In the former camp we find strange bedfellows indeed. We have my favourite Blairite blogger Dan Hodges, who as recently as Friday decided Farage was finished off the back of that now notorious interview. Far be it for me to rain on anyone's parade, but looking at things from the perspective of Monday evening the wheels of the UKIP bandwagon are still turning. More's the pity.
Sharing the tent with Dan are our friends the Socialist Workers' Party. Keen to be the best builders of something - anything - that can help stave off their terminal demise, we have a new front group: Stand Up to UKIP. Now, to be fair to the SWP, their literature is better than what I expected. Unlike Unite Against Fascism material that was all about exposing Nazi Nick and chums as such, SUtU takes aim at UKIP's opposition to same-sex marriage and dalliances with overt racism. Okay, there's more to it than that. The flat tax, banks, scapegoating immigrants, it's a roll call of left touchstones the SWP thinks would resonate with Farage fans. Also, SUtU have protested outside UKIP meetings in scenes reminiscent of UAF pickets. Unfortunately, while it's a more active opposition than Dan urging people to vote LibDem, I don't think it will do much to dissuade prospective UKIP voters.
Many comrades, such as Sunny, argue that highlighting UKIP's racist hues is not likely to smoke the 'kippers. There are two reasons for this, in my opinion. First, voters have already factored in UKIP's less-than-PC approach to a range of issues. It's part of their appeal. It's how voters can rank them the most racist but the most honest of the parties. They are the only ones who will say the unsayable. And second, when immigration is the biggest self-reported reason why UKIP voters will be voting UKIP, any racism row makes the party look tougher on this issue. When this is stirred with a widespread anti-Westminster nihilism, you have a potent mix. Pulling the rug from under UKIP is not a case of aping them, but addressing the contradictions, problems and anxieties that feed their support. That cannot be done with a few soundbites; it takes patient, methodical work and demonstrable policy delivery.
It's obvious which approach I prefer. But the 'UKIP is racist' campaign need not be a waste of time. The key point is a matter of focus. Instead of addressing putative UKIP supporters and trying to shame them into voting for one of the mainstream parties, it would be more effective if the campaign targeted non-UKIP voters and mobilised them to give Farage a kick in the ballots. Because European election turn outs are so low, so UKIP's strength is exaggerated. Yes, it's not ideal to try and drag voters to the polling station by wholly negative appeals. At best something like this can only a stop gap, a temporary tactic while politics gets its act together. And by politics, of course I mean Labour. Because looking at the rest, the Tories and LibDems both remain committed to the privatisation of everything, and insecure, low-waged labour markets. They aim to deepen the social pathologies from which UKIP draws strength. Only Labour has the policies and the capacity to turn this around.