Archive for the 'UKIP' Category

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The Bad Boys Of Brexit. A review

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

The “Bad Boys Of Brexit” relates the adventures of Nigel Farage, Aaron Banks and Andy Wigmore and the Leave.eu campaign from July 2015 to the referendum and beyond, with a later addendum taking the story up to the May election announcement . It’s told in diary format as written by Aaron Banks, one of the leaders of Leave.eu. The blurb tells us that “every Remainer should steel themselves to read it, because the mindset that it captures…is driving change on both sides of the Atlantic.” (Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian).

Well, whatevs. The blurb works if you live in the Westminster bubble, and I assume many such read it and made many serious pronouncements on WHAT IT ALL MEANS. Well, OK, if you must, but that misses the point, which is: the book is a hoot. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and deliberately so, and not for post-modern sarcastic reasons. Let me explain.

Firstly, you have to note that although it’s nominally written by Banks, it’s actually ghostwritten by Isabel Oakeshott (with help from Banks and Andy Wigmore, the third wheel of the Banks/Farage/Wigmore triad) and she reconstructed the events from texts, emails, notes and half-remembered events. The genre is constructed reality, that grey area where real people speak words that are plausibly their own and accurately represent what they said but are ordered and set to make the narrative flow and form a story. The best example of this genre is “Top Gear” and as Clarkson once said, it takes hours to write the script for an unscripted show. This book flows really well.

Secondly, everybody is as rich as Croesus. Seriously. Banks isn’t an Arthur Daley car salesman from Bristol, he owns a diamond mine in Africa and flies there and back insouciantly throughout the book. Millionaires walk on and off like bit parts: there is Stuart Wheeler, there is Jim Mellon, here are the Masons, there is a politician, well hello my Lord Ashcroft OHMIGODITSTHEDONALD. It’s “Stella Street” for the rich and infamous and I want Oakeshott to write Banks’s biography.

Thirdly, Oakeshott’s Banks has a waspish tongue and it’s hysterical. He disparages everybody who is not Leave.eu: Dominic Cummings, Matthew Elliot, all come in for forthright comment and his barbs at Douglas Carswell are cheerfully libellous. In real life it would be unpleasant but his Oakeshott avatar is poised *just* enough to turn him into a cheeky chappie and speaker of inconvenient truths, a witty gadfly not a creep.

Fourthly, and this is where the book really takes flight, it gradually begins to dawn that this is an episode of “Top Gear”. It’s the Brexit Special, where our three chums wander thru an event, messing up, having a laugh, and curiously winning. They are proper buccaneering semicrims on the Empire model, gliding thru casino and boardrooms, the “Persuaders” telepodded with Clarkson/May/Hammond, Roger Moore urbanity and Tony Curtis tough.

All the battles are cheerfully lost and nothing ever seems to work – Banks tries to organize a concert and a song and flops hugely, his staff are full-stretched trying to keep things going – but the war is won. Lesser books would ram the leave message home here, but Oakeshott is skilful and the persuasion slips down smoothly: people write in with small donations, volunteers volunteer, a great task is underway and the people are marching.

The extended book ends when May announces the election, and Banks cheerfully berates the reader for looking for the deliberately-omitted index. When you consider what happens next, ending it here is probably for the best. Farage should have retired to the House Of Lords and accepted the thanks due the most successful politician of his generation, not the CPAC groupie he turned into; Banks’s unpleasant side became more apparent; and so on as reality overwhelmed the polite narrative.

But never mind the facts, print the legend. The chums are best remembered in one of the book’s more memorable moments when, after winning the Referendum and having drink taken, Farage and Banks skinny dip in Bournemouth (Farage insists pants-on), cocking around on a provincial British shorefront. Brexit Madlads forever…

The “Bad Boys Of Brexit” reviewed here was the paperback version, ISBN: 9781785902055, published by Biteback  in print and available new at £9.99 or free from your local library. Support your local library godsdammit… 🙂

Viewcode

Viewcode is a statistician who works in the private sector



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As Farage’s “mass” march heads South the ex-UKIP leader has branding problems if there are Euro elections

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

Do voters know that he’s quit UKIP?

Given the Commons votes over the past week then there must be a chance that the UK will participate in the European Parliament elections at the end of May.

Farage is now with his new Brexit party which would what would appear on the closed list ballot papers if elections are held. The problem here is that while UKIP enjoys a high level of awareness Farage’s new party has yet to establish itself. Most voters, I’d guess, still think Farage is with UKIP.

So assuming that there are UK Euro elections then we could expect both UKIP and the Brexit party to be on the regional list ballot papers. As PBers no doubt know, in these election you vote for the party and not the individual and Farage’s name would only be on ballot paper in his own region.

This has the potential to split the pro-Brexit vote and make it mighty hard for Farage to achieve anything like the the success of 2014 when his then party, UKIP, came top.

At this stage this is hypothetical but all the main parties are working on plans just in case Euro elections take place.

Mike Smithson




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A reminder of how GE2015 UKIP voters voted at GE2017

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

History suggests assuming Kippers will strongly back the Tories when UKIP don’t stand is a mistake.

