Alan Wager has produced a piece which he claims show Four Reasons Why Ukip Still Don’t Matter. In actual fact is just a rehash of several old arguments spread against UKIP
Firstly he attacks UKIP’s polling performances. 14% in Corby is deemed not good enough, the reason is that it doesn’t meet the expectations of the party (no link or explanation is given for how he knows the party’s expectation). He goes on to mention Nigel Farage’s 2010 performance, conveniently forgetting to add that most of the electorate thought he had died in a plane crash. Really it was incredible he scored so highly, it shows UKIP’s strength that people will vote for a dead man if you put a purple rosette on him.
Wager mentions the London Assembly Race, ignoring that an administrative cock up meant UKIP’s name did not appear on the ballot paper. He also outright lies, claiming UKIP’s Mayoral candidate scored below 1%. It was in fact 2%. Ahead of, not behind, the BNP, Respect and the Christian People’s Alliance, equally the assembly elections, despite not being called UKIP, the party increased its vote share to 4.5% up 2.6 points from the 2008 that he has to turn to out and out lies is an indictment of what little there is to attack UKIP on.
Wager’s second point is that UKIP is too linked to Nigel Farage. Wager ignores the fact that UKIP is increasing its vote share at local elections (14-15% in 2012), picking up local Councillors up and down the country (indeed it now controls Ramsey council) as well as having its first MLA and narrowly missing out on Welsh Assembly members. He also fails to account for the other impressive performers in UKIP: Paul Nuttall the deputy leader who has appeared on Question Time and gets a strong personal vote in Bootle, his local patch, Professor Tim Congdon, economics expert who the Government has turned to for assistance in these tough economic times, Godfrey Bloom, UKIPs Yorkshire MEP who scored highly in the PCC elections; Steven Woolfe NEC member, city of London spokesman and PCC candidate for Greater Manchester, Jane Collins, UKIPs second highest performing candidate in a parliamentary by election in Bradford, topped only by Margot Parker, the Corby candidate. Gawain Towler, UKIPs jovial and eminently likeable press officer, Steven Crowther the party’s Chairman, and not to mention Cllrs Lisa Duffy (mayor of Ramsey) and Peter Reeve who have huge personal votes in Cambridgeshire and who act as the party’s elections gurus, Lord Alexander Hesketh and Lord Stevens, former Tory heavyweights who have staked all their considerable political capital on UKIP. Not to mention the plethora of young talent the party has – Alexandra Swann who appears regularly on TV and in print, Harry Aldridge the Chairman, who graces many political organisations with his speeches. Arnie Craven, Yes to AV’s go to man in the north, as well as a leader in the Yes 2 Mayors campaign, Sanya Jeet Thandi, a seasoned UKIP performer, Matthew Smith, the party’s youngest PCC candidate and former Tory elections expert from Norfolk, who is set to dominate Yarmouth council elections next year.
I could go on, there are many more names known in local and national newsrooms, as well as in Westminster. It suits the argument of the anti UKIP brigade to claim that the party is a one man band, but sadly for them it doesn’t stand up.
The next point on the list is that the impact of UKIP has been exaggerated. Wager doesn’t even mention the fact that the difference in over 20 seats (enough for a majority) between the Labour win and the Tory 2nd place was less than the UKIP vote. Here he has, unknowingly, stumped on a point. Studies have shown that UKIP take heavily from both Tories and Labour, the Tories should be no more worried about the UKIP rise than Labour. The impact of UKIP hasn’t been exaggerated, its been misunderstood. UKIP are taking from all the old parties because they are so similar, because for all their pretence of disagreement they all want to turn Britain grey but differ on the exact shade. Wager is right, the Tories shouldn’t be obsessing over UKIP, all the parties should.
The final point is the most risible. Pointing to a single study about UKIP voters alone (which also shows UKIP take more from Labour than Tory) Wager tries to make claims about UKIP members. All parties have strange and unpleasant voters because there are strange and unpleasant people living in Britain, but those voters do not represent the party itself. The far left, hang em and flog em working class Labour voter is no more representative of the centrist metropolitan Labour party under Ed Multiband than any random UKIP voter is representative of UKIP. It is members and leading members that count. The most comprehensive survey of UKIP General Election candidates by the University of Leicester shows that UKIP is a party that, far from being on the nutty fringes, poses a serious challenge to the three party oligopoly in Westminster.
However, despite being easily able to refute Wager’s half truths (and in some cases such as our mayoral and assembly results actual lies) about UKIP, I love it every time such an article appears. Despite UKIP having the best manifesto and the campaigning talent to back it up there is one factor more than any that helps them rise. That is other parties underestimating and misunderstanding them. Every time a Labour supporter labels UKIP a Tory splitter group it makes me glad they won’t be acting to stop the flow of their voters to UKIP. When Tories label us an EU pressure group I know they wont be stopping the many voters and members who leave them, and join UKIP for its common sense policies on crime, on tax, on the economy and on jobs. When Lib Dems attack and smear UKIP I am reassured that they wont stop the members who leave in disgust, and come to UKIP for our strong stance on civil liberties and democracy.
So Mr Wager, really I should be thanking you for your early Christmas present. Keep up the good work.