The Stoke on Trent Central by-election could not have been set up more favourably for UKIP: a candidate at odds with his party leader on the EU, an area that voted strongly the way the Kippers wanted in last year’s EU membership referendum, a mainly post-industrial constituency with discontent over the whole political system waiting to be exploited - and a storm on election day to depress turnout among Labour voters.
An' I used live bullets last night
Yet UKIP’s new leader, “Bad Bootle Meff” Paul Nuttall, got nowhere near Gareth Snell, who retained the seat for Labour. The Kippers only just retained their own second place from the 2015 General Election, with the Tories hard on their heels. And while Snell had faced his own questions over the occasionally dubious contents of his Twitter feed, he had come clean and ‘fessed up every time. Nuttall had lied, been caught, and then lied again.
There is still the possibility that Nuttall will be disqualified for making a false statement on his nomination papers; he could even face criminal sanction, possibly ending with a prison sentence. So he’d be a Crim as well as a Meff. What is also looming on the Kipper horizon is the spectre of the EU’s OLAF anti-fraud agency asking how UKIP funded their campaign manager Lisa Duffy, who is employed as an EU civil servant.
Squeaky selfish SOB finger up the bum time
That means she cannot work other than on European Parliament related business, and a Parliamentary by-election doesn’t count as anything like that. On top of that, the excuses made for Nuttall’s defeat have been lame in the extreme: the idea that Stoke on Trent Central was only 72nd on UKIP’s target list doesn’t stand up when the party’s leader makes a personal commitment to stand. Sack the spinners.
And then there are the two clowns who did not have to stand on the stage in the small hours of this morning and share in the defeat, but who need to take their share of the blame (although they won’t). Arron Banks, UKIP paymaster, prioritising a skiing holiday in a suitably exclusive part of non-EU Switzerland over bothering himself to do any more than insult the Hillsborough families on social media, is one of them.
The other is former Kipper Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, who took his bat home on discovering that Ms Duffy, who had passed adverse comment on The Great Man, was involved in the Stoke campaign. Farage has instead gone off to attend CPAC, showing the world that UKIP under his leadership was nothing more than a vehicle to provide More And Bigger Self-Promotion Opportunities For Himself Personally Now.
UKIP has still not enjoyed its Orpington moment, and with its current dysfunctional leadership and tendency for infighting it probably never will. The party won’t replace Labour in its northern heartlands by fielding a candidate reviled in his own city who is known to be a refugee from the Tories, and who struts around the constituency in tweeds like some minor landed gentry. This is not a serious political party.
As Winshton might have put it, this may not be the end for UKIP. It may not even be the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning. Bye bye UKIP.