Since the announcement of the Chequers deal in July UKIP have experienced a bit of a polling surge with some polls having them polling 7% and 8% but generally in the 4% to 6% range.

I’m expecting UKIP at the next general election will repeat their 2017 strategy of not standing in many constituencies. Right now UKIP seem happy to be the political wing of the EDL and their leader, a convicted fraudster, the man arrested for being an illegal immigrant, and assaulter of police, and all round bad egg Tommy Robinson. All of this seesUKIP potentially reconfiguring into a street movement than a political party.

So who will these current UKIP voters vote for at the next general election if UKIP don’t stand many candidates? The graph below shows how 2015 UKIP voters voted at the 2017 general election based on some analysis by YouGov.

Anyone adding most of the current UKIP vote share to the Tory share will be making a huge mistake based on past performance. In 2017 centre left voters put Jeremy Corbyn on cusp of Downing Street, at the next general election Tory to UKIP defectors might end up putting him Downing Street.

I suspect how these current UKIP voters vote at the next general election will mostly be determined by 1) The type of Brexit we achieve and 2) Who the Tory leader is. Someone like Jacob Rees-Mogg will see them back the Tories in greater numbers, less so if the Tory leader is someone like Philip Hammond or Sajid Javid.

Hopefully YouGov and other pollsters will track these switchers, and further analyse their long term past voting past behaviour so we can work out if this just typical mid term blues for the governing party or a more fundamental switch.

TSE



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Last rights? Are UKIP set to revive?

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

It is a regular feature of horror films that, just when you think it has been destroyed, the monster lurches back into life one last time to terrorise the valiant hero.  Right now the corpse of UKIP is lying slouched in the corner but with its poll ratings a quantum level higher than they were two months ago its body is twitching as if an electrical stimulus is being pumped through it.  Can it return from the dead?

Following the Brexit vote, UKIP became a bit of a joke.  It had a succession of increasingly-unsuitable leaders chosen through farcical leadership contests.  For a surprisingly long time it held up well in the polls until seeing its rating disintegrate in the run-up to the 2017 election.  In the end, it tallied just 1.8% of the UK vote, as the Conservatives absorbed all but the most hardcore supporters.

On the surface, things have not improved.  The current UKIP leader, Gerald Batten, could not be picked out of an identity parade by most voters.  Its general secretary compared UKIP to the Black Death.  It nearly went bust following a court order that it had to underwrite legal costs following a libel case before a donor intervened.  Former luminaries such as Nigel Farage and Arron Banks are currently engaged on other projects.  At least three previous leading figures of the kipperati have set up their own parties. 

Membership has seemingly collapsed.  Precise numbers are not available but we got a good indication earlier this month when the UKIP Welsh leadership election was announced.  The winner, Gareth Bennett, won with 269 votes and the whole electorate, in other words all of UKIP Wales’s members, was 876.  A small village has just chosen its new idiot.

Yet the UKIP brand evidently remains strong.  Despite everything, it is now tallying 5% or more in the polls.  This has coincided, probably not by chance, with an apparent dip in Conservative poll ratings.  This cohort of voters could prove significant for the chances of the two main parties next time.

There are good reasons to suspect that UKIP’s current polling would not be replicated at a general election in the short term.  For a start, it would have difficulty even putting up a full slate of candidates.  It is open to question whether they could afford to fund the deposits.  Many voters would have no UKIP option to protest with.

If UKIP did field a full slate, many of them could be expected to add to the gaiety of the nation.  Remember, one past UKIP leadership candidate claimed that a gay donkey tried to rape his horse and another advocated the mining of asteroids.  Just imagine the quality of the next tier down.  The candidates are likely to ensure that the UKIP vote is a very principles-driven vote.

So even if the UKIP vote were not squeezed by the major parties in the election campaign, as happened last time, there is every chance that their vote share would be no higher than last time if the election were held any time soon.  The corpse may be twitching but these look, for now at least, like cadaveric spasms.

That isn’t as good news for the Conservatives as it sounds.  For a start, just because disgruntled voters can’t vote for UKIP doesn’t mean they will vote for the Conservatives.  Even if they don’t want to vote Labour (and some will), they can stay at home and not vote at all.  Many might.

So the Conservatives will need to keep an eye on their right flank.  The support of some of those 2017 voters is highly contingent. 

Moreover, the obvious fragility of the Conservatives’ hard Brexit support means that the prospect of a new hard right party emerging cannot be ruled out.  Arron Banks seems to be enjoying his self-image as a bad boy of Brexit and as controller of Leave.EU, with 181,000 twitter followers, has the numbers to set up a new vehicle.

The hard right still have one star player, Nigel Farage, and if he could be persuaded to rejoin the fray (whether under UKIP’s banner or elsewhere) he would immediately draw a large number of committed followers to his side. Perhaps the film that we are watching is not Terminator, but Terminator 2.

Or perhaps the film is Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Instead of starting a new party to take on the Conservatives, the hard right can try to take it over instead. Leave.EU have tweeted to encourage like-minded Leavers to join the Conservative party in order to be able to vote in the next leadership election.

