The Highs and Lows of the Ukip Conference 2014

Following on from the Ukip Annual Conference in October, James Prentice runs us through some of the key points made, and how their idea of ‘governance changes as much as the wind changes direction.’

Ukip Logo. Photo: Ukip Chesterfield

Ukip Logo. Photo: Ukip Chesterfield

What were the highlights of Ukip’s Conference?

In all honesty, their first and only highlight was achieved through unveiling their latest stolen piece of Tory treasure, Mark Reckless, who was previously a Conservative MP for Rochester. Ukip planned this unveiling with great secrecy for three reasons:

Tory defector Mark Reckless joined Ukip. Photo: PA

Tory defector Mark Reckless joined Ukip. Photo: PA

Firstly, Ukip have done this to give themselves yet another chance to win a by-election and any chance to show they can gain parliamentary seats will be welcomed by all Ukip members. If they win a seat considered to be ‘safe’ for the Tories, Nigel Farage knows it will elevate his party into a more powerful position, to start demanding this referendum he desires so much.

Secondly, to gain some media spotlight. Usually at this time of year is a period mid-way between two elections, where anything but the ‘Big Three’ have little coverage, resulting in the smaller parties having great difficulty getting any message they have across.

Finally, the way they have managed to unveil unprecedented Tory defectors without anyone really knowing will instil complete fear into any Conservative supporter. The fact Ukip have managed to do this in Conservative territory makes it all the more problematic for the Tory vote and all the more beneficial for Ukip, and is probably why Nigel Farage could be seen smiling and laughing throughout his party Conference.

What were the lowlights of the Ukip Conference?

There were a couple of low lights during the Ukip conference, although this is still comparatively better to past conferences which have seen a Ukip leader expelled from the party.

The Conference unveiled a number of party proposals such as the “WAG Tax“, a controversial tax on luxury goods like shoes and handbags of which was dropped within a couple of hours of being announced. The real issue Ukip has in gaining their EU referendum is they aren’t yet a force which can be a governing party and they can’t be trusted by voters if they have only two primary policies – strangely not the encouragement of drinking and smoking, but their anti-immigration rhetoric and leaving the EU.

Aside from the policies, the conference it was largely overshadowed by events outside their control. The worst nightmare for a party leader is not getting the coverage they desperately crave after months of planned events to get positive headlines. The event that took Ukip away from the main headline of the day was the recalling of parliament over the question to launch airstrikes on Iraq, after America started to up the bombing to keep ISIS from taking the whole of Iraq. Nigel Farage has accused Cameron of deliberately recalling parliament on the day of his conference, although no evidence of that has emerged.

What can we conclude from the Ukip Conference?

Firstly, Ukip’s conference was undoubtedly a great success in term of political impact it had. This is especially the case when compared with previous Ukip conferences, such as Godfrey Bloom’s mad conference a couple of years ago.

Nigel Farage. Photo: Reuters

Nigel Farage. Photo: Reuters

Secondly, Ukip are politically maturing and they have learnt how to use their conference for maximum positive effect. They have been employing some political tactics, traditionally used by the main parties, drawing them dangerously close to the political establishment they attempt to belittle. The closer they become the establishment, the lesser their appeal becomes.

However, having spoken of all their advances they have made from this conference they still have serious problems in becoming a contender in the General Election. The fact they had conjured up the newest “WAG” tax proposal and then dropped it within moments gives the impression that their idea of governance changes as much as the wind changes direction. Ukip are still struggling for political credibility especially when they start to talk about any issue the than the EU and immigration, and it is this that will ultimately stop them being enough of a credible force in British politics to get them their EU referendum they so desperately desire.


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