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The Sad Saga of UKIP Lack of Leadership & Now Patrick O’Flynn!

Posted by Greg Lance - Watkins (Greg_L-W) on 24/01/2014

The Sad Saga of UKIP Lack of Leadership & Now Patrick O’Flynn!
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The Sad Saga of UKIP Lack of Leadership & Now Patrick O’Flynn’s personal ambitions are a matter for speculation where if Farage can read it will probably lead to de sanguination as with other rivals!!!

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Patrick-OFlynn-8

UKIP is at an interesting stage in its development.

A main source of the party’s success is its insurgent flavour – pitching itself to disgruntled voters as outsiders pushing commonsense ideas while shunning Westminster’s polished methods. The popularity that approach has delivered now poses a new challenge: to grow further and capitalise on the poll figures, UKIP needs to professionalise, but without appearing to mimic the “LibLabCon” it loathes so much.

This causes some angst within UKIP’s ranks. Speaking to me recently, a senior member of the party drew a telling comparison: “Not long ago, we were running adverts saying the other parties were run by kids who hadn’t had proper jobs, now we’re hiring people exactly like that”. Others fear constant criticism of some of the party’s more loopy members (Henley’s sexuality meteorologist, for example) risks frightening the leadership away from political incorrectness.

One attempt to professionalise while retaining their radical roots comes in the form of Patrick O’Flynn. Next week he officially departs as the Chief Political Commentator of the Daily Express to become UKIP’s new Director of Communications – an employee of the party for which he is already standing in the European Election.

It isn’t rare for political journalists to move into political PR. Guto Harri left the BBC to work for Boris; Craig Oliver went to Downing Street after 19 years as a broadcast journalist and has now been joined by Graeme Wilson of The Sun; while Ed Miliband employs three former lobby journalists – Bob Roberts (Daily Mirror), Patrick Hennessy (Sunday Telegraph) and Tom Baldwin (The Times).

O’Flynn is the first to decide UKIP represents the next step in his career.

Patrick has always been an early adopter. In a political village full of received wisdom, he has a track record of sticking his neck out.

He picked up the issue of the inheritance “Death Tax” long before Osborne realised its potency, he was instrumental in giving the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) some of its first national media coverage, he spoke up for the “squeezed middle” years before Miliband tried to adopt them and, most recently, he persuaded the editorial team at the Daily Express to make it the first national newspaper to support leaving the EU.

As Matthew Elliott, founder of the TPA, victor of the AV referendum and now Chief Executive of Business for Britain puts it:

“Patrick is superb at spotting hot issues before they hit the radar of the Westminster bubble. His role coordinating the Daily Express’s campaign against inheritance tax culminated in George Osborne making it a big issue and stopping an early election in it’s tracks. He also understood from TPA polling in 2008 that the EU was set to become a big issue and that voters wanted their say in a referendum. His political radar alone will be invaluable to UKIP.”

I remember the 2008 meeting between the TPA and O’Flynn that Matthew mentions. Patrick felt that the EU was harmful, but was sceptical of the Better Off Out position ever becoming a majority view. It seems his research into the subject led him inexorably towards the conclusion that we have to leave – and that it can be done. It must have fitted well with his sense that the people are ahead of the curve, and the politicians behind it – on the EU, as with the Death Tax before it, opinion polls suggest he was right.

While the subjects of his iconoclasm have varied, there’s a coherent theme – a deep suspicion of the Establishment and any consensus it might declare.

Growing up in an unpolitical household in Cambridge, as a comprehensive-educated teenager he took a strong interest in politics. He went on to study Economics at Cambridge University (where, coincidentally, he was mates with David Laws) and – according to friends – was not a socialist, but wasn’t won over by Mrs Thatcher either. Though he showed some interest in the SDP, perhaps foreshadowing his support today for another party that seeks to break the Westminster mould, he never carried anyone’s card – until now.

What could have persuaded an experienced, cynical political journalist, who had spent years involved in Westminster without feeling attracted to any party, to persuade his paper to support one, sign up as a candidate and then go to work for them full-time?

Prominent backers can be risky, as UKIP found out to its cost with Robert Kilroy-Silk. But with a suspicion of Westminster consensus, and anger about the neglect of hard workers in favour of “the fat cats at the top and…a chronically dependent underclass at the bottom”, O’Flynn seems a good fit with what they feel they are about.

Those around him say the feeling is mutual. “He seemed enthralled,” says one in attendance at O’Flynn’s first UKIP conference, “to have found somewhere he could comfortably hang his coat.”

It will be interesting to see how his arrival as a UKIP staffer changes his party’s messages. The tightrope between insurgency and professionalism is not their only challenge.

Over the last 18 months their membership has almost doubled – meaning that new recruits, often unacquainted with political activism or with the internal politics of their new party, may well outnumber the long-suffering hardcore who kept it going for the previous two decades.

It will be O’Flynn’s task to give those troops the right messages to deliver, to help Farage ride out the inevitable stories of activists saying odd or unpleasant things and, I suspect, to act as an informal mentor some of the less experienced staffers who now make up the UKIP team.

With Nigel Farage only recently having undergone back surgery, the trend I wrote about last summer is set to continue:

“For the first time in UKIP’s history, Farage is actively putting forward a range of his colleagues for presentation to the public…The prospect of UKIP developing a slate of viable, effective spokespeople rather than simply relying on their leader would have been unthinkable three or four years ago. Doing so makes them more successful as a party, appealing to different demographics and covering more ground as a team.”

