Thursday, 6 May 2021

New Horizon – Education – What are the ingredients of a successful political party?: An idiots guide

THIS IS THE LATEST in a series of articles reproduced from issue 1 of New Horizon – NH – the online ideological publication of the National Liberal Party.  We’re publishing these articles as a means of promoting & popularising both NH and the ideology of National Liberalism.

This article – What are the ingredients of a successful political party?: An idiots guide – is rather self-explanatory.  However, it’s always worthwhile repeating (especially to new members and supporters) that political success simply doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes years and years of hard graft – literally blood, sweat and tears – to build up a ‘following’ and even get a few local councillors elected.

With the above in mind, if a well-funded & organised political party or movement came to national prominence overnight, we’d be naturally sceptical about it.    Initially, we’d be wondering where the money, organisation & activists came from.  In particular National Liberals would be wondering if such a party or movement was some form of ‘safety valve’ with its followers being led by the nose by hidden forces.  And – depending on the political stance it took – we’d be wondering if it was some form ‘honey trap’ with a bought leadership that was being directed by elements of the State.

As we noted earlier, there are no shortcuts to building a successful political party.  There are, however, several factors that can help it on the way.  Read on to find out what they are …

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Education – What are the ingredients of a successful political party?: An idiots guide

Robert Kilroy-Silk (left) and Joan Collins (right). These two ‘celebs’ were closely associated with UKIP, particularly during the early 2000s. Kilroy-Silk, who’s since been dubbed the ‘Godfather of Brexit’, fell out with them and went off to form his own political party, Veritas in 2005. Collins was an admirer of Margaret Thatcher and has been described as an ‘old-school Tory’. However, no matter how Kilroy-Silk & Collins are viewed – we think that it’s probably fair to call them ‘National Capitalists’ – it’s a safer bet to build political foundations on a solid ideology as opposed to the fluctuating popularity of ‘celebs’.

A SUCCESSFUL political movement normally requires more than one of the following strengths: A personality(s), popular policies, a committed and sustainable organisation and an attractive ideology.

Any movement that has all these ‘qualities’ would certainly be a force to be reckoned with but any that only had one of them is likely to fail.

For example, a personality will always be attractive to many, often a celebrity, and may also attract the much desired media attention. The impact of ex-MP and TV personality Kilroy-Silk is a good example. His ‘defection’ to UKIP, understandably attracted his media contacts and other ‘celebs’ e.g. Joan Collins and propelled them into the limelight. The result in the 2004 European elections was a very large increase in their vote and seats (being more under PR than ‘First past the post’). Subsequently however, he fell out with them and the glow of victory became tarnished (it is not a co-incidence that their present leader, Nigel Farage, retook his position following the ‘lacklustre’ performance of his then successor Lord Pearson). Personalities can boost a party but they can also damage it if they leave. Better to have such personalities as figure heads only.

Being populist can attract support and, if topical, significantly boost votes. For example, the Greens benefited in the Euro elections in 1989 from the (first) discussion about dangers to the environment by winning 15% (but no seats!), the Referendum party came from nowhere in 1997 to score nearly over 800,000 votes in the notoriously difficult ‘first past the post’ system because Europe was on the national (and Conservative party) agenda and the far-right generally does better when stories abound of migrant influxes. Equally of course, voters and activists can dry up when the issue is no longer ‘sexy’. Better to espouse firm and broad based policies that later become popular.

A strong, efficient party with a committed membership can ensure that ideas and policies can be promoted even if the media are reluctant to. The problem is, it means nothing if the policies are unattractive or hard to sell. The history of the far-left is a perfect example of an ideal(s) that has attracted firm believers full of dedicated endeavour but little or no support. The most successful group in recent years, Respect, arguably relied upon ethnic minority votes as they chimed with opposition to the Iraq war but then drifted away when it was no longer topical (see populism above) leaving Respect to indulge in the far left’s (and right’s) favourite pastime – faction fighting. Better to ensure you have some popular policies and focus on those.

Ideology is the foundation upon which a successful movement, as apart from a transient party, is based. Parties are that or populist. The ‘idea’ is not necessarily holistic, it could be an attitude such as Conservatism or single-issue based as with the Greens. It is however very difficult to sustain a party, let alone a movement, without it and many a party languishes or dies because no-one really knows why it exists (or seeks it out). A party based on a big idea(s) will attract the best activists.

Of course, success might come with some ‘magic bullet’ e.g. a large benefactor or a well-timed alliance, but in the absence of winning the political lottery, hard-work selling a good product will take you far. If however you actually want to implement some of your policies (!) then find some good partners and multiply! (see A Grand Coalition of the Centre on p.16) [To read this article see link below.)

• ALSO Check out:

Build New Horizon! http://nationalliberal.org/build-new-horizon

New Horizon – Head & Heart http://nationalliberal.org/new-horizon-head-heart

New Horizon – National Liberalism In Action – Civil Liberties http://nationalliberal.org/new-horizon-%E2%80%93-nationalliberalism-in-action-%E2%80%93-civil-liberties

New Horizon – National Liberalism In Action – The Nature of Democracy http://nationalliberal.org/newhorizon-%E2%80%93-national-liberalism-in-action-the-nature-of-democracy

New Horizon – Ecology: The Silent Fourth Pillar of National Liberalism https://nationalliberal.org/ecology-thesilent-fourth-pillar-of-national-liberalism

New Horizon – ECONOMICS Part 1 – The Economic Roots and influences of National Liberalism http://nationalliberal.org/new-horizon-economics-part-1-%e2%80%93-the-economic-roots-and-influences-of-national-liberalism

New Horizon – My Concerns For The NHS https://nationalliberal.org/new-horizon-%E2%80%93-my-concerns-for-the-nhs

New Horizon – Strategy: Building a Grand Coalition of the Centre

https://nationalliberal.org/new-horizon-strategy-building-a-grand-coalition-of-the-centre

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