Fork In Politics
2017: Episode 5: Stoke Central: What The Hell Happened? 01/04/2017
Stoke Central By-Election. We came second, with a modest increase in vote. We should have won. Here's my views on the campaign & what we can learn going forward.
The police have been called and are investigating Paul's address on his nomination form. UKIP is confident that nothing will come of it. Paul had to leave the house, as have the volunteers and campaigners. This was because left wingers were trying to break in most nights.
According to the Mirror, Labour's own polling showed that Paul Nuttall would win the Stoke Central by-election vote on 23 February 2017. The telegraph says that Jeremy Corbyn is being kept away from Stoke Central because he just does not go down with the people of Stoke.
It was all going so well. We were jubilant. Then reality set in with a radio presenter saying the words "I went to your website and typed in the word Hillsborough". It all went to shit from then on. So what was it?
I will not go into huge detail. This issue has been covered in great detail over the weeks. Paul was being interviewed by David Easson of Liverpool's Radio City. David confirmed that he went to Paul's website and typed in the word "Hillsborough" and up popped two press releases, from 2011 and 2012, both of which claimed Paul had lost a "close personal friend". Paul immediately confirmed this was false. He claims to have lost people he knew through football, but not anyone that as close or a personal friend.
It seems that Paul being at Hillsborough was an issue for a long time. I am told it was mentioned during the 2015 general election. On 11 February 2017 the Guardian ran an article saying that there were people saying he had lied about being at the Hillsborough stadium on the day of the disaster that saw 96 lives list. I am told, by people that very dislike UKIP and Paul, that the real problem flows from inconsistent statements over the years about where he was when the disaster happened. It is alleged he has said he was inside, outside, left and right and this causes people to doubt he was there. However, think about it. He was a football player that played for Tranmere Rovers under 14s at one point. Would he really have likely have missed such an important football match of his team (Liverpool FC)? No. He was there. The Guardian and the anonymous (of course) quotes are just to attack Paul's character. It is bullshit.
But, here is why that Guardian article plus the Radio City Interview killed UKIP in Stoke Central.
He claimed to be a professional footballer, despite that he was not.
His LinkedIn Profile claimed he had a PhD, despite that he did not. He started a PhD but did not finish it. He was a lecturer in History before becoming an MEP.
He claimed to have been elected to the board of a charity, but the charity says he was not. Knocking on doors and watching on Twitter lost of tories in Stoke said they did not like UKIP but would hold their noses and vote UKIP to dislodge Labour - it would have been a stunning victory for the Tories if Labour had lost both Stoke and Copeland, and they could do it by just fighting Copeland and let UKIP fight Stoke. It was amazing. Tories actively said publicly and on the door that they would vote UKIP. It was an open goal just waiting for a professional footballer to kick it to the back of the net. Problem is, we did not have a professional footballer.
Gareth Snell, for Labour, was just atrocious. Other than putting up a BNP candidate Labour could not have picked a worse candidate than the one they did. To say he was atrocious is to be kind. Labour kept him well away from journalists because he was just so bad. Labour also kept Corbyn away from both Stoke & Copeland, because the candidates hated him and people on the doorstep just loathed Corbyn.
Then Labour decided that it would do a dual bombardment of lunacy. In Stoke they send messages to all of the muslims saying that if they voted UKIP they would go to hell, and in Copeland they said that they would kill babies if people voted Tory.
So why is this important?
At the start of the campaign the Tories quietly let it be known that they would not fight the Stoke Central by-election, but would concentrate (successfully as it happens) on Copeland, because they thought they could win Copeland, and in fact made history by doing so.
A more open goal could not have been laid at the feet of UKIP. Literally, the Conservatives just waved us in. The Conservative voters waved us in. And what did we do? We put Lisa Bloody Duffy in charge of the campaign.
Instead of going out and running a campaign, we simply ran a campaign of responding. We responded to media attacks. We responded to Labour attacks. We responded to the Hillsborough issue. We did not set out and assert what UKIP is and what UKIP can offer. We instead spent our time responding to external comments.
The falsehoods in the issues noted killed us off together with a third rate campaign. The campaign was NHS, Brexit and responding to criticisms of Paul. The Tory and Labour voters who at first said they would vote UKIP simply did not want to. Paul being cast as a liar in almost everything they saw and read turned them off. The tweets and Facebook posts about holding their nose and voting UKIP to get rid of Labour just disappeared. Had we run a positive campaign and had we led the campaign instead of just responding, we might have won.
