What does UKIP stand for? If you ask the members you’ll receive a range of conflicting answers wider than the sun. If you ask the media, half will call us closet racists and the other half will return a snort of derision and disparaging comments on UKIP’s current lack of a manifesto.
If you ask the party’s own spokespeople, press office or even elected representatives the chances are you won’t get a clear response – it may appear coherent, but it won’t be clear. But this doesn’t matter because somehow the public have an idea of who UKIP are and what they stand for, and recent elections suggest they rather like what they see.
Despite an almost total rejection of their own 2010 manifesto – entirely fair, given the space devoted to vivisection was more than that given to economic policy – and the only clear messages emerging in the run up to the recent European elections being a decisive “non” to the European Union and the free movement of people it brings, a report by Aesop into brand “storytelling” suggests that UKIP have one of the strongest brands around, vastly outstripping Britain’s other political parties and an array of large corporations that have media spends that dwarf UKIP’s ten to one.
In association with OnePoll, the 2014 Brand Storytelling survey asked 2,000 consumers to identify brands against 9 key storytelling elements; unique character/personality, a clear opinion, vision and purpose, whether the brand intrigues as to their next movement, whether they tell a credible story, if they create their own world, whether the brand makes you want to talk about them, if they are entertaining and whether they are memorable.
UKIP score in the top ten for three of these categories and eleventh overall for their brand; the closest political competitor being the Greens who come in at 64th, the poor Lib Dems down at 93. Perhaps the most interesting statistic is that UKIP are second only to Apple for intrigue into their next movements, something I imagine the UKIP press office has felt many a time.
As a former member and current supporter, I would rather like to know what UKIP will do next because that will entirely determine whether I part with £30 and re-join. For a while, I’ve predicted a forthcoming civil war within the party as the old school former Conservatives and the newly charmed former Labour elements realise that they both inhabit the same party and that party is quite soon going to have to set out what it would do post-2015.
You cannot please everyone, as Farage will soon find out. The libertarian element has largely been pushed out already and rumours suggest the promise of a flat rate income tax, set at 20 percent, is to be dropped from the party’s policy roster, a key carrot and therefore great loss for many of us who joined back in 2012.
The interesting point deriving from this survey has to be that despite a relatively tiny media budget, a distinct lack of current policies in most areas that matter to your average voter and a veritable barrage of negativity from The Sun, The Times, both the left and indeed much of the right, UKIP is succeeding where other parties are failing by creating a strong idea in the mind of the public of who they are and what they intend to do.
While the UK’s political bubble might pick holes and write UKIP off as a one-hit-wonder, a one trick pony and little but an almighty headache for the establishment, the public like what they see and apparently UKIP can do little wrong, despite the best efforts of a few of its members and one or two of its elected representatives. When a party pitches policy, they are not pitching to The Guardian or the Dan Hodges of the world, they are after voters and, perhaps strangely, UKIP bound from strength to strength.
Bugger the bubble; UKIP has a brand and it works where it matters.