Tag Archives: UKIP

Tony Blair’s strategic move to oust Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

Contrary to popular opinion, Tony Blair is not an idiot – idiots don’t win three general elections. Furthermore, Blair isn’t out of sync with the British people either. A classy manipulator, the former prime minister used his anti-Brexit speech not to orchestrate an uprising against Britain’s departure from the European Union, but to strike a blow closer to home.

Blair’s move is a bold and strategic effort to oust Labour leader and destructor Jeremy Corbyn, by dousing petrol on an already rip-roaring fire.

There’s no coincidence that he gave his high-profile whinge less than a week before two crunch by-elections – one in Copeland, the other in Stoke-on-Trent. The former went 62 percent for Leave while the latter chalked up a whopping 70 percent Brexit vote. Both are, at least for a few more days, Labour-held constituencies. If Blair has his way, neither will be come 24 February.

Why does Blair want Labour to lose? Because two by-election losses by a party in opposition would undoubtedly spell doom for their leader, especially as a Stoke-on-Trent Central defeat equates to a UK Independence Party and Paul Nuttall triumph. With UKIP promising to leech on Labour’s northern, working class vote, a Stoke win would knock the first brick from the wall.

Bookmakers have Copeland trending towards the Tories, while Labour are narrow favourites in Stoke following Nuttall’s Hillsborough gaffe, which is appropriately now old news. In 2015, the combined UKIP-Tory Stoke vote bested Labour, making a purple heist and a first home-grown UKIP parliamentary win realistic.

Blair has no stock as a positive influence – you’ll struggle to find a more loathed British politician, and he’s not blinded by narcissism enough to be unaware. However, being loathed brings a few benefits, not least Blair’s ability to be a negative influence.

With more than two decades’ experience in understanding and capitalising on the public’s psyche, Blair, like President Donald Trump, knows exactly what to say to get exactly what he wants. Give it a fortnight and no one will care what this political has-been said, but for the next few days it’s juicy content.

What better Brexit rallying cry than a detested ex-PM who wants to thwart the will of the British people? It’ll likely be even more effective in Stoke, since immigration concerns are invariably blamed on Blair and Labour. Brexiteers are already cashing in, their obvious narratives sure winners. We may even see a Blair piñata before the show’s over.

It’s unlikely there’d ever be an era suited to a Blair comeback, but you won’t find tougher than this anti-establishment one. But Labour rightly realise that Calamity Corbyn has to go, and anything which can bring that reality closer will be secretly cheered – there’s no way Corbyn critic Tristram Hunt wasn’t aware of the implications when he resigned from Stoke either.

For all the talk of a strong democracy having a strong opposition, the last thing Conservatives and Brexiteers need at this moment is Corbyn’s resignation. His haplessness gives Theresa May and her government the necessary breathing space – and huge polling lead – to handle the country’s trickiest negotiations in generations.

An effective opposition would be primed to cash in on perhaps inevitable Brexit fallout with their vision for the nation. Instead, Corbyn, a closet Brexiter who choked and campaigned to Remain, took months to try and establish his party’s position on the issue – not helped by a poorly-timed leadership contest – before leaving many incandescent after giving May a “blank cheque”.

For Labour, the party’s survival is much more important than backlash from Moany Tony’s speech – short-term pain for long-term gain. If Blair’s blathering compromises Labour next week, Corbyn could be out soon after, starting a difficult but not impossible search for a talented leader in a talentless party.

Brexiteers should hold off on the celebrations for now.

The Left created Nigel ‘Man of the People’ Farage

Yet again, the ever-desperate Left thought they landed a punch on Nigel Farage, only to end up swinging at thin air. His crime this time? Having a customary Farage-like jolly at the traditional Boxing Day hunt. “Bit Establishment isn’t it?” they crowed. “Not much of a man of the people is your Nige, is he?” they scoffed.

A self-confessed Faragista, it came as no surprise to me. It was just Farage being Farage.

