Comment: UKIP’s days are numbered

Nigel Farage's rigid leadership will eventually run its course

 

Yesterday it was reported that the BBC is being investigated after it showed a 10-year old boy saying he supported UKIP because they ‘get all the foreigners out’. Because of the backlash which now threatens the child, who was identifiable, Ofcom has suggested the broadcaster breached child welfare standards.

This is the first time there has been such explicit vilification of UKIP and its policies since the election. The result of 7 May meant that practically everyone focused on the ‘nasty party’ rhetoric of the Tories; and there hasn’t seemed much point in talking about UKIP since we realised the electoral system was an effective barrier to its gaining real power.

UKIP won 3.9 million votes but only one seat, an undemocratic result by anyone’s standard. In a way, this plays into UKIP’s hands; it has always positioned itself as the victim of an establishment which wants to silence its authentic voice. Nigel Farage has always maintained that his party is treated unfairly, and in this instance it has been.

But what will happen to UKIP now? There was some brief post-election farce with Nigel Farage’s un-resignation and Patrick O’ Flynn’s ugly outburst about the party leader, but on the whole UKIP has been quiet both on new Conservative policies and on analysing it’s own defeat. What’s more, the press seem to have forgotten about it.

So is UKIP about to slide off the scene?

In May 2010, BNP leader Nick Griffin suffered a humiliating defeat in his Barking constituency. A promised election breakthrough by the party never materialised and in 2014 Griffin lost his European seat too. The party unravelled fast; at this election it garnered just 1,667 votes, compared with 563,743 in 2010.

I don’t like UKIP/BNP comparisons in general. The BNP’s reach was never as wide as UKIP’s, and it is much more extreme; until 2010 it had a ‘whites only’ membership policy which was only overturned by a court order. I can see that many UKIP supporters are not racists but vote based on their feelings about the EU; I don’t think the same could be said of BNP supporters.

But the parties are alike in that they came in a surge, from obscurity to the front page, that they polarise people, and that ultimately they promised great things that they could not deliver. The refusal to let Farage go spoke volumes – without him UKIP is too shambling to carry on and the fate of the BNP must have been in everyone’s minds during the few days without him.

But Farage broke a promise – he had always said he would step down if he failed to win in Thanet South – and in doing so he will have lost credibility. A few days after the election, Kent police closed an allegation of electoral fraud in the constituency – UKIP supporters believed the election had been rigged to keep Farage out, but there was no evidence. All this points to the fact that Farage couldn’t quite believe he hadn’t won, and things have become a little hysterical since.

Deputy chairman Suzanne Evans stepped down after being accused of plotting to undermine Farage’s leadership; economic spokesman O’Flynn called Farage ‘snarling, thin skinned and aggressive’ and said his return made the party look like a ‘personalitAdd Mediay cult’.

O’Flynn was right in that it is difficult to see who could take Farage’s place. He has had consistently high approval ratings, topping a YouGov popularity poll in April. He has spent years reciting the spiel of ‘we’re not a racist party, we just have some bad eggs’, and has had ample opportunity to practice it. The party’s rejection of his resignation shows that they know no one else is up to this job, that getting the public to accept a new leader as an ordinary, honest bloke who genuinely doesn’t mean to attract so many racists will be a mammoth task.

Plus, criticism seems to bounce off Farage. This week Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only MP, accused him of ’employing ‘mean-spirited arguments’ during the election campaign, particularly in regard to comments about immigrants with HIV.

Carswell said that, as a party which ‘didn’t do as well as it wanted’, UKIP needed to ask some ‘awkward’ questions. Farage rejected this entirely, saying that:

“Though many in the Westminster bubble were outraged by my comments about the impact of Health Tourism, and appalled that I mentioned those with HIV as part of that problem, what was clear was that the general public did not share that outrage.”

UKIP is reliant on one man, and that man has zero capacity for self-reflection. The success of Carswell has led Farage to accuse him, essentially, of going over to the other side, of being consumed by the ‘Westminster bubble’ simply for assessing how the party could improve.

