Saturday, November 29, 2014

UKIP, rootless and increasingly friendless ?

The established political parties have solid ideological roots. They may not always live up to them but they are there at the heart and provide checks and balances on what they do. It's become a bit confused in modern times what with "New Labour" and socially liberal Tories. But dig deep and you'll find the socialists in Labour and the smaller state advocates in the Conservatives. You'll find the Trades Union sympathisers with red roses on one side and the unfettered free enterprise advocates on the other. And do on. So what of UKIP? 

There is no kipper ideology at all. Hardly surprising for a political party that had such shallow roots. Disgruntled Tories who didn't like the EU - nor foreigners very much, especially if they came to work in Britain. Golf Club bores who now found a reasonably respectable outlet for their social illiberalism. And above all the discomforted aging who wanted to return to the 1950s and who hated modern Britain. Farage, despite his youth, was one of them. Good old Nigel! 

But a "party" without roots and without a complete and coherent intellectually robust platform is not really a political party at all. It is a pressure group with a few things it feels strongly about, on which its members probably agree, and some scapegoats to target. But when such a party tries to broaden its appeal it begins to struggle. The easy targets have been secured. The disenchanted Tories seeking a more Eurosceptic home. The borderline racists (and real racists) who previously voted BNP. The grey-haired Middle-Classes who don't like change (especially cultural change). The mass votes have to be among the C2DE cohort. Not easy if your leader is a Public Scool banker and your new recruits in Paiament are from the same Oxbridge elite as the leaders of the parties that White Van Man is rejecting. 

I think it was Peter Oborne who said that UKIP will in time explode in a mess of its own contradictions. And so it will, and maybe is. And when it does retreat back to the footnote in history that is the most it deserves to be let's hope that its bilious pitch will not have damaged our body politic too much. That our tradition of commonsense and decency will have survived. And that we will be able to return to debate the big issues of the day without the nasty overhang of bigotry, ignorance and mendacity that is the so-called "UK Independence Party".


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