What Has Happened To UKIP?

Ex-UKIP member, Dom Jackman, explains why he thinks UKIP has lost their power from the political landscape.

Flashback to 2015. It was an easier time. David Cameron was wiping the floor with Ed Miliband at PMQs every week, and successfully blaming every unpopular policy on the Lib Dems. But there was another party on the right wing of the British political spectrum, a party that was rising like a shooting star. Led by the charismatic Nigel Farage, UKIP was sweeping across Britain in a storm. 

Copyright: Nick Cohen

While working on my Master’s Degree at the University of East Anglia, I decided myself to get involved in politics. A convinced Eurosceptic, friend of free trade and low taxes and staunch opponent of overregulation, what other party was I going to join than the glorious People’s Army, flying the flag of the Purple Revolution?

In my then home constituency of Norwich South, UKIP was tiny, but, at first, welcoming. And with the seat being highly contested between the Green Party and Labour’s Clive Lewis – who surprisingly became somewhat of a friend at first, despite our political differences – the campaign was a fascinating first foray into the world of politics. Despite falling out with the local party leadership over personal isues, my convictions held strong.

Meeting Nigel Farage for the first time at the Young Independence conference in Nottingham that year was an awe-inspiring moment. I had fully arrived in the party, Enthusiastic people, young and old, wanting to make the country a better place. But then it began to change. It began to feel weird. Feel wrong. At the Oldham West and Royton By-Election in late 2015, it began to become more visible – the party, even if it maybe had not always been so, was definitely becoming anti-foreigner. 

By the time the EU referendum came around, I had left the party. And, watching it from the outside,  I only saw it get worse. Under the leadership of Paul Nuttall, then Henry Bolton, and ultimately Gerard Batten, the party changed. A once welcoming, libertarian movement was becoming focussed more and more on a single issue: Muslims. An economic argument about immigration had turned into one of fear and hate. 

The party that I was once a member of now exists in name only. With the recent appointment of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, more commonly known as “Tommy Robinson” as an advisor to the party, its members seem to have begun to see it, too, with almost all of the remaining MEPs leaving shortly afterwards. A policy of actively rejecting the like of the BNP, Britain First, and similar organisations has been replaced with UKIP becoming just one more of them. Those party members who joined because they believed in the same values I did have long left – many of them finding a new home in the Conservative Party. Looking at it from a certain angle it is almost a shame that the UKIP we once knew is no more. Or maybe it has finally shown its true face, and this side lay hidden beneath it all from the start. Either way, I see no way how the party’s decline can be halted – and it is for the best. 

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