Notwithstanding the excellent vote numbers and Stirling work put in to the campaign the result on may 7th was a failure. The British system requires seats in Westminster, that is how the game is played. There is no point in moaning about an electoral procedure that the British have had for hundreds of years and endorsed recently in a referendum. First passed the post is here to stay.
What went wrong? Plenty. The whole strategy was ill conceived, the Purple Army, Nigel Farage's UKIP, the earthquake, the revolution etc. it is hopelessly un English. Middle England can't stand that vulgar razzmatazz. Whilst at bi elections or euro elections any thing goes, general elections are taken more seriously. UKIP spent 2 years wasting time with a shallow gimmicky approach doomed to failure, this is not being wise after the event, I was begging the leadership 3 years ago to formulate an election winning strategy. One man band one issue parties in the UK electoral system are hopeless no matter how popular (or populist) policies may be.
All modern industrial democracies select their administrations on the economy. This is a golden rule, not just in the UK but everywhere, particularly the USA. UKIP had no coherent economic policies, they were no better or worse than the others but a new young party has to be much better, not just as good as. One idea UKIP did take before my departure was an independently audited policy but it was too little too late. Worse the chosen spokesman was an ex tabloid journalist, a more suicidal choice cannot be imagined. Journalists ended up sniggering at an erstwhile colleague whom they knew to be out of his depth. On defence UKIP did not field a spokesman, one of UKIP's strongest arguments.Yet the party has recently retired generals and admirals who could have led enormous weight to this aspect, why? criminal.
UKIP fielded in the last 14 days drab lacklustre middle aged women to talk about capturing the middle ground. Exactly what UKIP is not about. On another occasion a golden opportunity to speak up for the 'Women at Home ' movement they devoted the press conference to female genital mutilation, not the hot topic in Middle England.
Much could have been made on energy where UKIP have strength and depth, great policies and one of our best spokesmen. The same for education, popular policies, the only party advocating grammar schools, yet we hardly saw UKIPS most popular and respected spokesmen and deputy leader Paul Nuttall. Where was he? One of UKIP's trump cards. Did UKIP want to lose?
The blunders are endless but it wasn't the campaign it was the strategy which went wrong 3 years ago, as it was bound to do.
What now? As Labour and the LibDems realise they had a disaster they are working out how and where they can repair the damage. UKIP are in denial, it was everyone else's fault.
More drastically the leader failed to win a seat. Unlimited money from the Daily Express, total logistical resources into Thanet and another failure, the sixth in a row. Still the bizarre reaction, have a
holiday and come back in the autumn is the response, with one of the drab women minding the shop.
No matter how awful, disappointing, heartbreaking it is UKIP has to accept they have a leader popular with the members but whom the public won't buy at any price. Everyone is too frightened to tell him he is never going to make it. The failing many leaders have when they surround themselves with sycophants. The failure at Thanet is probably the biggest personal political rejection since the war. UKIP must get out of denial mode.
There is an attachment I wrote last November which puts flesh on the bones of what needs to be done, sadly the doubling of the UKIP membership has also dumbed it down, possibly beyond repair.