This does not bode well for UKIP’s longevity. Add to Farage’s ego the fact that Cameron could well manage to siphon off some of his less right-wing followers with Europe reforms, and it looks very likely support for UKIP will be dwindling by 2020.

This is why seats for UKIP are a price worth paying for electoral reform. A party so rigidly resistant to change will eventually start to look ‘mean-spirited’ even to its own supporters. Meanwhile the UK can say that it truly gave all parties a chance, and that the people in power really are there because the public want them.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

68 Responses to “Comment: UKIP’s days are numbered”

  1. The Great and The Good

    I agree with much that you say, though I feel that my own party, Labour, can do much to win back support from UKIP voters – and you may think this is absurd, but they can do so by employing more left wing policies, such as renationalisation. You may think that’s oxymoronic – those ex Labour voters who support UKIP have fled to a far right über-neoliberal party after all – but there’s plenty of data from YouGov for instance to suggest that a large majority of UKIP supporters actually *support* the nationalisation of rail and utilities for instance. What Labour needs to do is set out a proper alternative incorporating these policies and we can start making headway in getting back votes from disillusioned UKIP voters who had left in search of an “alternative” to conventional Westminster politics.

  2. Rallan

    You got “maniacal” from “Ha ha ha!”?

  3. Gdcfa GDQdq

    I don’t see why you think that the election result was frustrating. About 85% of the electorate thinks that you’re a bunch of nutcases and yet you still got an MP.

    I’d call that a result if I were you.

  4. Rallan

    Right. You keep telling yourself that; whatever get’s you through the night, eh? Maybe there’s a secret progressive majority that’s biding its time to punish vile, evil nutcases such as myself.

  5. Too Old To Join UKIP

    I think that the Labour Party have much more to worry about than UKIP. Labour is basically finished for now even with Liz Kendall as Party Leader—even if she is obviously the best person there is for such a role … a Labour Party headed by a Party leader who refuses even to pretend to attempt to address the problem of mass immigration by instead trying to change the narrative—like Ed Miliband together with Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, and together with Harriet Harman—would never be returned back to No. 10 Downing Street. If anything, Liz’s Watford background and Leicester West credentials does her probably more harm than good—I mean, as someone who grew up in a place which is pretty close to Greater London (Zones 7, 8 and 10 on the TfL Tube Map) and with the matching Londonesque accent, she can hardly shake off attacks that she is “Metropolitan”, can she?! Labour needs to find someone who has otherwise no links whatsoever, not just to Greater London, but anywhere which would show up as a dot on the iconic Tube map, except as a Labour frontbencher or active backbencher.

  6. Too Old To Join UKIP

    I think that the Labour Party have much more to worry about than UKIP. Labour is basically finished for now even with Liz Kendall as Party Leader—even if she is obviously the best person there is for such a role … a Labour Party headed by a Party leader who refuses even to pretend to attempt to address the problem of mass immigration by instead trying to change the narrative (if not the debate)—like Ed Miliband together with Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, and together with Harriet Harman—would never be returned back to No. 10 Downing Street. If anything, Kendall’s Watford background and Leicester West credentials does her probably more harm than good—I mean, as someone who grew up in a place which is pretty close to Greater London (Zones 7, 8 and 10 on the TfL Tube Map) and with the matching Londonesque accent, she can hardly shake off attacks that she is “Metropolitan”, can she?!

    Labour needs to find someone who has otherwise no links whatsoever, not just to Greater London, but anywhere which would show up as a dot on the iconic Tube map, except as a Labour frontbencher or active backbencher. With people like Blair and Brown, can the English public be blamed for distrusting a political party as being ideologically stuck in the late 1970’s, the ’80s and the ’90’s?!

    I mean, it was only 10 years ago when “activists” were busy vandalising Conservative electoral campaigning billboard posters with the statement “It is not racist to impose limits on immigration”, and it is no good for the Labour Party to pretend that they have nothing to do with those far-left activist agitators and provocateurs, because the English public are certainly not buying it!
    //encrypted.google.com/search?q=racist+impose+limits+immigration+poster&num=100&safe=off&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=WpFzVbeYBsaC7gb764OwBA&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAg

  7. Too Old To Join UKIP

    No, Labour cannot—see my comment chronologically below.

