UKIP disintegration could mean turmoil for centre-right

One of the most extraordinary stories of this General Election campaign doesn’t concern the three main parties or their leaders – and it could have more far reaching implications as this post will explain.  It has to be the implosion of UKIP and its leader, Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

In recent interviews on TV and radio, Lord Pearson has demonstrated that he doesn’t have a basic grasp of his party’s manifesto, is unwilling to talk about issues such as education and health, and has sought to excuse his distinctly substandard media performances by saying he isn’t a slick, professional politician.  This has come on top of UKIP’s dalliance with identity politics, playing the BNP’s game and singling out the burqa as attire to be banned in public buildings.

It seems Lord Pearson’s communication deficiencies extend to internal party matters too.  It has emerged that the UKIP candidate in Taunton Deane, Tony McIntyre, learned from the BBC that he was supposed to step aside and end his campaign in the hope of assisting the Conservative candidate there, after Lord Pearson announced the decision in an open letter to the Mid Somerset News and Media.  Lord Pearson appears to be a decent and honorable man.  But the evidence is that he is completely ill-equipped to lead a political party that received the second highest number of votes in last year’s European Parliament elections.  His recent media appearances will have done nothing to convince floating voters that in lending their support to UKIP they would be voting for a competent party.

The UKIP three ring circus hasn’t faired any better in the local media either.  The weekend bore witness to a tragic performance of UKIP’s apparently kindly and well meaning candidate for Peterborough, Frances Fox.  Speaking on the Politics Show in the East, Mrs Fox was so nervous she spoke of the 100 million jobs that have been lost in the country and struggled to give coherent answers to questions as she struggled to refer to her notes.  It was not car crash TV, it was far worse than that.  Again it reinforced the reason why so many people with centre-right views do not take UKIP seriously and cannot bring themselves to support it.

Politics should not be about trivialites such as slick presentation or how one looks on camera and sounds on audio.  It should be about ideas, vision and positive plans for the way this country is governed.  But what UKIP is showing is that its leader and some of its candidates are unable or unwilling to address those core requirements.  In doing so it is unwittingly paving the way for what could be a truly seismic shift in British politics.

The result of UKIP’s downward slide would mean not only a weakened party with shrinking appeal that will not be taken seriously by voters, but also the possible creation of a political vacuum on the centre-right of British politics – where no party speaks up for a substantial proportion of the electorate and the issues that are important to people who want smaller government and personal freedom from the state.  That would be worrying and uncharted territory at a time when the paternalist, overbearing, centre ground consensus has little enough genuine opposition to overcome.

But of course the media circus so fixated with stage managed debates and faux disagreements about the extent of fiscal intervention, it has failed to notice what could prove to be a truly defining moment in politics in this country.  Perhaps we are rapidly approaching the point at which a new, moderate, realist centre-right political force commited to national political sovereignty and truly democratic politics, can emerge to provide the much needed alternative to the mainstream party consensus that is serving the interests of this country so badly.  We can but hope we do not sink deeper into what the Chinese would describe as ‘interesting times’.

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16 Responses to “UKIP disintegration could mean turmoil for centre-right”

  1. 1 Senior 28/04/2010 at 6:11 pm

    I would vote for UKIP if they had a candidate in my constituency, because I oppose the UK’s membership of the EU. I agree with Lord Pearson’s strategy of not opposing candidates from other parties who oppose the UK’s membership of the EU, but I think the implementation of this strategy has been poorrly managed, leading to confusion and internal problems for UKIP.

    I don’t think UKIP needs to be replaced by a new party. I think the party needs to sort out its internal problems. That may mean a change of leader.

  2. 2 Jones 29/04/2010 at 12:07 am

    Farage should never have stood down as leader, simple as.

  3. 3 mhayworth 29/04/2010 at 2:19 pm

    If a few problem people (including leaders in your view) meant the ‘disintegration’ of a political party in this country, we would have no parties at all.

    It is high time we started voting for parties based on common values and policies and not because we’ve always voted one way or another. UKIP has its faults and is going through some growing pains right now but will immerge from this election as a stronger and more organised force for democracy.

    There are a few UKIP policies that I don’t agree with but it is clearly a party that has my core values and interests at heart and one that will continue to grow and gain popularity as the claws of the socialist EU state dig further into every facet of our daily lives.

    Would you rather wait until our expense scandal politicians enter the European bureaucracy where there is no transparency, no accountability, and no way of unelecting them?

