UKIP – A BRIEF HISTORY
UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) was founded in 1993 by a group in the Anti-Federalist League, opposed to the Conservative government’s signing of the Maastricht Treaty, commiting the UK to economic and monetary union within the EU. Nigel Farage was a founder member and was the party’s leader from 2005 to 2016 (with a brief interval in 2010).
The party’s current Leader (Interim) is Neil Hamilton, AM (Wales)
Membership: From 2010 to 2015, UKIP membership rose from 12,000 to 40,000, at a time of declining party memberships generally. Following the 2016 EU referendum, membership fell to approximately 30,000. The subsequent leadership instability saw membership fall to less than 5000.
Euro-Elections: The party gained its first MEP’s (3) in 1999. In 2004, 11 UKIP MEP’s were elected, increasing their number to 13 in 2009, when the party finished second in the UK vote overall. In the May 2014 euro-elections, UKIP came first in the UK, with nearly four and a half million votes gaining 24 MEP’s. The party also gained its first MEP in Scotland. In Dorset, UKIP came first with a 38.5% share of the vote.
UK General Elections: 1997: UKIP contests its first General Election gaining approximately 100,000 votes (1.0%). 2001: UKIP gains approximately 390,000 votes, (2.3%). 2005: UKIP gains approximately 600,000 votes (3.1%). 2010: UKIP gains 920,000 votes (3.8%). 99 UKIP candidates save their deposits.
2013: UKIP is second in the Barnsley, Rotherham, Middlesbrough, South Shields by-elections, and almost wins Eastleigh with 28.5% of the vote.
2014: UKIP gains its first elected MP’s (Douglas Carswell, Mark Reckless), winning by-elections in Clacton and Rochester & Strood.
General Election, May 2015: UKIP wins approx. 3.9 million votes (13%) – the third biggest party nationally, and holds Douglas Carswell’s seat in Clacton. UKIP gains 120 second places (including 4 of the 8 Dorset constituencies) and finishes in the top three in 477 out of 574 constituencies in England and Wales.
EU Referendum, June 2016: Because of the large UKIP vote in the May 2015 General Election, David Cameron is forced to concede an In/Out referendum on Britain’s EU membership. UKIP is the only major political party to support ‘Leave’. UKIP branches across Britain provide vital support for the ‘Leave’ campaign on the ground, ensuring that the overwhelming advantages of the government propaganda machine are cancelled out by concerted grassroots action from ordinary citizens.
In spite of the odds stacked against it, ‘Leave’ wins the referendum with 52% of the vote. The 17.4 million ‘Leave’; voters is the largest single political vote in UK history. 73% of the polling areas in England and Wales vote for ‘Leave’. Based on parliamentary constituencies, ‘Leave’ would have won 421 out of 650 seats.
Local Council Elections:
May 2013: In County Council Elections, UKIP wins 25% of the vote nationally, gaining 147 County Council seats, including Ferndown. In Dorset, UKIP candidates achieve 22 second places in 40 wards.
May 2014: In Metropolitan Council elections, UKIP gains 163 new Councillors.
May 2015: In Local Council elections UKIP wins seats in Poole (Alderney), Bournemouth (Kinson South), Christchurch (Grange) and Weymouth & Portland (Melcombe Regis), taking the total of UKIP Councillors nationally to over 500. Locally in Dorset, UKIP gains its first seats on District and Borough Councils; in Weymouth and Portland (Francis Drake) and Poole (Mike Fisher)
May 2016: In Local Council elections, UKIP wins 58 Council seats, including 26 gains. UKIP also wins its first seats on the Welsh Assembly (7 members) and London Assembly (2 members).
Troubled Times …… After the historic ‘Leave’ vote on 23rd June 2016, there was a widespread sense that UKIP had ‘done its job’. Many voters felt free to return to their historic party allegiances, lured by Labour and Conservative promises to respect the referendum result. After Nigel Farage stepped down as leader, the party was dogged by instability and infighting at the top, which short-term leaders Diane James and Paul Nuttall were unable to quell.
In the May 2017 Local Elections, the party lost all but one of its gains in the May 2013 elections. This was the forerunner to a poor performance in the June 2017 General Election, which being a ‘snap’ election, took everyone by surprise and put the smaller parties at a severe disadvantage. Faced with the most unfavourable of circumstances, UKIP fielded 376 candidates polling 589,000 votes, an average of 1,635 per candidate (3.25% average). UKIP’s vote was about one quarter of its 2015 GE result, but was roughly the same as in the 2010 General Election, before the pre-referendum ‘surge’. UKIP was the third party in 124 of 376 seats it contested.