The Left never has found a way to properly tackle Farage, for they have consistently failed to understand his appeal. Since rising to prominence post-2010, Farage has suffered just a solitary political defeat: his bid to become an MP in Thanet South in 2015 – and even that’s under investigation for overspending. 

He led UKIP to an unprecedented victory in the 2014 European elections and to nearly four million votes in the 2015 general election. He was then instrumental in the Leave side’s – despite being ostracised from the official campaign – triumph in the 2016 EU referendum, before capping off the year predicting and quasi-endorsing US president-elect Donald Trump.

How has he managed it? Farage is the most ridiculed and laughed at politician in the UK. Want a cheap laugh? Attack Farage, the former city trader now masquerading as a ‘man of the people’. What a joker.

Except that’s not the Farage voters see. Why? Because what they consider a Farage gaffe – being pictured at the hunt, having his photo taken next to a Margaret Thatcher portrait, standing in front of Trump’s golden elevator – aren’t gaffes at all. It’s just Farage playing a straight bat. Those who scorned and sneered at him simultaneously did so at a millions-strong demographic, who were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Much like Trump, Farage doesn’t pretend to be somebody he’s not. Trump chats like a brash blue-collar New Yorker, yet grasps at every opportunity and non-opportunity to inform you how insanely rich he is. Farage, on the other hand, doesn’t – and has never tried – to hide that he’s an old-style Tory who enjoyed his younger years trading metals as a city boy, supports relaxing handgun laws and, indeed, loves a good old-fashioned hunt.

It’s that honesty which people appreciate, warts and all. They aren’t bothered that he’s not ‘one of them’, but they do care that he’s speaking to them, and addressing genuine concerns – the EU, immigration and more – that have been long ignored. Few politicians can smoke and drink as comfortably as Farage because it’s not in their nature to do so. It’s not an act – it’s just Farage being Farage. The Left overthink it, seeing pubbing and beer-swilling as a pre-planned photo-op. In reality, it’s just a good chance to have a break and talk with the locals – a novel idea, right?

He has always been the same; even during the times when backing him was viewed as a bizarre hobby instead of a cult obsession. It’s a realness that has permeated deeply among the electorate.

UKIP’s growing presence in the north of England is a direct result of the old Labour vote finally having somebody who at least speaks to them. For decades they’ve been considered a given, line-toers. Hence, they’ve been forgotten. Then, when their cross on the ballot finally mattered once more, they shocked Westminster and the world by securing Brexit.

It was Farage who harnessed that vote. Nobody else had the knowhow. Charisma helps and he does have buckets of it, but it was shunning the politician’s filter that proved most vital to winning his battles.

Farage doesn’t pretend to be someone he isn’t, that’s just a failed Left tactic to rebuke him. “He’s not one of you!” says the politician or pundit who sure isn’t one of them. Who would you trust, a person who’s dared to slingshot your issues into the limelight, or a person who’s spent years trying to suppress them?

Democrat Joe Biden nailed it when reminiscing recently about an old quote from his father:  “I don’t expect the government to solve my problems. But I expect them to understand it.” That was Biden’s astute reasoning as to why Hillary Clinton lost.

If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that populism is a beautiful thing, not a nasty beast. Like all movements, there’s going to be the odd ugly offspring, but it stimulates political debate and moves the conversation to where voters want it – that can only be a good thing. Contrary to exposed talking heads, Trump couldn’t have disgusted folk that much. He won after all. Meanwhile, the EU referendum garnered the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since 1992.

Whether Farage or Trump end up being right remains to be seen – the respective triggers have been pulled, now we must wait. But in Farage’s case at least, that his opposition preferred pillaging him over his stances explains why they are now so regularly defeated – it was that same-old swinging at thin air.

The modern-day Left could never have beaten Nigel Farage, because their pantomime villain version of him never existed. However, the real Nigel Farage is the realest, realest. He dropped Brexit and let the whole world feel it. And ironically, in doing so, perhaps he really has become a man of the people.