Why on earth did Lisa Bloody Duffy not do what the reporter did and type in the word Hillsborough into his website? If, as I am told, Hillsborough had been an issue in 2015, why was it not locked down?
Why was our message so bland? We had heaps of stuff we could have run about Labour and Gareth Snell. Heaps. Turns out, we ignored that and instead spent our time responding to issues raised by Labour on the NHS and responding to Hillsborough. At no time were we taking charge and asserting our case and asserting what it is that we could do.
Finally, to nail that coffin lid on tight was Paul's responses to all of the alleged lies. A press officer did it guv, not me. On every single damn point, he blamed a press officer.
Had I been a tory voter I would have been turned off by the alleged lies. But the response would have turned me off more. Who on earth would want to switch votes to vote for that?
We literally killed off every golden opportunity that was given to us. Had the website been vetted, had we put out a consistent approach, had we asserted why UKIP should lead and had we run a campaign on more than just the bloody NHS and Brexit we might have won. But we did not. Labour said NHS, so we only put out leaflets and comments on the NHS. And Brexit. The Tories already have someone championing Brexit, Theresa May. They wanted someone who would champion Stoke and things in Stoke that matter. Brexit was important, so needed to be in there. Paul's previous comments on the NHS absolutely had to be refuted. But there was nothing more and the entire campaign was just a constant response to Labour - we led absolutely nothing and we put forward no credible approach to why we should be elected.
I blame Duffy, entirely. Bland and boring campaign that offered the Labour and Conservative voters nothing. We had won the vote, we were winning. But then we lost because who the hell would want to get off their arse and vote for another party when the candidate is offering them no valid reason to switch votes? Those people, the Labour & Tory voters who could not vote for such a nasty candidate as Gareth Snell had more reason to stay at home and not vote than they did to get up off their arse, brave the storm and put a cross next to Paul's name. Literally this was a home goal when it should have been an open goal, and I blame Duffy for the insipid, tepid and bland campaign that was run.
I can tell you now, she better stay away from the Leigh by-election. We do not want her or the party machine knackering up our by-election. We have a plan and Leigh's Chairman has been putting that plan into action. We do not need the party machinery to come up and ruin it.
I should say, to close, that in my view our aim as party is to appeal to both Tory and Labour, not, as the Duffy campaign did, just target the Labour voters. I support Paul, but he can now never suceed in becoming an MP - Stoke has killed off any chance. I support Paul and want him to stay as leader, but if (as I suspect) we do get MPs in 2020, Paul may need to consider handing off to an MP.
 The Guardian, 2 February 2017 "Police investigate complaint over Paul Nuttall's Stoke byelection bid"
 Westmonster 11 February 2017 "Paul Nuttall Forced To Move Stoke Address For Security Reasons"
 Mirror 10 February 20017 "Insiders fear Labour's Brexit civil war could lead to UKIP winning the key by-election"
 Telegraph 11 February 2017 "Jeremy Corbyn kept away from voters ahead of crucial Stoke by-election amid claims he is 'not a plus on the doorstep'"
 David Easson's Twitter - he is a freelance radio presenter and journalist
 Liverpool's Radio City webpage about the infamous interview with Paul Nuttall 14 February 2017 "UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall admits his claims about losing close friends at Hillsborough are false"
 Guardian, 11 February 2017 kip leader Paul Nuttall denies lying about being at Hillsborough disaster
 The Sun 9 December 2016 "UKIPPER'S OWN GOAL New Ukip leader Paul Nuttall caught out claiming to be a professional footballer on his CV"
 The Guardian 4 December 2016 "Ukip leader Paul Nuttall under fire over PhD claim and NHS"
 The Guardian 18 February 2017 "Ukip leader Paul Nuttall under pressure over claims he served on charity board"
 The Independent 12 February 2017 " Jeremy Corbyn 'kept away from voters' by election strategists in Stoke"
 The Sun 15 February 2017 " STOKING HATRED Stoke Central’s Muslim voters warned they will go to hell if they do not vote Labour in anti-Ukip text"
 Huffington Post 23 January 2017 " Tories Write Off Stoke-on-Trent Central By-Election, Party Sources Say"
 Order Order 15 February 2017 ":Labour: Babies will die if you vote tory"
 The Guardian 15 February 2017 " Why Stoke is make or break time for Ukip"
 Spectator Blog 15 February 2017 " Paul Nuttall’s ‘press officer’ does it again"
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