This evening I interviewed UKIP leader Nigel Farage for an hour on 18DoughtyStreet. To be honest I was rather more impressed him than I expected to be.
Well, it's good of Iain to admit that he wasn't expecting much, but then his lack of fondness for UKIP is fairly well known. I don't understand it, because Iain's views seem to be far nearer UKIP's than the Tories, but there you go.
He was quite open about the problems his party faces and the challenges it must meet.
Good, so am I; I have some extremely good ideas about where to start and I am talking to people in the party to ascertain the internal political situation.
I'm still not convinced he has the answers, but he is certainly determined to make it more professional.
Well, this is one of the biggest problems in itself and something that I highlighted repeatedly in my first long post on the subject. The thing is that UKIP does have policies and they are policies that I (and most libertarians) should like: small government, simpler taxes (including a flat tax coupled to a higher personal allowance), ideas for improving the woeful education system. Certainly, the policy papers that they have released are far more comprehensive—and concrete, damn it!—than anything that the SpamCam's gang have released.
And here, you see, one cannot view things in isolation. As their Head of Media pointed out, researching political policy is expensive: one has to pay researchers, one has to pay for papers, one has to pay for the thing to be produced. UKIP's budget is, at present, too small to be able to do all that it needs to do. That is why we need to gain some big donors.
The trouble is that the splinterings and infighting—that Nigel was possibly too dismissive of—are not going to fill any potential donors with confidence. As Nigel should know, if you are going to make a big investment, you have to know that the vehicle for that investment is going to be stable. This is not the current opinion.
And thus it all comes down to professionalism; looking professional, communicating, acting and operating professionally. These things are absolutely crucial. We need to look more professional so that we can attract bigger donors so that we can provide more comprehensive policy documents and let people know about them so that we can gain more members. And then we can gain more financial backing and so on and so forth.
I was astonished to learn it has a mere 16,000 members (down from a high of 27,000). UKIP's strategy seems to be based around attracting disaffected right wing Conservatives and...er, that's it.
There are plenty of disaffected Conservatives around—I am one of them and I know of a good number more—but they are currently unconvinced that UKIP are competent and—you guessed it—professional to actually make any kind of impact. As it happens, I have decided that I want to help them be successful—I am fed to the back teeth of being constantly lied to by the Tories, and there is no fucking way that I will vote LibDem or NuLabour (and they hardly lie less), and I also like being in on, or at least near, the ground floor of policy making (it's far more rewarding and you can also drive things the way that you want them to go)—but I can understand the position of those who do not wish to do so.
I just reached the point that the Tories should have reached with the EPP grouping (but lied about. Again): what is the point of the party you support gaining power if the policies that they espouse are not policies that you agree with? I mean, there is no palpable difference between NuLabour and the Tories on the important issues.
- NuLabour are basically pro-EU (although they have this strange notion that, in some magic way, they are going to be able to reform it; it hasn't happened and it will not happen): so are the Tories.
- Nulabour are high-tax, high-spend: so are the Tories.
- NuLabour have no idea how to fix the NHS or the Education system: nor do the Tories.
- NuLabour voted for the war in Iraq: so did the Tories.
I could go on; on all of the major issues, the Tories are indistinuguishable from NuLabour. What would be the point of even voting Tory in order to get NuLabour out? Precious fucking little.
With Europe not high on the political agenda at the moment there's little else they can do.
Well, it fucking well should be high on the agenda. Look at the huge number of laws that we've had in recent months that have caused problems; the age anti-discrimination law (which screws the government's own minimum wage scales), the booster seats, the Working Time Directive that is causing so many problems with our hospitals, REACH, the Landfill Directive: every one of them an EU law. And that's just off the top of my head.
The EU should be a fucking issue. Unfortunately there seems to be a conspiracy of silence and it is perpetrated by the politician cunts, of whatever colour—blue, yellow, red, green—playing us for fools! Pretending that they can do one single solitary thing about these directives: they are liars, every one of them; liars and traitors to a man. Nine MPs—nine!—have had the courage to sign up to the Better Off Out campaign. Out here in the blogosphere there are hundreds of us—me, Timmy, Chris, Mr E, Wat Tyler, The Englishman, Mr FM, The Dude, David Farrer, The Longrider, The Select, The Nameless Tory, EU Serf, Richard and Helen—making the case against the EU, every. Single. Fucking. Day. Not once have I seen a credible social or economic case for our membership of this corrupt and murderous organisation.
And what are we met with from our media and politicians? Lies, prevarications, bluster, evasion and yet more fucking lies. I'm fucking sick of it; I'm sick of yelling into space and seeing our politicians cover their ears and eyes and ignore not only my screams—our screams—of rage and frustration, but also those of the unfortunates who die because of the EU, who die in part because of our membership of an organisation which makes its money out of making them poorer.
