Monday, October 09, 2006
Is Farage going to damage UKIP's appeal?
I don't usually comment on UKIp but the recent election of ex Tory Nigel Farage as leader has interested me because he is clearly intent on taking the party in a sharply right wing political direction.
This is relevant because in my experience - and perhaps uniquely in this neck of the woods - a great deal of UKIP support comes from voters who probably would otherwise not vote Conservative.
In and around Brixham the EU is deeply unpopular because of the problems with fishing issues and the resulting resentment has underpinned the strong UKIP support there; but many of those voters used to vote Labour.
In the Torbay constituency the backbone of UKIP are ex Tories, we lost many supporters to UKIP (then the Referendum Party) mostly during John Majors time. In my experience on the doorstep these people will never forgive the Conservatives for signing up to Europe in the first place and are a lost cause politically. The evidence of the last election, however, suggests that the increase in UKIP support came from disaffected Lib Dem voters, the vast majority of whom are politically to the left of centre.
Will that support stay for a party that is clearly aiming for the farthest reaches of the right by supporting policies such as flat tax, massive tax cuts (paid for by borrowing money), re-introducing school selection, a massive increase in defence spending and repatriating people?
And just as relevant, by seeming to morph into a very right-wing political party, will UKIP dissipate it's appeal on the one issue that has so far bound activists across the political spectrum together - being anti Europe?
Nigel Farage found himself 'out of love' with a Conservative party that was too middle of the road for him, yet was seen by most people to be too reactionary and right wing even in those days. Is he in danger of finding many of his own supporters don't share his elitist vision of Britain?