There is one solid, unshakable reason that the United Kingdom should leave the EU. Yet since UKIP hit their local election high water mark, causing the Tory faithful to lose their faith somewhat, no one has been talking about it. Neither the Europe loving left or the sceptic right have mentioned that, should we leave the EU the one great cause for celebration will be that Nigel Farage will lose his job.
As a member of the European Parliament Mr UKIP has, like his party, made a name for himself by doing very little but shout and moan. Having claimed nearly a quarter of the vote across England one would expect UKIP to have evolved into something less one dimensional. Even the British National Party had (slightly) more refined politics than ‘immigrants bad, white people good’ yet their more palatable successors as the Conservative party’s embarrassing uncle stoutly refuse to change. Their default setting is to set themselves in permanent opposition to their rivals. There is no real suggestion of policy alternatives or grass roots UKIP activism but rather a modus operandi that revolves on picking candidates at random (ex-fascists seemingly welcome) and rely on the inevitable anti-establishment vote to bring some of these characters to local power.
UKIP’s finances reveal how little the party does other than stand in opposition. Demetri Marchessini’s status as a major donor (revealed in the press last week) is laughable considering that the sum total of money he has funnelling into UKIP is only around £10,000. Even the SWP, Labour’s very own UKIP, receives more in donations per year than Farage’s motley crew. Unlike the far left, however, UKIP doesn’t have a traditional voter or powerbase. The poor performance in elections for most of the party’s history shows that, at its heart, UKIP support is limited to fringe ex-cons (Conservatives not convicts) and Europhobes. And that it is public dissatisfaction, not astute politician campaigning, that has brought the party its newfound support.
Yet, as Scotland’s nationalist party has shown, it is possible for a one issue political movement to turn into a serious force. At the start of devolved power, there must have been few in Whitehall who ever seriously thought that the SNP would one day be in power or that Scotland’s very own ‘in, out’ referendum would be rapidly approaching come 2013. Yet here we are. By challenging the established political parties on mundane issues, health care, education, defence, and then acting upon them when elected to power, Alex Salmond’s party has become, for now at least, the dominant player in Scottish politics. The party laughingly branded as fascist by Nigel Farage is now in a position to push the one issue that, like UKIP, is central to both its name and ideology. While UKIP is by no means close to this level of political transformation, the SNP still serves as an example of how quickly a ‘fringe’ party can become mainstream. Indeed UKIP itself has changed remarkably since the days of Robert Killroy-Silk in supermarket parking lots telling immigrants to ‘go home’. Politicians are always on the move, but not Farage.
Why is it then that UKIP has got the Tory’s knickers in an almighty twist? Despite having a leader who is still preferred by the British public to Clegg or Milliband and holding their coalition partners on a short leash, the Conservative party is, when it comes to Europe, incredibly paranoid. Only an attempt to reintroduce the Poll Tax could incite more psychosis in the Tory ranks than debate on membership of the EU. Moderates are desperate to stay ‘in’ without being seen to be immigrant friendly while the ‘out’ faction are terrified of losing domestic power over the Europe issue and want out as quickly as possible. Set in the context of a disinformation programme the KGB would be proud of ,it is easy to see UKIP’s main point of attack. Unlike the SNP it doesn’t actually need to gain power, or even a parliamentary seat, to push its agenda. Instead of meaningful action, Farage just needs to keep shouting and the Conservative party will continue to tear itself apart. Even if a pre-2015 referendum is avoided (something that the current Parliamentary split thankfully seems set against) a post-election landscape with a paranoid Conservative party in the majority would result in an ‘in, out’ poll that, given the centre and left’s seeming inability to defend EU membership with anything more meaningful than a wet paper towel, could be depressingly definitive. While Nigel Farage having to look for some more honest employment and stop fiddling his EU expenses would no doubt be a positive outcome for the human race, perhaps the price is a little high.