Fine, vote for that if you want to. For me, no more. For me, I'm going to vote with my conscience and my head. I am going to vote against our membership of this cartel. I am going to do my part to make UKIP work and even if it is still a ramshackle piece of shit when the elections come then I will still vote for it because, for the first time in my life, I will be voting for something that I believe in.
And if you are happy to leave our organised officials to lie to and cheat further generations, to continue to feather their own nests, to continue to shove their noses in the trough then all you have to do is vote for them. If that is what your conscience tells you to do, then that's great. But, just do me a favour, you anti-EU people, when you put that cross in the box for the Tory or the LibDem or the NuLabour candidate; do me a favour and say to yourself as you do it, "I am a hypocrite and no better than those I rail against." Have the decency to admit it, if only to yourself. And at that point we may as well just abolish our democracy.
Yes, UKIP is small and insignificant at present; no, it doesn't get many votes but it will never get those votes unless YOU go out and actually vote for them. Yes, that's YOU! Otherwise, who else do you think is going to? Are you going to wait a hundred years for them to be a safe establishment party and then you'll feel safe voting for them because they've been around for a while?
Nigel made the astonishing claim that he expects UKIP to be the biggest party after the 2008 European Elections. He says they have doubled their vote in the last two elections and if they repeated that in 2008 they'd be on 32%. Yes, and my name's Shirley Temple.
Well, you know what they say, Iain: aim high! I think he actually said, in response to your question, that he "wants" UKIP to be the largest party at the European Elections. He said that he believed that it was perfectly achievable. It is achievable provided that the problems that I have outlined are solved or, at the very least, mitigated.
I took him to task for accepting £170,000 of taxpayers' money to pay for UKIP propaganda.
Now, i'm sorry, Iain, but this is a severe distortion of the truth. They used the money to produce anti-EU propaganda: they are not allowed to use the money to promote the party. You must be able to see the difference between the two? It is a pretty significant one.
He couldn't see anything wrong in doing this, saying that all the other parties did too.
Quite right. Some of that money is my fucking tax money and my father's fucking tax money and I happily give permission for UKIP to use it to inform people about the iniquities of the EU. How is it fine for the Tories to use my tax money to promote the activities of their pro-EU group (whilst pretending to be vaguely anti-EU at home in order to secure, through sheer and gross hypocrisy, more truffles for themselves) and it not be fine for UKIP to promote the stance of the ID group?
He didn't seem to understand that UKIP's USP is that they're not like the three main parties and not accepting this handout would help differentiate them.
No. UKIP's USP is that they are against Britain's membership of the EU. Their USP is not that they should not use some of the monies forcibly extracted from those who voted for them in order to persuade others of the rightness of their cause. I am sure that those who voted for UKIP would rather their stolen money went towards attempting to end this stinking farce than in promoting it. I know I do.
But the top line from the interview was that contrary to popular belief UKIP will put candidates up against Tory candidates whatever their views on Europe. I had thought he had said they wouldn't do that to candidates who had signed up to the cross-party Better Off Out campaign. Nigel said that only applied to sitting MPs as candidates would say anything to get elected and then rat on their promises.
This is, I think, quite reasonable. You yourself, Iain, are against the EU, are you not? You are vaguely libertarian and a believer in free trade? In which case you cannot believe that the EU is an organisation to which we should belong, correct?
And yet you are standing as a candidate for a party whose leader has just stated that there will be no place on his front bench for Eurosceptics: You are standing as a candidate for a party whose Chairman, on Tory Radio, flatly stated the following.
JT put a question to Maude, asking whether he would support Tory candidates signing up to the Better Off Out Campaign ... to avoid having a UKIP candidate stand against them.
Frankie boy answered that he would not.It is not the Conservative Party's view that we should be out of the European Union; it is our view that we should work with others... partners... to reform it, to make it more appropriate, more decentralised...
The Tory Party Chairman has said that it is Tory Party policy to be in the EU (and to try to reform it. Does that sound at all familiar; at all like... well... NuLabour? Yes, yes, I think that it does). And you, Iain—a free-trader and thus, one assumes, opposed to the EU—are standing as a candidate for this party. Why? Is it because you believe that you will actually get a seat?
And once you have the seat, what next? Well, to get any power then you are going to have to try to get a ministerial post and no one who is a signatory to Better Off Out is going to get that. After all, you are opposed to the party that you wish to represent on what is possibly the single, most crucial issue in our political spectrum and yet you still wish to stand for that party.
And even if you honestly feel that that is not the case—that you will be happy to remain a back-bencher for the rest of your political career (and I could believe it of you. And Nigel did open up the idea of vetting the candidates to try to judge if they really were serious)—how many of your colleagues will not succumb to the siren song of more power and more money? Even the arch anti-EU Tory leader, William Hague—a sitting MP—has, it seems, shed his old beliefs in return for a snuffle at the truffle.
I think that Nigel's point is made, isn't it? What's the phrase... oh yes... quot erat demonstrandum.
Well, at least we now know.
Yes, we do.