I was UKIP's regional organiser in the North West from 2004 to September 2008. Last summer the UKIP members in the North West voted me their lead candidate for the June European elections. I stood down from both positions and I have explained my reasons elsewhere in this blog, but it was largely because I had realised, over two years or more, that having MEPs did absolutely nothing to further the cause of UK independence. Since then many people have asked me about how I intend to vote in June.
My current blog description points out, pretty bluntly, that I will be abstaining from the EU elections on June 4th. Other former members and/or supporters of UKIP advocate the spoiling of ballot papers. I see no point in that tactic as you have to take your ballot paper, thus increasing the turnout, to spoil it and the only person who sees your message is the poor old counter of votes who is probably so bored and tired that he/she won't absorb your message anyway. An increased turnout, even with a high proportion of spoilt ballots, will only have the EU boasting about increased democratic participation and EU wide acceptance of the glorious project. We didn't defeat Nazi Germany by joining the Reichstag neither will we leave the EU by joining its parliament.
Before 2004 I naively accepted the UKIP line that having MEPs will give the Party national media coverage, and that the associated resources that come from MEPs would enable us to make that all important breakthrough into the UK parliament. Neither has happened and I can only conclude that in the grand plan, UKIP's 2004 'success' was anything but. Indeed, since first having MEPs elected in 1999 the impact has been zero.
Losing one MEP within days of the election because of benefit fraud, for which he later served a jail term while contining to receive his MEP salary and allowances, was bad but having a second MEP, a former bobby, currently on police bail while under investigation for fraud is quite remarkable. The Kilroy Silk fiasco was just poor judgement by the party hierarchy. But losing a quarter of your MEPs since 2004 under any circumstances, let alone amid countless other sleazy tales and allegations mainly around the current leader, indicate that UKIP have gone native in quite a big way.
So what of UKIP in UK parliamentary elections? Here is a link to the details of every UK by-election since 1979. Politics is a about views and opinions, on the broader level it is about philosophies. What is fact is an election result. Election results don't lie. Another fact is that until the EU collapses, through some major crisis, or because it ceases to do the job its string pullers want it to do, no number of MEPs from Britain supporting withdrawal will achieve that aim. Only the UK parliament in Westminster can do that. The following are some significant UKIP parliamentary by-election results:
1996-(a year after its formation) Barnsley East 2.1%
1999(June, also the month 3 UKIP MEPs elected)-Leeds 2.7%
2000-three by-elections average vote 2.0%
2003-Brent East 0.7%
2004 (Sep, 3 months after 12 UKIP MEPs elected)-Hartlepool 10.2%
2008-Crewe and Nantwich 2.2%
These are all parliamentary by-elections where smaller parties can expect to gain a larger vote, if only as a protest, than at a general election. UKIP have peaked within months of success in both EU elections. Overall the impact of having MEPs has had no positive effect whatsoever on their results in UK parliamentary elections.
Nobody, even within UKIP, can say how many councillors they have but it can be no more than a handful. Yes, they have a few town/parish councillors but they are traditionally independent and invariably co-opted rather than elected, largely because few people wish to do the job!
So to those people who say to me 'UKIP is the only show in town' I say think again. The path to hell is paved with good intentions. People do not vote UKIP, other than at EU elections because other than EU withdrawal it has no coherent political philosophy.
Few but the hardcore EU withdrawalists put the EU at the top of their agenda when voting, as results show. Most MEPs, as well as the populace at large, accept that MEPs have little influence and no power. UKIP's researchers in Brusssels, working for UKIP MEPs, have yet to unearth real material to support withdrawal that can't be read on the internet and in Eurosceptic newspapers or magazines.
All this led me to the conclusion that voting in EU elections only helps put more people on the gravy train. Abstention is the only way for those who support British withdrawal. Voting is pointless and gives the EU a veneer of democratic respectability, whichever way you vote.