Wednesday 29 April 2015

UKIP's battle for Thanet South means ignoring everything else

 UKIP appears to be throwing everything into taking Thanet South where Nigel Farage is standing, to the exclusion of pretty much all the other seats where the Kippers are in the running. Given that UKIP can't even render the seat's name properly - it is Thanet South and not South Thanet - there must be some doubt as to just how effective the newcomers will be when added in to the not very bright mix that is to be found on the ground there. 

A source in one of those Southern English seats that are now being ignored passed onto me an internal e-mail sent to party members that encourages them to drop everything to help out in Thanet. The killer paragraph reads:

 If you can, please come to South Thanet this weekend, for two days of action, contacting voters, and convincing them of why they need UKIP MPs in the House of Commons. It's the final weekend of campaigning so we must make it count. Keep an eye out for other messages about how you can help some of our key seats in the run up to Polling Day. 

The e-mail ends with a plea for people to bring their cars, volunteer on polling day especially, and even helpfully includes a link to the hotels of the area in case anyone wants to stay over.

The Thanet South battle is reported to be going very well for UKIP, with Farage now pretty much odd-on to take the seat. This e-mail suggests that there is much nervousness in the high command, which is why neighbouring seats are being abandoned, but why is the people's army not able to fight more than one organised campaign? After all, other small parties manage it rather nicely.

Kippers still complain that their party would have won Heywood and Middleton last year had they not also been fighting in Clacton on the same day. However, all that proves is that the party is so incompetent that it could not fight two by-elections on one day. In the year that has gone by since then, UKIP does not seem to have made an effort to organise itself into an election machine, hence the decision to throw everything into winning Thanet South.

The machine is what wins the ground war. It is "the science of methodically identifying who your supporters are, persuading undecideds, and dragging them to the ballot box." The Liberal-Democrats are the experts at this, with most of the data being built up during council election campaigns. Last year UKIP had them as well as the European elections, so why is their ground campaign so lacking?

My source, who is a long time UKIP voter but who only joined the party this year, reported to me last night that the problem that UKIP has in his area is down to the fact that many of his new party associates are "thick in the extreme." Digging a bit deeper, it came out that they are not knuckle-dragging inbreds, but they are fairly comfortable small town men who tend to be older than the average and who don't really understand that internet thingie. They use e-mails because they are basically letters that you don't have to post, but getting them to understand how social media and texting services like Whatsapp can be used is pretty much beyond them.

It may be that all this is due to the fact that UKIP cannot win many new members in the big cities. It is not just that the bulk of the people live in them, but cities are where things happen; they are places where new ideas are tested to destruction and either improved upon or discarded. If UKIP had a basically urban membership then it is more then likely that a machine would have been created to win elections, and party regulars would then be shipped out to where the yokels live to teach them how to do things properly.

UKIP's problem is that it is a party of yokels and it will pay the price for that in unwon seats next week.

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