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 29/04/2010 at 3:12 pm

    I’m afraid UKIP is in decline from top to bottom. Its organisation is a mess, its leader is not up to the job, its candidates are largely well meaning but incapable of being taken seriously – and its MEPs have had question marks over their probity and are all at sea when it comes to European votes and effective campaigns. Added to that its finances are a shambles.

    UKIP was effectively a one man band, a promotional tool for Nigel Farage, when he was leader. Without him at the helm the party has drifted and has now started apeing the BNP with its distasteful identity politics proposals.

    Despite its claims to the contrary, UKIP remains a single issue party – something that is demonstrable from Lord Pearson’s handling of the election campaign. Every party has its dotty members, but even a cursory glance shows that UKIP has a disproportionate number of them. The fact is many people whose outlook is most closely aligned to UKIP’s stated agenda still can’t bring themselves to vote for the party. That tells its own story.

  5. 5 mhayworth 29/04/2010 at 7:26 pm

    Autonomous Mind,

    I disagree completely. There are certainly people in UKIP who are ‘one issue’ minded but that is only because they are aware of how the removal of that one issue (our EU membership) would solve so many of the problems we face today.

    I also don’t buy the similarity with the BNP. As we’ve seen recently in the news, there have been candidates in all parties resigning and/or apologising for rants on Twitter, blogs, etc. The failed immigration policies of past governments are causing a breakdown in community cohesion and sadly this is the result.

    At the UKIP spring conference I saw people of all races supporting a party with a full manifesto, and a leader who is so concerned about the effect of our total immersion in the EU that he is willing to stand our candidates aside to support Eurosceptic MPs. How many politicians could you name who would put their core values and the interests of the country before their desire for power? Considering the current state of affairs – I’d say not many.

  6. 6 Autonomous Mind 29/04/2010 at 7:45 pm

    It’s the party you support and I respect that completely. I share a good many of UKIP’s objectives, but I could not and will not vote for the party because it is a what I consider to be a shambles and too many of its leading lights are untrustworthy. UKIP have also been tainted by the corrupt behaviour that has characterised politics over recent years.

    The point I make about the similarity with the BNP is that UKIP’s burqa policy is identity politics, which as you know defines the BNP. I believe in strong immigration controls, but also in personal freedom as long as it does not result in incitement, or infringe the liberty or safety of others. The burqa ban is nonsensical. Do not forget, in standing down candidates UKIP is relying on its opponents rejecting their own party whip to vote on principle. It’s a gamble frankly because we know the Conservative position in particular is not only to remain firmly in the EU, but also to avoid a referendum on membership.

  7. 7 mhayworth 29/04/2010 at 8:30 pm

    Autonomous Mind,
    You say: ‘ UKIP’s burqa policy is identity politics, which as you know defines the BNP’.

    Does that mean the governments of France and Belgium are like the BNP now that they are both attempting to have the burqa banned?

    Assuming you are male, have you considered this from a security perspective?. As a female, I have to say I find it as frightening as the robes of the KKK. Both garments represent the worst forms of segregation and oppression to me. As many Muslims have said, it has nothing to do with their religion, which is why it has also been banned in some Muslim dominated countries.

  8. 8 mhayworth 30/04/2010 at 12:14 am

    I think the Labour and Tory media like to tie UKIP to the BNP in order to malign them. They feel threatened by a party that is exposing the Lisbon Treaty for what it really is. Let’s face it, if the public had any idea of what Britain signed away last year and what is actually coming ahead, none of the three main parties would ever get into power again.

    Check out an exerpt from this story in the Telegraph tonight:

    ‘Now as it happens, I know the UKIP candidate a little. His name is Abhijit Pandya. He is a fellow in law at the LSE. As well as being academically distinguished, he is hugely intelligent and likeable. He is also admirably unafraid of tackling difficult issues. That is, he is exactly the sort of person who would make the House of Commons a better place.

    According to the local paper, during the Harrow debate Abhijit said that in this country British culture should be put first. He also said that the policy of multiculturalism “is a bad thing” because of the segregation it causes.

    For this McNulty declared that Abhijit had “forgotten his roots”. McNulty then accused Abhijit of being “the BNP in a suit”.

  9. 9 ppp 30/04/2010 at 7:32 am

    Autonomous Mind – I agree with you. It is a shambles, Lord Pearson comes across as a bumbling old fool. The local leaflets come across as amateurish attempts to woo the core BNP vote. The shift to a focus on identity politics does nothing to differentiate the party from the BNP – why vote for a pale imitation when Nick Griffin is out there doing a better job putting his party and politics across to an increasingly peed off electorate?

