Friday, November 1, 2013

If UKIP is ever to make an impression in Scotland then they need to present a united front, be more political active, sell the brand better on the streets, be more Scottish, a bit of an upset at the moment as party is thrown into chaos over leadership coup attempt by members

Dear All

In politics momentum is important, as the Scottish National Party has seen they have lost their momentum in the Scottish independence campaign, in fact some may argue they never had it in the first place.

But’s that’s them!

UKIP has risen substantially as a force in the UK, they have done well down south, but the breakthrough hasn’t really been achieved in Scotland.

Scotland is different politically than the rest of the UK, so it is a harder market to break into, and in order to do so, they need to win seats in local government and get activists on the ground selling the message.

UKIP want to be the party responsible for taking Scotland and the rest of the UK out of the European Union.

Just as there are reasons for going, there is a case for staying as well. The EU isn’t all bad but by the same token it isn’t all good either, to best describe it, would be to say, good idea badly implanted.

The future of the UK Independence Party in Scotland is in trouble, with talk of civil war and a coup against its leader north of the Border.

It is doubtful even if everything was rosy in the garden that UKIP could take an EU seat in Scotland, they have made inroads such as mobilising in Scotland with new branches.

That isn’t enough, their presence isn’t high enough, the party is said to be split into factions, people aren’t happy, so an extraordinary general meeting is in the off where three key office bearers face being possibly ousted.

Several key UKIP members have submitted motions of no confidence against Otto Inglis, secretary of Ukip Scotland, and party treasurer Dr Jonathan Stanley.

The business of politics isn’t politics it is business, professional parties need professional campaigners, part time amateurs can help but it is a 24/7 world.

UKIP have Dr Stanley, 31, he is a part-time locum at English hospitals, despite that he only came sixth in a recent Edinburgh Council by-election with 235 votes.

When I stood for public office, I had no money, no resources, no personnel, no really time to run a campaign and no track record as a candidate, wasn’t invited to hustings and was ignored by the press.

I polled 103 votes.

UKIP in Govan polled 112 and they are a political party.

Another UKIP key member is Otto Inglis, he is a qualified barrister so despite having brains, do they have campaigning experience, possibly not enough and have to rely on the ‘brand’ name.

Mr Inglis was fifth in the recent Aberdeen Donside by-election, with 1128 votes, 4.83% of the poll.

Not bad but not great either, and nowhere near breakthrough.

One senior source on UKIP problems said:

"It's an utter shambles. We've no organisation, Mike Scott-Hayward is nowhere to be seen, no-one's heard from Christopher (Lord) Monckton (Ukip Scottish president) and it's really not like any political party I've ever heard of. Communications disappear into a black hole, there's brewing friction and internal politics has taken over. Every party has divisions but there's no structures here to deal with it. It's all very demoralising."

Political parties need to be run as businesses, setting goals, long term and short term.

There is to be an extraordinary meeting in Stirling this month for candidates and leading members to present views on the future of UKIP.

One idea is to be more Scottish in their policies.

Mr Scott-Hayward, another UKIP star and a former Tory councillor, said the party was experiencing a significant growth in membership in Scotland.

And cited the party’s re-organising and setting up new branches in Orkney, Moray, Lanarkshire, the Black Isle and the Borders.

Scott-Hayward is an ex-army major and coastguard officer. That probably will tick a lot of boxes with the main UK leadership but possibly not on the streets of Govan etc.

UKIP is attracting members of various other parties to join its ranks; with some polls claimed their support is hovering around the 9% mark.

I don’t see it being anywhere near that yet, they need to do more work.

Steve McKeane, a recent Ukip Parliamentary candidate is one of those behind the motions to oust Dr Stanley and Mr Inglis said:

"These are internal party matters and will be discussed internally and those within the party will be made aware of results of those discussions in due course. I don't see why people are trying to second guess what will happen."

Another party source said:

"There are a couple of people within the organisation who don't like the way the system is run and organised. They've tried to move against the leadership earlier this year and failed."

A UKIP Scotland spokesman said:

"There's an internal dispute and this is the opportunity to sort that so we can go forward as a united body going forward towards the European elections."

So, a few bumps in the road and possibly some major potholes, the UKIP crowd can’t rely on national brand image, they have to go out and do the long hard slog on the doorstep and with the knowledge that they might bomb.

But if you don’t try you don’t win.

UKIP is at a stage in Scotland where everyone needs to be very much hands on and out on the streets, I don’t see a break through at the Euro elections or Westminster in Scotland, but using the list for Holyrood could make them credible as a force for Council elections in 2017. They need to take the Green Vote, and encourage people to use their vote who otherwise wouldn’t bother. That market is an untapped pool just sitting there, people need a reason to vote and we are seeing increasing low turn outs.

Voting should be compulsory that way it puts pressure on political parties to raise their game, don’t deliver get the bump.

In Govan for example, 80% of people didn’t vote, untapped market out there for the person smart enough to capture it.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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