One way or another, UKIP is parking its tanks on Labour’s lawn

by Kevin Meagher

Will UKIP survive? It’s a fair question as the kippers gather in Bournemouth for their annual conference and anoint Diane James as their new leader, to the chinking, no doubt, of large gin and tonics in the hotel bars.

The feuding in the party about who should succeed Farage – the political equivalent of a Jeremy Kyle paternity test special – had seemed terminal, but, for now, appears to be in remission.

Space, then, for the largely untested Ms James to set out what her party is for, given we have now voted to quit the EU, UKIP’s ostensible purpose.

Undoubtedly, they have come a long way in the last few years. For so long a collection EU-obsessives, English nationalist romantics and weirdos who wrote to the letters page of the Daily Telegraph complaining about the change in meaning of the word ‘gay,’ they are now a force in British politics.

As Farage pointed out in his valedictory leader’s speech, they alighted on immigration as an issue in 2011, adopted it as their cause célèbre and never looked back.

It certainly helped scoop up many of the four million votes they received at the last general election as well as providing the magic bullet that made Euro-obsessery a retail issue for millions of voters in the referendum.

Even with their central purpose achieved and Nigel Farage sloping off the main stage, the party can still claim to speak for 15-20 per cent of the electorate pretty consistently and still has a major impact on our political debate, (with Theresa May pinching the idea to bring back grammar schools from them).

So where does UKIP go now?

As we saw in the fine detail of the Brexit result, the gap between North and South, between city and town and between young and old is widening in terms of political allegiance and outlook.

And those looking for economic nationalism – ‘British jobs for British workers’ and social conservatism – tradition and no more mass immigration, thank you very much, have a natural home in UKIP.

Many of these voters are right-wing Tories by inclination and there is evidence some are returning to the fold, but many others are ex-Labour, (and its worth remembering 37 per cent of Labour voters chose to leave the EU).

The problem is that the people’s party doesn’t want these particular people any more.

The one thing that unites Blairite and Corbynista alike is that neither aspires to speak for the British equivalent of Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’.

Whether UKIP survives or not, the space it aspires to dominate in British politics will remain empty and unchallenged and its voters uncourted.

Ripe, then, for an anti-Westminster populist party, combining economic protectionism, patriotism, and an appeal to fairness (never equality) to take root.

As Nigel Farage told his delegates told the conference on Friday, “the harvest of votes that we can get from the Labour party has not even started yet.”

UKIP, or son-of-UKIP, is coming for Labour. Its aim is to run the party ragged in the 44 seats where it’s in second place and so many of Labour’s fed-up ex-voters live.

UKIP’s main financial backer, Arron Banks, has already hinted he is prepared to fund a ‘son-of-UKIP’ if the party cannot work out its differences and point it towards the depressed towns of northern England.

For Blairites and Corbynistas alike, there is merely a shrug of the shoulders at the prospect.

Of course it’s possible that UKIP does indeed stay as a going concern, turning its attention to localising its vote so it can look to win seats at the next general election. (Indeed, the reason deputy leader Paul Nuttall pulled out of the leadership race was because he wants to focus his energies on winning a seat in Westminster).

My bet is that UKIP will pull through under Diane James, and the barmy army will march on to Labour’s front lawn while Jeremy Corbyn is inside making jam.

Labour will be caught in a pincer movement between the Tories wiping it out in the marginals and UKIP tying up resources and campaigning effort in the heartlands, as Labour fights for its political life.

Labour’s road to 2020 just keeps getting rockier and steeper.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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7 Responses to “One way or another, UKIP is parking its tanks on Labour’s lawn”

  1. Carol says:

    Labour brought its problems on itself. If Labour doesn’t want those working class votes some other party will try to scoop them up. If it wasn’t UKIP it would be some other party. Nature abhors a vacuum.

  2. Who has the most likelihood of attracting those who dislike the Westminster politics as usual? Seems to me in a competition between pro and anti Corbyn forces there is only one winner.

  3. Mark Livingston says:

    The kipper and Blairite right-wing guys might have all the suits and slick bouffant hair-dos. But Corbyn has all the real policies!

  4. paul barker says:

    Net changes in Council seats since May :
    Labour down 5
    Tories down 4
    UKIP down 2
    Libdems up 13.

  5. madasafish says:

    There are an awful lot of Labour posters on LabourList , who, when immigration is discussed, defend unlimited immigration as if it was a basic tenet of Labour Party doctrine..

    Meanwhile in the real world, Labour appears to do nothing as UKIP erode its voter base.

    If you believe in unlimited and unrestricted immigration then by definition you believe in unlimited capitalism – make the workers compete for jobs and compete on wages and benefits.

    No more standing up for the UK workers but standing up for the rights of those who want to take over UK jobs. (mind you, given the benefits culture in the UK stops many working, who can blame them?)

    There appear to be a lot of people in Labour who want to support non UK nationals, give them jobs and UK benefits and then complain when UK workers don’t have well paid jobs.

    See that nice Mr an example .

    How to help UKIP win…

  6. Anon says:

    Don’t worry Kevin, dear – what you are really waiting for is the ‘old Labour’ stalwarts to die.

    Those of us who remember when the Labour party represented the blue collar working class – and not John McTernan’s ethnic, middle class, student demographic – will soon be dead.

    It will give the New Labour hierarchy no end of pleasure, to know that the party that they took over, is now free of the people who created it.

    UKIP will expire with its now accommodated old Labour demographic; “the Labour party is dead, long live Labour” – you’re welcome to it; blackened heart ‘n’ all.

  7. Blair says:

    UKIP will slowly whither and die now – it has served it’s purpose (and served it well). There are only two things that will temporarily delay it’s demise :-

    i) May dithering over invoking Article 50.
    ii) Labour stages a recovery AND Labour voters who voted Leave perceive Labour to be a threat to BREXIT.

    Personally, I think the blue collar working class will drift to May’s conservatives now, much as they did to Thatcher. They perceive Labour as being weak on economic management and weak on immigration – both areas that threaten them directly jobs-wise. Further down the scale they see Labour as weak on crime – especially drugs, and too supportive of benefit culture. They also like grammar schools.

    Corbyn or no Corbyn (he’s actually not the cause of Labour’#s woes), the Tories are a safe bet for the next 2 and probably 3 general elections.

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