Sunday 19 October 2014

Why Ukip's rise still doesn't convince me

Since Ukip won their first parliamentary seat in the Clacton by-election 2 weeks ago, I've been meaning to give my thoughts on their increasing success.

It's easy to forget that it's only one seat they've got in Parliament. That puts them level with the Green Party but the amount of attention the party is receiving you would think they're about to hold the balance of power in next year's General Election. I'm still not convinced.

There's no doubt Ukip have caught the imagination of a growing section of the electorate. The problem I have, is just because some of their populist rhetoric might be gaining support, it doesn't mean their policies and what they stand for is credible.

I'll be upfront with you. Ukip as a party have nothing to say to me. When it comes to who I am, where I'm from, where I live, my education, and politics. Ukip are always going to find it difficult to attract me.

I wrote about Ukip earlier in the year. At the time I thought their influence in British politics could be good as they were shaking things up a bit. My feelings are now beginning to change.

What interests me about the party is what their rise in popularity says about the state of British politics. For me it says mainstream politics isn't in a good place. Not only that, I think the views and expectations of many Ukip supporters aren't realistic.

I don't believe for one minute Ukip are an extremist party. I do think they're a one man band though. Nigel Farage is a skilled politician, I'm just sceptical and suspicious as to what's behind him.

There's still the question mark over whether Ukip are nothing more than a bunch of mild racists and little Englanders.

I think what they represent is a form of anti politics. We've seen this form of anti politics in various forms, whether it's the Tea Party in America, the SNP in Scotland and various parties across Europe

Ukip are anti the Westminster establishment - the speak directly about the concerns of ordinary people. Nigel Farage sounds like an ordinary bloke you can have a pint with (despite his relatively privileged background). People are bored with manufactured career politicians.

I understand this, I feel some of this discontent with the political mainstream myself. I just don't believe Ukip's vision for Britain is particularly progressive or realistic.

For me your typical Ukip voter is your permanently grumpy sometimes annoyed older voter, they read the Daily Mail or Express which perfectly captures their annoyance with the state of modern Britain.

Immigration, political correctness, health and safety laws, the influence of the European Union, these are the sort of things that annoy this part of the electorate. The country they see is one they're not comfortable with.

The country Ukip wish for and aspire to doesn't exist anymore (if it ever did) and isn't going to return. This is why I feel some voters need to get real with how Britain is today.

It's telling and it was a point mentioned by Simon Jenkins in the London Evening Standard this week. Ukip have little support in London.

In many ways London represents everything Ukip dislikes about modern Britain. London is multicultural and cosmopolitan, a truly international city. London is inclusive, tolerant, outward looking. Ukip struggles to sell its message to people in the city.

What I find increasingly interesting is that Ukip represents a split on the conservative and political right of British politics.

Despite Ukip's greater appeal to Labour voters, most Ukippers are still estranged conservatives.You have the likes of the Prime Minister David Cameron who represents moderate centre right conservatives.

However, you have a growing number of right wing Conservative MPs and Ukip members who are moving ever further from this moderate form of conservative politics.

This split could have significant effects on British politics. I don't think it's an exaggeration to suggest that the future of the Tory Party is at stake.

The stance of David Cameron and Tory leaders is: 'vote Ukip get Labour'. That may be true but I don't think many Ukip voters care anymore.

They're voting for something separate and different from both Labour and the Conservatives. They want a country that has moved on from what they want.

Instead of Labour the Tories pandering to the populist statements of Nigel Farage, the mainstream parties should be confident to take Ukip on and argue the points on why their vision for Britain in unrealistic and isn't going to happen.

What are your thoughts on Ukip? Are they speaking the language of the people or are they rhetoric over substance?

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