Sleaford and North Hykeham: Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

It’s a stunning indictment of our current politics that UKIP finishing a poor second in a by-election is more noteworthy than Labour ending up in fourth. But that’s what happened in Sleaford and North Hykeham as the Conservatives cruised to a comfortable 40-point victory on a 37 percent turnout on Thursday night.

It was a nice win for the Tories, who secured a rare by-election triumph while in government, made even better by the disarray plaguing the rest. Their candidate, Caroline Johnson, was expected to be tested by UKIP’s Victoria Ayling in an area where 61 percent voted for Brexit, but the challenge failed to materialise with the latter managing a low 13.5 percent – a 2.2-percent decline on the party’s performance at the last general election.

UKIP will undoubtedly spin the result and celebrate jumping Labour, but it was a dire effort in a seat where they were hoping to at least run the Conservatives close. Opinion polls have had them holding firm between 10 and 15 percent despite a dreadful few months and the departure of Nigel Farage, but the steady support has yet to translate into electoral success, or even hints of it.

Without being on the ground it’s tough to ascertain exactly went wrong, but one constant is Ayling, who also failed to make an impact in Great Grimsby in 2015, a constituency UKIP firmly believed they could win – she ended up third, behind Labour and the Conservatives, albeit increasing the party’s vote share by almost 19 percent.

Stability finally seems to be coming to UKIP with Paul Nuttall’s election as leader, and the debate will undoubtedly shift back their way if the Brexit process is messy, but they have dropped the ball since 23 June, to the Tories’ delight.

More woe for Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has enjoyed some friendly elections since becoming Labour leader, from safe by-elections to the London mayoral election which was won by Sadiq Khan earlier this year. Such wins have emboldened Corbynites who believe their man is miscast and more popular than conventional wisdom says.

However, this vote, along with last week’s by-election in Richmond Park – where they failed to even save their deposit – should provide a shuddering reality check. In Sleaford and North Hykeham, candidate Jim Clarke tallied just 10.2 percent – a 7.1 percent slip on 2015 – and was fewer than 500 votes from being pushed into fifth by the Lincolnshire Independents.

Labour’s Brexit dilemma is worsened by the party’s rural-urban divide which threatens its electoral existence. With many Labour constituencies in the north supporting Britain’s succession from the European Union, and a leader who has historically been keener for it than Prime Minister Theresa May, there’s reason to believe they’d benefit from embracing it – at least that would give them somebody to speak for.

They certainly aren’t going to be the party for Remainers, as Richmond Park showed. The Liberal Democrats have their tanks on that ground, but their 11 percent on less-friendly territory suggests talk of their resurgence has been greatly exaggerated. Indeed, with Richmond Park voting 70 percent to Remain, it could be argued that the Lib Dems’ 49 percent in the by-election was below par.

A further test for Labour will come in Leigh should Andy Burnham win the Greater Manchester mayoral election. Nuttall is being touted to stand in the by-election, which will indicate whether the party really can bash Labour in their heartlands.

Tories cash in on rivals’ incompetence

May has repeatedly said Article 50 will be activated before the end of March 2017, so she and her party has until then before the waters start getting choppy – and they’re cashing in on it. Sleaford and North Hykeham was always set to be a good barometer on how Leavers felt the Brexit process was being handled, and 53 percent strikes as a solid approval.

It’s not all to the Tories’ credit, however. With their rivals looking decidedly hopeless, their job right now is hardly difficult. Despite having a narrow working majority in the Commons, they face no apparent danger from anywhere – not bad for a party that was supposed to tear itself to shreds over the referendum.

If there were any concerns for May, their easy win on Thursday should alleviate them. Christmas has come early for her and, with the abysmal state of the rest, gifts could be pouring in for a while yet.

