Why’s Farage’s party so poor at the ground war?
This post has been going round my head since Thursday night’s PB party following a couple of conversations with those who were there. The first was an observation from John O, a regular since the early days of the site, about how few PBers appeared to have little direct experience of the grunt work and expertise required to win elections on the ground.
The second was with a long-standing lurker who posts only occasionally about Nigel Farage’s failure to become the first elected UKIP MP at Buckingham at the last general election – an outcome that led to my biggest losses in any seat at the general election.
Nigel Farage had resigned as leader of his party so he could devote himself full-time to fighting to win John Bercow’s seat. Because the main parties traditionally give the Speaker a clear run potential Farage backers never faced the dilemma of UKIP supporters elsewhere – that not voting Tory could help keep Gordon Brown at Number 10.
ConservativeHome ran a poll, see the panel above, which concluded that “Nearly two-thirds of Tory members would back Nigel Farage against John Bercow”.
So if ever there was a constituency that was tailor-made for a UKIP victory it was Buckingham in 2010.
They had their best-know figure as candidate, there would be few clashes of loyalty with Tory activists, and many were fired up at the prospect of bringing down Bercow.
In the end UKIP flunked it appallingly securing a pathetic 17.4% of the vote and, even worse, being pushed into third place by a former Tory MEP and prominent figure in the Pro-EU Conservative party.
This terrible result was masked by the disaster that hit Farage on election day when the light plane he was in pulling a UKIP banner crashed.
It is against the back-cloth of UKIP’s 2010 Buckingham performance that you have to judge their current opinion poll ratings. If there’s not even a basic comprehension of what it takes to win a first past the post election in a single parliamentary constituency then Westminster voting intentions matter very little.
Maybe UKIP will surprise us with a clutch of council seat gains in the local elections on May 3rd. More likely they won’t.