  8. GPB

    Barking was not Griffin’s constituency. He had never won the consituency to lose it. The same type of language was used by many in the press about Farrage in the Thanet seat. Gives the candidates a status they are not entitled to.

  9. The Great and The Good

    I disagree. UKIP voters aren’t only worried about immigration and the EU anyway (though obviously they’re big issues to them, and need to be addressed by Labour) – it would be patronising to say so – they are generally sick of the establishment and want an alternative, and Labour is best placed to do this.
    I’m not sure that foreigners on trains is really a problem – I doubt that would be the first thing that would come to mind when people see a policy about renationalising rail – and certainly not when people see policies about renationalising utilities (both of which are policies, according to YouGov, that are supported by a large majority of UKIP supporters).
    Labour’s task is perfectly possible – it needs to reestablish itself a radical party with an agenda that makes it the real alternative in British politics. Then disaffected voters who have fled to UKIP, the Greens and apathy can never again claim “they’re all the same” – because Labour will actually be offering something designed clearly for working people, not the metropolitan elite in London.
    Of course though, this would be impossible under a Blairite like Kendall – though she herself, as you noted, isn’t one of the elite, the idealogical basis of Blairism is geared towards that sector of society, and thus won’t bring back disaffected voters.

  10. Too Old To Join UKIP

    Labour needs to put its own house in order, ignore the likes of Russell Brand, and be even more centrist than Blair, otherwise. Immigration and the EU are definitely 2 of the big 5 of what most people in ENgland are concerned about—definitely MORE than the NHS—most have probably long resigned to the fact that austerity means that increased rationing, actual cuts of funding, cuts to services and also redundancies and also increased part-privatisations of the services will all have to happen within the part of the NHS in England, sooner or later.

    The pro-Immigration just doesn’t stack up. Why can’t Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Portugal and France cope?!

  11. The Great and The Good

    Look at the figures – the British public, UKIP voters in particular, are far more left wing than you give them credit for. Sure, an alienating “keep the red flag flying” version of socialism isn’t going to win anyone over, but sensible and necessary left wing policies can.
    As for austerity, that’s something where Labour needs to change the terms of the debate. This election, they had to accept the basic principles of the Tory argument, and thus lost the debate, but this time round they need to set out an alternative and attempt to persuade the electorate and change the consensus (something that has been done before by politicians like Thatcher and Attlee) – quite simply because austerity is very damaging towards people and the economy and as long as Labour supports it it’s supporting an idealogical, not logical, Tory lie.
    As for UKIP being a bogeyman, it is only one in that it has many unsavoury members, and a policy and idealogical base that doesn’t support working people – or any people, barring those at the very top. They’re the Tories on steroids, the party, in Farage’s words, focussed on “keeping the flame of Thatcherism alive”.
    And finally, in response to your critique of Labour, I think it’s somewhat out of date – the party is lead by Blairites, and even left wingers who have a voice within the party aren’t “Trots”.

  12. Too Old To Join UKIP

    I know I am being off-topic—although only in particular, but not in general, given the name of this website, being also that of the entity which hosts it—but I am talking more about the Labour Party. UKIP would never lurch to the Centre-Left as long as Nigel Farage remains as Party Leader, although the senior leadership of the Party probably also unfortunately suffer from Londoncentricism—UKIP are also headquartered in London, not Newton Abbot in Devon, unlike what their website and post mark would like to claim.

  13. The Great and The Good

    I don’t think UKIP would as a party, it’s economically far right, I was saying that many UKIP voters however would happily vote for a left wing Labour Party.

  14. Too Old To Join UKIP

    UKIP as a toned-down, working-class, Northern version of the Conservative Party, maybe; the Labour Party in their present form are just simply too PC, Guardianesque for most UKIP supporters.

  15. The Great and The Good

    Which is why Labour needs to change – it needs to embrace popular policies, like railway nationalisation, and actually really cater for the working class in a way it hardly did under Miliband (he was a massive improvement on Blair and Brown in many ways, but he was a bit neither here nor there policy wise).
    Much of this will come through a rejection of neoliberalism and a repositioning of itself as the real alternative in British politics. How will it do that? Not through more pallid, upper-class serving centrism, that’s for sure. Radical change is what many UKIP voters – and many people generally, who are dissatisfied with conventional politics – are baying for.