Why I’m backing Raheem Kassam for UKIP leader

The idea that UKIP is in the midst of an existential crisis is one very satisfying to the Establishment. There’s nothing they would like more than for the party that actually threatens them to wither and die – it’s why they push the viewpoint relentlessly.

Unfortunately, for once, the Establishment are correct. UKIP is in quite a mess. With Nigel Farage gone, Diane James in and out, and twice leadership favourite Steven Woolfe now departed from the party, UKIP lacks not only direction, but credibility. How can we, the salesmen, sell a party that doesn’t know what its stock is?

UKIP needs a fresh, passionate driving force that recognises our strength isn’t in the wishy-washy centre ground, but as the brash, bullish outsider that stands for no bullshit. We are witnessing a global revolt against Establishment politics, as seen here by Brexit, across the pond with Donald Trump and even as far as the Philippines with Rodrigo Duterte. UKIP must harness this frustration and cash in.

With this in mind, it’s clear to me that there is one definitive choice for leader: Raheem Kassam.

An accomplished media performer, Kassam has shown he is a fiery debater while maintaining the personality and likeability of Farage. Yes, he will be marmite too, but isn’t that the point? You can’t please everybody in politics, nor should you try to. UKIP’s potential is in speaking for the left behind.

I doubt there’s any single Ukipper universally liked by the party, so that Kassam has painted as a troublemaker is not only false, but a moot point too. However, what I have been seeing is a candidate who’s coming up with logical plans to clean up and grow the party.

UKIP has a strong, dedicated collection of activists – the problem is there aren’t enough of them. It’s a direct result of awful organisation and a party that’s too expensive and difficult to join.

Unless you’re eligible for concessions, membership is £30 a year and, once you’ve joined, you’re chucked in the ocean without armbands. Great, you get a card, but little information about how to become active in your area. That needs to change. If Labour can mobilise with a crap message, imagine what a well-oiled UKIP could achieve with a good one.

In the last two national elections, the party has won four million votes. If just one in 25 joined the party, we would have 100,000 members. At that point, we would also have a ground game.

UKIP has been British politics’ best pressure group, and we need to keep that pressure up to ensure no Brexit backsliding. More than 17 million people voted to leave the European Union, and that’s a huge market to tap into if Theresa May’s government lets them down.

Extremist Islam will continue to be a sensitive yet must-tackle topic, and it’s vital UKIP strikes the right chord and balance here – you can’t go making policy up on the hoof. It’s also essential that “security measures” to “protect” western civilisation don’t breach the freedoms that western civilisation is meant to offer. Kassam’s keenness to take on Shariah courts in the UK is, however, encouraging.

And hey, anything that’ll make it harder for the media to shout “racist” or “Islamophobe” must be a good thing, right?

Recapturing our economic roots is also important, with Conservatives and Labour often being indistinguishable. Pressing home on the failures of big government as part of the anti-Establishment drive, and highlighting the benefits of allowing people to keep more of their money thanks to a lower and flatter tax system are forgotten stances in British politics. Kassam and Bill Etheridge, who finished a solid third last time, are both strong on this issue.

The internet has given political parties the chance to be more accessible and transparent than ever, but they aren’t taking advantage. Italy’s Five Star Movement is perhaps the sole prominent example of a party doing it, while Arron Banks’ Leave.EU movement – which has garnered over 200,000 more Facebook likes than the official Vote Leave campaign – has showcased the potential of online activism in the UK.

Being Editor at Breitbart London, Kassam knows what works on the internet, as has been demonstrated by the early stages of his Make UKIP Great Again campaign. His regular live streams are a great way of connecting with party members and recruiting new ones, and addressing their concerns. It’s something I would be keen to see continue if he becomes leader. With the right steps, UKIP can transform itself from the most technologically inept party to the most advanced.

UKIP succeeds by different, and Raheem Kassam is offering something different. We’ll get smeared. So what, we already are. The Establishment will mock us. So what? They already do.

