The first major test of Paul Nuttall’s leadership has come: The Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election. If we take it, Ukip’s future over the next few years is secured, if we don’t, what prospects do the party have of winning seats in 2020?
This is a call to arms for the people’s army of Ukip. The time has come to bury the hatchet, pull together and mobilise like never before. Tristram Hunt’s resignation as an MP has given Ukip a perfect opportunity to stem the tide of the Illiberal Undemocrats and their polluting efforts to undermine and indeed overturn the democratic will of the people of Britain.
I cannot overstate just how important a by-election this will be for Ukip. The party came second in the 2015 General Election, 5180 votes short of taking the seat under ordinary election conditions. Stoke-on-Trent voted overwhelmingly, almost 70-30 to leave the European Union. The combination of these two facts should make Ukippers across the country, including the leadership, realise that this is a monumental opportunity and also a monumental test of the party’s ability to attract enough support to win seats in General Elections. I know Ukip wants to put in a good show in the upcoming Copeland by-election, but that would require a swing of more than 10,000 votes and would seem, with today’s news, a waste of precious financial resources.
One of the major problems that will be faced by the Brexit side over the next decade is that they do not have one single party that all brexiteers can fall behind. The Illiberal Undemocrats have quite cleverly portrayed themselves for years as “the party of Europe”, and as such people know that in local elections and by-elections, a vote for the Illiberal Undemocrats is a vote against democracy and against Britain leaving the European Union. At present, brexiteer support falls largely behind both Ukip and the Conservatives. If this remains, then the country may well end up remaining as well, in the European Union.
Ukip needs to mobilise. The party needs to pump as much money, talent and resources as they possibly can into taking the Stoke-on-Trent Central seat in the upcoming by-election. During the Richmond by-election, the Illiberal Undemocrats drafted in over 1,000 activists from across the country. Bitter, backstreet crawlers who took great delight in campaigning for a candidate as awful at understanding democracy as she is at conducting radio interviews.
Ukip needs to replicate these efforts, but to also make a few adjustments. Ukip needs a credible candidate, departing from Illib Undem madness. Ukip needs to bring in people from right across the country and Ukip needs to spend some serious money. Unfortunately, this won’t be enough either.
If you are a Conservative Party voter, face it, you aren’t going to win this seat. Not only will the party suffer, as do most parties of Government in by-elections, but there is also no guarantee that the Conservative’s will select somebody who truly believes in leaving the European Union. If you’re a Conservative Party remain voter, do what you will, but if, as Conservative Party leave voters, you are prepared to lend your vote to Ukip in this by-election, to help ensure we get a candidate who actually believes in Britain outside of the European Union, then you must! The arithmetic from the 2015 General Election is clear, this seat can be won by a right-wing party, an anti-EU party, provided one steps aside for the other, maybe not officially, but even unofficially would do it.
A strong Conservative campaign, regardless of whether the candidate is a remain or leave voter, will only aid the bitter remainers to sweep in and take the seat. We cannot let that happen! A Conservative Party leave voter who decides to split the leave vote is almost betraying the cause they believe in by accident. We know how few MPs support Brexit, we need to start filling it with a few more. Ukip is making in-roads into the sort of working class areas that are plentiful in Stoke-on-Trent, it would be mad for the Conservatives to prop up Labour with a campaign purely for the sake of it.
This is a must win for Ukip if we are to continue claiming to be a credible voice in British politics. When the date of the by-election is called, get down there if you can, help out if you can. I’ll be doing my best to get down there during my studies. If by chance this reaches the upper echelons of Ukip, the party needs to spend big to win. I have no idea how financially sound Ukip are, but this could really prove to be a big turning point in the fortunes of the party and solidify the leadership of Paul Nuttall. Arron Banks, if you catch this, get your cheque book out, Brexit needs it!
If Ukip fails to take this seat as seriously as it should, if it fails to select an adequate candidate, if it fails to spend the required amount of money and if it fails to win this seat, it’s very difficult to see how the party can win seats at a General Election. Let’s get down to Stoke and show them what we can offer!