Gerard Batten’s rock and hard place

Gerard Batten: damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t

First a disclaimer: I know and like Gerard. That’s hardly unique, for he’s known and liked by many.

Nor can I claim any originality in deploring his choice of the thuggish criminal Tommy Robinson as his adviser. I’m sure many of Gerard’s friends feel the same way.

Where I diverge from some is in understanding, compassionately, why Gerard did what he did, going I’m sure against his better instincts.

Whenever a friend of mine has a problem, my first impulse is to offer help, if only in the shape of unsolicited advice. Alas, I can’t do so in this case – for the simple reason that I can’t find anything sensible to suggest.

The problem is that, though Gerard’s heart and head are both in the right place, his party isn’t. In fact, when Gerard took over as Ukip leader, the party was moribund.

It was sinking fast, and it took all of Gerard’s administrative talents to keep it afloat. But a ship that’s not structurally sea-worthy will sink sooner or later, for all the best efforts of its captain and crew.

That I’m afraid is Ukip’s situation, and it largely derives from the party’s nature. For Ukip isn’t really a party, in the sense in which we usually understand the word. It’s more of a pressure group, pressing on a single point: getting out of the EU.

For Ukip is a party not just of a single issue but of a single hope. The hope, even if continuously frustrated, can sustain the party’s life. But the hope fulfilled will have the same effect as the hope stamped out: death.

In other words, the party’s success would spell its demise, which isn’t how other political entities typically define achievement.

A political party is deemed successful when it gains enough votes to win or at least influence elections. It may or may not become king, but, to justify its existence, it must always have the capacity to be a king maker.

A party can become successful only when it enjoys a broad, and expandable, support base. It doesn’t have to be all things to all men (although most parties try), but it does have to be many things to many men.

A single-issue party is thus at an inherent disadvantage, which Ukip illustrates vividly.

I once asked a senior Ukip figure if the party could extend its life expectancy by positioning itself as the true conservative party, as distinct from the Labour Lite that has appropriated the name.

That was an ignorant question, my interlocutor was quick to explain. For Ukip isn’t only, perhaps not even predominantly, conservative.

For the issue of Brexit is narrow enough to attract broad masses. People who disagree on everything else may still overlap on that one point.

Generally speaking, they are all disaffected with the existing establishment, Tory, Labour or especially the cross-party apparat that transcends any nominal affiliation and governs on the basis of narrow self-interest. But they do fall into separate, sometime irreconcilable, groups.

One group is indeed formed by intuitive conservatives, those who realise that a transfer of sovereignty from Parliament to any foreign body invalidates Britain’s constitution and hence effectively Britain herself. Anyone who knows Gerard Batten or has read his book on Henry VIII will know that this is the group to which he belongs.

Another lot are old-fashioned patriotic Labourites, who are socialists not because they wish to destroy Britain but because they’re misguided into believing that socialism won’t do that.

Yet another group are hard-Left socialists in the Corbyn vein, for whom the EU isn’t socialist enough. They do want workers of the world to unite, but only under the Corbynites’ own aegis. If conservatives are loath to weaken the constitutional mandate, this lot hate weakening their own power.

And then there’s another wad of humanity, one with which the Remainers perfidiously identify the whole Brexit movement: fascistic thugs. This group is best exemplified by Tommy Robinson.

If the conservatives and old-fashioned Labourites are chiefly motivated by love, the Tommy Robinson types are driven by hate – of foreigners, minorities such as Muslims and often also Jews, poor people, rich people, you name it.

A conservative may deplore the uncontrolled influx of Muslim immigrants because he is aware of the cultural and demographic catastrophe that may ensue once a certain critical mass has been reached. But he won’t viscerally hate individual Muslims, the way fascistic types do.

So why did Gerard welcome that criminal thug into the inner sanctum of Ukip? The answer lies not in any imperfection of Gerard’s character, but in the structural defects of his party.

Dave Cameron put Ukip in the coffin by agreeing to hold a Brexit referendum. And, when more Britons voted to leave than had ever voted for anything else, they nailed the lid shut. The single issue seemed not to be an issue any longer.

A succession of Ukip leaders followed, until the reins were taken by someone with all the requisite qualities: Gerard Batten. He prised the coffin lid open because Ukip couldn’t be buried yet.

Hence Ukip had to go back to acting like a party, which entailed standing in all sorts of elections, winning some, affecting the outcome of most and thereby putting a squeeze on the mainstream parties.

After all, Dave Cameron didn’t call a referendum out of the goodness of his heart. He did so because Ukip was cannibalising the Tory vote, delivering marginal seats to Labour.

Since the cross-party apparat is tirelessly working to undermine, ideally torpedo, Brexit, the need for Ukip is as urgent as ever. But the core support for it has been compromised.

The disaffected Tories have gone back to their political roots, as have the disaffected Labourites. After all, both their parties claim to be committed to Brexit.