After the disappointing 2017 results, Paul Nuttall stood down as party leader. The subsequent leadership election was won by Henry Bolton OBE, a former army officer. Following revelations in the press about his personal conduct, the party’s NEC passed a unanimous vote of No Confidence in his leadership. On 17th February 2018, this was endorsed by 63% of the party’s members at an Extraordinary General Meeting held in Birmingham and Henry Bolton was removed as Leader.
A succession of short-term leaders followed; Gerard Batten, Richard Braine and finally Freddy Vachha. None were able to halt the slide into internal party conflict and personal in-fighting among the party leadership. In the process, most of UKIP’s MEP and many senior personnel resigned.
Against this unpromising background, UKIP local branches in Dorset have continued to keep going. In the April 2019 local elections, UKIP won its first seat on the unitary Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council, when Diana Butler won a seat from the Conservatives in Creekmoor (Poole).
The Fight Back Begins Here …. Under the leadership of Neil Hamilton, party unity has been restored. A full manifesto of UKIP’s domestic policies has been produced. Membership is on the rise once more, as voters begin to see the cracks emerging in Boris Johnson’s ‘Fake Brexit’.
The UK-EU Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA), is more than a trade agreement, it is a political treaty; an EU generated text with far-reaching commitments. Buried deep in the TCA are EU bridgeheads to govern the UK via the back door. As Neil Hamilton says: ‘it is quietly riddled with backchannel ties to the EU’. Scores of committees and working parties will be set up under a Joint Partner Council to decide many aspects of UK governance related to the TCA, where the EU will have equal representation.
As in 1973, the UK’s fishing industry has been sold out. We will withdraw from the ruinous Common Fisheries Policy, but we must wait five and a half years to regain full control of our fishing waters. There might not be much left by then, as EU supertrawlers will be free to hoover up most of the fish. During ’transition’, the EU will get the lions share of the catch, with UK boats eventually getting a measly 25% extra; enough to catch 10 more Cod a month; not enough to cover rising fuel costs.
In a screeching U-turn, Boris Johnson dumped any UK Bill of Rights, keeping us in the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. In theory, the UK can now control its borders. In practice, it will be very difficult to discourage or deport illegal migrants, while we remain shackled by the ECHR’s political judgements. Illegal entries into the UK from the EU continue at a high rate and the government shows no willingness to take the robust measures that are necessary to control our borders.
The Northern Ireland Protocol to the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement maintains the jurisdiction of the European Commission and European Court of Justice within the province. Having promised it was something they would never do, the Conservatives have put a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK; dividing our country up as the ‘price for Brexit‘. The British Union has been weakened, perhaps fatally, giving further encouragement to the ScotNatz.
The more that we dig into the detail, there can be no doubt that an exit from the EU under WTO rules would have been better for Britain by far. Instead, Johnson has allowed the 15% of our GDP that depends on EU trade, to become the tail that wags the dog. Even the supposed benefits of free trade to the EU may be illusory as recent EU bans on exports of British agri-foods such as shellfish and sausagemeat to the EU have proved.
UKIP might have won the war, but Boris Johnsons’ Conservatives have lumbered our country with an incomplete, unsatisfactory peace. There is still much unfinished business before we can say that the UK is free from the EU. UKIP remains the only party which believes in fully leaving the EU, and is the only party with the will to carry it out.
If and when Britain is finally disentangled from the EU, our country will still have major long-term economic, financial and social problems. None of the Westminster ‘legacy’ parties seem to have any idea of how to solve them. All appear to think that ever bigger government, more state borrowing and more legislation is the answer. As Britain’s national debt heads inexorably towards the £3 trillion mark or 90% of GDP, the cost of ‘big government’ becomes increasingly unsustainable.
UKIP‘s prescription is about giving people and communities the tools to be self-reliant, and getting the over-mighty, over-intrusive ‘big state’ off their backs, so they can begin to take control, pay down their debts and take responsibility for their own lives.
(Printed and Promoted by UKIP Mid-Dorset & North Poole, 20 Nightjar Close, Poole, BH17 7YN)