But do you know what? There will be a hell of a lot of people who agree with us. And as their old, broken parties continue to let them down, they’ll keep looking for alternative. It’s our job to offer that alternative, and Kassam is the man to do it.

Everyone is terrified, Vote Leave’s on fire

Things are not good. Just four days after Britain took its biggest post-war decision, a vote to leave the European Union, the country is indeed at breaking point – perhaps Nigel Farage was right. The consequences of Brexit were always going to be massive. The Remainers feared them and us Leavers were wary of them, but are least our new de facto leaders had a plan.

Or so we thought.

As of 28 June 2016, there is no plan to take the United Kingdom out of the EU. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would begin a two-year process to extricate the country, is yet to be invoked, despite David Cameron saying it would be immediately if a Leave vote was returned. After all, why should he “do the hard shit”? No reason, except for that bit where you said you would, Dave.

We are witness to an ill-prepared Vote Leave, who are suffering a pyrrhic victory, and a government digging its heels in to delay or deny the will of the British people. Westminster’s bigwigs evidently do not approve of the peasants’ revolt which has taken place. Tottenham MP and anti-democrat, Labour’s David Lammy, has already made the risible pledge to “stop this madness” and ignore the referendum result. Some much-needed comedic relief, at least.

Meanwhile, the rightfully forgotten Liberal Democrats (ha!) have confirmed that they will stand on a platform to flip the 52 percent off and keep Britain in the EU should they be in government – they won’t, but this is 2016 and nothing can be ruled out completely. Okay, perhaps this can. However, these two moves did neatly clarify that our issue with authoritarians does not begin and end in Brussels.

“But we have a parliamentary democracy! The referendum was only advisory!” cry the diminishing yet pesky Remainers in denial. That’s very true, parliament is under no legal obligation to follow through with the plebiscite. But it is also true that parliament should be representative of the electorate. It is now apparent that with 479 out of 650 MPs publicly voicing their support for remaining within the EU, that parliament is out of touch with the public on the biggest constitutional issue the country faces. For that reason alone, an imminent general election is required, with current and prospective MPs displaying their EU stance. But not before Article 50 – the slippery establishment cannot be allowed off the hook it’s taken decades to get them on.

Until the already notorious Article 50 is triggered, nothing happens. The UK remains a fully paid up member of a union which wants us out pronto. Once started, the process is irreversible, hence the delay. The official word is to strengthen Britain’s negotiations with the EU, but the murmurs from grandees of a second referendum, and the declared intention of some to ignore the nation’s choice means the electorate must be extra vigilant.

We are now seeing exactly why allowing the Conservatives to control both sides of the debate was a serious mistake. However much these careerists-turned-statesmen told you they cared, ultimately, party was always going to become before country. As far as they are concerned, finding a new leader and grabbing a stronger hold of the House of Commons is their priority – an easy task thanks to Labour’s implosion.

In fact, it’s not far-fetched to suggest Vote Leave’s virtual leader and part-time Eurosceptic Boris Johnson would have preferred a narrow loss, so not to damage himself and skirt this Brexit nuisance altogether.

To lead Britain out of the EU will be political suicide for whoever has to do it. The implications are undeniable. A period of economic trouble and the likely departure of Scotland from the union are two events no prime minister could survive. However, paying no heed to the 17.4 million who opted for Leave, or performing a stitch up which effectively sees us stay in is also unworkable.

Scotland’s second plea for independence was always going to happen, but leaving the economy teetering without stability was an avoidable scenario, had Johnson, Michael Gove and the other official Brexiteers decided on a destination for their ship.

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. So many promises were made from so many people – in truth, they probably had to be to form a winning coalition – that it’s impossible to deliver on all of them. The cake Johnson is after is not, and will likely never be on the menu. Staying in the single market, not contributing to the EU budget and ending free movement is a fantasy. If the EU did grant it, petrol would be added to the Eurosceptic fires roaring in France, the Netherlands and others. Thus, the end of “ever-closer union”. That won’t be in the #junckerplan.

