UKIP – RIP?

diane-james

The resignation of Diane James from leadership of the UK Independence Party, whilst perhaps not entirely surprising, is unfortunate.   Her reign of only 18 days must be something of a record for a political leader of any party, indicative perhaps of the struggles that seethe beneath the surface of UKIP’s emergent force.

I raise my tiny voice in concern because UKIP is important.  In a political Britain infected by the soporific sluggishness of the European Union it is a vital force for dynamic change – the change is happening, despite the doleful voices of the London Bubble – and the ability of Government to reflect that change at Westminster must keep pace.    The pace will be fast.

Theresa May’s approach to ‘Brexit’  (am I the only one becoming tired of that word?) is refreshingly bullish.  Her refusal to respond to the sententious attitude of Brussels that clearly casts the UK as a naughty schoolchild is gratifying and assures me for the present, at least, that the Article 50 negotiations are in good hands – for now.

jeremy-corbynAt home, though, the auguries are less clear.   Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the opposition has redefined the Labour Party as an extreme left-wing socialist group unlikely to interest the greater part of the UK population.   Corbyn’s cabal is clearly determined to de-select unsympathetic centre-left MPs in favour of a more neo-Marxist trades union dominated parliamentary party, thus undoing what was possibly Tony Blair’s only beneficial contribution to Labour politics.   As a party Labour was unelectable before Blair came, and it is bent upon becoming unelectable once more.

The great majority of the British public do not want a rampantly socialist government.   It never will. Yet a credible opposition is needed, otherwise Theresa May’s Conservatives have carte blanche.   Effectively unopposed within the chamber of government  they can behave pretty much as they want, and the temptation to offer sops to more extreme right-wing factions within their party will be great.  At this moment the only opposition in play is provided by the Scottish Nationalists, a scattering of Irish MPs, and the doughty rear guard of a failed Liberal Party that was so misguidedly digested by coalition in the last Conservative period of office.

Who better, therefore, to occupy this newly created space?   UKIP mobilised the British population behind a cause and brought them out to vote as never before.  It presented a simple message to the voters that found sympathy – it had an ear to the real drift of public opinion and gave them a voice.   That initial dynamism focussed upon one issue and around one man; Nigel Farage.  And therein, maybe, lies the problem.farage

Not the only problem.   The massive task of gaining enough candidates to contest every seat at the last General Election rushed UKIP into assembly of a rag-bag of politically ambitious figures all interested in becoming MPs and glad to sign up for the first opportunity.  The only issue they had in common, however, was ‘Brexit’ and many had different visions of that.  Now that the figurehead of their party has stepped down those differing visions can have free play, and instead of grasping a golden opportunity their executive are squabbling amongst themselves.  Between now and Theresa May’s declared date for the next General election (2020) they have the chance to supplant Labour as the major opposition party.    The Liberals certainly won’t do it, and the Nationalist parties have their own agendas.

The UKIP aims as stated in their orchestrated campaign to take Britain out of Europe spoke to the Labour voter.   A sleeping giant was wakened, addressed in a language it could understand, and provided with the sort of common sense British politics has lacked for generations.  As a result the giant voted, and will vote again, for those same common sense arguments in a manifesto for the future of the Britain we have now.   The only problem is the lack of a Farage to lead them.  (Figurehead needed: please apply)

Believe it or not, I am not a convinced UKIP voter now, although I voted resoundingly for leaving the EU and I’m proud to see my country’s innovative and positive reaction to the referendum result.  I love to see the establishment confounded and I have always believed the European Federalist dream was just that:  a very expensive dream.   I might vote for a future UKIP;  I certainly will not vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s version of Labour.    I think there are many like me.

What do you think?

Philip

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His name is Philip.   So, what do we know about him? 

I know that as of today he’s husband to a Prime Minister.  Theresa May is only the second female Premier that the United Kingdom has thrown up, so his is almost an inaugural role.

I know he’s a couple of years younger than his 59 year old wife, that Benazir Bhutto  introduced the couple to each other at a Conservative Party Disco (I wonder what the dress code could have been for that?) and that he has a banking background, as does his wife.  Surprise?  Well, possibly not.   A friend claims they bonded over a shared love of cricket, which may be true, of course.   After all my own wife and I bonded over our mutual enjoyment of ironing (private joke).

A friend insists they are still very much in love.   As she puts it, ‘When they are together they seem younger’, which begs the question:  how old do they seem when they’re apart?

Mr. and Mrs. May have a home in Sonning- on-Thames; that is, when they are not at 10 Downing Street.  Sonning-on-Thames is an authentic country village in rural Berkshire filled with authentic rustic millionaires, like George and Amal Clooney, Uri Geller and Led Zeppelin veteran Jimmy Page.   It’s almost obligatory to wear a smock, preferably sporting a Gucci label, on the quaint village street, but chewing a straw is considered vulgar.

So what is the life of a ‘First Man’ likely to demand?  Fortunately, just up the road from No. 10 he can get advice from the best possible authority on the subject.   His regal namesake has held down the role for many years, and should be able to give him a tip or two.  There may be advantages in following five paces behind as wife Theresa toadies up to Monsieur Hollande – a chance to share the odd bawdy joke with Jean Claude Juncker as they watch her mud wrestling with Angela Murkel, or the opportunity for a touch of insider trading during eighteen holes with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.   Maybe he can adopt Prince Philip’s uniquely Greek sense of humour, which has embellished so many encounters with the world’s wide diversity of people and characters.  Perhaps he may be able to offer informed advice upon entertaining at the State level:

“Whatever you do, don’t put Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko next to each other.  Watch the Chinese president.  He brings his own cook but his table manners are terrible.  Keep a close eye on your dog.”

Ah, but realistically the next four years or so of Philip May’s life are likely to be far more mundane.  He has his own banker’s priorities, and will probably not follow Theresa around on her State travels.  Instead he will likely be found most evenings gazing forlornly into his beer and playing gold-tipped darts with the regulars at ‘The Bull’ in Sonning-on-thames,.

“Where’s your Missis tonight, Phil?”

“Oh, she’s Prime Ministering again.   Got some bloke over from Australia to talk about sheep.”

“Interesting chappies, sheep.”

“Very.”