On Sunday 28th April, six members of UKIP Cambs & SE Cambs met for tea to discuss the party’s situation and the current political situation. This informal meeting had been called primarily to get members of the branch together as we hadn’t met since January. We hoped to meet new members as we’ve had a steady trickle in the past few months but in the event only one new member was able to turn up.
To kick off the meeting, Richard Fullerton, the Branch Secretary, addressed the few on the subject ‘The Future of UKIP in today’s political landscape’. Starting with the latest poll from the Sunday Times showing UKIP at 5% share in the forthcoming EU Parliament elections on 23rd May, whilst The Brexit Party (TBP) is at 28%, he recognised the position that UKIP is now in. It’s clear TBP has stolen voter share from us, just as it has stolen it from the Tories. We must recognise that many traditional UKIP supporters – and potential ones recently disillusioned with the Tories over Brexit – will prefer TBP over us because of the ‘Nigel’ factor.
We must also recognise that our party’s dalliance with controversial figures on what could loosely be termed the ‘Alt Right’ has impacted people’s propensity to support us. But let us be clear, there is little dispute amongst party members over the party’s stance on Islam which is brave, right and honest.
It is also clear that the mainstream media (MSM) are using the party’s policy on Islam to smear us as extreme Right. That it has been somewhat successful is not questionable. We must recognise that we have provided the weapon to attack us when we should have been banging on about Brexit. Instead our clothes have been stolen.*
Richard ended by saying that members must keep the faith and wait for events to unfold. Such is the fluidity of the political landscape that party fortunes can change easily and suddenly. UKIP is nothing if not resilient as we have proved over the years.
There followed a general discussion where the following ideas were voiced:
- We must generate new, stand-out policies with credible spokespeople to state the case. In particular, economic policy in the area of taxation should be simplified. Abolition of stamp duty was specifically mentioned by one member as it is a capital transfer tax. We also need a tax system that benefits families and encourages people to get married and stay together.
- We must bring back polytechnics. Their conversion to universities has failed and many are third-rate. We need polys back so we can specialise in training young people in valuable skills and qualifications that offer them viable careers and will provide the nation with home-grown, skilled professionals. We will thus be less dependent on immigrants and can cut immigration.
- It was agreed that the latter – immigration – has to be tackled and has been ignored by the media and main parties. The Tory party’s failure to cut immigration drastically has not been criticised or exposed enough by UKIP or the media. It was voiced collectively by the room that the people of this country have never been consulted by successive governments over immigrant numbers and whether our culture and way of life should be altered to such a degree.
- Linked to this is destruction of our countryside by the building of new houses - indeed entire villages - as indigenous Brits flee the big cities, driven by sky-high house prices and a better quality of life, as they realise they’re becoming foreigners in their own increasingly crowded and stressful communities.
- Our new member, who doesn’t want to be named because he is an engineer working in Cambridge, surprised us with his refreshing views. We are ceding too much ground to our opponents, he said. We should not be ashamed of our policies just because the MSM oppose some vehemently. He raised the word ‘need’ that is often vocalised by the government. We ‘need’ more houses, they say. We ‘need’ more immigrants to help our economy grow. This word ‘need’ is used as a directive by the Tories implying that there is no alternative. But there IS always an alternative.
The room agreed. Our chair voiced the hypothetical opinion that if we were the only nation in the world, we would find people within our own population to do the work that foreigners currently do. We need to invest in our own people and stop hoovering up skilled people from around the world, many from developing countries that need those people to help their own populations desperately.
- Our new member suggested to us that successive governments often talk about improving the quality of life of the population and point to low unemployment, salary growth, and life span (for example). But he said, this is disingenuous. For instance, salaries may be rising but if house prices are increasing at a much higher rate than salaries then clearly this puts house ownership even more out of reach.
- Finally we talked about the impact of The Brexit Party’s arrival on the political scene and what UKIP should do, especially given the latest poll figures for voting intentions in the EU elections. We’re in a difficult position but we agreed that we must be true to our agenda and appeal to potential voters and members by sticking to it. Our policy on Islam and the threats it presents to our culture and way of life is correct and we must show moral courage and not be cowed by the MSM who seek to smear us as racists because of it. We agreed that it was pointless predicting outcomes in such a fluid political situation. Events will dictate future events.
The meeting was brought to a close and it was felt that it had been a very worthwhile social and policy exercise. It was particularly welcome to meet our new member in person and discover his views which he expressed so eloquently. The next official branch meeting will be after the EU elections - so at the end of May.
* Postscript: our disappointing results in the local elections in Cambridge and East Cambs prove that people have been deterred from voting for us.