UKIP has enjoyed better days. Embattled leader Henry Bolton, (the party’s fourth in two years) remains under pressure over racist remarks made by his then-girlfriend Jo Marney. Bolton, under pressure from the party hierarchy split from Marney, only to be caught seen having dinner with her this week.
The backlash from this saga has been severe on UKIP. West Midlands UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge resigned as a party spokesperson and called for Bolton to stand down, with fellow MEP Jonathan Arnott quitting the party totally. Furthermore, rumours abound Bolton will face a vote of no confidence from the UKIP NEC this weekend, but may survive due to the party being unable to afford the contest to replace him.
UKIP has been on a downward spiral for some time. The 2017 local elections saw the party lose all but one of their councillors. Following on from this, the party went on to gain only a measly 1.8% of the vote in the 2017 General Election. Recent revelations have also indicated the party is losing members. This is not a party moving forward!
It’s not always been like this for UKIP. It was their initial growth which was a factor in Cameron promising the EU referendum in 2013. Additionally, UKIP won the 2014 European elections, gained 2 defecting MPs from the Conservatives and secured nearly 4 million votes at the 2015 General Election. History will still show their impact on UK politics in the last decade as being significant.
So what has happened? Firstly, larger than life former leader Nigel Farage stepping down in 2016 after the EU referendum was a hammer blow for the party. Farage brought air time, recognition and relevance, attracting voters across the country. The party has never fully recovered or found a new appeal.
Secondly, they won. UKIP’s sole purpose was to secure and win a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Now this has been achieved a large proportion of UKIP’s supporters feel the job is complete. What is their left for UKIP to achieve or campaign for?
Lastly, the internal organisation of the party is shambolic. UKIP have always lacked professionalism and structure. Without this base, no political party can sustain itself for the long term. The chaotic nature of the party is a significant factor as to why it’s in this mess.
UKIP has been written off many times before only to bounce back, but this time it seems like it is at the end of the road. A party with no cause, no charisma and no organisation has no place in UK politics. Until one or probably all three of these factors change UKIP will be destined for the scrap-heap. Still, they can always claim it was fun while it lasted.