To be utterly honest, UKIPs campaign was dreadful. As several who are still in the party have suggested on public forums, UKIP’s reliance on an ill-thought through policy that clumsily attacked the Islamic communities in the UK, just seemed crude and discriminatory. UKIP’s integration agenda was easily depicted as a shift to the far-right in a desperate attempt to remain relevant. Unlike many on the NEC and other members, I was not enthused by this new policy, and left the party soon after it was announced.
Now UKIP is going to go through a leadership election. There are several rabid individuals that will attempt to take UKIP further down the Anti-Islam route, This would be a mistake. While of course, much like several of these individuals I can see the issues with Islamic theology and how extremists are supported by Surah 9 of the Qu’ran to give an example, the policy they suggest would not only fail to counteract the problem but is also massively unpopular.
People care about law and order, but not in the way these individuals think they do. A Burqua ban would not have stopped the attacks in Manchester and London, and the electorate could easily see that. Who did many former UKIP voters actually vote for? Well they voted for the Labour party, who were offering an increased number of police officers. That is what made people feel safe, that was where the Tories were failing. UKIP simply looked like a party that was taking the easy option of attacking Islam.
Now this is not to say that UKIP can’t be radical, Suzanne Evans did a brilliant job of watering down the good economic, defense and other policies that the teams under her had created. She needs to go in order for UKIP to survive. UKIP can support flatter taxation, monetary reform, a proper grammar school system, sensible NHS policies that don’t boil down to “just throw money at it till the problem goes away” and many other policies. It is also not to say that UKIP can’t have a strong policy that tackles the excesses of Islam, Sariah Khan (an Islamic Reformer who gets death threats for her troubles) has recently proposed in the Mirror a set of excellent policy suggestions that would tackle the taboo subjects surrounding Islam whilst not alienating either British Muslims or people in the UK that have an inherent sense of fairness, which a hard line approach would easily scare off.
Objection: If the Electorate are too scared to tackle the issues surrounding stuff like Islam, then we don’t want or need their votes anyway!
Answer: That’s the kind of thinking that led UKIP to get 10% less of the vote than last time. Whether you like it or not, the views of any political party membership do not normally represent the views of the general public. The point being that tackling the excesses in Islamic communities can only be done by winning hearts and minds anyway, and frankly a policy such as looking up a racially profiled group of little girls skirts not only reduces the chances of the problem being tackled, not only is deeply unpopular but is morally wrong . These issues can only be pulled to the mainstream discourse by going about them in a sensible manner, and only if you specifically shut down the extreme elements of policy that you could implement. This is why a controlled border policy “Australian Style” was really popular and workable, whereas the “one in one out” policy UKIP had was terrible and deeply unpopular.
The bottom line is that people like radical parties that offer change, but if UKIP wants to survive and also tackle the taboo subjects, then it must go about the policy in a way that is sensible and suggest policies that would actually work in terms of tackling the problem. Several members of the party have got it into their heads that radical means producing policy that will simply make people cringe: this mindset needs to end.