It seems as if the likely Tory government would settle on Britain joining the European Economic Area (EEA) – the Norway model – if they cannot get the caveats they desire. Vote Leave representatives have already been keen to stick with the single market, while some are keen on the free movement of people continuing. The EEA may now the best hope now for economic stability, but there’s no denying that this isn’t the Brexit many Leave voters would have had in mind. The UK would remain in the single market and crucially, have to accept the free movement of people.

Such a move would be considered by many as another establishment betrayal and not what they voted for. Out was supposed to be out. If such a play was made, unprecedented discontent and a surge in support for UKIP would be inevitable. If disregarding the vote entirely is the worst course of action, politically, this would be a firm second. Our steeliest Eurosceptic Farage will push, and he’s been pretty successful doing that so far. In such an uncertain political climate, who knows what gains his party could make in the short and long-term future?

However, there’s no guarantee that Britain will even get EEA. Hath no fury like an EU scorned – we are not the most popular folk on the continent right now. That they refuse to even engage in informal discussions before Article 50 is invoked is proof enough of that.

Talk of an associate membership akin to Georgia’s has been mooted, while it’s not inconceivable that there will be no deal at all, if they really set out to punish us. To view it from their perspective, stopping other brewing dissent from manifesting into further referenda is a priority. They may think that giving the UK a raw deal is the best way to do that.

Brexit has plunged the country into the unknown – no surprise in itself. But the thoroughly incompetent Vote Leave clan has made things 10 times worse. They won, but refuse to “take control”. Don’t expect them to do so anytime soon either with the Tory leadership contest about to get into full swing.  Four days on, the British public has no idea what sort of Brexit to expect, if it can even expect one at all.

Leaving the European Union should be a time of hope and opportunity – Australia and New Zealand are already in search of a trade deal – but for now, we are plunging into the abyss that Project Fear predicted.

We need Brexit leadership, and fast.

Eurosceptic hope glimmers on a sad night for democracy

I’ve been a conservative for as long as I can remember. For much of that time I was a Conservative too – the two are now so intrinsically different. The former believes in low taxes and personal liberty while the latter would rather appeal to floating voters by rushing through gay marriage (an issue that could have been sorted in due course) instead of clearing the deficit and tackling the debt.

It filled me with no joy to see David Cameron, a man who has betrayed trust and broken promises waltz back in to 10 Downing Street under a party banner he has never shown much commitment to. The Polly Toynbees of this world may liken him to Thatcher but Dave is no Maggie. I’m not sure anyone really knows what he believes in, barring his out-and-proud fetish for the European Union.

We hear of cuts. But where have the cuts come? Foreign aid is still costing £1bn a month, our EU membership continues to rape the tax-payers wallet to the tune of £60m a day and the supposed bonfire of the quangos – something that was proposed first time around – has not come to fruition. While I support a limited welfare state I most certainly do not endorse cuts anywhere until these such measures have been taken first. And quite why the general public have not latched onto the concept that huge quantities of money could be saved here I have no answer. Such a strategy would surely leave more expenditure for the public services this country romanticises over?

But that will not happen. Cuts to the most vulnerable will be made without reducing the substantial tax burden significantly. Indeed, if the state stops providing then what reason do they have to take such rates of tax? None.

Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party chickened out of offering a libertarian alternative to the British people but I was desperately sad not to see him elected in South Thanet. A shoddy, but vitriolic campaign was fought against him and eventually the people of Kent succumbed to fear and lies. The Scottish National Party proved to be the Tories greatest weapon to claw voters back from the purple, while others were misled that Farage was either a banker, a racist or both.

