One of the saddest aspects of Britain’s election disaster was the horrible performance of UKIP, the party formerly led by Nigel Farage (and during the campaign by Paul Nuttall, who has since resigned).
Although UKIP played a prominent role in the campaign leading up to the Brexit referendum last year, the party’s raison d’etat seems to have disappeared when voters backed Britain’s exit from the European Union. Or so many voters clearly felt.
UKIP Member of the European Parliament Bill Etheridge begs to differ, however. Writing for The Telegraph, Etheridge argues that UKIP lost because the party wasn’t radical enough. The only way to make a comeback, then, is by rediscovering and embracing their (former) radicalism:
[T]he Ukip campaign and the entire election was a disaster and the manifesto was not one that I would vote for. Rather than continue to be a party offering alternatives, we tried to be like the establishment despite a clear warning from Nigel Farage not to abandon our core principles at the spring conference in Bolton.
Next, Etheridge blasts Nuttall for letting him and other UKIP’ers down “and instead surrounded himself with incompetent advisors who oversaw failure after failure and had no track record to speak of.”
But, what to do then?
Ukip was never just about the EU: the battle for independence from Brussels was the first battle we needed to win in the war for real liberty and economic vibrancy.
This is why, even without the threat to last year’s referendum, I would be throwing my hat in the ring to be Ukip leader: Ukip should be about freeing individuals from state regulation, allowing people to keep more of the money they earn and putting the safety of the law abiding majority first, not telling them what to wear.
The only person he’s willing to stand back for is… Nigel Farage, the charismatic (yet quirky) former leader of UKIP who made the party a success, but who got out when he accomplished his big goal: winning the Brexit referendum. Looking back, it’s easy to say that this was a major mistake. There was no one at UKIP as appealing as Farage.
Now, to readers who only read reports from the mainstream media, Etheridge’s words may come as a surprise. After all, the party has been depicted as “radical,” “extremist” and even “racist” for years. How can they be more “radical” than that?
Of course, the answers is that a) UKIP isn’t “extremist” let alone “racist” and b) Etheridge is talking about “radicalism” in its original sense. The meaning of the word “radical” is “going [back] to the root.” In other words, he wants UKIP to identify the roots of the problems in society and politics, and then come up with plans to solve them. During this year’s election campaign, he rightfully argues, UKIP had basically adopted the views of the establishment, who focus solely on the surface, not on what’s beneath.
Sadly, however, I doubt that Etheridge or any of the other UKIP MEP’s not named “Nigel Farage” can pull this off. Either Farage succeeds Paul Nuttall as his party’s leader, or the party will officially become irrelevant. The choice is his.