Who else is bored of the constant conflict in UKIP at the moment? It is understandable why this internal war has erupted. Once Article 50 has been triggered this month, the Eurosceptic party would have achieved their ultimate goal; a full British withdrawal from the EU.
Like the Anti Corn Law League that was established in 1838, this movement mounted pressure on both Whig and Tory governments at the time to repeal the protectionist Corn Laws, which was eventually achieved in 1846 when Sir Robert Peel bravely put Britain’s interests before his party’s, even if that meant the Conservatives failed to achieve a working majority until almost 30 years later. Despite claiming to be a political party and fighting elections like one, UKIP are just like the Anti Corn Law League; a pressure group with a single aim.
But at least the Anti Corn Law disbanded peacefully, with their founder, Richard Cobden, becoming a Liberal MP. But what are UKIP fighting about now? They utterly failed to win the Brexit capital of Britain, Stoke Central, in the recent by-election. Despite their incompetence at a national level, it is clear Labour can still organise an effective campaign at a local level in some of their traditional seats.The Eurosceptic party are amateurish in terms of fighting an effective local campaign compared to the established parties, even when Labour nominated an awful candidate.
Arron Banks, the founder of Leave.EU, is contemplating standing against Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only MP, in Clacton. Carswell, Banks and Nigel Farage are hardly the three musketeers of this party, especially when their current leader has proven to be so inept recently. And then there is the farce over whether Farage should be awarded with a knighthood. Of course he should. He is the Richard Cobden of our generation. He persisted with his aim of liberating us from EU control and protectionism to the extent that Cameron issued us with a referendum that helped instigate the end of Britain’s membership of this protectionist ratchet. Who else thought that Westminster would vote to trigger Article 50 this time last year? But if this is all the leading faces of UKIP have to argue about, they should do us all a favour and disband. There are bigger issues to confront.
Once Britain has quit the EU, we will regain full control over immigration. UKIP could still serve a purpose in terms of stating what the levels of immigration to this country should be. But will anyone take a party whose only platform is to control immigration seriously during local elections, let alone national elections? It’s highly unlikely.
That is why UKIP‘s future lies as an English nationalist party. Despite having the UK in their name, they are not really a British party. They struggle to win seats in Scotland and Northern Ireland. They have a fairly strong presence in Wales, but this will not last forever. Their strongest base of support is in England.
Many of their members and leading figures believe in an English parliament. They are the one party that have made English identity an issue. Perhaps it would make sense for them to merge with the English Democrats and create a larger pressure group, or party. There is a niche in the political market here. Both recent Labour and Conservative governments believe that creating elected mayors, regional assemblies, unitary authorities etc are the answer to the English Question. I don’t believe in an English parliament. I think it will lead to the end of the United Kingdom in the long-term. I feel that unitary authorities at a district level is the answer to the English Question. But that is just my preference.
The point is is that if UKIP’s members and politicians want to keep their anti-establishment, anti free movement of people group alive without the dread of having to merge with the Conservative Party, like many of their members already have, then they need to reform themselves into an English nationalist party. They can campaign for policies like making St. George’s Day a bank holiday, an English parliament and defending English identity from devolution in the other home nations and the free movement of people. Who knows, they may succeed in influencing national policy again. No one would ever have dreamed of that when the Eurosceptic party was founded. If they do not adapt to survive, people will be writing about the strange death of UKIP England in years to come.