It is fair to say that things have not gone well for UKIP so far in this nascent general election campaign. The pledge to medically check girls for FGM seems to have gone over rather less well than they had hoped, to put things mildly; polling suggests strongly that their vote is melting into the Tory behemoth as a snap election sharpens minds; probably to do with funding difficulties, UKIP have announced that they won’t be standing in seats with pro-Leave Tory MPs, thereby causing the last thing I mentioned to get worse and worse as the campaign deepens; and finally, and probably most problematic of all for UKIP, Paul Nuttall yesterday dodged a question about whether or not he’d be standing anywhere at all.
“Ukip leaders have done quite well not being in parliament, haven’t they?” he said painfully as he tried to escape from reporters. He also gave the impression that it wasn’t his call to make; that the party’s NEC would ultimately make the decision. So that’s what happened in Stoke Central then – Nuttall always thought it was a bad idea, it’s just that being leader of UKIP is a sort of paper job, as it happens. It all goes down at NEC level in UKIP.
This was one of the few things UKIP had to really sort out as soon as May called the election: where is our best prospect of a seat? Great, Paul, you’re standing there. I mean, if the NEC rules UKIP by fiat anyhow, right?
If Nuttall does not stand, UKIP should simply disband. After the country voted to Leave, UKIP tried tamely to become some sort of English nationalist party. This hasn’t worked out as planned. And if they don’t think they can take Labour seats in the 2017 general election, when they’ll be falling like dominos, then they just have to admit to themselves that they’ll never take them at any election. Nuttall not standing anywhere basically announces to the world that they have no confidence that the party can take one single seat anywhere in the country. Again, what’s the point of existing then? Has anyone told them that they won’t have any MEPs fairly shortly?
Oddly, UKIP of late makes me realise just how – good is not the word – able Nigel Farage is. His politics may be the very opposite of mine, but watching the shower that has occurred since his departure, you have to give the man some begrudging credit for what he achieved – and much of it really was all down to him. I have thought in the past that there was an easy void to be filled in British politics and Farage was simply in the right place at the right time. Watching Paul Nuttall makes me realise how little that was the case.