Some of my libertarian chums are a bit surprised at my overt support for Paul Nuttall in the Ukip leadership contest, understandably so, Paul and I agree on very little in policy matters. I am a deep rooted classical liberal and radical with it. I am pained at the departure from Ukip's original small government low tax ideals.
This is though at the moment beside the point. I was a founder member, or damn close, and significant donor when Ukip seemed a lost cause back in the nineties, Farage persuaded me to the cause in 1992 although Brexit seemed a hopeless one back then.
The cult style of Ukip leadership in recent years has left the party with no serious infrastructure which has led to the inevitable schism which threatens to wreck the party today. But the real strength of Ukip is in its foot soldiers. Something the media have never fully understood. Competent performances on Question Time impress the metropolitan elite bubble dwellers but no body really watches it. Politics programmes are all pretty incestuous. When did you hear any original or radical opinion on any of them?
The primary role of the new Ukip leader is to bring together the party as best they can in the interests of its main strength, the membership. Paul is not one of the recent political carpet baggers who somehow manifested themselves at the top, he has been around for some time.
Moreover he is one of the few of whom gave up a career to do the job. In short he has skin in the game. Often forgotten is his successful spell as party chairman, a vital role in any party, an appointment completely degraded in recent years at Ukip and largely responsible for its current problems. The chairman is a peace maker, indeed more importantly an intercepter of strife. If you doubt it read Thatcher's homily to Willie Whitelaw. The chairman should not be the hatchet man for paranoid leaders.
Only Nuttall comes to the role of leader with unblemished provenance. He is of no faction.
In point of fact on that score he is without equal.
Ukip has a strategic post Brexit crisis. Where does it stand in the political spectrum?
I lost the radical classical liberal battle five years ago. I doubt that ground can be regained.
Where therefore is the political high ground still unoccupied?
Mrs May and the modern Conservative party are firmly entrenched on the centre left.
Tax and spend, no serious reform, just more of the traditional muddle through politics of the Macmillan era. Hope something will turn up. Where does that leave Ukip? An attempt to take the centre left from the Conservative party will kill Ukip in under a year.
I believe there is room for a 'common sense' party. There is much to go at. We have NHS administrators on salaries of which most of us can only dream, we have child immigrants with beards, we close our A&E wings yet give £1billion a month on largely unaudited foreign aid, an energy policy nothing short of suicidal. We have pot holes in the roads worthy of any third world countries yet spend billions on ever increasing quangos.
There is a huge role for a party that stands up for tax paying, law abiding middle England. It will never be a party of the Shires now the referendum is won. The blue rinse ladies of the south east will never vote Ukip. But the Labour Party supporters of yesteryear will. Indeed they do. Many of them stopped voting, Ukip brought them back to politics. The Labour Party is in disarray the goal is open. It just needs someone to bang the ball in the net.
Finally and at he moment most importantly, Brexit has not yet been delivered. The Prime Minister, Chancellor, Home Secretary and Bank of England Governor are Remainers as is the entire civil service and public sector broadcasting. The referendum was a well fought successful battle but the war is not yet won.
Only Ukip can fulfil the role of watchdog, this is too important to be left to a handful of Tory back benchers. Ukip is still vital to the body politic.
The first leader of Ukip was an academic, time now for another.
He might even bring the humour back which deserted it some years back when the hierarchy started to worry about what Polly Toynbee might think.
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