The death of UKIP can't come soon enough

Patriotic French people have created the highly creditable Front National
, while in Britain a bunch of wets have come up with something called the UK Independence Party, writes Christopher Goff.

The decision of the British people to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum brought with it a bonus prize: the demise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). And for me, the death of this pathetic excuse of a right-wing party can't come soon enough.

Britain's vote to leave the EU has had the effect of destroying UKIP's raison d'être, and since the announcement of the result of the EU referendum the party has been in terminal decline. To say the party has been a victim of its own success rather hits the nail on the head. However, one would have thought that at least someone in UKIP, like for one former party leader Nigel Farage, should have seen this dilemma coming and made efforts to move the party further in the direction of a movement with a wider and more enduring appeal. But UKIP was always a product of wets, totally lacking in the vision and conviction needed to be able to create a political movement capable of reaching beyond the narrow objective of trying to extricate Britain from the European Union. And now the UKIP chickens are coming home to roost.

The UKIP story began in 1991 and when London School of Economics historian, Professor Alen Sked, formed the Anti-Federalist League in response to the introduction of the Maastricht Treaty. A couple of years later, and in 1993, the group registered as a political party and took on the UKIP name. Interestingly, when Alan Sked and his associates did this they said they didn't want to use the term 'Britain' or 'British' in the party name in order to avoid confusion with the British National Party – a party which at that time was brimming full of people with vision and conviction, and which was rapidly picking-up support in exactly the same way to what the Front National was doing in France. That the BNP never managed to realize its full potential and was deprived of its chance of evolving into a party like what the Front National is in France today will always feel like an injustice to a great many British Nationalists. I would add that the responsibility for this injustice doesn't lie at the door of people like Alan Sked, but instead with the lily-livered wets who later joined and supported UKIP in preference to the BNP and which they saw as being a little too controversial or a little too incompatible with their sensibilities. Had the French people have operated to this same rationale in the early days of the Front National, well then the FN would never have grown into the giant of a political party that it is today.

UKIP members are now consumed in an interminable squabble to find their next party leader. Following the resignation of former leader Nigel Farage in the period immediately after the EU referendum, Dianne James stood in the election to replace him and duly won. However, on 4 October, 2016, and only 18 days after winning the leadership contest James made a statement saying that she would not be taking up the position of party leader, citing the following: "It has become clear that I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of all my MEP colleagues and party officers to implement those changes I believe necessary and upon which I based my campaign". However, sometime after making this statement rumours began to emerge of how Dianne James had been spat at on a train station platform; her election to the position of party leader possibly increasing her public profile to a level that she was not comfortable with. Added to that, there were also reports in the media of how her partner was suffering from a serious illness.

The task of finding a new leader of UKIP rumbles on. One of the more colourful twists in this process has been the alledged punch-up between two of the main contenders – one of them, Steven Woolfe, ended up being rushed to hospital after he was found sprawled unconcious on the floor inside the European Parliament and where the confrontation was said to have taken place. It's still not clear exactly what happened. However, one really has to question the suitability of a candidate who was barred from taking part in the first leadership contest – the one won by Dianne James – after somehow managing to submit his nomination papers too late, albeit only by 17 minutes, when he was in fact widely tipped to win. In the aftermath of the decision of the party's National Executive Committee to reject Steven Woolfe's late nomination, one of UKIP's biggest donors, Arron Banks, wrote in The Guardian (5 October, 2016) of his frustration: "This body is populated by a motley collection of amateurs" and "Watching them try to run the modern political movement that Farage built is like watching a team of circus clowns trying to carry out a pit stop at the Silverstone Grand Prix". Steven Woolfe later announced his resignation from UKIP in a statement released on his website on 17 October, 2016.

In the latest twist to the story of finding UKIP's next leader, one of the contenders, Raheem Kassam, has managed to attract the criticism of one of his rivals who said that he would 'drag the party too far to the right'. Really, one wonders just how far to the right the son of Tanzanian immigrant parents of Gujurati origin would possibly be inclined to drag UKIP. A UKIP-Combat 18 pact maybe? The stigma of being labelled 'far-right' clearly scares the life out of some prominent UKIP members.

That there never were more strings to the UKIP bow is the thing that perhaps best explains the party's downfall. Amongst the largely blue-collar membership there just weren't the people with the vision to enable the creation of a movement like what their right-wing counterparts in France have managed to create. In addition, while proud and patriotic French people have willingly embraced the sometimes-controversial Front National, and sometimes in defiance of their own sensibilities, the British people have been shown to be lacking that same level of conviction as their near neighbours the French.

So, good riddance to a so-called 'right-wing' party whose leading members it seems have always been too reluctant to assert their right-wing credentials in the fear that someone who finds their views objectionable might spit at them at their local train station one day.

Copyright © Christopher Goff
Tag: Politics
Uploaded: 26 October, 2016.