Sunday, 7 February 2016
Forty years of failure
I remarked earlier that the Tories have a grubby little establishment stitched up between the usual suspects. In this I have sorely underestimated just how repellent Louise Mensch is. I just thought I would mention that before going further. It is a circle of mutual fandom that assumes itself the alpha and omega of right wing political wisdom. In fact, Tim Montgomerie is so conceited as to launch a platform called The Good Right, which was met with fawning praise by his Tory clan.
Why these nobodies who hold no particular office are afforded credibility and respect beats the hell out of me. None of them are especially talented and none particularly hold offices worth speaking of. Why the position of MEP commands any authority also eludes me greatly.
In this it's not all that difficult to see why Ukippers utterly despise them too. These people have been the bed blockers to any genuine progress on the right for a very long time, from back when the first blogosphere took off.
But then as much as the Tories have their own luvvies, Ukip has developed its very own clan that has crossovers into that circle, with worms like Campbell Bannerman effortly slithering between camps. Particularly it is built up around Suzanne Evans, Carswell and Farage, along with all their lackeys.
What they all have in common is a resistance to detail and a militant objection to facts. It is for this reason I have slowly learned to dislike Kate Hoey, who as a newcomer, has proven herself to be prime material for this little aristocracy of theirs.
One thing none of them have learned is precisely why the Ukip effort largely failed at the general election. Don't get me wrong, it had us all guessing which way to jump for a short time, but in the end it managed to halve its parliamentary representation and shortly after managed to isolate and alienate its only MP, who I gather is not terribly popular in Ukip and not very much liked by anyone else either. Rightly so if you ask me.
During their abysmal election campaign we saw leading party figures contradicting each other, each dreading what Farage was going to say as they then would have to moderate their own views, and were unable to speak to a common message and unable to put forth any policy until it was far too late. Ukip was widely ridiculed as an organisation for its lack of professionalism, lack of message discipline and lack of preparation.
In this, I see the same developing when I look at Grassroots Out in that Farage will be blethering away as usual, making it up as he goes along, with Hoey not really knowing any details and walking up every dead end going, until they have all established themselves in the public eye as people who don't really have a command of their subject. It's only because we have a media lacking any kind of combative curiosity that these people haven't already been taken to pieces.
At this point I am starting to wonder if there is some kind of detente between the media and politicians in that it seems to work better for all of them if nobody is up to speed on the facts. It would explain why they were so disciplined in blocking outsiders. That way, nobody has to do any real work while reaping all of the rewards. Who wants trouble-makers who know what they are talking about?
There are some days when I wonder if it's just me with unrealistically high expectations, but then I remember I am not alone in having a sense of bewilderment and dismay. There is something most definitely wrong with the system. I don't ever recall it being this broken, nor do I ever remember media being this superficial and empty.
I suppose to all intents and purposes, I am just describing the Wesminster bubble and maybe it's only because of social media that we are now able to see this pestilent species for what it is. But the distinction I make is that this unholy alliance on the right, bringing Ukip and the Tories together, we are not really seeing a people's movement. We are just seeing two tribes within the bubble moving for dominance within, attracting a certain amount of naive outside support.
In terms of a genuine counter-establishment movement, there isn't one that I know of. Otherwise they would not be reinforcing the likes of Hoey and Farage. I expect quite a volley of criticism in the coming days telling me to be nice about Kate Hoey, but she is more one of them than one of us. She's superficially nice but will turn quite sour when asked to account for her ignorance.
In this I think it's very much the Westminster machine that takes good people and makes them into these shallow, narcissistic, lazy creatures, which really begs the question what the point of Ukip is. Even if they had switched on people, the system would still eat them alive if they secured seats.
The short of it is, I don't see these people capable of delivering a referendum victory. If they are lucky and events are in their favour, with enough ill-will toward the prime minister, they will scrape a respectable loss. As the polls gradually look promising, the Leave activists will become gradually more odious, exactly as Ukip did, resulting in a well deserved trouncing.
Ben Kelly of The Sceptic Isle wrote about this the other week where they are seriously capable of whipping themselves up into a state of collective delusion - making reference to the pack Grassroots Out launch. I am well aware that Arron Banks suffers from this exact pathology.
How short are their memories are. I remember 1997 and the Referendum Party rally at Alexandra Palace attracting ten thousand people. Every eurosceptic headbanger in the land who knew all the words to the "Let the People Decide" anthem. Not one single MP came of that. Not one.
In this there is no reason to believe we will achieve any better. The leaders and speakers of that movement were roughly the same crowd we have now. The Eurosceptic movement has delivered forty years of failure and shows no sign of learning the lessons. It really comes down to a lack of understanding of the need for a long term strategy, having a strong intellectual foundation, and an organisation capable of teaching the take-home messages.
Even now, Leave.EU is sending out certificates and badges as a hat tip to the advice Banks has been given about building an organisation, but these are not "officer material" who are achieving anything and have not been tasked with doing particular things. There is no central message, vision or plan to teach.
Banks thinks that simply publishing a few memes with the words "Vision Britain" is a vision, but it's not a defined message that adheres to an intellectual product. He has heard the words "we need a vision" but he has not understood them. He's going through the motions.
In that respect, the art of building a members movement seems to be long dead. For a time, the Lib Dems mastered it, and the SNP have really shown us how it's done with persistence, planning and message discipline - but all of this has been built over years. Something Farage never recognised the necessity to do, hence why by-elections always have Ukip carpet baggers.
What should be happening right now is Ukip branches converting into referendum hit squads all up and down the country, but most have been left to rot on their own and are receiving about the same direction and leadership they got during the election. None at all. All the money was sunk into Farage's effort.
Thus what we have is a large rabble, not a movement, with a bunch of parasites exploiting it for fame - and we have practically run out of time to build a functioning movement. That's only going to happen should certain key individuals realise the necessity for a plan and vision and a central message beyond mithering about budget contributions and keeping foreigners out. ie not at all.
And so when we do lose this referendum, there will have to be a reckoning. As I remarked last week, when the UK votes to remain in the EU, politics will then become a free for all of broken parties, and the Conservative party will be at war. In this I also see Ukip ripping itself apart, possibly to its own extinction. Even after handing us a massive failure, I still don't see Farage letting go without a fight. In this, I think it better if Ukip is destroyed to make room for a new organisation rather than persisting with a tarnished brand.
I think one of its stated aims should be to the total destruction of the Conservative party, but employing wholly new tactics, seeking to avoid the media and shutting them out rather than courting their attention. As much as our political establishment must be purged, so must the media, and the newspapers must be shunned in favour of an active blogosphere. In short it will have to be a most ruthless organisation with a command structure and a message not up for debate.
This referendum, and the inevitable loss will be proof that our politics has turned a page. That it no longer works, and playing establishment games by establishment rules results in more of the same. We will have to reorganise and examine different tactics, but also focus on building and sustaining an organisation evenly distributed across the country. We will have to put issue based politics on hold and simply unite around one objective. The whole lot of them must go.
In that we may have to accept it will be another forty years before we can move barring a major economic depression. Without the motivational impetus, we will not mobilise enough people to shake up the status quo. We shall just have to maintain an organisation that is ready to exploit the chaos when politics finally does break down. We all know it's coming. Our system does have the stench of death about it and even our establishment must know it is living on borrowed time.
But in this, if after the referendum is done and we are still listening to the voices of Hannan, Redwood and Farage then we will be listening to losers. Pathological, habitual losers. And if that be the case, I will know once and for all that this never was a serious movement. It was just a generic whinge at the world, incapable of ever articulating its spirit. If that's how it really is, I'll be be happy to let it all rot. It's what we deserve.