Monday, 8 October 2012

UKIP Must Define its Identity To The British People

Agent Cameron strikes again. His comment that UKIP were a 'waste of time' simply managed to annoy those still amongst the Tory faithful who have UKIP sympathies and those Tory MPs who fear that a strong UKIP challenge could put paid to their majorities at the next election. Yet again he demonstrated both his arrogance and complacency to all concerned. 

Talk of a UKIP-Tory pact was always nonsense, of course. Cameron was never going to accede to a pact with a party he and Baroness Warsi outrageously smeared as racist, as this would mean in his eyes "recontaminating" the Tory brand. In any case, it would be difficult to see how the mechanism of the pact would work in practise or how UKIP could ever agree to one of Dave's "Cast Iron Guarantees", or whether the membership would accept working with people who had so insulted them.

But what it has put paid to is further talk of a pact and. therefore, our association with the Tory Party in the media narrative. In that sense, we  have surely dodged a bullet.

It is fair to say that the perception of what UKIP stands for as a party is not as yet well-defined in the minds of the average British voter, and solidifying that perception in the most favourable way possible is the most urgent task facing the party at the present time. People are now vaguely aware that we stand for more than being anti the EU, but we have still not quite crossed the threshold in terms of perception as a major force in domestic politics. Once formed, it will be very difficult to shift perceptions, and with the other three major parties widely held in contempt and being perceived as pretty much all the same, we have a once and once only opportunity to get this absolutely right.

And that identity cannot be as a kind of Tory mini-me; as a party who would be happy to prop up a Tory administration as a default option. The central reason for this is that the Tory party is so utterly loathed in large parts of the country, such as the post-industrial North, Scotland and Wales, that strong association with the Tories is to put a solid cap on the limits of our appeal. People may argue that those areas will never be very receptive to UKIP's libertarian economic ideas in any case, but that is too simplistic an analysis. People hate the Tories in these areas not because they advocate capitalist policies so much as they see them as belonging to a "boss class" whose motives are exploitative. The roots of this perception go very deep indeed, way back before New Labour's ruthless smears, or even Mrs. Thatcher, arguably to the Industrial Revolution itself. Amongst what would once have been termed the industrial working classes, the Tories are simply not trusted, and never will be, but UKIP may yet earn at least a partial trust if it can advocate a capitalism that benefits the common man. Furthermore, as Nigel Farage notes, many of our policies such as those on crime are also very attractive to the 'Old Labour' voters who have been so utterly abandoned by the Labour Party. For this reason, we have every chance of overtaking not just the Liberal Democrats but also the Tory party in Wales and Northern England, a development that may signal the end of the Tories as a truly national party.

So what would a fully-formed UKIP identity look like? Previously I have argued that the rise of UKIP represented the de-merging of the Classical Liberal and Tory wings of the Conservative Party. Indeed, with the number of younger LIbertarian's entering with UKIP's ranks there is considerable evidence for such a trend towards Libertarianism. However, although there will certainly be a great deal of scope for Libertarian ideas in UKIP, our identity cannot be wholly so based, because such ideas only tend to appeal to the most talented sections of society. Instead, surely our identity should be more broadly based on the hard-headed, patriotic, common-sense values of the British  people, who, whether Tory or Labour, long to see the back of the incestuous Metropolitan elite with it's self-indulgent, fantasy-world politics. 

British values for British people.