What should we make of the success of UKIP in the recent local elections? What do I make of it? Well, I'm certainly not getting as excited as the political commentators and I'm trying to keep a reasonable perspective. I can't but help remember the rise and fall of the SDP so I'm of the view that the real consequences will not be clear for a long time. Possibly not until after the next General Election.
I know that indulging in schadenfreude is unbecoming but I must say that a joy for me so far has been the fall out from the remarks made about UKIP before the poll. Some things just cannot be unsaid and the dismissal of UKIP voters as ‘fruitcakes’, ‘closet racists’ and ‘clowns’ by several senior Tories is one of them. It was wonderful to watch it all blow up in their faces: the Kenneth Clarke outburst followed by the visible gulp, and the cold sweat, as they wondered suddenly ‘what if they actually do take votes from us?’ And then to cap it all, Posh Dave bleating that he was sorry for his comments: “We need to show respect for people who have taken the choice to support this party and we are going to work really hard to win them back.”
To me UKIP policies are fundamentally arch-Thatcherite with a visceral dislike of foreigners and homosexuals thrown in for good measure. Nigel Farage – if he were not in UKIP – would be the perfect embodiment of what I dislike about the Tory Party. Farage is a man motivated by ego, power and greed. Farage is UKIP and UKIP is Farage. I'm sure that this will cause serious problems for the party in the future as any scandal involving Farage could seriously damage UKIP - perhaps fatally. It's time for UKIPPERS to ensure that other talent is encouraged and developed within the party. However, it is so centralised under Farage that this will never happen. UKIP's undoubted success in the polls will further strengthen Farage's control and ensure that his sycophants will remain firmly in place, enjoying, for the moment, the privilege of minor parties in the UK: making promises which are easy to like and impossible to keep – in the sure and certain knowledge you'll never be in power and have to deliver them.
As well as the tremors shaking the Tories, UKIP's success has made made me rethink my basic political philosophy. I first coined this when I was around 8: Labour good, Tory bad, Liberal funny. Thanks to Farage and his cronies, I've had to change it: Labour good, Tory bad, UKIP worse, Liberal funny.