A little while ago, I took a giant step forward and joined UKIP: the ‘people’s army’. Was I right?
There are now around forty thousand of us members. But my own journey was a little different. For a small part of my professional career, a decade ago, I’d served as a Labour Party Press Officer working closely on a daily routine with Cabinet ministers and ambitious special advisers, including Ed Balls and Ed and David Miliband.
I led the media operation across key Labour marginals in the East of England – Thurrock, Basildon, Harlow, Waveney and Great Yarmouth: places now deserting Labour for UKIP – during the build-up to Tony Blair’s historic Third Term victory.
I was back then, and remain, a strong believer in merit, opportunity, democracy and public services. (Blair back then briefly offered us an EU referendum.)
Fast-forward a decade, I have now been back in my home of Grays Thurrock, Essex, campaigning on the doors. This time for UKIP.
Severely disillusioned with Labour – its financial incontinence, business illiteracy, fanatical loyalty to EU expansion, and patronising fly-swatting of ordinary Party members – I effectively dropped out of politics.
I thought Britain was heading in the wrong direction and there was little that I, or people like me (patriotic grafters), could ever do about it.
Did I make the right decision by joining Britain’s newest major political party: UKIP?
Put simply, yes.
Why is UKIP replacing Labour across so many traditional blue-collar and rural communities? Why does an opinion poll this week show UKIP to be ahead in the former Labour bastion of Thurrock, Essex?
Another one word answer will suffice: evidence.
Since being roundly hammered at the 2014 European elections (and in many council seats), both the Tories and Labour have yet again actively chosen to not listen to voters, or value taxpayers’ money or even support British values.
You could say, for them, it is business as usual.
How can I say this?
Three recent policy debacles speak volumes.
Listening to voters: During the past month the Conservative-led government has done nothing to oppose Albania being the latest recruit into the European Union. At the same time, Labour’s ex-communications chief Alistair Campbell is revealed to be a paid adviser in support of Albania’s EU entry. The country’s accession was congratulated by Tony Blair. Meanwhile, David Cameron fails to oppose Turkey’s entrance into the EU (a 75-million population and also a transit stop for ISIS recruits heading to and fro Iraq). Whilst Ed Miliband actively supports Turkey’s proposed EU membership, but you won’t hear him mention this until after the 2015 General Election.
Valuing taxpayers’ money: Despite being critically underfunded for cancer and intensive care, the NHS is now being asked to fork out an extra £10bn for free weight-loss surgery and gym membership. Moreover, the EU stands to make obesity an official ‘disability’. The Conservative-led government and Labour both stand to support this, and certainly won’t offer resistance to yet another bill heaped upon British families. This will send yet another clear signal that British ministers – regardless of Party – support tax and welfare over hard work and personal responsibility.
British values: Allegations of aggressive takeovers by schools in Birmingham by Salafist Islamists (the ideology underpinning Al-Qaeda) seemed to shock ministers and MPs. But in reality, this is only the first public outbreak of a problem which most MPs (particularly those representing cities) already knew existed, and also expect to be here to stay.
The reality is – dare I say it – that unless the UK spends ten times the amount that it already does on language translation for public services (presently £40m), or recruits tens of thousands of classroom-based child spies (both farcical solutions), then this issue will persist and, in all likelihood erupt repeatedly or tragically.
That is, unless the political establishment begins to find the courage and common sense to discuss and risk assess the viability of some Faith Schools.
Our country could also begin to put a fixed line in the sand about what we – as a compassionate and civilised nation – culturally and politically stand for.
UKIP get this and are the only mainstream party that does straight talking. British citizens overwhelmingly value constitutional liberty and policing by consent. We admire the strictly non-secular, international protocol obligations of various Geneva Conventions as well as an inspiringly simple UN Charter of Human Rights.
Why are these values and pre-existing legal truths not taught, drilled and celebrated in every school and public body in this land?
For those past Labour supporters that have said to me in the past month: “yes, great… but what do you lot actually stand for?” Or “UKIP only stand ‘against’ things.”
This will be certainly Labour’s charge against UKIP in 2015.
Well it’s worth pointing out that Nelson Mandela stood ‘against’ apartheid, Winston Churchill ‘against’ Nazism, US President Lyndon Johnson ‘against’ racist educational segregation, and Tony Blair stood ‘against’ poverty wages and NHS meltdown, and, Ed Miliband stood ‘against’ his brother for the Labour leadership.
For me, being ‘against’ bad policies that cause wide injustice and theft of democracy is absolutely inspiring.
But if you want me to articulate a vision, to be ‘for’ some things, here’s why I joined UKIP one month ago. I believe in:
- Controlled immigration;
- Accountable, smaller, democratic Government;
- Affordable public services that prioritises value-for-money;
- Robust criminal justice and homeland security;
- Democracy for citizens; deregulation for enterprises;
- Promotion of international trade and UK leadership in emerging markets;
Not unreasonable demands for a modern liberal democracy. Moreover, if I restated these ambitions on the streets of Washington DC or Sydney, people would conclude that I was eminently sensible.
From all walks of life, British citizens are joining Nigel Farage’s ‘people’s army’. They are embracing an unassailable fact: there is a much different and smarter way to run our government.
British citizens are fed up to the back teeth of being used as ‘automated taxpaying machines’ (ATMs) for failed ministerial policy and pet projects.
We Brits have also grown tired of an era of Party political manipulation; whereby citizens and communities are run at the convenience of ‘big statist’ government ministers, their appendages of bureaucrats or Eurocrats, and closer to home, fat-cat council leaders and pretend ‘Cabinet Members’ pocketing a small fortune to empty our bins and close down our libraries.
Moreover, our people realise that huge problems do exist, and some are actually quite simple to solve.
This fact undermines Ed Miliband and David Cameron’s smoke-screened, self-serving rhetoric. These two leaders patronised us time and time again, by insisting certain major issues didn’t actually exist. Now rumbled, the fashionable excuse seems to be that issues – such as the radicalisation of school children – are too modern and complex to solve.
So let’s be clear. The biggest risk to Britain’s future is to re-elect the same clique of failed, careerist politicians to return into Westminster in 2015.
Such an electoral disaster will lead to more debt, more tax, wider social disillusionment and deeper community division.
If you vote Labour or Tory, they will take your vote as a ringing endorsement of everything their leadership says and does.
For Labour it will be a green light for welfare to grow at home (read taxes and debt) and for the EU to expand further towards the Middle East.
When I joined UKIP I said that we – the purple ‘people’s army’ – had indeed become the natural political home for working people.
Working people like me have political hope and aspiration once again thanks to UKIP and, in no small measure, our leader Nigel Farage.
As an ex-Labour Party member and staffer, it was an inconvenient truth.
Nevertheless, it is a truth worth telling and definitely worth fighting for.
Please give your backing to save our country, re-establish common sense and fair play.
Please join UKIP.
Richard Bingley is a senior lecturer and company director. He served as a Labour Party Press Officer during 2003-06 and ministerial visits co-ordinator during the 2010 General Election