  16. Too Old To Join UKIP

    1. There are some entities which are worth re-nationalisation (or even nationalisation), but I am not sure that nationalising National Rail (the ATOCs) and Network Rail as a reconstituted nationalised BR would be one of those. I don’t know if you remember the bad olden days, when the BR actually ran ferries and hotels as well on the side, and they actually gave, practically, part-free, part-heavily-discounted national (and Irish, and Western European) rail and BR ferry travel, and heavily-discounted stays in their BR hotels, to their ferry and hotel staff in addition to their railway staff, for life, and also for their spouses, widows and widowers, also for life. It was a massively bloated organisation, dominated by trade union militants, and in which their staff frequently went on strikes to get inflation-busting wage rises. In fact, the Beeching Axe fell during the heyday of the BR years. Just think very careful about what you ask for!

    2. The term “working class” has lost its meaning in England. Most workers in England are no longer farmers, labourers, farm labourers, construction workers or heavy-industrial operatives, and instead, it now refers to anyone who is not upper-middle-class. The trouble is, for good or for worse, the demographic has changed so much for the last 50 or so years, that the working class of, say, Hull (where I live) (or indeed, Leeds or Sheffield), have a very different outlook, aspiration and needs than, say, the working class of London, and I am not sure if a single leftist or centre-leftist party with a single leader, of whatever background, can possibly reconcile the gulf of difference between the two. This is when strategies based upon the classical, standard theories and understandings of Marxism about economic class no longer works. Marx wrote when Multiculturalism in England consisted mainly of Irishmen and a few Scotsmen in the mills and the factories in the bigger towns and the cities.

    Parts of urban England now more resemble Chisinau (Kishinev), Istanbul (Constantinople), Edirne (Adrianople), Izmir (Smyrna). Adana, Samsun, Mosul, Damascus, Beirut, Jerusalem, Aleppo and Salonika (Thessaloniki) during the late Ottoman (or late Tsarist) period, all multilingual, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional. It was a shame that the co-existence (without full toleration or full equality) was never meant to last for very long, in most of those cities listed.

  17. The Great and The Good

    In regards to your first point, I think any renationalisation would have to be done with incredible consideration of past mistakes. One of the biggest problems of 70s style welfare capitalism was a lack of democracy in state owned services and a resilience to innovation too – so both of these things would have to be rectified. I don’t think it’s impossible to get nationalised rail right – though as you said, there are potential pitfalls that you have to look out for.
    As for your second point, I agree that the “working class” is now a much more diverse group with different needs – I don’t think that anyone who isn’t upper middle class or upper class is working class though, but I agree with the spirit of your argument. It’s essentially why *any* national programme (left or right wing) will always have big issues, but within the framework of our current system, I would still opt for a social democratic/democratic socialist one.
    However, in an ideal world, Britain would be a highly devolved federal state, so these issues with differing needs and aspirations in different parts of the country would be met, probably through a system of fairly powerful, proportionally elected regional assemblies.

  18. steroflex

    Ruby. OK So Mr Farage has shot his bolt. Finito. And he has never been all that good with women either, has he. (Article on Mmme. le Pen)
    But what Ukip stands for is still there. People do not like being swamped with immigrants who do not speak the same language, who fiddle elections, who arrogantly despise them and who have a completely different set of standards. Me, I only have Baltics in my town and I watch them settling slowly in and becoming decent Brits. Peterborough is slightly different…
    And Ukip is home-grown. Labour isn’t. Labour is about London stuff. Labour wants to prolong the EU swindle. Labour parachutes people into constituencies. Labour is all about Labour people shuffling for position. Ukip is a protest from the swamp – where an awful lot of disaffected people live. And we all have votes.
    And Ukip is unequivocal – we really do need to get out of the EU fast (and go for EEA/EFTA before hitting the negotiate button as hard as we can.)

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