UK POLITICS

Lessons for Kenya from Brexit Party

Nigel Farage, formerly of the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) formed a new party called Brexit two weeks before the European elections.

In Summary

• Kenyans should be keen to monitor the manifesto of parties and ensure they deliver on their manifesto. Any party that does not deliver should be punished at the elections.

• The electorate should also have no respect for the establishment parties if they do not pursue national interests.

Pro and anti-Brexit demonstrators wave flags and placards outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, December 10, 2018.
Pro and anti-Brexit demonstrators wave flags and placards outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, December 10, 2018.
Image: REUTERS

The United Kingdom has been a key pillar of the European Union since its inception as an economic block.

However, it has over the years been grumbling within the British society that the EU is a burden to the kingdom.  They averred that Britain contributes huge financial resources in return for nought.  They also opined that there are many laws and regulation made by the European Parliament and EU bureaucrats that strain their financial and agricultural industries.

But of major concern to the Brits and specifically the conservative party was how the European Court of Human Rights strangled and emasculated the British justice system.

In particular, the Conservatives felt that the courts have constrained their efforts to fight terrorism and illegal immigration.

Successive party leaders of both the Conservative and Labour parties have been always under pressure to call for a referendum to decide on the continued membership of the UK in the EU.

Conservatives

Conservatives felt that the courts have constrained their efforts to fight terrorism and illegal immigration.

Successive party leaders of both the Conservative and Labour parties have been always under pressure to call for a referendum to decide on the continued membership of the UK in the EU.

David Cameron promised the nation a referendum in the party manifesto on the matter should the Conservatives win the election. True to his words, he called for a referendum. 

He campaigned to remain in the Union but lost and resigned on a matter of principle as he could not preside over a government that would implement an outcome of a referendum that he opposed.

Theresa May succeeded him and was to negotiate a deal with the EU.  However, the contents of the divorce agreement were not palatable to the British and were blocked by Parliament. In a bid to implement the referendum outcome, May crafted a number of options. including a no-deal Brexit but the legislators could not strike a consensus and they all flopped on being put to vote in the House of Commons. 

The Conservative Party felt May did not have the wherewithal to deliver Brexit and forced her out.  She called for a party contest to replace her. This was done to also placate the electorate in the ensuing European elections in which the conservatives were staring at a major wipeout.

Clearly, the British parliamentary parties and the parliamentarians were not willing to consult and comprise on how to effect Brexit as per the wish of the electorate.

 

Reading the mood of the country and the chasm between the electorate and the legislators Nigel Farage, formerly of the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) formed a new party called Brexit two weeks before the European elections. He campaigned on a platform to deliver Brexit at all cost, including a no-deal Brexit should the EU reticence continue

To the surprise of many, the Brexit Party emerged victorious in the EU elections. The Liberal Party emerged the second and the Labour and Conservative party were decimated. The Conservatives got only three MEPs, compared to Brexit Party’s 26.

There are a few lessons for Kenya on the Brexit debacle. First Kenyans should be keen to monitor the manifesto of parties and ensure they deliver on their manifesto. Any party that does not deliver should be punished at the elections.

Second, the establishment parties and their legislators have no respect for the electorate.  The electorate should also have no respect for them if they do not pursue national interests. We are in the midst of Tangatanga and Kieleweke contest, which has no value for the nation. It is crafted to take care of politicians' interests. Kenyans should not coalesce around political formations that are purely partisan and personal.

Third, the aspirations and desires of the nation are established by the people. Politicians are expected to gauge the electorate feeling and craft manifesto to suit that. However, in Kenya, it’s the opposite. A classic example is the expected referendum to increase the structures of the Executive to enable more tribes to join the high table.  Was this idea mooted by the public or the politicians? Isn’t it time Kenyans teach the politicians some lesson by rejecting proposals intended to serve their selfish interests?

 Fourth, Kenyans should not be quick in forgetting their past. The political turmoil in the last three elections was purely as a result of electoral theft. In some constituencies in Wajir, which was the epicentre for electoral incompetence and theft, there was hardly any election.

The returning officer and election officials are picked by sitting MPs and election gadgets manned by the legislators!  However, all of a sudden, there is no urgency in reforming the IEBC. It must be recalled that the electoral agency is expected to preside over a referendum, the boundaries review and a general election within a span of three years. There will be no time for meaningful reforms nd the next election will be a sham like the previous three.

Kenyans should also explore the possibility of supporting an entirely new party that espouses national interest to teach establishment politicians a lesson and to stump the authority of citizenry on politicians. We should not see ourselves us as Kikuyu, Kamba, Luo, Kalenjin and Somali but as Kenyans and support a political party that will stand for our aspirations.

Lastly, resigning from a position of responsibility on account of failure should be an honorable thing to do. It gives an individual an opportunity to redeem himself or herself. It’s not a death knell. 

Kenyans implicated in corruption scandals should honorably resign from office. 

Yussuf is a commentator on social-political issues