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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test