Farage has championed the EU exit cause for two decades, the past few years has finally seen him, and his party, rise to national attention. Perhaps he should have contested the Eastleigh by-election in 2013. Perhaps the party should have pushed harder in the Heywood and Middleton by-election last year. And perhaps focus shouldn’t have been so intense on immigration. They have got things wrong, and a solitary seat would have shocked many considering the wave of momentum they held when Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless were returned to the green benches as UKIP MPs last autumn. But one seat for almost four million votes is not a true reflection of the party’s growth across the country. If we were in Sweden, we would currently be left either euphoric or in turmoil at the fact UKIP had become the third-largest party in the House of Commons, as the Sweden Democrats – their EU-allies – did in the Riksdag in 2014.

For now, Farage has stepped down as leader of the party. He may – and I hope sincerely that he does – have a significant role to play in UKIP and in a potential EU referendum over the coming parliament. No Eurosceptic can truly trust Cameron on the Brussels question. It is clear that he will never campaign to leave under any circumstances, like Blair, he is far too invested into it. Renegotiation on core issues such as freedom of movement are impossible, and a fudged question would not come as a shock either. While UKIP MPs cannot hold the PM’s “feet to the fire” his pro-exit backbenchers can and must. With such a slender majority another Major-esque “back me or sack me” play may come about; they have got to be prepared to sack him.

On electoral reform, UKIP and the Greens – the two biggest sufferers of First Past The Post – need to form an uncomfortable alliance, to exert pressure from Left and Right. Under Proportional Representation, the combined five million votes would have translated into over 100 seats. Instead, they were left with two. The insurgent parties must accept that reform has to be at the top of their respective agendas, for they cannot make any real impact without it.

That Cameron’s majority is so wafer-thin gives hope that the rebellious in is clan can cause him nightmares and leave him no option but to make Euroscepticism a part of party ideology once more. However, I, and the other four million who voted UKIP, were in search of something far more promising than that.

My changing relationship with UKIP

I was first drawn to UKIP around six years ago when they out-polled Labour to finish second in the 2009 European Elections. Early in my teens and perhaps slightly naive, I soon found myself parroting out party lines as the forthcoming general election approached – the actions no doubt of someone who enjoyed attention and had an unhealthy fetish for statistics.

A quick vacation to YouTube bore fruits of a Nigel Farage who refused to be barrage in the European Parliament. The now infamous “damp rag” defamation of Herman van Rompuy travelled between my friends who would listen in a way I imagine a porno mag would have 20 years earlier. They do say public schools are different.

As across the country, something of a Farage cult was growing amongst those who were aware of a third Brown, Gordon, instead of just Wes and Chris. In truth, it was in retrospect a chance to look half intelligent rather than a genuine concern of the damages of our European Union membership – damages I still firmly believe in.

Anyway, election day came and the school’s intentions to do something worthwhile for those not of voting age were perhaps well meant, but in my mind an insult to democracy. The mock vote had boxes for CON, LAB, and LIB but not one for UKIP – it wasn’t a font issue I assure you. Intent on sabotage, I scrawled down UKIP on the ballot along with the customary phallus, keen to either make a point or be a git, probably both. Unfortunately the actual happenings on polling day saw UKIP make the news, but for Farage’s horrific plane crash, not the arrival of any Westminster seats – in fact they polled a mere 3 per cent nationally.

Rose-tinted (I flipped a coin to decide whether to use ‘tinted’ or ‘coloured’, it’s easier when not live, John – plus, you can’t say ‘coloured’ nowadays) glasses now off, as I became more politically aware, a further hatred for the EU grew. Desperate to distance myself from socialism and the unfashionable Tory tag I became a libertarian, an apt choice since UKIP was my chosen lodge – or so I thought it was at the time.

Introductions to the bloomingly brilliant Godfrey Bloom and the States’ legendary Ron Paul, the concepts of personal liberty, low taxation and a non-intrusive government established themselves as the cornerstones of my politics. A preference of science over the arts is definitely the root of why calculations rules emotion in my mind.

