary party consisted of a single MP, Douglas Carswell, and Doug stated that he didn’t want to stand in a leadership election, as he had his constituents and family to take care of.
Messages of support for Farage poured into head office from around the country, and confronted with these by the National Executive Committee who asked him to withdraw his resignation, Farage agreed to stay on as leader. At our local branch meeting this Tuesday, there was unanimous support for Farage’s continued leadership, with which he has served us so well. I’m sure other branches across the country will hold similar votes of confidence and let our party chairman have the results.
This morning, an article appeared in the Times (paywalled), which interviewed MEP Patrick ‘O’ Flynn. In it he attacked Nigel Farage, not for political failure, or for corruption, or inability, but for becoming “snarling, thin skinned and aggressive”. Get some big boy trouser Patrick! Back pain’s a bitch, and sometimes normally affable people suffering it get ratty. I know this from my own back injury.
Momentous things are afoot. Conservative leader David Cameron is now backed into a corner on the EU referendum issue. Last year, he promised that a referendum would be held if the Conservatives won a majority at the general election. He made this promise because he didn’t believe that would happen. But it has. He can’t wriggle out of it, as this would bring about a mass defection of tory eurosceptic MP’s to UKIP, who would then hold sway over the government.
In fact, if Cameron tries to rig the terms of the referendum, older eurospectips tory MP’s who won’t be seeking re-eloection in 2020 may well come over to UKIP anyway, so UKIP can hold Cameron’s feet to the fire and force a free, fair referendum which:-
Asks a neutral question,
Excludes the four million EU nationals working in the UK presently (like scots living in England were excluded from the Scottish indyref last year),
Makes funding and media coverage equal for both sides.
We live in interesting times, and there’s never a dull day in UKIP. The media is of course trying to use the ‘O’ Flynn spat as a wedge to drive into the UKIP leadership. Patrick should know better. He sent an email to all candidates last month warning us not to backbite in media interviews. He needs to heed his own advice more carefully. Last November, he had this to say about Nigel Farage:
We have an incredibly strong leader who is undoubtedly the most important reason for our success and has connected with a huge slice of the electorate.’
‘He’s a strong leader with strong views, and he’s ‘going to remain the dominant figure in setting the direction of the party, I’ve no doubt about that.’
That’s more like it. Remember who’s the boss Patrick!