Those prodigal sons will smell a rat sooner or later, but later is no good for Ukip. It needs to make its comeback now, before the coffin has been lowered six feet under.

The most immediate political opportunity lies in bringing under its unifying banners all sorts of marginal groups, those that go by the misnomer of ‘extreme right’. There are at least half a dozen of them around, and I mean only the largest ones, those that call themselves a party.

However, Ukip’s charter wisely ostracises BNP types and their ideological relations – it’s incumbent on a serious political party to disavow any extremist group claiming affinity with it.

When a party refuses to do so, it thereby brands itself as not serious. Corbyn’s Labour springs to mind.

Throughout its life, the Labour party has tried to keep communists and other hard left riff-raff out. In that effort, the party has been only variably successful, but at least until now the hard left has been unable to claim the party as its own.

Now the loony left are in charge there, and one can only pray that the British have enough nous left to keep that bunch out of power – for all the vacillating inadequacy of the Tories. Alas, I’m not sure electorates are capable of thinking in terms of lesser evil.

Labour didn’t have to open its doors to the lunatic fringe, but I’m sure Gerard Batten feels Ukip is in no position to be fastidious. If it can survive at all, it has to get support wherever it can find it. It can no longer afford to pick and choose.

Having said all that, if I were a member of Ukip, I’d leave it over this out of sheer squeamishness – just like many years ago I stopped attending parties at a conservative magazine because I had espied some BNP types there.

Mercifully, anticipating just such a situation, I never joined Ukip even though I faithfully voted for it in a number of elections. Now I’m not bound by party loyalty to defend the hiring of Tommy Robinson.

I would never hire scum like that in a million years, and I’d leave any room he’d enter. But I have the luxury Gerard lacks: reaching for the high moral ground.

I’m responsible to no one but myself; he has a party to run. I can afford being uncompromising; Gerard can’t. So I’m sorry he did what he did – but I understand why he did it.

7 thoughts on “Gerard Batten’s rock and hard place”

  1. “Throughout its life, the Labour party has tried to keep communists and other hard left riff-raff out.”

    What was the final verdict if any on Harold Wilson? If not a commie himself at least an agent of influence? Lord Kagan also in the same league?

    1. I did say, in my next sentence, that “in that effort, the party has been only variably successful, but at least until now the hard left has been unable to claim the party as its own”. ‘Variably’ successful means that sometimes it succeeded, and sometimes it didn’t.

    2. Sorry Bert, but we are still looking for the smoking gun. Anyone can join up a selection of dots and come to a conclusion. My hunch is that MI6 had been so outwitted and humiliated by the KGB that they started jumping at shadows. Kagan was a peripheral dot being of Lithuanian origin and a proven tax dodger but he had really nothing to offer the KGB.

  2. “the conservatives and old-fashioned Labourites are chiefly motivated by love” – please Mr. Boot, what are you smoking? The treachorous May and imbecile Corbyn are motivated by love for the common people? Is that why NONE of them allowed the massive grooming and raping of young British children to receive any publicity? It took somebody who was “scum like that” to put his life and career on the line, which is why millions of us know, respect and admire what Tommy has done, and risked, for the love of his people. I can not think of a single leading politician from the elite classes, who has half the integrity, the courage or the honesty of this ‘scum’. We are used to the misinformation, dishonesty and villification that spews out of the Guardian on a daily basis, but to read it on your blog, that hurt.

    1. You make the common mistake of using the word ‘conservative’ to mean a member of the Tory party. I don’t: a lower-case conservative, as I use the word, has nothing to do with party affiliation. There may be some conservatives in the Tory party, but that’s purely coincidental, and Mrs May certainly isn’t one of them. Also, if you read my piece attentively, you’ll see that I don’t regard Corbyn as ‘old-fashioned Labour’. He is a Trotskyist extremist, exactly the type people like Attlee tried to keep away from the party. My point is that the presence of thugs and football hooligans compromises any movement, and one certainly doesn’t have to be anything like that to oppose Islamisation.

  3. A “one issue party” yet you criticised them for employing someone to advise on another issue – Islam. I can’t take you seriously.

  4. Without Tommy Robinson the ongoing rape of the young girls of Rotherham, Telford and Rochdale would never have been brought to light. It was only due to Robinson’s persistence that the the trials of these animals started to occur. He risked considerable liberty and personal damage in doing this.

    For example, Robinson was denounced as a disgusting racist on national TV by a woman for pointing out that rape gangs are predominantly Muslim. 2 years later, the very same woman was on Good Morning Britain taking credit for raising awareness that “grooming” gangs are an Islamic problem.

    I understand you dont like Robinson – I wouldn’t want to go for a pint with him personally, but to write him off as a criminal is a bit rich considering no less than three criminals sit in the HoL, and for worse crimes than that of Robinson’s.

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