The self-immolation of UKIP or new way of doing politics

Posted on: 22 May 2014 by Gareth Hargreaves

Has UKIP found a way of voicing the concerns of ordinary Britons or are they just a gaggle of incompetents with undeliverable policies?

UKIP campaign

A perfect storm of ill-judged (ill informed) comments, confused race equality carnivals, PR clangers and the disavowal, this week, of policies by former party stalwarts would be enough to tempt most party leaders to do a Captain Oates. Not so, Nigel Farage.

Farage, the UKIP leader, has moved from one car crash moment to the next with consummate ease - without ever revealing what policies his party actually stand for as he has urged the electorate to entrust their votes to him. On the day of the European elections that UKIP have been so vigorously campaigning towards, most people still don't know.

It is a worry that Farage appears to be cultivating an anglicised version of the US 'Tea Party' movement with the same polarized, intolerant views of other religions, nationalities and sexual orientation.

The revolt on the Right, from which UKIP, a marginal, single issue party throughout its 20-odd year history, is benefiting, is likely to do serious damage to Conservative aspirations in Europe, and senior Tories must be questioning the wisdom of David Cameron's campaign strategy that has allowed UKIP to run unchecked.

These elections are prime UKIP territory, the fiercely anti-EU organisation calculated correctly that both the Conservatives and Labour would run low key campaigns in a bid to avoid any Euro bear traps ahead of next year's General Election and the ever present spectre of the In-Out referendum.

Thus, with a political vacuum to fill, UKIP's unusual assortment of oddballs has made full use of its time in front of the cameras - and it appears to have worked.

Finger on Britain's pulse

It isn't new to see a politician lose his/her cool when provoked on the hustings, but UKIP are blazing a new trail in uncouth behaviour. Conservative defector Janice Atkinson was photographed flicking the finger at a rival while on the campaign trail, which given that she is UKIP's press advisor, she should be commended for; ensuring what was turning out to be a dour 'meet and greet' exercise on a Kent high street made it into every national newspaper.

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer wrestled with a disabled heckler in Retford, Nottinghamshire after being mocked over his expenses. Mr Helmer broke off from an interview with local press to rush over and attempt to grab a megaphone so that he could 'reply to questions'.

Who knows, if Gordon Brown had been similarly enthusiastic in 2010 when confronted by 'bigoted woman' Gillian Duffy, he might have remained in No10.

UKIP is grabbing the bull by the horns (or the disabled man by the arms, depending on which part of the country you are in.)

UKIP on homosexuality

Every political party has a lunatic fringe whether it is to the left or the right; however those with the most colourful views are generally encouraged to stay out of the public domain. Take John Lyndon Sullivan, a UKIP council election candidate in Gloucestershire, he wrote on Facebook: "I rather often wonder if we shot one 'poofter' (GBLT whatevers), whether the next 99 would decide on balance, that they weren't after-all? We might then conclude that it's not a matter of genetics, but rather more a matter of education."

It's an unusual view of sexual orientation.

Immigration

The trump card for UKIP in recent months has been immigration. Nigel Farage has continued to sow the seed that Hungarian and Romanian migrants are flooding into the UK to claim benefits and contain a huge criminal element. His claim is not backed by statistics as a recent study performed by the University of Northumbria shows crimes committed by EU migrants account for only one percent of all offences and do 'not constitute a national problem'.

Farage said that "any normal and fair-minded person would have a perfect right to be concerned if a group of Romanian people suddenly moved in next door".

If migrants assimilate into society and speak English do they then become less of a problem? Nigel seems to think so, his wife is German and his children are bilingual.

We are not racist

Prominent UKIP youth campaigner, Sanya-Jeet Thandi, this week left the party complaining that it was descending into a 'form of racist populism'. Writing in her blog she claimed that "the direction in which the party is going is terrifying: UKIP has descended into a form of racist populism that I cannot bring myself to vote for.

"This week I decided to leave the party and I will abstain from voting in the upcoming European elections. I urge other UKIP supporters to do the same."

She continued: "I understand that British politics in the 21st Century has become a dirty game of populism, but UKIP is straying further and further from the policies that attracted so many of its original supporters, instead cynically pursuing ever more aggressive anti-immigrant rhetoric."

Job well done

UKIP's head of communications, Patrick O'Flynn has certainly had a busy week; Nigel Farage's car crash interview on LBC has been followed by blunder after blunder, and yet it appears to have done no damage to the party's standing in the polls. So far from being a catastrophe, UKIP's unorthodox views, spin-lite opinion and its candidates' warts and all appeal continues to keep the party's ratings high.

There is clear dissatisfaction among the voting public over the lack of consideration (or interest) the main parties have shown in the issues that Farage and co have so expertly manipulated. And while our semi-detached relationship with Brussels has historically minimised the appeal of voting in new MEPs, UKIP has stirred a reasonable groundswell of interest. A good night for UKIP here could have a profound effect on how the party campaigns in 12 months time and the amount of breathing space the prime minister has ahead of an EU Referendum.

Not all UKIP's campaign initiatives have been a success the hashtag #whyImVotingUKIP has been trolled without mercy. But we're still talking about them!


 

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