So much has been written on UKIP. I never got round to it till now, but hope to bring at least something original to the subject.
Now seems a good time as we’re free of pre and post election hype, a time when UKIP will get less attention. We can expect a drop in the polls, and are already seeing early signs. Thus, the attention on them in the new year will make them seem somewhat fresh again.
There are many interesting contradictions within the party and the rhetoric of it’s supporters.
I have spoken to UKIP activists since their inception. I have never had a problem with the concept of an anti EU party, it is a legitimate aim to leave the union, regardless of whether one agrees with it. Early on, when they were perhaps taking up the mantle of The Referendum Party, I found them to be pretty earnest – a little crank-like, but all political parties attract cranks.
I even knew a non aligned anti EU Marxist who helped them out, their activists were often at pains to tell me that there were leftists in the party. That can hardly be the case now, with their simplistic but regressive calls for flat tax and toe-ing the line on a range of hard right economic orthodoxies.
This is the first way in which UKIP are a hoax : While posturing as different, they drink the same economic Kool-aid as Labour, Conservative and Libdems. It’s a brand of market and de-regulated fundamentalism that has catastrophically failed, much of that failure has still to play out (the bursting bond bubble could well be next).
In fact, UKIP are even more hardline in devotion to the finance capital cult and it’s market gods. They will make the UK more dependent on that cult. Many of their supporters are happy to dig their graves with spades forged of their own ignorance – for as night follows day, the banking criminals are going to screw them too.
Another contradiction is the claim to be libertarian – how many libertarians can you think of who are so touchy about homosexuality, or who want tax discs for bikes, doubled prison spaces and massively increased spending on the military?
A small aside, notice that like many rightists UKIP indulge an exaggerated martyr complex – as if the world really is out to get people like them. I mean, straight white people don’t really run anything now do they? It was inevitable once we allowed Christmas to be banned, and I expect this post has been wiped because the internet is run by trots.
A further curio: Notice how UKIPers bang on and on about how dreadful the other parties are (easy to do, those parties tending to be as systemically corrupt as UKIP would be if they got more power). Then notice how easily offended they are when their own tribe is critiqued. They can give it out, but they can’t take it. Some of the naive evangelism is pretty funny. They moan about media bias, when it is largely disproportionate attention that has got them the profile they have achieved. If anything they have been fetishised by the media. A couple of years back The Greens and UKIP were more or less level in polls (perhaps UKIP slightly ahead, say 5-6% for one, 7-8% for the latter). Was subsequent coverage more or less equal. If not, why not?
The ultimate frauds of UKIP are in the “anti politics / anti establishment” stances. They are politicians. They want to be the establishment, and if ever they were they would serve the same corporate interests. In short, they are the establishment backed anti-establishment voice, with legions of dupes raving about how un-dupe like they are for seeing through the mainstream lies.
On extremism and racism:
What UKIP members and supporters don’t often understand (to be fair, only a niche group of politics geeks do) is the collapse in credibility of the far right, especially the BNP.
Prior to the Woolwich murder the EDL were a fractured laughing stock and, despite hoping to exploit it more fully, they haven’t built on the fresh attention interest that horror brought to them.
With little traction for the English Democrats and other small groupings, UKIP have become a pole of attraction for far rightists – “half a loaf is better than no bread” as one poster on the nazi forums of Stormfront put it.
Try raising this and you will meet a cliche now well into its 3rd decade, but trotted out as if it’s fresh as a daisy : “how dare you…closing down debate…opposing immigration not racist”.
I do not think UKIP is a racist party. But it is a party that has racists in it, and throws up smokescreens when this is raised. Skepticism about immigration doesn’t make someone racist, but it hardly rules out the possibility.
The social media rhetoric can have an alarming crossover with that of the EDL, although UKIP supporters act like they ought to be taken much more seriously because they often can use spell checker and don’t routinely butcher syntax.
I don’t believe UKIP are flash in the pan. Nor do I mind that. As I said, there’s certainly a legitimate case for pulling out of the EU, and the overt left have been moribund in putting their side of that case. The EU is a Bankers’ Europe, but UKIP want a Bankers’ Britain.
Yet although UKIP aint going away, each new percentage point will become harder to get. Too many feet may yet go in too many mouths, and if the Tories go into opposition there will be a serious collapse in support.
The party is already having a strong effect by pulling the Tories to the right. It might be their biggest achievement, certainly in the mid term.
Despite a possible”SDP” effect of UKIP in denying the Conservatives a critical number of seats, the effectiveness of “pulling from outside” is something the “change from within” faction of Labour might take note of after at least a generation of being ignored in and out of government.