Eight years on UKIP have done nothing to remove their ‘loonies’ image

Every week we see a new story about the UK Independence Party and the suitability of their candidates. Most recently there was UKIP councillor David Silvester who claimed that David Cameron’s gay marriage legislation led to the devastating floods in the South of England. Last year, we had the memorable comments by Godfrey Bloom MEP (now an Independent) for calling women ‘sluts’ and calling countries that were receiving British foreign aid as ‘Bongo Bongo Land’.

The actions by their members reinforce one point. That they still are ‘fruitcakes’ and ‘loonies’ as David Cameron called them in 2006. We have seen Nigel Farage try to ‘clean’ the UKIP image, most recently through his bizarre UKIP weather forecast on the Daily Politics. He is also promising to vet every MEP candidate thoroughly so they do not repeat the fiasco that followed after the local elections in May last year.

The party’s policies are also unclear after they threw away their 2010 manifesto. Farage (who was not leader in 2010) called it ‘drivel’. However, according to David Campbell Bannerman, who wrote the manifesto, Farage never even bothered to read it. The fact is that apart from proposing that we leave the EU, there seems to be no clear policy that would make them a credible governing party.

It is safe to say that UKIP is a one man party. Without Nigel Farage as their leader, they would still be the party that they were in the 1990s- a small minor party with very little support. Even the founder of UKIP, Alan Sked, has said he is disappointed how the party is now.  After the 2004 European elections , Sked said of the party ‘they are racist and have been infected by the far-right’.

Looking ahead to May, there could be some good news. According to IPSOS MORI research, the British public believe that there is more chance of finding life on Mars than a UKIP victory. Even though it only sampled a small group of people, it shows that the UKIP machine could be rusting away.  Labour is currently leading in the polls for the European elections. But if the economy continues to grow and people begin to see more money in their pocket, anything could happen come May.

If UKIP members keep drawing attention to themselves (which seems very likely), it will not be long before their growing number of supporters will stop taking them seriously. Farage himself is making matters worse recently with his speech that women are less valuable than male colleagues. Eight years on it seems that Cameron’s claims about UKIP were correct.

Ben Callaghan

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