Around this time, much to my delight, UKIP were beginning to gain traction in the opinion polls. Farage now had opportunities to broadcast his views to a national audience (the party was, to the credit of Russia Today, given fair airtime on their high-quality news network years before) and not just to those who had sought him out on the internet. It was enjoyable to see previously beige debates lit up as real issues were finally tackled.

Yet, sadly, it has been UKIP’s growth which has led to my increasing contempt for them. For the arguments of leaving the EU – my main bugbear – immigration has never been high on my list. Corruption, financial wastage, a declining trade bloc, anti-democracy, all are more potent worries. The free movement of people was the most libertarian thing the EU ever did, a bloated welfare state and lazy Brits are the causes of our whining – not immigrants. The claim that British people “won’t do certain jobs because they believe they are beneath them” is garbage, they won’t do those jobs because they believe work is beneath them. And indeed, why work for the finer things when you can enjoy them for free on the dole? Not to mention, a welfare state reserved for the truly needy would prevent any who we perceive to be coming here to exploit us from gaining anything – other than air miles that is.

I digress. My point is, that before immigration became a stickler for the public, Farage rarely mentioned it as a reason for an EU exit. His speeches from the EU Parliament indicate he is more than intellectual enough to debate on economic and democratic grounds. Moreover, he has admitted himself that he is reluctant to place immigration caps, I doubt he truly believes in his own rhetoric. But UKIP have become addicted to populism, and in their view, if the folks on the doorstep want something, why not just give it ’em? The National Health Service is another, the party “more Tory than the Tories” have pledged more cash to it than any of the others this election. Privatisation? Give over. A party so devoted to vote-grabbing would never consider such political suicide in a nation of devout socialists. Although, free market healthcare is exactly what libertarians should endorse. If it’s good enough for the Swiss, it’s good enough for me.

Ever since UKIP began poaching Old Labour voters, a shift towards meaningless centre-ground, or arguably leftist territory has ensued. It is no question that the lowest earners have suffered the most from an influx of unskilled migration, hence they flirt with going purple (it also adds fuel to the fire that immigration fears are as much a product of the Left than they are the Right). The promise of state-involvement and taxes on the pesky rich – the new economic spokesman Patrick O’Flynn even floated a ‘Luxury Goods tax’ at last year’s party conference – is for many a deal-maker. Those left in the cold? The libertarians: the ones who grafted to aid UKIP’s accession to a mainstream party.

The acquisition of former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell was a positive – a Gladstonian who will not be deterred by the party line, and someone who will continue to preach for the free market – but the outlook is bleak. Godfrey Bloom’s voice was lost following a bust-up at the 2013 Kipper conference, and many I have come across are switching to the non-voting column.

My cross will go in the UKIP box this time around, for they are the only ones I trust to bring forth our removal from the EU, but it is not beyond the realms a referendum could be lost because of them. Immigration polarises. Concentration on how the Commission are unelected, how we are unable to forge our own trade deals with India, Brazil and China – the new economic powerhouses – and education that we do not need political union to obtain the so-called “benefits of the EU” would not. The position of a brighter future outside is much more marketable than screaming of the perils we face if we stay in. It would also beat the scaremongering claims that without EU membership, we would be poorer, more isolated and subject to higher unemployment. All of which is nonsense. They sell us more than we sell them, hence they need us more than we need them, particularly when taking into account the Eurozone’s malaise. There will always be fervent European integrationists, but to win referenda, the undecided must be wooed. There is nothing to be gained from pursuing an ex who was lost long ago.

I hold out hope that UKIP will return to their roots and that the British public will once more be offered liberty and freedom in politics’ shop window, and that they will eventually be drawn to it, but that hope is waning – the party is attracting a proportion with negativity, but alienating more because of it. I doubt as to whether Paul Simon was thinking of the state of British politics in 50 years when he penned ‘The Sound of Silence’, but if he was, the lyrics “Hello darkness, my old friend” were chosen perfectly.