Farage fears UKIP can’t win a ground war

by Kevin Meagher

So Nigel Farage has decided to act strategically rather than tactically by not putting himself forward for the Newark by-election.

He knows two things only too well. The first and most obvious is that because he’s so publicly the face of UKIP, he cannot damage his own brand – and by extension the party’s – by standing and losing.

Second, he knows his party’s organisation isn’t yet strong enough to take on the other parties polished by-election operations in a tough fight.

Announcing his decision on Radio Four’s Today programme this morning to accusations he was “frit”, Farage described himself as “a fighter and a warrior but I am determined to pick my battles”.

To continue the military analogies, Farage knows that he’s successful at hit-and-run tactical opportunism and runs a good air war, using his media profile to good effect to rain down rhetorical bombs on the Tories’ crumbling fortifications.

But when it comes to the ground war – where elections are won and lost – Farage’s troops are still raw recruits, while his boots are more used to treading the manicured lawn of College Green than Newark High Street.

UKIP seemed genuinely put out at Labour’s postal vote operation in the Wythenshawe by-election in February, with Farage claiming: “I have been on benders for longer than the opening of the nominations and the start of the postal ballots. This has been a farce.”

If he doesn’t understand how the postal vote system works in elections, then he really isn’t ready for close electoral combat.

But UKIP is learning.  Building membership and organisation, getting tough with errant candidates, learning political tradecraft and raising enough cash to keep the show on the road is the boring bit of politics. But without it, UKIP has no chance of making a breakthrough.

Farage knows this. He is biding his time, hoping that he turns his barmy army into crack shots in time for next year’s general election.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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6 Responses to “Farage fears UKIP can’t win a ground war”

  1. Ex Labour says:

    “on the Tories’ crumbling fortifications”. Ah …of course that would include Labour crumbling fortifications also Kevin, bearing in mind that ComRes poll today ?

    Farage really doesn’t have to do anything as the above poll puts UKIP in a very strong position for the EU elections. Why would he put it at risk by standing in Newark ?

    The truth is that UKIP’s message resonates with a disaffected public. Miliband and the Labour front bench have studiously avoided dealing with any of the issues so the Labour support is also ebbing away.

    The Labour millionaire front benchers should stop reading the Guardian and look whats happening to their traditional core voters who see their wages driven down, schools overcrowded, GP appointments harder to get and just about every other public service coming under strain. UKIP are and thats why they are top of the polls.

  2. Tafia says:

    The postal voting system in this country is one of the reasons why people no longer trust the main parties. It is routinely defrauded by party workers even now after all the scandals.

    It should be illegal for party workers to deliver, collect or handle postal votes, illegal for them to suggest to electors that they switch to postal votes and illegal for anyone to take possesion of an envelope that has not been sealed beforehand by the voter.

    Postal voting should be for those people who register as being out of the country (planned holidays, services personnel etc), those people registered disabled and those people confined to nursing homes and hospitals. They should not be for people who are that lazy they can’t be arsed to go to a polling station.

  3. swatantra says:

    Spam Fritter!

  4. So there we have it.

    Nigel Farage’s concession that UKIP will never win a seat in the House of Commons, and that he himself thinks little or nothing of that House, since he would not wish his standing for it to “distract” him from his standing for the European Parliament.

    Of course UKIP’s support would always have been back down to 15 per cent next year. When it comes to General Elections, people do not vote for pub bore anti-politicians, not even for pub bore anti-politicians who have been salaried politicians for donkey’s years and who have already sought election to the Commons no fewer than six times.

    Perhaps UKIP was worried that, if it ever did win a seat, then it would receive only the attention paid to the Green Party? Or that if Farage himself ever got in, then he would be treated in only the same way as almost all of his 649 new colleagues?

    That threat to UKIP or to Farage has never existed, but the problem is real.

    What is not real, however, is the transfer to UKIP of “core Labour voters”. So UKIP came second at Rotherham or at South Shields? Someone always did, and someone always will. We all know who, in fact. It is from there that any increase in the UKIP vote in the North will come next month.

    In two of the three Northern regions, the Conservatives topped the poll last time, as they also did in Wales, although Labour did so in all of those places the time before that.

    When, a mere three weeks from now, Labour tops the poll in Wales and in all three Northern regions, then will that be because its base of support had collapsed? If it had even come second (its position in three of those four regions last time) behind UKIP, with the Conservatives in third place, then would that have been the explanation?

    The Conservatives’ current Leader in the European Parliament sits for the one Northern region where Labour remained on top in 2009. Yes, you read aright: the Leader of the Conservative MEPs sits for the North East. He used to be on Gateshead Council. Gateshead, where Farage recently told his audience that he was a Thatcherite.

    Anyone who reported the politics of India with the illiteracy that is routine to the point of universality in relation to the politics of the North of England would be sacked on the spot, or never employed in the first place.

  5. Tafia says:

    David, that comment is so wrong on so many places it is laughably amteurish at best. UKIP are contesting Newark. Farage personally isn’t because he has assessed it (quite correctly) as being at the wrong time because of the euro elections and he doesn’t want distractions. Farage will almost certainly stand in 2015 in Folkestone.

    As for what’s happening to Labour’s vote, you will have to look at the actual amount of votes after the event. As it stands in the euros, Labour’s total vote is on course to decrease in each region along with the Tories and Lib Dems whereas UKIPs will increase so therefore there is erosion of Labour’s vote to UKIP. I can actually introduce you to some Labour councillors, union reps and party members who are voting UKIP in May.

    The last two opinion polls released yesterday suggest UKIP will become the dominant UK party in the EU come May. You might not like that, but that does not mean it isn’t true.

    You are burying your head in the sand (and up your arse). That is exactly the wrong thing to do.

  6. Henrik says:

    I’m undeniably tempted, given the staggering irrelevance of the European Parliament to my life, to vote UKIP, just to help pack the place with irritating swivel-eyed Brits who can cat-call mockingly from the sidelines and perhaps add to the loud chorus of abuse which should, rightly, be directed at the profoundly undemocratic chair-warmers in the Commission. This should not be taken as any sort of insight into my voting intentions in elections which matter, of course.

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