Ukip, Ukip everywhere – much to the PM’s chagrin. Regardless of Tory HQ orchestrating press stories about dodgy candidates, UKIP was always going to be the story of this local elections week. Not least because the 35 councils up for grabs include all 27 non-metropolitan county councils. And, a recent poll gave UKIP14 per cent!
David Cameron once described Ukip as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. Ken Clarke described it as full of “waifs and strays” with “clown” candidates. Enter Richard Littlejohn and Boris Johnson. Littlejohn declared that he would vote UKIP, arguing if you can’t protest at the ballot box, then where? Boris, an outsider who went mainstream, slammed Clarke, describing Nigel Farage as an “engaging geezer”. The astute Daily Mail was otably conciliatory yesterday, sensing that many of its middle-England readers are turning to Farage’s homespun philosophies.
Who’d disagree with Farage’s characterisation of a “bloated, self-satisfied political machine”? Have you watched PMQs or Question Time recently? Ukip appears to be attracting voters from all parties and – crucially – lapsed, disaffected voters. In particular, it is luring the white working-class, a group that genuinely feels abandoned by other politicians.
Ukip’s evil is to play on these fears by producing the race card, stoking dread of an invasion of Bulgarians and Romanians, linking this to indigenous unemployment. It is not a new tactic. But, in bad times, history has shown us it works. In the entirely unforgivable absence of anything more positive from the other parties, it is, sadly, increasingly appealing.