It’s easy to laugh at the racists and fruitcakes that make up the UK Independence Party roster of election candidates and councillors. Like clichéd children they do say the funniest things. But like kids they don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. Ukip exists for no other reason than to pull the country’s political discourse dangerously to the right and that’s so worrying because voters, members and even candidates and MEPs don’t realise.
Ukip members can’t be striving to take power to carry out their manifesto, because there is no coherent Ukip policy on anything to get behind. Poster boy Nigel Farage doesn’t know, care, or agree with the manifesto. He dismissed the plans with a comment about how he’d, “never read that. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” And that’s seemingly okay in a media environment that berates Labour for not having detailed spending plans years in advance.
Treasurer Stuart Wheeler has given the party £514, 957 since 2001 and he doesn’t know what their policies are either. Interviewed at a lunch for Eddie Mair’s PM he blustered, called for more wine, and had very little idea what was going on.
“We’ll launch it [the manifesto] after the European elections,” Farage says. After the election. And you thought only the Lib Dems could make up policy so much on the fly.
Essentially though, it doesn’t matter what Ukip’s policies are —they have an almost zero chance of getting into any sort of power, which is one thing we might have to thank the failure of the electoral reform referendum to bring in PR for. That means that can say absolutely anything: from ‘repainting all trains in traditional colours’ to ‘sending the buggers back’ if it will keep them in the media’s eye. There’s been more coverage of Farage not standing in a byelection than then has been of the Green Party’s whole European election campaign—making simple ideas like not condemning us all to climate chaos seem more ‘out there’ than a flat 30% tax rate.
When you consider that to change anything at a European level they would have to take power nationally, it doesn’t even matter what their policy on the EU is. Voters who really wanted to leave the EU would have more chance of it with a large Tory majority. The party simply exists to be anti control on the actions of capital of any kind. That is why they vote against each and every law in the European Parliament, when they can be bothered to turn up.
Members of the party are routinely caught out saying odd, unacceptable and contemptible things and then disowned by a leadership that sees them as disposable because they are disposable. There’s no mandate for the party due to a mass membership, there’s no structure or shared ideas. Voters can ignore any part of Ukip with impunity, because they’re never going to be in charge of anything. Every vote is a protest, but they’re not protesting against anything coherent — and they can have no idea what they’re protesting for.
Ukip is not so much a broad church as a circus big top of useful idiots and dangerous animals. They can be whipped by a ringmaster but he’s in no danger because he can easily replace them but doesn’t need them. They are nothing but paper candidates and a means to an end of securing airtime for those that they can trust to spread their message. And the only way to get the circus to leave town is to stop watching.
They are capital’s revenge: using any or all electoral tricks they wish, not to get elected and change anything but simply to pull the acceptable window of political discussion as far to the libertarian free-market right as possible.
In this they are more akin to other millionaire funded organisations like think tanks, right wing newspapers or the Taxpayers’ Alliance. Except they are more dangerous — because other politicians won’t attack them properly.
Attacks on Ukip are wrong in they way they are handled: yes they say stupid things (individually and collectively), yes they are racist (in many cases individually and in the few policies they do have), yes you can pick apart almost all they say. That however is a distraction, the real issue is how money can manipulate where the Overton window of ideas that the debate will accept sits on our spectrum. This is that all the money behind Ukip wants.
All the other parties know that, because they use the same tactics, and to dismiss Ukip is to lift the curtain on that window, revealing the political wizards to be controlled by the forces of the status quo.
How does a party funded by millionaires, lead by an ex-banker who’s been an MEP for 15 years claim to be not of the establishment? Because they don’t have the problem of ever having to be in power and they know no-one will want to reveal just how that establishment works. Clegg pulled the window towards electoral reform and fairness on education by playing the same nonsense outsider role in 2010’s TV debates, and we saw how that played out with a whiff of responsibility.
How does a party grow so quickly and reconcile the views of all its members? Ukip don’t have to because there is no group: just a collection of angry individuals nudged around to provide media ballast. That collection gives them the strength and the cover to say whatever bizarre things they want: because all the party must think the same as they do.
How can they truly say they aren’t a racist party? Because all their ideas exist only to free the movement of capital, to unhinge the means of production from any control by the state. And capitalism isn’t racist: it has many faults but it doesn’t care about the ethnicity of those it exploits.
Ukip exists purely to further the interests the very people they will say they are against — the establisment — and to break their influence we need to really break the political mould, opening up on how it all works. Is anyone brave enough to do that?