Tag Archives: Farage

What can we learn from UKIP’s half-baked, semi-coherent, anti-science policies

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UKIP’s education spokesman, Derek Clark MEP, today made Gove look like a model of modernity and scientific enlightenment by stating that he believed, “all teaching of global warming being caused in any way by carbon dioxide emissions must also be banned”.

To clarify, this spokesman of a supposedly libertarian party, wants to ban schools from teaching about climate change!

UKIP’s main energy document ‘Keeping The Lights On’ claims that there is “increasing doubts about the theory of man-made climate change.” Something which the growing scientific consensus around man-made climate change directly contradicts.

UKIP’s education policy, like that of its energy policy, directly contradicts the consensus reached by the majority of climate scientists.

For some this makes them heroes for standing up to ‘establishment thinking’. For others, this blogger included, this makes them halfwits that put political ideology before evidence whatever the impact this might have on ordinary people.

Disturbingly though, poll after poll shows UKIP are on course to do rather well in May’s elections. They are certainly going to kick the Tories into third and may even beat Labour and finish on top of the pile.

So what does this tell us?

It tells us something which I have been shouting about for a long long time within progressive circles.

The electorate doesn’t worry about little things like policies but they do care about sentiment, feelings, and gut reactions.

UKIP have been exceptionally good at presenting an image of ‘standing up for ordinary people against the political elite’ and ‘speaking common sense’ whilst at the same time having a list of incoherent, half-baked and anti-science policies.

In contrast The Green Party has a list of science-based progressive policies that have been shown to be the most popular with the electorate but have failed to gain a significant vote share because at best they are seen as ‘standing up for the environment’ (something which most people include well down on their list of priorities) but at worst are seen as ‘middle class, university educated elite who are out of touch with ordinary people’.

And so, in the run up to the coming European elections, I hope to hear Greens talk coherently not about ‘the science behind the badger cull’ but about how they are ‘standing up for animal welfare. I hope to hear not about their proposed ‘Financial Transaction Tax’ but about ‘putting people before big business’. I hope to hear most of all not about ‘the scientific consensus around climate change’ but about ‘looking after our planet for future generations to enjoy’.

This might seem like a crass simplification of politics but if there is one thing UKIP can teach us – it is that in a badly informed democracy, gut feelings are more important than policies.

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Filed under Climate Change, EU politics, Politics

UKIP’s glass ceiling

As the UKIP media frenzy spirals further out of control, I take a quick look at why UKIP is doomed for political failure. 

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, has declared that his party’s recent local election results represent the “first substantial step towards a party that can credibly win seats at Westminster.”

Sadly, for UKIP at least, this seems as far from realty as UKIP’s policies. Let me explain why

UKIP are edging closer and closer to a glass ceiling, a point at which the party in its current form cannot pass. The reasons for this are numerous but let me pick out two, starting with the most obvious –their policies.

UKIP stands alongside a set of policies that are described in the Independent as ‘a wet-dream’ for the far-right. They call for a tax-cut for the wealthiest while suggesting lower earners should pay more income tax (through a flat-rate 31% income tax), they want to abolish national insurance, and of course they think that climate change, well, doesn’t exist!

Liberal Democrat blogger Mark Pack put’s it less favourably summarizing their policy as, “a 1950s-style society of white men at work, white women at home and gays in the closet.”

Not only are these sorts of policies repulsive to protest voters on the centre-left but they are also far beyond what most on the right would call for.

When it comes to the crunch time of 2015, few will actually want UKIP in parliament. In Lab/Con marginals few Tory voters will risk letting Labour in through the back door.

Which leads me to my second point – the electoral system.

Mike Smithson over at Political Betting has today blogged saying, “the harsh fact for Ukip [is] that by having a vote that’s more evenly spread across the country then they would not win any MPs.” His comments are based on the well respected Rallings and Thrasher projection.

We have seen time and time again small parties failing to grasp the political nettle because of our electoral system. The SDP stand as good example who at their peak polled support over 50% and we all know how that ended.

The contemporary Green Party serve as another illustration. Polls suggest that Green policies are more popular than any other party and yet in FPTP elections they have, with only the odd exception that I will come on to,  consistently failed to break-through.

Popularity does not equal success in the broken politics of the UK.

However, the Greens actually serve to illustrate another lesson for UKIP – a lesson that I doubt they will listen to. In 2010 the Greens threw their energy, volunteer base and limited money at Brighton to ensure Caroline Lucas was elected. They succeeded, but at a price. They struggled in all of their other target seats.

What was impressive about the Greens in this sense is that they did what they could within a broken system; they consolidated their efforts into one seat. Will UKIP follow this lead?

As I write, UKIP show no signs taking on such a strategy but instead they semm to be continuing their world domination rhetoric fueled by the media frenzy that is following them.

Even if UKIP do follow the Greens lead, what one seat will they focus on? Unlike the Greens (who have been building their support in Brighton for the last 15 years) UKIP do not have any natural constituency home.

A word of warning to finish on though, UKIP have not yet reached their glass ceiling. In 2014 we have elections for the European Parliament and more local elections. There are many reasons to think that UKIP stands to do very well in these elections.

Equally, this last weekend William Hill was offering odds of 5/1 on UKIP winning a by-election before the general election takes place.

UKIP are a doomed political force destined for the political obscurities of Hamilton after dinner party speeches. The question that concerns us all though is how damage they will reap before they hit their glass ceiling and start their inevitable demise?

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Filed under EU politics, Far-right politics, Politics