By Jonty Bayliss
Predicting the demise of UKIP over recent years has been like trying to predict that of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The party is still trudging on, despite only winning 2% of the vote (a figure which has not increased much since) at the last general election, after which they had no representation in the House of Commons.
The recent buzz surrounding UKIP focuses on last month’s EGM, which voted by 63% to remove leader Henry Bolton, who has since quit the party, after it emerged he was persisting in his relationship with model Jo Marney, who had sent offensive private messages about Meghan Markle and survivors of the Grenfell tragedy. The result is the party’s fourth leadership election since the EU referendum.
The EU referendum removed the party’s raison d’être.
The Bolton controversy masks longer-term problems for the party. The EU referendum, for which it was not the official ‘leave’ campaign, removed its raison d’être. UKIP have been largely absent from and irrelevant in the subsequent national Brexit debate.
The lack of a coherent platform going forward has created further problems: the party lost its only council, Thanet, after its councillors resigned over the issue of a disused local airfield.
UKIP’s prospects for this year’s local elections, whose seats were last contested in 2014, when the party triumphed in the European parliamentary poll, look bleak. They won just one seat last year.
Lacking momentum or cohesion, its days on the leaders’ debate stage are over.
Defections have eroded the UKIP delegation to Brussels, which should be gone by next March’s Brexit date, leaving the party without national political officeholders and their staffing allowances, worsening its financial difficulties.
UKIP may continue, if its members have the will, but lacking momentum or cohesion, its days on the leaders’ debate stage are over. The next question is how other parties will fill that space.
Image: Derek Bennet via Flickr