Ukip – left, right or centre? Or none of the above? The latter has been the key to its remarkable success as a party of protest in recent years.
Many have voted for it out of understandable frustration with the established parties and with some of the more egregious shortcomings of the European Union, but not positively.
Ukip remains a party with no heart, no roots, no philosophy, as someone once said in a different context. Apart from Europe, the United Kingdom Independence Party (the clue is, after, all in the name) hasn’t much in the way of a platform. It had a manifesto for the 2010 general election, but this has since been disowned by its leader, Nigel Farage. There is, thus, a policy vacuum. This may explain why the stray utterances of its candidates grab so much attention, apart from their offensiveness; there is very little else to go on as to what Ukip might do if it holds the balance of power in May.
Reports suggest the party, in its quest for the disillusioned Labour vote, will go for some leftish policies. Fine, except that tougher regulation on private utilities and other businesses, for example, might not appeal to those hedge-fund managers it is also supposed to be courting. The party’s grassroots are, basically, Thatcherites disappointed with the direction of the Tories under David Cameron. They are not all “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”, as Mr Cameron once called them. They are, though, not what you’d call progressive types.
Ukip is also something of a one-man band; when its economics spokesman Patrick O’Flynn suggested some changes to VAT he was swiftly slapped down by his omnipotent leader. In Ukip, personalities not policies dominate. In any case, when Mr Farage enjoyed his big success in the European elections last summer he promised us some new policies. We’re still waiting.Reuse content