Last weekend, we saw the front page of 2 tabloid newspapers exposing Henry Bolton OBE, the new UKIP leader, and his affair with a woman aged just 25 years old. For many people, the eurosceptic party has become irrelevant ever since the historic day when we decided to leave the European Union. But is there still a purpose for the party?
UKIP has had a disastrous 18 months, having elected and replaced 3 leaders and getting less than 2% of the votes (a staggering 12% drop). After quickly moving on from the pathetic 18 day leadership of Diane James MEP, the party elected Paul Nuttall MEP who was seen as the obvious candidate. However, events only worsened the party and its reputation; with Nuttall failing to win the Stoke-on-trent by election which he called “the capital city of Brexit”. The simple fact is that UKIP had lost all of its momentum. In the 2017 council elections, UKIP only gained 1 seat and lost over 120. Anyone who didn’t know UK politics would think this party should just quit.
Nonetheless, UKIP has pushed on and after avoiding the potentially fatal leadership victory of far-right candidate Anne Marie-Walter, the party has started to move forward again. This collapse and rebuild can easily be compared to that of the Liberal Democrats after their awful General Election result in 2015. UKIP must copy what the Lib Dems are now doing; rebuild the foundation from the grassroots up. The grassroots is what makes the party work and function, despite Labour and the Conservatives often forgetting that. Henry Bolton OBE must unite the whole party on key issues, and remind members as to why they joined the party in the first place.
The fundamental problem with rebuilding UKIP is that by the time the party have done this, it is arguable that there is no point in them anymore. Whenever a UKIP member is asked “why are you still here” they always say “to ensure Brexit happens”, as you know Brexit will be completed by 2021, which is before the next General Election. It can be assured the last thing any member of the public wants after that is to hear the word “brexit”, hence why by the time UKIP has rebuilt it may be too late. There is no question that there needs to be a party that is seen as anti-establishment, and which could hold the Conservatives to account. BUT many of UKIP’s working-class vote are welcoming Jeremy Corbyn with open arms.
In answer to the question whether UKIP is finished, only time will tell but UKIP must either regain support at a rapid speed, or find a different key issue which a bulk of the electorate agree with.