UKIP has shrewdly positioned itself to harvest a range of disaffected voters. If predictions are correct it will have significant representation in the European Parliament.
Its aim will be to fashion conditions for our exit from the EU, undermine it in the process and, in so doing, align with some of the nastiest elements of European politics. Such tactics may be well received by a domestic audience but seen very differently by European partners.
Laurie Price and others have eloquently made the case that UKIP should carry a health warning. It is a sideshow – a focal point for protest but a distraction obscuring other vital matters; unable and unwilling to plot a way forward for us that might offer us some hope for the future. Its campaign has been opportunistic and disreputable, comfortable with an approach that uses the persuasive pitch of a dodgy street seller. There is an undeniable need for us to keep under review our relationship with our European counterparts but I do not see UKIP playing a responsible role.
Turning the clock back a half century or more is not feasible or reasonable. UKIP feeds an illusion of times which, if subject to close scrutiny, were not as positive as some might think.
There is a different equation now which cannot be avoided. Like the right wing of the Conservative Party, UKIP is in thrall to the idea of the market as a deity, unalterable and infallible. It destroys as well as it creates, especially in a global context.
Where is UKIP’s view on the one million or more who are accessing food banks? What has it to say about the situation where nearly one and a half million are tied into zero hour contracts, now described as the ‘new norm’? How does it respond to the gap between those at the top and bottom of our society; the biggest for a century and growing in a way that cannot be halted without concerted action on a grand scale?
Is it aware of or concerned about warnings that we are heading back towards social and economic conditions that existed, to our absolute shame, in the major period leading up to the First World War?
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