donít get me wrong. I donít know any UKIP member who is in it
for the power or the glory. They are all at least the
members (and ex-members) that I have met or corresponded with
committed to Britainís withdrawal from the European Union.
However, most believe that their party is the main vehicle for
leaving the EU. This is a subtle, but crucial, change of emphasis.
If the only way we are going to leave the EU is through a thriving
and prosperous UKIP, then it is imperative that people like
me never consider voting for the Tories. The reason why single-issue
anti-European voters are prepared to even consider the Tories
is the knowledge that there are some fellow wild-eyed
Europhobes within the Conservative parliamentary party.
So what better way to increase UKIPís strength than to close
off the alternative of voting Tory? Again, I am not claiming
that this is because UKIP members are pro-Labour or infiltrated
by British intelligence I take those sorts of allegations
with a lorry load of salt but simply that UKIP is acting
like a normal party.
parties are like any other human institution commercial,
political or spiritual in that they have an acute survival
instinct. This is for many reasons, good and bad. There is a
genuine belief that the country will be bleaker without the
party around, the ego boosting positions within the party and
a desire to see the partyís enemies ground into the dirt. This
is not to say that this is unique to UKIP, it is just to say
that UKIP is by no means unique. UKIP has now fallen into the
same trap that the Tories and Labour fell into long ago, the
survival and growth of the party are more important than any
brings us into a recent development. According to
a recent story in the London Times, UKIP were offered
a sum of £2 million (almost $3 million) to stand aside in the
election in seats,
many marginal, held by hard-line Tory Eurosceptics. This
was not an offer through the "usual channels", but
through a Tory Peer, Lord
Pearson, who is known for his support for European withdrawal.
While, I do not believe for a second that this was done without
the knowledge or support of Conservative Central Office, they
managed to maintain a modicum of plausible
deniability. UKIP then delegated Nigel Farage, the highly
intelligent commodity broker who is General Secretary of UKIP,
to negotiate with Lord Pearson on the terms for withdrawal.
Why they needed to delegate Nigel Farage to negotiate this deal
and why he needed four months before negotiations were broken
off, is not known. Rejecting anything out of hand rarely takes
as long as four months. What is even more intriguing is that
UKIP has now started selecting candidates for hard-line Eurosceptics
in seats, such as that of the closet withdrawer John Redwood,
where there was no hint that they would stand before. Why they
do this after the negotiations ended, is a conclusion that I
will leave to the readers.
ME A STORY
piece of the puzzle that I have not managed to piece is the
role of the London Times. The Times had been involved
in the run up to the European Election with what can only be
termed as a smear on UKIP, and more to the point on Nigel Farage.
A blurred picture was published with Mr. Farage and a member
of the fascist BNP, who had tried to infiltrate UKIP previously.
UKIP was, insinuated the Times journalist concerned Andrew
Pierce, merely a fascist front to snare moderate voters. The
implication was utterly false, UKIP has always been good at
screening out fascists and Nigel Farage himself is no racist.
This story was seen as so damning by Conservative Central Office,
that Francis Maude, now the Conservative shadow foreign secretary,
spent the evening before publication alerting journalists to
the story, usually a job left to low level "spin doctors."
Now this Andrew Pierce is writing a story that extensively quotes
Nigel Farage, makes UKIP look both potent and principled. Why
this turn around? I have no idea, but I do find it very, very
is happening in UKIP is that the membership is taking over the
party. UKIP was from the start an elitist operation, set up
to move Conservative policy in a Eurosceptic direction, a course
that has met with real, if limited, success. To do this they
needed a membership, who mostly joined UKIP not as an influence
on the Conservative Party but as a replacement for it. The membership
advanced through two purges of the party leadership, once when
its founder Alan
Sked was jettisoned after the 1997 election, and again when
Skedís replacement Michael Holmes was replaced. UKIP now has
a leader, Jeffery Titford, who genuinely believes that his party
can replace the Conservatives or at least win seats at
am bound to get a number of e-mails telling me how I am betraying
the country, with a smaller amount of e-mails saying that I
have finally nailed UKIP for the baneful influence they are
on Eurosceptic movement. In a vain attempt to save my putative
correspondents time better spent elsewhere, I would like to
say that I disagree with both views. The Eurosceptic movement
is said to be larger than any individual, the same can be said
of any party. UKIP simply is not the sum of Euroscepticism,
and it never will be. It is also possible for UKIP to act, as
it is at present, to the detriment of Euroscepticism in general.
Similarly, I do not think that UKIP has been infiltrated by
New Labourites, the intelligence services or little green aliens.
UKIP is merely acting as a party following its own long-term
interests. If more than two or three Tory Eurosceptics were
going to be stopped being elected by UKIP then I could understand
the frustration. As it is, they will not. UKIP may yet play
a part in bringing this country out of Europe; I have little
doubt that most of its membership will, even if it is through
different vehicles. As it is, I think that we can be safe in
the knowledge that UKIP, largely through its own actions, will
have little effect on the coming election.
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