UKIP has now become a fully fledged Westminster bubble party. It is tearing itself apart
18 Nov 2014 at 13:30
It may have passed by the good people of Rochester and Strood but UKIP have finally grown into a fully fledged Westminster bubble party. They are tearing themselves apart. This is not about the racism, sexism homophobia and general bonkerism that simmers unpleasantly below the surface but something even more damaging; economic policy. The scythes are out for their economic spokesman Patrick O’Flynn.
I have known Patrick since he was a young journalist cutting his teeth in Westminster. Our political views are on different planets, but basically he is a a thoroughly decent if wholly misguided fellow. As the former political editor of the Express he knows that if UKIP is to be taken remotely seriously at the General Election they must have the semblance of a credible economic policy.
His first set back was rather a wacky idea to tax luxury goods which was disowned by his leader within a few hours. But his real crime according to those close to Farage is that he is a ‘Pinko’. On the Bloom scale of barminess this measures at about scale 8. Bloom sets the bar high. On Question Time he had the temerity to suggest that big business aggressive tax avoiders should be made to pay tax. Not particularly controversial one might think. But in the wacky world of UKIPism this is about as serious as granting Juncker an honoury knighthood.
And this is not the first time that they have snuggled up to those who are less than honest. They oppose the European Arrest Warrant and want to go back to the bad old days of the 1957 Convention whereby anybody wanted for tax evasion or fraud cannot be extradited. Yet I have not heard a single minister, not even the admirable Shapps call them the fraudster’s friend.
The difficulty is that the KIPPERS are great at talking the talk on democracy, but that’s as far as it goes. Farage possesses the qualities of the infallibility of a medaeval Pope and the terror of Joseph Stalin. Few dare to cross him and if they do they tend to disappear.
This is going to be a problem for the rather cerebral Carswell, but not a burden for that fine example of nominative determinism, Reckless. Anyhow, in Westminster he is regarded as a bit of a shit. The most serious charge of all.
So after all the brouhaha of this by election O’Flynn will have a simple choice, submit himself to his master’s whims or kindly leave the stage. I just wonder whether the KIPPERS ever sit down and actually discuss policy with Farage. After all, the 2010 manifesto was denounced by him as total drivel. Yes, I know he wasn’t leader then, it was in the Edward Scisserhands of Lord Pearson. But he was a back seat driver. So none of us have a clue what UKIP’s economic policy is. More worryingly neither does its economic spokesman.
But the real chimpanzee in the room is the EU. Cameron is in an impossible position. Say anything remotely in its favour and there are howls of protest from the Rampton Wing. They really don’t want a debate they just want to get out, no matter what the consequences. And they want to trap Cameron to reveal his negotiating position to undermine it. So it was left to John Major, a past master of negotiating with Brussels, to spell out the obvious. There is room to negotiate on migration, there is room to negotiate on transparency and democracy. But most importantly, he warned that although we could trade outside The EU we would have to pay for the privilege. It is about time sensible ministers shouted this from the rooftops. It is rather important. And hopefully might just prevent us from accidentally sleepwalking out of Europe.