Readers, I've just come back from the future. I've been to 2017! Stupidly, I forgot to check on the lottery numbers and I'm afraid there are still no flying skateboards, but it appears the future Complete Bastard is still blogging and is still banging on about Ukip being a bunch of habitual losers. I'm afraid the news isn't good. Here's the blog post from the morning after the EU referendum:
So then, the results are in. We are staying in the EU. It is pleasing to see we did not lose by the margin many predicted but there are no prizes for second place. So what went wrong?Sorry to have brought you this bad news. I'm not too hot on quantum mechanics so I don't know if this can be avoided, but if there is a way to stop this future from happening, we need to act now. We do have a coherent Brexit plan. It's called Flexcit and you can find it here. Read it. If I can't have a flying skateboard then can we at least not lose this referendum?
Firstly, the referendum was a poisoned chalice the moment we got it. Having turned itself into the BNP-lite, banging on about immigration, re-energising the far left in the process, Ukip became toxic, thus they tainted the Brexit cause by association. It was an avoidable mistake, but it put us on the backfoot from the get go. If you were pro-Brexit, people just assumed you were a kipper.
In the end, we didn't win the arguments. The failure of Ukip to develop a coherent message was a big factor. They were unable to deliver a reassuring message to business, instead playing to the home crowd on immigration. It was popular, but not popular enough.
Many point to a biased media and establishment scaremongering, but that was always the mountain to climb. The timing wouldn't have mattered. It was never going to be a clean fight. The mission was to develop a message that could overcome it. In that, we all failed. We needed a coherent strategy to get around it but all Ukip did was complain about the unfairness it.
If I had to blame any one individual it would be Nigel Farage. By 2015 Ukip was so toxic that no moderate voice could speak in its favour, and its message so incoherent that few apart from the headbangers could get behind it. There was never a possibility of a coalition that included Ukip because kippers proved incapable of heeding good advice and could not get past their fixation with "taking back our borders". Early on it became a left vs right referendum on immigration and the substantive issues were lost between the cracks. Kippers were unable to make the distinction between the referendum and their anti-PC culture war.
The campaign also suffered from a lack of credible spokesmen. Ukip had no big beasts because Farage had always been incapable of forging relationships and nurturing talent - and on the Tory side, Daniel Hannan, a posh boy spiv, had little substance to his shallow arguments. The lack of any left wing presence was also a clear loser. How could they be seen to be associated with the likes of Hannan and Ukip?
The truth is, the referendum was lost on the day the Tories won a majority in 2015. The campaign for that referendum started that same day. Ukip was originally set up to get us out of the EU. It always knew that one day a referendum would come. Having spent all its political capital entrenching itself into the "left behind" cul-de-sac, having spent all the money on getting bums on seats, having put no resource or thought into a referendum strategy, it found itself without direction, campaign material or expertise. The referendum was an afterthought to Farage's own electoral ambitions.
The debate was bogged down by the usual FUD scaremongering. The No campaign was unable to overcome it. The vagueness of the arguments about democracy and sovereignty failed to capture the mood and failed to reassure business, and the economic arguments went to the other side since Brexit was painted as a leap into the unknown.
That is why it was important to unite around an exit plan that retained access to the single market. It may have meant a lot of compromise on our part but it would have been the first step to freedom. Having obsessed about regulation and immigration, such a Brexit plan was one Ukip could not unite around without making major policy u-turns. Kippers simply couldn't comprehend that the how was as important as the why when it came to Brexit.
There was also a huge lack of leadership. The Ukippers never learned the mistakes of the Scottish independence referendum. Comparing the EU with the USSR and the Third Reich was never a winning message and the cyber kippers we an embarrassment throughout. Any hashtag you went to on Twitter was polluted by pictures of Farage and crass jingoistic memes. It was hard to escape the label of being a little Englander thanks to the malign influence of Ukip. An effective party machine could have spiked that kind of behaviour but Ukip never did manage to professionalise.
What this means for Ukip now is anyone's guess, but it has proved that it doesn't have what it takes to get us out of the EU. Ukip has failed to do what it was created for - and if it didn't succeed this time, it never will. This means, thanks to Nigel Farage, the eurosceptic movement is back to square one. It will take a long time to rebuild a coherent anti-EU movement. What shape that takes I don't know.
What I do know is that the British desire to remain British will live on. I know that one day we will leave the EU, but we just blew a massive opportunity to get out while the going was good. Kippers can take a bow for that. Good job, morons.