Ukip: Viewing the Silver Lining

Our new writer, Jordan Wareham, a Ukip member and activist, looks back at Ukip’s performance last Thursday and provides reasons for Ukippers to be cheerful. 

The Aftermath: Ukip
By Jordan Wareham
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Former and current Ukip leader Nigel Farage (Photo: The Telegraph)

We lie in the wake of a dismal election result for Ukip. We plunged into the campaign full of confidence following the European Parliament elections. As May 7th rolled around, Ukip flew in eyes open waiting to see what power we would ultimately have in Westminster. In reality, we ended up with fewer seats than we went in with despite claiming more votes than the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party.

Ultimately, the Conservatives grabbed a shock majority as Labour and the Lib Dems crashed and burned. The SNP claimed 56 seats despite gaining less than half of Ukip’s votes which only resulted in one seat. The major factor behind this was the Conservatives’ scaremongering about the Scottish National Party. The British electorate feared the idea of the SNP having power in Parliament if they managed to form a coalition or minority government with Labour; all of this enforced by the Tories. Moreover, the Conservatives forced a view onto the public that a vote for Ukip was a vote for Labour. In short, the Conservatives encouraged the public to vote tactically and ultimately cost Ukip a successful general election. 

Nearly 4 million votes
and just 1 MP.
(Photo: Daily Mail)

Not only were the Conservatives able to drain away our support with their SNP scaremongering, the First Past the Post electoral system gave both Ukip and the Greens a hard time. Together, we both collected a substantial 5 million votes, which would have provided Ukip with 83 seats and the Greens with 25 seats. Sadly, we obtained 1 seat each, a considerably low number compared to the number we would have achieved under proportional representation. 

But as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and we have to take the one seat gained with a pinch of salt. In 2010, Ukip only managed just over 900,000 votes, a 3.1% share of the vote. Fast forward five years, Ukip claimed 3.8 million votes, a massive 12.6% share of the vote. Optimistically, I have to look at the positives from a very negative situation.

One positive we can take is the growth of Ukip in the North of England, a traditional Labour stronghold. Questions were asked; why did Ukip become the second party in the North? Despite its right-wing position on the ideological spectrum, Ukip appeals to the working class, as world-renowned scholars will say, only Ukip care for the working man. Scholars such as Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin state that Ukip attract the working-class voters because they’re the “losers” in Britain’s “rapid economical and social transformation” of centre politics (all taken from their book ‘Revolt on the Right: Explaining support for the Radical Right in Britain’). Policies such as no income tax on the minimum wage and raising the personal allowance appeal to working families. Labour has fallen out of touch with the working-class, as Ed Miliband’s brother suggested in an interview, where David Miliband said the electorate “didn’t want what was being offered”

Of course, the reason Ukip obtained nearly 4 million votes was because of the “Farage Impact.” Farage is an entertaining character to watch; he’s confident and a great public speaker. Even for those who dislike Nigel Farage, they can’t dismiss his persona. Many claim that the cigar smoking, beer drinking, traditional English “bloke” is all a character Farage plays. That being said, politics needs characters like Farage, like Boris Johnson, like John Prescott, who become memorable characters in the World of Politics, exposing themselves on the mass media.

As I began planning and writing this article, I was under the impression that Nigel Farage had resigned as Ukip leader. However, this has all changed as the party’s National Executive Committee rejected Farage’s resignation. Delight engulfed my body when I saw the news bulletin come up on my phone. My main worry about Farage leaving was the timing; we had just had a great campaign, minus the seat issue of course. We have set out the ground work to gain more seats in 2020, and a major factor for people voting Ukip is Farage. Potential voters see Farage as a beacon of change, as he is the man who’s campaigning for changes in British politics. Furthermore, if anyone can keep reforming Ukip, it’s the charismatic Nigel Farage. Remember, one great quality Farage has had has been his handling of the more crazy Ukip members. This is a factor we need to work on more, as we slowly start to filter out the crazy Ukippers, a slight minority that ruin Ukip.

Ukip’s deputy,
Suzanne Evans.
(Photo: Daily Mail)

Although I was deeply saddened to hear that Farage would step down, perhaps it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing for us after all; it would have been a great time for Ukip to be reformed even more under Suzanne Evans. Ukip lack mainstream history, thus Ukip is often seen as Nigel Farage and Nigel Farage is often seen as Ukip; in essence, they are inseparable. For Ukip to become a political force, we needed to become more than a one man party. If Suzanne Evans had taken over as leader, the next five years would become “make or break” for Ukip; they would either progress more and take more votes, or become a distant memory and slowly, the Purple Revolution would be silenced.

At first glance, Ukip’s general election result is murky to say the least. Once we open the result up, then the story becomes different. The fact of the matter is that Ukip would have gained 83 seats if it wasn’t for the outdated First-Past-The-Post electoral system. Ukip got 12.6% of the vote, making it the third most popular party in Britain. Taking one last look at the silver lining, up until recently, Ukip were planning for life without Farage. However, the Ukip story takes another detour, and now Ukip’s attention turns to the EU referendum. 

Who knows what might happen at 2020, but the future looks bright for Ukip.