A more professional Ukip is good for democracy

All parties are “enthusiastic amateurs” – until they win elections

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The UK Independence Party will remain “a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs”, says outgoing chief executive Will Gilpin, as long as it is a vehicle for its leader’s ego. Nigel Farage’s response? To do the job himself.

It is tempting for those who dislike Ukip’s policies – insofar as there are any – to welcome such disarray. Even more so given that Mr Farage has promised “fewer appearances” so that he can spend more time “directly overseeing” the party machine.

But there is a serious point here. All parties are “enthusiastic amateurs” – until they win elections. Then, their people are suddenly hailed as “professionals” and credited with mysterious powers. Ukip is in between the two. It is the recipient of the protest vote, while the Liberal Democrats are in government; and it won a slew of local council seats in May. But it does not yet have a single MP, despite the favourable Eastleigh by-election.

Much as The Independent may disagree with Ukip’s politics, we agree with both Mr Gilpin and Mr Farage in pushing for greater professionalism. It is important for the health of democracy that the isolationist tendency in public opinion has articulate expression, and can therefore be tested in gladiatorial combat. When they are then duly rejected – as we hope that they will be – they will be genuinely laid to rest.

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