I don’t expect many Americans to be interested in this, but we should be— UKIP is like the Tea Party in the US— a xenophobic, nationalist, anti-immigration, nativist and populist party, that appeals to scared older white people. They appeal to the same sorts of people that the US Tea Party appeals to, and they present the same dangers. UKIP is gaining more ground in the UK, as Lumberhead pointed out the other day, and we should be worried about this— it’s one of the reasons Jimmah and I are for an independent Scotland.
They are bankrolled by ex-Tory multimillionaires like hedge-fund supremo Christopher Mills and insurance tycoon Arron Banks. Ukip talks of breaking the “political cartel” while peddling policies the entire political elite agree on, quibbling only on scale and detail: tax cuts for the rich, privatisation, slash-and-burn austerity, curtailing workers’ rights. They are the lone critics of immigration - leaving aside, of course, the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Times, the Tories and, oh, the Labour leadership too.
But fair play to Ukip. Britain’s political elite has fuelled more than enough disillusionment for enterprising charlatans to exploit. Yes, there are honourable exceptions, but it has been abundantly clear what the political elite has been becoming for quite some time. Technocratic, rootless, soulless; a professionalised morass of time-servers who see ministerial posts as springboards to nice little earners on corporate boards; manoeuvring constantly not on the basis of political principle but for shameless self-advancement.