It’s notable that many of those new faces of UKIP – and perhaps almost half of its MEP candidates – are now employees of the party in one way or another. O’Flynn is the latest – others work for MEPs, or in the central operation, or for the EFD group in the European Parliament. The professionalisation of UKIP is quite literal, not simply a change in tone.

Farage’s newfound willingness to allow others into the limelight is undoubtedly a symptom of his realisation that his party can’t rely on him forever. A number of those I spoke to suggested O’Flynn might be an effective successor were Nigel to fall under a bus: “Less pazazz – but while others are full of themselves, he could cut the mustard”, one said.

Those close to O’Flynn seemed genuinely surprised at the idea. ”I doubt he has any desire for it”, one told me, pointing out that he had never stood for anything before he decided to put himself forward for the Euros. But with others tipping him for the job, he’s worth watching.

He may not have stood for election before, but when he finally chose to, UKIP’s members voted him top of his regional list – even above a sitting MEP. In short, Patrick O’Flynn is not an opponent to be dismissed lightly.

To read the original of this essay CLICK HERE

Which led me to comment:

Hi,

‘UKIP’s next leader’ is rather presumptuous surely – when did UKIP have a leader to date, though many have held the title, not counting interim place holders,who could one term a leader amongst Skedd, Holmes, Titford, Knapman, Farage, Malcolm Lord Pearson & yet again Farage?

Farage has been either termed leader or defacto leader since the latter days of Skedd, as the party has blown around in the breeze chasing any willow the whisp that might gain Farage more income – be that Piers Bonde, Declan Ganley or The BNP – a pleasant enough personna on the surface but ruthless, devious and amoral in the service of his very personalised interests and ambitions.

How can a person who has prostituted his party to the shared aspirations of racists, extremists, anti homosexuals & Holocaust Deniers as he has in founding and thus helping to fund his odious Pan EU Political EFD Group of gutter sweepings of the EU’s political dross.

That is not to gainsay Patrick O’Flynn may well fit the mold for the title of leader in the future, when he can out maneuver Farage, his ethics seem not disimilar and are clearly self serving as shown by his astonishing continuance as an alleged leading political journalist in the rather squalid Express, even after his selection as an MEP candidate by Nigel Farage – Do not for a moment believe he or any other candidate on Farage’s list owes their position to anything beyond open adulation of the cult leader.

That UKIP was ostensibly set up to act to Leave-The-EU do not forget that in his 21 year involvement Farage has failed to provide even the most rudimentary exit and survival strategy, has no clear strategy nor even tactics to achieve his aims and as even the media have noticed, though it serves them not to publish the facts, there is no visible structure, gravitas or competence in UKIP – Clearly Farage’s endless ‘band wagon jumping’ and motor mouth invention and announcement of policy on the hoof does little in the long term for UKIP and much damage to the EUroSceptic cause in its endless pandering to the lowest common denominator.

I wonder if they have approached Jeremy Kyle for his following and sponsorship from Justin Beiber would sit easy on their shoulders!

Sad really!.

Regards,

Greg_L-W..

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2 Responses to “The Sad Saga of UKIP Lack of Leadership & Now Patrick O’Flynn!”

  1. Geoffrey Bastin said

    Nothing new there then Greg. Still the same old bitter and twitted comments rather than constructive criticism. Have you ever thought of looking for some good amongst the party faithful who you would support should they ever aspire to higher office. There are many good and honest folk in UKIP but all you do is vent your spleen for a few individuals who carry the cause forward. Just wait for the result of the May 2014 election for new MEPs and then try again. We are heading into exciting times.

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    • Hi,

      sadly you are right – there seems to be nothing new from UKIP’s leadership clique and its claque as you so clearly show.

      You even jump to the same conclusions and make the same false assumptions.

      Perhaps if you bothered studying the facts and noted my aim to try to clean-up UKIP to make it fit for purpose you might have the integrity to help.

      Sadly looking in detail at the list of aspirants to places on the gravy train who Farage has chosen and placed you might also note no one of any stature, gravitas or consequence.

      Never mind as UKIP will do quite well in the utterly irrelevant EU election but unfortunately based on track record Farage will fall out with at least 50% of those he has chosen and they will have enough time to expose the self serving corruption of UKIP’s leadership clique and its unprofessional behaviour in time to fall back to its normal level of failure in the General and Locasl elections of 2015.

      Proof of the view I state is provided by the facts and past experience – just consider the simple basic that Farage has desperately denounced his own Manifesto from the last election seeking to distance himself from his own team and the policy committee he personally controlled.

      Then note that after 21 years UKIP still has absolutely no credible exit and survival strategy relative to the EU and no sign of strategy or tactics to achieve its goal. Note also that in 21 years UKIP has NEVER had any form of credible briefiing papers nor conducted meaningful training of its staff and aspirants.

      I( am sorry you were unable to note the literally 1,000s of constructive comments and suggestions I have made over the years in my efforts to make UKIP fit for purpose and clean it up. Perhaps we function on different ethical values – I for one value honesty, integrity, clarity, transparency and a relentless determination to strive to Leave-The-EU.

      Regards,
      Greg_L-W.

      Like

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