Thursday 22 January 2015

Poor old Ukip

Ukip policy kit

Poor old Ukip's having a hard time of it today with candidates all over the shop on matters of policy. Course it's not any really any surprise since there has been an overall policy vacuum for a long time. The party was arrogant enough to think it wouldn't be an issue and I was told by senior sources they didn't even need a Brexit policy. Now all those chickens are coming home to roost.

In any debate on Twitter, Ukip is outclassed in every conceivable way and is even losing the EU debate quite badly because so many of their key people know so little about it. And with much fanfare we were told that Tim Aker was the man to deliver the goods, and yet, in the middle of a general election campaign, Ukip still has nothing to offer, with the manifesto being rumoured to be little more than a series of bullet points. For sure, most parties leave it until later in the game but when you have Ukipists on your side, you definitely don't want to let them run amok making up their own policies.

But then Ukip can't be expected to produce policy. Not least because it's a cult and not a party, but also because it isn't actually interested in policy or even politics. If I run a piece attacking Ukip, I'll get plenty hits, shares and comments, but when I run a piece on a different subject, this blog is a ghost town. Ukipists are completely obsessed with themselves and their cult and nothing else really matters to them.

If they were interested in policy and politics they would have known some time ago that policy is a difficult thing, and that a manifesto is not something you can cobble together from scratch in a hurry. With most areas of public policy, if you think there's an easy "common sense" answer, chances are, you haven't understood the problem. Moreover, what we find is that so many social and economic problems are intimately intertwined and so a manifesto would require a holistic approach. It's a delicate process. You have to do a thorough system analysis to identify the root causes, examine what the interrelationships are with other issues and examine the roadblocks. Only then can you design a solution.

The Ukipist mindset has it that one can simply leave the EU and simply close the borders. As we have found, there is nothing simple about either. And both are not without their costs and obstacles. Even Flexcit is a policy almost two years in the making and is still not finished, and the more we learn, the less we know. But as we know such complexity doesn't matter to Ukip. They think they know better.

Moreover, as much as it fails on its raison d'etre (leaving the EU), it fails on its culture war ideas too. We hear much of "the establishment" and Ukip being anti-establishment, but very little as to what that really means. To begin with you would have to define "the establishment" which is not just the House of Commons and the Lords. It's the media, it's the councils, it's the NHS, the quangos, the courts, the police and social services. As much as it needs a kick up the arse, it also needs system reboot. A complete redesign of UK governance. Yet all we get from Ukip is more or less the same timid tinkerings we can get from the other parties - little in the realms of radicalism and fairly pedestrian ideas as to what constitutes change.

It turns out that Ukip isn't even anti-establishment. What they mean is "establishment parties". But as Ukip are in the process of discovering, political parties mature and having a free-for-all just makes for an ongoing trainwreck. And yes, there's an elitism aspect to it. There is a political elite. These parties don't need to drag people in off the streets as Ukip does. They can afford to be picky, and as Ukip has discovered, they can't afford not to be.

It's true that the party machines tend to favour their own and politicians tend to originate from their tribal recruitment ponds with a big dose of party nepotism, so if you wanted to dismantle the establishment, you would at least start thinking about the structures of power and the rules by which our democracy functions, and indeed produce one of those "policy" things. But that's not for Ukip either. It is their view that we could ascend to to a new utopian state if only people would throw out the incumbents and instead elect their halfwits to pull randomly at the levers of power.

That's why the Ukip manifesto will be the comedy event of the year. They're completely ignorant of what those levers are even attached to - and they haven't even bothered to look. If Tim Aker thought you can cobble together a workable and convincing document in less than three years then he's a bigger fool than the fool who appointed him - and if it now falls to Suzanne Evans to fill in the blanks, Ukip might as well pack up now and just publish Nigel's fag packets in their original form.

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