Ukip faces a fundamental choice

Nigel Farage is facing his first major revolt from within the party, but can they do without his plain-speaking charisma?

Share

No reasonable observer could doubt that Nigel Farage’s impact on British politics has been transformational. Under his leadership, the United Kingdom Independence Party recorded excellent results in European elections and, more recently, the local elections of May.

Analysis of the party’s voters showed clearly that it has morphed from a protest group complaining about attacks on freedom by Brussels to a much broader force, championing the grievances of the disenfranchised, the old and – to a much greater extent than many realised – the poor. Meanwhile, it is embarking upon a civil war in British conservatism.

This column previously noted that life after May’s elections was always going to be harder for the party – and Mr Farage in particular. It has proved so. We report today that the leader faces his first major revolt from within the party, as senior figures vent their displeasure at the prospect of an electoral pact with the Tories.

The spat goes to the very heart of both what Ukip is, and what it wants to be. As a vehicle for public anger, it has been successful in fracturing Britain’s right and destabilising the Conservative Party, from which many of its founding members came. But does the party also have serious pretensions to government, with an appetite for the messy compromises, grubby deals and pragmatism that real power necessitates? Mr Farage seems to think so, but many of his lieutenants do not. Luckily for Ukip, there is some very recent political evidence they can call on. The Liberal Democrats also emerged from a civil war within a movement, and graduated from party of protest to party of power. They have suffered electorally as a result – but done much good in government. Ukip’s members should take note.

So, too, should Mr Farage. His plain-speaking and charisma remain the party’s greatest asset, but no effective party of government can function as a one-man band. He has, then, two urgent objectives, both relating to his senior team. First, familiarise the public with them; and second, persuade them that if you want to exercise power, you sometimes have to swallow hard. He may need some luck.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Should parents be allowed to take pictures at nativity plays?  

Ghosts of Christmas past: What effect could posting pictures of nativity plays have on the next generation?

Ellen E Jones
The first Christmas card: in 1843 the inventor Sir Henry Cole commissioned the artist John Callcott Horsley to draw a card for him to send to family and friends  

Hold your temperance: New life for the first Christmas card

Simmy Richman
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick