Monday, March 5, 2012

UKIP is in the media

UKIP's latest MEP, Roger Helmer, is debating robustly (on both sides) whether he has done the right or the honourable thing with his local Conservative Party and erstwhile supporters, like Rupert Matthews and Emma McClarkin, while dropping hints that he may well stand again in the next European election, which, as I have suggested before, will cause problems.

In the meantime, UKIP's Spring Conference has produced some media attention, which is never a bad thing. No less a person than Michael White of the Guardian has written an article about the party and its conference, in particular about its new members, many of whom are young and glamorous and who, thus, change the old image the party has presented. To be absolutely honest, Michael White is a little behind the times. That old image is very out of date. Any UKIP conference of the last few years would have shown a fair proportion of young faces among the older ones.

For a long time now UKIP has attracted young supporters, many of whom find the other parties somewhat pointless and disillusioning. Whether they stay long enough or make a difference to UKIP's outlook is another matter but they are certainly there.

Star of the show seems to have been the delightful Alexandra Swan (well, she sounds delightful) whom Mr White describes:
No, the new Tory defector whose scornful tone might have rattled Cameron was Alexandra Swann.
Smartly dressed and well-spoken, sporting long blonde hair and 3in heels, she does not fit the Ukip stereotype. No blazer and regimental tie, no beard or beer gut, Swann is researching a PhD on 19th century social Darwinism and the small state. She is also 23, a political anorak since 16, former deputy chairman of the Tory youth wing and a visible blogosphere presence.
Ms Swan made her appearance in the Irish Times as well, where she was photographed with the Leader. (I must admit they both looked like escapees from any Conservative Party Conference but, one cannot deny the fact, that they were smart.)

Of course, as Stewart Wheeler reminded the conference remains in the mid-sixties but that just shows that UKIP is no different from other political parties except when it comes to winning elections. Then again, we have a government made up of two parties, neither of whom managed to win the last General Election and one of whom did considerably worse than expected or predicted.)

Nor is the libertarian message, occasionally promoted by the Leader, which attracts people like Ms Swan (and others I have spoken to on various occasions) is always prominent. A good many of UKIPers at the Conference and off it prefer a message of protectionism and anti-immigrants of all kinds, whether they work or claim benefits. Libertarians, of course, Libertarians like Ms Swan (I assume from her self-description) believe in free trade and think people should be able to get jobs wherever those exist but nobody should claim benefits. That is not necessarily a winning formula but neither has the traditional UKIP message been so far except in the European elections.

At the risk of attracting yet more ridiculous personal attacks I have to repeat: UKIP has the potential to change the face of British politics; it has had that potential for years but nothing much has happened. Should they not stop simply shouting "huzza, huzza" whenever the Leader appears, pat each other on the back, assure each other that next time they will definitely win but, instead, sit down and work out what has gone wrong so far and what needs to be changed. Strategy should not be a dirty word.


  1. Helen,

    In respect of your last paragraph, when I was a member I tried to impress that on the Party, but to no avail. The problem is that Ukip do not understand the word 'strategy' - they think it is spelled F A R A GE!

  2. Um, you might experience an attack or two, Guest from the Faragistas who think nobody should be allowed to criticize their idol. Or his party.

  3. Helen, I am already scarred from the attacks of the 'Faragistas', so any more will have no effect!

    Afterthought, I should have posted as WitteringsfromWitney - my apologies.

    I am in the process of 'dissecting' their 'New' policy document.......... the sycophantic comments on twitter and postings on Ukip blogs I find quite amusing and sad.

  4. Why doesn't Doctor 'up' North start his own party? With Helen's winning formula it's bound to be a walk in the park.

  5. When you have done so, WfW, I trust you will post it so we can all link to it. I am a great believer in letting other people do the work. :)

    As for the unnamed Guest, may I suggest that it is a little bit unimpressive to post sarcastic comments anonymously.

  6. As I pointed out on Witterings from Witney the other day, and many times before that, the main obstacle to UKIP (or indeed any other small right wing party) winning elections or seats is the Conservative party and tribal voting. It doesn't matter what UKIPs' strategy is, so long as the Tories lurch on and absorb millions of votes from people who will vote for them whatever they say or do, then nothing will change.

    This is not to say that a change in UKIP strategy will have absolutely no impact whatsoever - it would - but we are talking mere percentage points, not election victories or probably even parliamentary seats.

    As for your point about UKIP attracting the young through libertarianism, then that seems perfectly true and fair. I continue to consider libertarian support amongst today's youth as akin to previous generations' youth support for Labour and leftism (by leftism in this case I am referring to economic statism and social liberalism). They are libertarians these days because of what the ideology is not rather than what it is.

    Labour and the statist Left are so abundant these days that they are no longer anti-establishment (though of course it's adherents like to believe otherwise). The Left and it's ideas are in fact the establishment now and their views prevail in this country. Libertarianism is thus the new ideology of the rebellious youth, for those who cannot bring themselves to be (heaven forbid) conservatives (also wrongly still viewed as an establishment view - which ceased to be so decades ago).

    Not explained as precisely as I might like, I admit, but I am writing this on my phone, it is late and my fingers are tired. I will continue tomorrow if necessary and able!

  7. Alfred the OrdinaryMarch 6, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    "UKIP has the potential to change the face of British politics; it has had that potential for years but nothing much has happened." Sadly, there seems to be no other force. If only Nigel Farage could recognise his real strengths, and he has some, and realise that leading this party is not one of them. The party has so much potential which is being stifled at present.

  8. I agree, Alfred. I also kind of agree with Chris Pain. However, I still think it would be a good idea for UKIP to try to work out what it is that makes people vote or not vote a certain way. I have written about it before on the blog. The fact is that turn-outs are now much lower than they were in the past yet, for some reason, people would rather stay at home than vote for UKIP. That is what the party has to examine and discuss.

  9. Thank you for the analysis, HS.

  10. Totally agree, it's about time UKIP stopped sitting on the sidelines and got into the main stream.

    Yes I know it doesn't help that the whole media ignores them, in fact I think the BNP gets more coverage. But there ignored because there is no backbone, UKIP are seen like a irritation.

    Helen, Ukip have been around for a few years now, if they by now have not worked out what makes people vote or not vote in a certain way, well more fool them, so why should anyone vote for a party that hasn't a clue?

  11. To be quite precise, UKIP has been around for almost 20 years and its predecessor, the Anti-Federalist League was set up in 1992. I know for I was there. And yes, they ought to have worked out by now what makes people vote or not vote but it is not too late to do so now. And the whole point of my posting is that there is now a fair bit of media coverage. UKIP people, for instance, get on Question Time with some regularity.