Tuesday 14 October 2014

Spiked: Stopping short of offering something

Insomuch as I can be bothered reading anyone's opinions these days, here's a good one from Frank Furedi on the subject of Ukip and populism. He makes the case that there is an inherent fear of democracy among our political classes, especially at the EU level. Their attitude is similar to that of Blackadder when he says "Give the likes of Baldrick the vote and we'll be back to cavorting druids, death by stoning and dung for dinner". You could be forgiven for sharing that view if you took one look at Ukip.

No, this is not because I am part of the snooty liberal elite. I just happen to be well acquainted with a great many Ukipists whom I used to call fellow campaigners. I never minded it being an eccentric party but if you scratch the surface now, it is unhinged and dangerously incompetent.

One of the many criticisms I have of Ukip is that we are hurtling toward an EU referendum and the lack of credible ideas and calculated responses to a very predictable referendum campaign means that we have every chance of losing it. The tribal loyalties of Ukip mean that pointing this out is an attack and that I should just shut up and support the great leader whatever he does. I should learn to love Ukip policies no matter how demented or destructive.

The truth of the matter is that full extraction from the EU is not something that will be easy or cheap and whatever anyone says, there will be consequences and it will take decades. Put such a delicate process in the hands of wreckers like Ukip and pretty soon you have trade wars, protectionism and draconianism. Our technocratic rulers might well be bad, but a Ukip government run by Farage et al honestly scares the bejesus out of me. Populist policies dreamed up on the spot by Ukip is no way to run a modern first world country.

Frank Furedi makes the case that populism, as he defines it, is not altogether a bad thing, and I'm not going to pick an argument. But what is so typical of Furedi and Spiked in general is that they always set out the diagnosis in crystal clear terms, repeated many times over the years, but always stop short of offering an idea.

"Populism on its own is not enough". says Frank. "To address the EU’s democratic deficit, what is required today is the crystallisation of the populist impulse into a political movement that might infuse the aspiration towards solidarity with the ideals of popular sovereignty, consent and an uncompromising commitment to liberty. Now that could really represent the making of a movement to shake up public life and add meaning to politics."

Yeah, we know. We call it The Harrogate Agenda. Where've you been Frank?

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