I have interrupted the drafting of a far more significant blog post to comment on matters arising from and matters around the resignation of Nigel Farage from UKIP, announced today.
Nigel Farage and UKIP
It is perhaps the conventional wisdom to regard Nigel Farage as a hugely–skilled politician who made UKIP into a major force in British politics. My own view is rather different.
I see Farage as an articulate, fairly intelligent fellow, not very ideological beyond an ingrained free-marketism. Certainly not a great or even wide-ranging thinker. Farage was leader of UKIP (founded 1993) from 1997 to 2016. On the one hand, Farage mobilized and organized UKIP sufficiently to gain, at peak, 24 MEPs and 2 Conservative MP defectors. On the other hand, in 25 years of operation and 19 years under Farage, UKIP never came close to having a new UKIP MP elected anywhere (mainly the fault of the British FPTP electoral system, so be it).
UKIP (as I tweeted and blogged for years) peaked in 2014. Since then it has been on the downward slope. Farage saw that and jumped ship, first giving up the leadership, then getting new and presumably lucrative work as radio talk host on LBC and as a general talking head.
Now Farage has resigned from UKIP because he says that it is becoming a single-issue party obsessed by Islam or Islamism. He also thinks that the new UKIP leader is obsessed with the idea of linking up with “Tommy Robinson” and his large band of followers. Farage’s view is mired in irony though: if there has ever been a one-issue party (or maybe two connected issues) it is UKIP, with its emphases on exit from the EU and mass immigration.
Farage’s own view seems to be that he prefers immigration (so long as notionally “high-skilled”) from India than from EU states. Despite the influx to the UK of low-wage Lithuanians and others, and also Roma Gypsy thieves and freeloaders, that is just mad, or at best very wrongheaded. After all, “race is the root, culture is the flower”.
UKIP’s Electoral Chances
As I have blogged several times, I assess UKIP’s electoral chances as close to zero. At electoral peak in 2014, UKIP might have had several MPs elected, had there been a General Election that year. As it was, the 2015 General Election saw UKIP miss the bus. Its (in round figures) nearly 4M votes (12.6% of the overall vote) were insufficient to win any individual seat, because spread evenly among English and Welsh constituencies.
Any linkage with Tommy Robinson might revivify UKIP to some extent, but in my view not enough to do well electorally. Most of Robinson’s supporters vote UKIP anyway, in all likelihood.
Down The Line
It is possible that, if Brexit either does not happen or happens in a patently false way, then UKIP might do better, but it is not the party for any radical or revolutionary new start for the UK. “Robinson’s” noisy beerswillers will contribute little to UKIP, which I think will still pretty much disappear by 2022 at latest.
Further thoughts, 8 December 2018
UKIP was a major reason why the BNP (which until 2010 often did better than UKIP in elections) failed to take off in the 2005-2010 period. The BNP, though somewhat crude, was a genuine social-national party, not (as was or is UKIP) a partly-fake conservative-nationalist party. The attitude of, eg, the BBC, made that clear. UKIP members were and still are welcome on the Daily Politics show (or whatever it is now called), Question Time etc. The BNP was only allowed on to be trashed or when law and regulation prescribed, mainly during election run-up times.
There were positive aspects to UKIP when it was a live party:
- UKIP raised the profile of nationalism in the UK;
- UKIP raised the subject of mass immigration into the UK and the EU, and because UKIP had a platform on msm TV, radio and Press, was able to awake some slumbering people to it and the consequential dangers of it;
- UKIP may have been the catalyst for the EU Referendum. Even if Brexit is defeated or denied (overtly or not) the national debate has once more awakened many not only to the EU’s faults, but to migration-invasion etc.
- UKIP membership, at one time around 40,000, now stands officially at 23,000 and is believed to be in very steep decline.