GE2015 minus 44: UKIP, or “danger, will robinson, danger…”

Posted: 24 March 2015 in general election 2015, politics
Tags: , , ,

I’ve tried not to write this entry. I really have. With everything else that’s going on with the forthcoming election, it’s not as if there’s nothing else about which I could write today.

For a start, there’s David Cameron’s comments during an interview with the BBC’s James Landale that he wouldn’t serve a third term were the conservatives to be re-elected into government. I’m still unsure about this at the moment; I’m torn between thinking it’s a superb strategic move, in one stroke bringing to mind both Margaret Thatcher’s “on and on” comment and the fiasco of Tony Blair’s last years in power. On the other hand, he’s effectively announced the start of the leadership contest to succeed him.

Moreover, inflation fell to zero per cent. There’s plenty to write about that, and I recommend Robert Peston’s excellent piece, again on the BBC’s website. There’s the Tory prospective parliamentary candidate who’s just resigned from the party after allegedly colluding with a far right group to stir up trouble just so he could step in at the last minute and solve it. So much to write about, so much. There’s the opinion polls, and how they’re both surprising and entirely unsurprising six weeks out from the election. And of course, there’s the weird but somehow comforting traditions that take place when a parliament ends, the so-called prorogation. And I’ve something to say about those as well.

I do want to write about all of those, but… but…


The United Kingdom Independence Party.


Yeah, UKIP.

I don’t think I’ll be surprising anyone who reads this when I write that I’m not a fan. I’m not a fan of the pretence that they’re a multi-issue political party. I’m not a fan of the pretence that they don’t appeal to the far right. I’m not a fan of the pretence that their leader is somehow not part of the ‘establishment’ he derides; not when he’s a privately educated, former City of London trader, who’s been an MEP for the past 16 years. I’m not a fan of the utter and unmitigated unprofessionalism of the party, expressing surprise when yet another councillor or MEP says something racist or homophobic or anti-semitic.

For the record, I agree with Nick Doody who said that he didn’t think Nigel Farage is a racist, in the same way that a can of coke isn’t a wasp; there just do appear to be a lot surrounding them whenever their holes are open. (Nick also came out, by the way, with the finest line I know about why he votes; he votes for the same reason he’d try and fight off a bear that was trying to eat him: it’s not that he thinks it will do any good, but at least this way it doesn’t look like he wants to be eaten by a bear.)

Another UKIP member – this time an MEP – has just been expelled from the party. This MEP referred to a Thai constitent as a “tong tong”. So she was expelled for that, right? No. She was expelled for fiddling her expenses. Allegedly. This after another UKIP prospective parliamentary was suspended then reinstated after allegations of harrassment. And then there was Jonathan Stanley, yet another UKIP prospective parliamentary candidate, who’s quit the party after claiming there was “open racism and sanctimonious bullying” within the party.

Dan Hodges asked yesterday:


Sounds like a plan to me.

Just how many times can UKIP suspend or expel members – or elected politicians – who come out with disgraceful comments before they stop denying that they have a serious problem with sexism, racism or homophobia in their party? Because the thing is, what’s becoming crystal clear, is that many of their members don’t have a problem with sexism, racism or homophobia at all; in fact, they revel in it and are rather proud of their views.

And that’s just the disgusting comments and views. The ludicrous nature of their policies only become clear when you pay attention to the non-disgraceful comments and views aired and discover the just plain stupid ones. The UKIP candidate who wants to ban the unemployed from driving. The UKIP activist who wants to abolish income tax. The – apparently official – policy of repealing inheritance tax in its entirety.

It’s almost easy to think of UKIP as irrelevant, until you remember that they won the last nationwide election, the elections for UK’s Members of the European Parliament. And their current opinion polling, where they’re in the mid-teens, although I genuinely think they’ll lose at least a third of that come polling day. But even that will still give them a good ten per cent of the electorate. Which is scary.

Because UKIP are dangerous. They’re dangerous in what they say and what they don’t say. They’re dangerous because of the policies they talk about and the unspoken but completely understood compact between the party leadership and their members: we’ll pretend we’re not appealing to racists and homophobes, and you lot  acknowledge that’s exactly who we’re appealing to. Sometimes, rarely, that is made overt. Farage gave a recent recorded interview where he point blank said that he’d prefer that the employment laws on racial discrimination should be repealed. And then, later that evening, he denied he’d ever said it. Think on that for a moment.

