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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Is UKIP doomed?

It is by means of symbols that men and women have been educated out of tribal patriotism and into nationalistic idolatry. And symbols, no doubt, will be used when the moment comes to educate them out of nationalistic idolatry and into world-patriotism.

As soon as we and our rulers desire it, modern methods of propaganda can be used to effect a change of thought patterns within a single lifetime.
Aldous Huxley – Themes and Variations (1950)

Where is UKIP likely to take the UK politically? Sackerson recently raised the fascinating issue of UKIP’s prospects. Conservative and Labour prospects hold little interest in the wider scheme of things. Lib Dem prospects have only a morbid fascination for the politically ghoulish. That includes me by the way.

So will UKIP win Parliamentary seats next year or is the barrier to entry too high? It’s not a matter of policy, because as a vehicle for disaffection, UKIP doesn’t really need many. That is to say, it doesn’t need radical policies because conventional anti-EU nationalism seems sufficient to harvest disaffected voters. 

There is no point risking policy wrangles by adding other contentious issues for folk to bicker about, especially folk already disaffected and already willing to wrangle.

So what are UKIP’s prospects for 2015?

Firstly, as we all know, our first past the post system is heavily rigged in favour of the established parties. The UK electorate bungled its last chance of improving the situation in 2011. Still - at least the AV experience allows us to factor in an electorate with advanced bungling capabilities. 

Secondly, tribal voting is endemic in the UK, so unless UKIP gains a hugely improbable number of seats in the House of Commons, there seems to be little prospect of genuine constitutional change. Even UKIP holding the balance of power seems improbable unless one of the major parties also aligns itself with anti-EU sentiment. This seems unlikely – it isn’t in their political genes.

Thirdly and rather unfortunately, there is crude self-interest to consider. UKIP has MEPs but no MPs so we have to ask how likely it is that MEPs would willingly alight from the EU gravy train.

So is UKIP doomed? It seems to me that the ebb and flow of events do not favour the brand of nationalist disaffection UKIP represents.

It may be entirely rational for voters to keep hold of what little democratic power they have, but as Huxley said modern methods of propaganda can be used to effect a change of thought patterns within a single lifetime. Not much of the propaganda pot goes on nationalism. Even less on democracy.

As older generations slip away, the importance and even the possibility of holding governments to account may be forgotten, lost in a ruthless tide of propaganda.

4 comments:

Roger said...

Interesting. In this corner of the South we have a parachutee Tory MP who has done nothing, has dodgy expenses and stands/stood a good chance of losing the seat to the Libs - if it were not for the Clegg effect. Now the Lib person is fairly OK and a UKIP person might do well here but not well enough to unseat the Tory. Some sort of backroom deal is needed - but the players are not too like minded - yet. So on conventional voting patterns UKIP is doomed.

On the other hand in the EU election most folk thought 'who the hell is my MEP anyway - and what the hell have they ever done?' This served UKIP well and a similar approach might work - all parties having been pretty ineffective. But suppose UKIP does well in 2015, the big battle will be 2020, the losers will have to come back with a much better product and the voters able to name their price - or of course politics will have sunk deeper into the mire.

A K Haart said...

Roger - yes 2020 may be as interesting as 2015 if UKIP gets its act together and the other lot have to raise their game.

James Higham said...

One thing for sure - they're concentrating on the world cup for now.

A K Haart said...

James - but for how long?