Looking forward to a profitable year for them, why is it John Rentoul writes of its coming demise in today's Indy?
Here's John arguing why its flush will be truly busted after May 2015:
Whoever wins the election, Ukip's habitat will change. If Cameron wins, he will hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU. Ukip would be prominent in the "No" campaign, but after the referendum – even if it's a No victory, which seems unlikely – the party would no longer have a purpose. If Ed Miliband wins the election, a referendum is not so certain, but a Conservative Party in opposition would be freed from the constraint of office and might become so anti-EU that Ukip would, again, become unnecessary.John might well be proven right if political parties were about ideas. But they're not just about ideas. UKIP, like all political parties, speak to the lives of those who are attracted to them. They appeal to habit, emotions, traditions, aspirations, interests, concerns, and world views not because they have ultra-coherent outlooks, but because they have something about them that can allow for the projection of some or all of these things onto them by members, supporters and voters. Needless to say, the movement and flows of people and politics are not utterly random. They are patterned. On social scales, similar life experiences tend to produce regularities among outlooks and probable inclinations toward certain parties and social movements. Simplistically put, it's why big business and the affluent are more likely to support conservative parties, and why working class people - blue and white collar - incline towards labour and social democratic parties.
UKIP's support can be explained in more or less the same way. Its core vote is middle-aged-to-elderly white men, working class and (small business-owing) middle class. The membership and voter base built up recently is mainly drawn from the Tories. But last decade the party did well too, especially in the 2004 and 2009 European elections. The disproportionate three-to-one ration from former Conservatives vs former Labour masks its appeal to the anti-politics brigade, that disenchanted layer of, yes, mainly middle-aged and elderly people for whom modern Britain is an anxiety-inducing, unfamiliar place on the fast track to Sodom. Or something like that. Having grown up in a more secure and certain period, the economic precarity of neoliberalism's 30 years has torn at a social fabric simultaneously coming to terms with rapid technological change, mass immigration, important victories for women and BME and sexual minorities, and a deepening irreverence. For a section of that post-war generation, it means they don't feel at home in their home. As for official politics, forget it. The three main parties neither address these concerns or, worst of all, dismisses them out of hand. Anti-politics therefore has a constituency and, in UKIP, a successful vehicle. Here you have a party saying the unsayable, with a leader who thumbs his nose at too-cosy Westminster with a pint in hand and a Marlboro between his lips. A party who will stop immigration and take us out of the nannying EU. Its basic pitch is perfect for the projection of anxieties conditioned by class, gender and age; it is the mouthpiece of a materially constituted, partially politicised and sociologically discernible constituency of people.
Taking John's scenarios in turn, in the unlikely event of the Tories winning outright in 2015 followed by a No win in the referendum, UKIP's ostensible raison d'etre collapses. But that anti-politics constituency isn't going anywhere, so why should the party? It's not as if Westminster politics will become any less remote if the UK waltzes out the exit door. If anything, without the EU to shelter in, Britain is even more at the mercy of global economic headwinds. Life post-EU, compounded by reckless austerity and market fundamentalism will be a country in far sharper decline and greater unease. Who, apart from UKIP, are positioned to benefit from anomic despair? And if Labour wins, a veer to the right by a post-Dave Tory party is unlikely to stymie UKIP any. Sure, some former Tories might find their way back - assuming the Tories do make such a suicidal move. Whether it's Boris Johnson or Theresa May who takes the reins, both are canny enough to want to steer a centre course to try and win in 2020. And remember, Johnson is on record for favouring an immigration amnesty. The second point here is even if the Tories behave as John expects them to, UKIP will be okay. You don't have to play thought experiments here - look at history. During Michael Howard's 2003-2005 caretaker leadership of the Tories, its politics became markedly more hostile towards immigrants, travellers and the EU. How did UKIP manage with Tory tanks chewing up and ruining their lawn? 12 MEPs and two London Assembly members. The constituency was there. It's still there. And it's not going anywhere.
Unlike John, I don't think UKIP bring anything positive to politics at all. It poisons reasoned debate and raises the toxicity rate of public discourse. I'd much rather it didn't exist. But wishes and reality are not the same thing. UKIP lives because it responds to real social divisions, articulates and condenses real life experiences. Leaving the EU or spinning the Tories off rightward won't fix that. The only thing that could would be a consistent, determined and long-term effort to rebuild political trust, and that in itself will only work by dealing with the precarious, uncertain society. Is politics up to it?