I’ve no doubt that there are tens of thousands of people who’ll vote for UKIP as a protest vote against the main parties. I’m equally certain there are dozens of thousands who just want the UK to leave the EU and they think voting for UKIP will help that. They may be right.

But there are and will be many, many UKIP voters who are racist and are anti-semitic and are homophobic, and they believe the party speaks to and for them, so many in fact that you not only have to sit there shaking your head in amazement at the party’s behaviour, but reluctantly conclude that their strategy is working.

They’ve tried to make racism respectable. They’ve tried to make homophobia understandable. And it’s disgusting. UKIP councillors describe homosexuality as a perversion, when in fact it’s UKIP who are perverting the political process.

There’s a story that Simon Hoggart used to tell about the former miner Bill Stone who became an MP. Another MP, sitting with Stone in one of the House of Commons bars, looked around and said “there are a lot of cunts round here.” Stone apparently supped his beer and replied “Lot of cunts in the country; they deserve some representation.”

I’m utterly convinced that Farage and the party heirarchy think there are a lot of people who believe in racial and sexual discrimination, and that they deserve some representation.

Don’t give it to them.

  1. craigmcgill says:

    I totally agree with you in sentiment mate but that last line leaves me uneasy – we shouldn’t give people representation? We may not like and we may despise their views but do we have the right – if we are kidding on we have free speech – to deny them representation?

    Where does the pressure rest – is it with us, the electorate, to show the racists, etc that their views are wrong – and why they are wrong – or are we just hitting our head off a wall? Are there people that can’t see sense. Who am I to define what is sensible?

    As I say, totally agree with the sentiment you are posting, I’m just a bit uncomfortable about that end part because of the things we have to admit if we accept that we can’t let everyone have free speech. (I’m just tying myself up in liberal knots here).

  2. Notwithstanding the correct assumption that UKIP is a very right wing party the appeal is often anti-politics. A very substantial minority of people believe all politicians are corrupt and in politics for themselves. Like all humanity some of them are. In fact statistically if you compare the number of MPs jailed or taken to court in the last Parliament with the general population, other than prison or a court, you will be more likely to meet a criminal in the House of Commons. Criminals make up a small percentage of the general population.

    However I digress into pure mathematical constructs. The issue is the rise of UKIP as an ‘everyman’ party against the political elites. As parties have become more professional they have drawn largely from the same class, educated at the same schools and universities. The most ‘working class’ candidate for Labour leader was Diane Abbott who was a Cambridge graduate.

    This is combined with a further series of moves. Thatcherism and it’s legacy attacked the foundations of collective action in the working class such as trade unions, large businesses with collective working practices and close ties, and the public sector. It atomised those whose ideas were shaped by working collectively and co-operatively into new individualists.

    On the other side of the ideological divide the business bosses worked in a highly financialised economy where goods and services gave way to ownership of financial assets. The super rich were expanded to go beyond national politics and abandoning the old Conservative Party ideas of paternalism and looking after the society you lived in.

    These trends created disconnected parties that rarely talked about people issues but simply looked at the latest 24 news headlines to maximise votes at the next election. The economics of the two prospective party finance spokespeople are barely different. Will a Balls cut be different from an Osborne cut or is this just shuffling deckchairs on the Titantic.

    In this space telling the truth is not on the agenda. In 1992 John Smith famously told the truth with the shadow budget and didn’t get elected. Blair learned that the electorate, to use a movie phrase, couldn’t handle the truth. This weeks’ VATgate tells us the same. Margaret Thatcher in 1979 said she had no plans to increase VAT and then pretty much doubled it from 8%-15%. In 1992 Norman Lamont said he had no plans to increase VAT and up it went again. Finally David Cameron in 2010 did the same thing.

    So Farage arrives as a teflon coated everyman with public house bonhomie. The other parties are disconnected husks of formerly ideologically based institutions. The other parties are destined, by design and scared experience to avoid telling the electorate the truth – in some cases wisely. UKIP can now provide a charismatic leader with simple answers that can take up the slack and the disconnection felt by many.

    Where this has happened before the result has not been good……

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