Entryism would be a shortcut to political contention.Conservative Leavers already seem pretty focused on the topic of Brexit reliability and the more intense ones aren’t paying much regard to party boundaries. 

Some at least of Leave.EU’s twitter followers have answered the call, and within three months these entryists will have a vote in the final round of any future Conservative leadership election campaign.

If they succeed, we might rapidly see both main parties as the territory of hardline activists with the MPs who are not true believers struggling to maintain their heads above the waves. If you think that politics has become too partisan in recent years, it might well get far worse. That really should give you the shivers and keep you awake at night.

Alastair Meeks




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UKIP drops to just 1% in latest ICM poll

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Is it all over now the party’s task is almost complete?

Ever since the referendum on June 23rd 2016 life has been pretty difficult for UKIP the party, which undoubtedly played a huge part in shaping this dramatic decision.

Since then we’ve all followed the various leadership issues and I chuckled when Fairy liquid produced an advertisement suggesting that one pack would last longer than four UKIP leaders.

Tonight’s poll from ICM, as can be seen above, has the party down at 1% which I believe is the lowest certainly since GE2010.

This coincides with a dramatic fall off in the number of council seats that it holds as well as the failure last June win a single MP.

BREXIT means, of course, that there will be no UKIP MEPs from March 29th next year assuming everything goes to plan.

It can be argued, of course, that the UKIP agenda has now been absorbed by the Conservative Party and that the need for the single issue organisation is not necessary anymore.

If this poll is right then the voters appear to have taken that on board.

Mike Smithson




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It is a big mistake to assume that the decline of UKIP means its voters automatically go to the Tories

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Serious analysis shows this is not happening

One of the big electoral assumptions that continues to be made is that the decline of UKIP means that their votes shift almost an entirety to the Conservatives.

We saw this thinking big time in a run up to the June 2016 general election when people were looking at the previous results from a seat and simply adding the UKIP share to the Tory total to come to some of you as to what would happen.

We continue to see it in current polling analysis when people look at the national pole shares of 4%-5% for UKIP compared with what happened at the general election in this party secured 1.8%. A big reason for that decline with that it did not put up candidates in a full range of seats and therefore, so the reasoning goes, you can add two or three percent to Conservative total.

This is total bullocks and simply does not stand up to serious analysis.

A major study was carried out by the leading political scientist, Oxford’s Stephen Fisher after the May 2017 local elections when the party vote shares in the 939 local seats where UKIP had stood four years earlier were examined.

This is what he concluded.

“..Regression analysis shows that where UKIP started with around 13% (taking their vote share in the 2015 General Election as an example) the swing from Labour to the Conservatives was 3.9 points if UKIP stood again, and 4.6 points if they dropped out. A difference of just 0.7 points.

Similarly, the swing from the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives was 1.8 points if UKIP stood again, and 2.3 points if they dropped out. A difference of just 0.5 points.

These differences, the dropout effects, get larger the stronger the UKIP starting point. But they are never very big. For the divisions where UKIP got more than 30% in 2013, the effect of dropout is to increase the swings from either Labour and the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives by just 2 points each on average.

The reason UKIP dropout had such a small effect on the swings to the Conservatives is that it benefited all three of the other main parties, it just helped the Conservatives a bit more.

It was that article last May that caused me to bet on the spread markets that the Conservatives would not win more than 393 seats in the general election. As it turned out that bet with my biggest ever political winner.

Mike Smithson




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UKIP as a political party – one of the big casualties of Brexit

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

How Brussels created the electoral system for UKIP to prosper

One of the ongoing political developments that has amused many since the referendum has been the UKIP leadership and the problems the party has in ensuring that whoever is gets the job lasts the course.

    An of the success of UKIP over the years is that it owes so much to Brussels for seeking to impose similar voting systems for MEPs across the whole EU. If that had not happened then it is hard to see how it could have emerged as an electoral force rather than a fringe pressure group.

For the 1999 MEP elections the EU resolved that all countries should elect their MEPs using a form of proportional representation. What played a key part, and probably crucial, in the UK was the decision of the Labour government ahead of the 1999 elections to have it operated on the basis of the closed party list.

This meant that voters simply chose a party and not individual candidates to be the Euro MPs and reduces the needs for individual MEPs to build up a presence with voters. Amongst most other EU countries the PR system operates but an open list exists and voters choose the order in which candidates by name they want to represent them.

It was that 1999 election that first saw UKIP MEP going to Brussels and in each succeeding euro elections the party increased it’s representation significantly to 2014 when it topped the poll in the UK.

If all goes to plan UKIP will lose all its MEPs on March 29th next year and its only elected politicians will be a few remaining local councillors and members of the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies, elected by the regional list, whose terms end in 2021.

Unless UKIP can miraculously find a way of winning first past the post elections it will be electorally dead.

Mike Smithson




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One thing’s for sure – Henry Bolton’s name awareness has soared

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

But what about bets on his survival?

I quite like the 11/4 that he’ll hang on – after all Farage is on his side and the party doesn’t have an abundance of talent.

I’ve been quite impressed with his resilience so far.

Mike Smithson