Sunday 13 August 2017

UKIP's Fascist Future?

What is going to happen to the United Kingdom Independence Party? Not many people care any more. Since they were broken at the Stoke-on-Trent by-election its fortunes have gone from bad to worse. Members have fallen away faster than Paul Nuttall's hair follicles, UKIP has tanked in the polls and they scored their worst general election result since 2001. What do you do when Brexit - your raison d'etre - is now owned by the Conservative Party, when Nigel Farage is more interested in presenting radio shows and having selfies with Donald Trump, politics has shifted appreciably to the left and not many people give a fig about what you have to say? Under such circumstances folding is an option, but there is a modest local authority gravy train to protect.

The biggest problem for UKIP is its social base has entirely evaporated, and when political parties are expressions of classes and class fractions that is something of a deal. Without an alignment to a constituency, which in UKIP's case was always quite volatile, it is loose from the rest of society and is buffeted by the turbulence even further to the margins. And once there, empty of social content, it becomes the battleground of (effectively) de-socialised, detached individuals. This shows up especially in leadership contests. As big parties are coalitions of interests, different political figures and currents represent certain constituencies. When there are large numbers of candidates, chances are the relationship between the party and the wider world is somewhat tenuous. That UKIP has 11 people standing for the role says all you need to know.

There are two front runners in the race to replace Nuttall and, interestingly, there is a smidgen of a political difference between them. The "moderate" appears to be David Kurten, who sits on the London Assembly. In his corner you will find Arron Banks, Raheem Kassam of Breitbart, and that no mark conspiracy fool from Infowars. I know it's old, but a more accurate picture of the dud, the mad, and the smugly is seldom found. Incredibly, there is worse political effluvia floating in the hard right toilet bowl and our second candidate found them. Anne Marie Waters, self-styled anti-Islam activist has had her person endorsed by Geert Wilders and Tommy Robinson (or whatever his name is these days). The Charybdis of homophobic batshittery versus the Scylla of a BNP turn. It couldn't happen to a nicer party.

Waters has the higher profile by a country mile thanks to her being a regular on far right scene. As "director" of the Sharia Watch blog and founder member of the still-born Pegida UK, I first came across her thanks to the efforts of Andy Newman, who outed Waters as an anti-Islam bigot trying to get on the Parliamentary gravy train via the Labour Party. Among her political positions are the enforced closures of mosques and mass deportations, which marks her out as a right charmer. She also probably stands a good chance of getting the leadership thanks to 1,000 people signing up to the party to vote for her. Having Waters as leader is too much for Farage, who has said UKIP would be "finished" in the event of her victory. It's difficult to see what passes for UKIP's faces - Suzanne Evans, Patrick O'Flynn, perhaps even Neil Hamilton - hanging around either. Still, no matter how putrid they become UKIP's safe seat on BBC Question Time is unlikely to be affected.

Here is the problem. There is a political market for anti-Islam bigotry, unfortunately. It's not a massive one - after all, the BNP at its height only mustered 50-odd councillors, a couple of MEPs and a London Assembly member. The Waters strategy does hold the possibility of connecting with and catering for a very small, very backward section of the electorate. She offers something, even it means changing the party colours from putrid purple to fascist brown - and for some members staring oblivion in the face, that will do. It comes with a hefty cost though. UKIP would be finished as a party with a hope of future mainstream success. See, there is a slight possibility of a future UKIP revival. If Brexit is "betrayed" and the Tories are seen to be either delivering an insufficient exit from the EU (whatever that means) or bending the knee to Brussels as we negotiate from a position of obvious weakness, the volatile ex-kipper vote now with Theresa May could be off on its travels again. While such voters have no love for Muslims, UKIP as the BNP mk II carries the pall political stigma. They will likely go where Farage leads. That could be UKIP if Kurten wins, or curtains entirely if Waters gets the job.


Anonymous said...

There is a space to be found for UKIP, alas, but on the bright side they are such a rabble they almost certainly won't be co-ordinated enough to occupy it. That is, as a right-wing pressure group aiming to force the dithering Tories into a disastrously-hard Brexit by attacking them from the right. It could be presented as a "We won the battle, now let's finish the war" campaign, which would have an appropriate touch of the jingo about it. Dollars to doughnuts, the establishment press would fall upon it like the ravening beasts they are.

Metatone said...

Seems Labour thinks the Waters position is one worth pursuing:

Anonymous said...


That is just silly hyperbole.

I don't agree with how Champion has gone about things - but there IS a genuine problem isn't there??

Either the left gets to grips with it (and it won't be easy, at all) or our enemies will do it for us.