Sometimes in life you just need a good belly chuckle. Some of us get this from recalling a funny incident from our past, maybe by watching a YouTube video or two, maybe some of us are so ticklish that a few clearly stroked feathers will induce laughter from the gut. Some of us though just look at what is going on in UKIP, have a wry smile and laugh.
The Douglas Carswell/Nigel Farage feud has been rumbling on for years. Pretty much ever since the former defected from the Conservative party to join the UKIP ranks. He became their first MP. One more would come in the form of Mark Reckless. He though would lose in 2015 and Nigel Farage would fail to win a seat in the House of Commons (yet again) leaving Carswell as their only elected representative in the chamber.
This doesn’t sit well with Farage. Not solely because he’s jealous as deep down he still thinks of himself as the top dog within the party but mainly because Carswell is relatively sensible and doesn’t think a radical agenda is what the party needs.
This morning Nigel Farage was on BBC Radio 4 and said the following about how he thinks the party should move forward regarding Carswell:
“The time has now come to have a clean break. To make sure we don’t have influences like Carswell taking us away from the key arguments like immigration.
“There have been some in UKIP who want to turn us into a mainstream political party with very bland messages and I would say Ukip is a radical party or it is nothing.
“This question of immigration is still the number one issue in the minds of voters in this country. UKIP must not be squeamish about it. People like Douglas Carswell wrote in the Times last year we should not make immigration synonymous with EU membership. I thought, ‘Crikey, I have spent 10 years trying to do that very thing’.”
Of course this comes mere days after it was widely reported (and yet to be refuted) that it was Douglas Carswell who blocked attempts to give Nigel Farage a knighthood. This action alone is enough for me to raise my bottle of coke to Carswell in appreciation. Not that Farage will be pissed off by that of course. No, not at all…
The future of the UK Independence Party is a big question considering they’ve seemingly achieved their goal. They say they have other policies but it was always a one-issue party. They wanted to pull the UK out of the EU and they look set to do just that. Where they go from here is a question that politicos have long been pondering. Farage wants it to become even more radical. He has seen what is going on in America and believes there is a future for a party who want to pursue an extreme agenda. Carswell has always thought that by sitting just to the right of the Tories they could become less toxic and more electable. Something old Nige fiercely disagrees with.
Yet if you sit back and look at UKIP’s electoral success in the House of Commons, it boils down to two people winning by-elections as incumbents having defected and only one of them was able to just hold on in the 2015 General Election (with a greatly reduced majority). They have had no history of success and even in by-elections at the height of UKIP’s public hype they failed where they didn’t have a Tory incumbent defending his seat. In Stoke they had every opportunity to win but they decided to field a terrible candidate (who happens to be their own leader) whose campaign put people right off both him and the party.
If we had Proportional Representation then Farage’s radical anti-everything agenda could see a swathe of UKIP MPs but we have a FPTP system in place and there just isn’t the amount of people in a concentrated area to ever see a truly radical right-wing party make any sort of significant impact in a General Election. To be successful going forward they need to drag themselves towards the Tories and essentially become a hard line Tory party. That could bring in many more voters. Yet all Farage wants to do is keep doubling down on being increasingly right-wing.
From where I sit it looks like Nigel Farage wants to be the main man yet again. Luckily for him the media fawn over him so he’s able to get whatever exposure he wants. He misses the limelight and knows that with Douglas Carswell in the fray, he’ll never completely be the boss. If he moves him out of the way then he can once more ascend to the throne and with Donald Trump now in the White House, who knows what influence that can bring?
This internal row is a rare bright light in the cloudy overcast world that we all currently live in. The future of UKIP is just as cloudy and overcast as the world we all inhabit, the sad truth though for me at least is their legacy is likely to live on far beyond this row and far beyond whenever UKIP either becomes a political irrelevance or disbands.
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