Birmingham has the dubious honour of hosting UKIP’s annual conference this year. I was in town yesterday morning and had a quick gaze at some of the people outside for academic purposes.
Now, the left is often accused of being populated by weirdos and maladjusted scruffbags (with the exception of your faithful Mambo correspondents naturally, who are always very dapper). But some of the people outside the Town Hall were pretty grim looking. You could just tell they were Euro-obsessives by looking after them. They had that wild, slightly detached look in their eyes. The nutters heavily out-numbered the slick Tory Boys who are a relatively new (and from UKIP’s point of view highly welcome) phenomenon.
UKIP are cranks, but they are cranks that we need to start taking seriously, in a similar way to Greece, where Golden Dawn may be grunting Neanderthals but are definitely now a significant political force.
Ditto UKIP. Their poll ratings suggest that they are emerging as a significant player in UK politics, and possess a clear, unambiguous and increasingly popular message.
Nigel Farage, one of the few UKIPers who look like they don’t belong in a cage, is a toerag but also appears to have a bit about him. He has that slightly bumbling, genial and sincere but actually razor-sharp Boris Johnson shtick going on.
UKIP may be a danger to the Tories but they are equally dangerous to the left. They shift the terms of the national debate rightwards. They divert attention from real the causes of our problems. And their ‘anti-politics’, ‘anti-establishment’ posturing is likely to win support amongst those disaffected by the entire political process.
They aren’t a laughing stock anymore, put it that way, and the attempts to dismiss them out of hand are looking increasingly hollow.
Anyway, the piece I’ve re-blogged below by the only Lib Dem blogger in the UK who isn’t a colossal tosser points out that UKIP’s intellectual underpinnings are ludicrous. I don’t agree with every word (naturally) but Paul Haydon is always eminently readable.