    It’s a mess. To vote for UKIP now I feel I’d have to do it in spite of them. Prior to the campaign kicking off I had decided that UKIP were going to get my vote because of their stance on Europe and climate change. They’ve done a good job of dissuading me…

  10. 10 Autonomous Mind 30/04/2010 at 12:14 pm

    The governments of France and Belgium are behaving like the BNP in respect of this matter. Isn’t it funny that the ‘security’ excuse always gets rolled out for every extension of government intrusion and control over our lives? When I visited the passport office everyone had to go through a scanner. The clothing made no difference, so singling out the burqa is being done for questionable reasons.

    Why don’t UKIP go the whole hog and ban hooded tops on the pretext of security from potential youth offenders? I agree there is no religious argument for wearing the burqa. But there is an argument for wearing whatever garment you choose without some Minister or bureaucrat decreeing it is unacceptable.

  11. 11 kenomeat 04/05/2010 at 11:36 pm

    I meant to post a comment earlier. Hope it isn’t too late to attract a response. My question is simple; if not UKIP then who?. Are you advocating voting BNP or for a pro-EU party such as the Tories? There doesn’t seem to be any other choice.

  12. 12 Autonomous Mind 05/05/2010 at 8:20 am

    I think a new choice needs to be created. An organisation like the Conservative Party, only with truly democratic structures, an authentically conservative agenda and the courage to take on those issues that are important to voters but kicked to the margins by the main three parties. It would be a party that does not resort to identity politics or possess a racial undercurrent. One that is run in an open and transparent manner, believes in the free market and extracts government from areas it has no business playing a role. A party that is more libertarian in its DNA, again makes the state the servant of the people rather than their master, has an international outlook and cooperates on matters of mutual interests with our neighbours, while restoring and preserving national parliamentary sovereignty and legal supremacy.

    On reflection that sounds half manifesto, half party constitution, so I won’t labour the point. But I think you get the picture. It needs to be a party formed to achieve what UKIP did not consider when it was a single issue party that has since been riven by internal intrigue and financial mismanagement.

  13. 13 kenomeat 05/05/2010 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you AM for the response. I would agree with you but still feel that, for this election at least, I must vote for UKIP. You seem to have similar ideas as Peter Hitchens i.e. a totally new party with genuine conservative policies which can only arise once the new progressive Tories fall apart. I still think a reformed UKIP reinforced with talented Tory defections could do the trick, but, so long as we end up a free country once more I don’t really mind how it’s done.

  14. 14 Autonomous Mind 05/05/2010 at 5:27 pm

    Always a pleasure to discuss the issues. Yes, I would agree my ideas are similar to those of Peter Hitchens, but I find him needlessly shrill at times and his approach could be more constructive. I don’t think there is a need for the Cameron Conservatives to fall apart. If the Conservatives win the election, impatience for real reform and conservative ideals will build and a genuinely new party with no baggage could start attracting support while being more appealing to voters than the centre ground consensus opposition.

  15. 15 Stuart Guppy 07/07/2010 at 10:41 am

    Much criticism is directed at UKIP but the basic reason why the party was inaugurated in the 1990’s is still as dynamic as it has ever been. The Euro Parliament is communist orientated and socialist parties tend to vote with them. This is not good for Britain as it is slowly being absorbed into a communist society. Brussels wants the money in the central pot, to be doled out as it deems appropriate. We are not supposed to argue, but just do as we are are told. This is where that system is fundamentally flawed as we do argue our cause. Most British politicians in the labour / conservative / lib dem parties are complicit in Brussels intentions. Only UKIP fights our corner. We must set aside internal arguments and concentrate on the essential case of restoring sovereignty to Westminster. UKIP is not perfect, but neither are any of the 3 main parties, all of which have seen MPs imprisoned for criminality and been embroiled in the expenses scandals.

    We need to concentrate our resources on getting Britain back to its position of a world power, not just a cog in the huge unwieldy corrupt EU wheel. There is no reason on earth why we cannot be good friends with Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the rest of the countries in the continent of Europe and trade freely with them. Instead we kiss goodby to around £60 million per day which is sucking the countries money out, leaving us a bankrupt nation.

    Lets get out. Only UKIP fights for this.

  1. 1 Six of the Best 45 Trackback on 30/04/2010 at 9:11 am
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