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Douglas Carswell and the fall of UKIP

As surprises in politics go, this one’s right up there with night following day. In case you’ve hid in a cave or were too dazzled by the March for Europe’s liberal virtue, Douglas Carswell has resigned from the United Kingdom Independence Party. Something of a square peg in a round hole, Carswell’s politics are complete crap. They dress an apologia for the megawealthy up in the taffeta of individual autonomy and pearls of hypermodernity. That said, his market fundamentalism doesn’t come with extra wrappings of racism and sexism, as per official kipperism, nor the patrician know-all arrogance of his bezzy mate.

In his resignation note, Carswell says that it’s “mission accomplished” as far as UKIP are concerned, and so there is little point staying around. Nothing, you understand, to do with his summons before the party’s NEC, due to be heard Monday afternoon, on allegations that he derailed a knighthood for Nigel Farage. Indeed, old NF himself on Sophy Ridge this Sunday has pledged to stand against Carswell in Clacton next time. There’s little chance of that happening, seeing he’s a serial bottler. Still, for those of us who despise UKIP some grim satisfaction can be reaped from their implosion as politics comes to grips with the damage they and their highly placed enabling friends have wreaked.

Carswell’s resignation is just the latest in the party’s pattern of decline. Some might say it was inevitable, but ask yourself this. Do you think he would have resigned if UKIP were doing much better in the polls, if UKIP were driving the news agenda again, and if UKIP had won in Stoke and therefore sustained the momentum of its pre-general election hay day? Of course he wouldn’t have.

As argued many times previously, UKIP properly got legs in the wake of the Equal Marriage row as thousands of “unreconstructed” shire Tories decamped and threw their lot in with the purple party. Because the Conservative Party is in long-term decline – it remains to be seen if Theresa May has permanently reversed its fortunes (I’m guessing not) – UKIP as the repository for their most cranky and backward erstwhile supporters, as well as the flotsam and jetsam of the terrified petit bourgeoisie and lumpenising sections of the working class meant they became something and rose to prominence as a force destined for long-term decline. This was written into their DNA not just because its core support was old, nor that it was getting power from strata that are sinking, as important both these things are, but also because UKIP was fusing together ex-Tories, ex-Labour, and the small but, inside a small party, significant bigoted floating voter tendency. With little in the way of stabilisers from its class base, and a membership united only by anti-Europe and anti-immigration sentiments it was always going to be a volatile affair. And that has more or less been the UKIP story since day one: treason and plot.

Despite congenital instability, UKIP was successful because, eventually, Farage emerged as its undisputed ‘charismatic‘ leader and, this cannot be overstated, the media gave UKIP a massive leg up. As the political establishment were seriously spooked by their ubiquity, the party gained momentum. In 2013 and 2014, it came second wherever a parliamentary by-election took place – coming closest in Eastleigh and Heywood and Middleton. It did very well in those years’ local elections too, and they were constantly, ceaselessly talked up by the press and broadcast media as primarily a threat to Labour. However, once momentum was lost, which arguably was the case from the general election on (despite last year’s gain in Wales), the wheels rattled loose of the bandwagon. As forecast by Farage himself, failure in Stoke meant an exacerbation of UKIP’s crisis. Coming after the unlamented departures of Diane James and Steven Woolfe, so Arron Banks has withdrawn his support and is asking for £200k worth of donations back, there’s the European Parliament investigation into alleged UKIP expenses fiddles, and now Carswell. It won’t be long before others decamp. For instance, what of Suzanne Evans, who is paid by Carswell to carry his bags?

Had the Brexit vote gone the other way, or had Labour set its face against the result then UKIP would likely be enjoying a new lease of life. The predictions of the London ignorati about the cleaning up in Labour constituencies may have come to pass. But that didn’t happen. Carswell reaffirms what I’ve been arguing for the last two years: the declinist tendency is strongly asserting itself and UKIP is collapsing. Its fall might be noisy, it might attract a bit of media attention, but the ginger group of UKIP’s future is beckoning the present to hurry up and be it. And it surely will, until the conditions align again for populist right/fascist-lite politics.

4 Comments

  1. Richard House says:

    Yep – agree. Here’s a letter I had in the Gloc Citizen quite recently – boy, did this stir the Ukippers up!! – :-))

    Richard

    Letter: Labour and Tory only contenders for power

    Gloucester Citizen, 3 January 2017, p. 10

    I welcome the opportunity afforded by Peter Barnes’ recent letter, ‘Several governments have wrecked the NHS’, December 29, to explain further why, post-Brexit, the UK Independence Party (Ukip) has no meaningful electoral future in this country.

    At the risk of some oversimplification, in a class-based society like ours, the main political parties, Conservative and Labour, broadly represent the classes that are the driving-force of society and the “motor of history” – the ruling class representing the wealthy and the owers of concentrated capital – the Conservatives – and those who possess little other than their own labour to sell – the working class.

    When the ruling class’s party moves too far to the left – see Margaret Thatcher and Edward Heath – its class basis favouring the wealthy will re-assert itself.

    And when Labour moves too far to the right – see Callaghan, Blair – a similar re-assertion of core values occurs – as is happening now with Jeremy Corbyn.

    In such a class-society, political parties like Ukip, the Liberal Democrats and the Social Democrats/SDP never have a sustainable future, and any short-term successes they enjoy will be ephemeral at best, because these parties have no class base rooted in the objective nature of society.

    So they can do little more than end up as one-issue parties, Brexit, ‘liberalism, for example, opportunistically exploiting passing moments in history when their one issue does have relevance – but for the rest of the time, thrashing around without a coherent class-based ideology, trying to be all things to all people, and so ending up with an incoherent rag-bag of policies that has no unifying ideological raison d’etre based on how society functions.

    This is why, occasionally, Ukip leaders will say things that people on the left (like me) can strongly agree with; and at other times, things that those on the right will support.

    But any serious party of government has to possess a coherent-enough ideology rooted in the real world, which Ukip and the Liberal Democrats demonstrably don’t.

    This is why, come any general election and while we still have a class-based society, only the Labour or Conservative Parties can be considered serious contenders for political power.

    Dr Richard House
    Stroud

  2. JohnP says:

    I assume, like me, most comrades have just had an EMAIL invitation from John McDonnell to:

    “OUR annual national ‘State of the Economy’ conference in central Birmingham on Saturday 20 May.
    Jeremy Corbyn put the need for an economy that works for all at the heart of his successful leadership campaign. Over the next year we’ll be helping to build on this vision by discussing more detailed proposals for the next General Election.

    As part of that conversation, I asked a number of experts from the world of economics and beyond to join me in a series of regional one-day conferences to lay out the policies our country needs to build a future where prosperity is shared, and where no one and no community is left behind. This includes discussions of how a Labour government can make a real difference to your area.”

    It’s “deja vu – all over again “! So rather than really getting down to the massively overdue serious task of working up a credible Left Economic Strategy/Programme, McDonnell is persisting with yet another vacuous celebrity economists roadshow. Surely we all remember that soon after the last one many of the celebrity economists involved promptly denounced Jeremy Corbyn and all his policies during the 2016 PLP Coup !

    Big conferences , and speeches from celebrity (usually firmly non socialist,bourgeois Keynsians) economists are OK for general propaganda ( but only assuming the celebrity economists are anti Austerity Left Wing socialists) but definitely NOT a serious platform for detailed policy development.

    No serious Left economic strategy will emerge from this distraction. McDonnell is therefore quite deliberately choosing trivial roadshow posturing over serious policy development. This is an utter, unforgivable, tragedy for the Labour Left – when the NPF “economic policy document” clearly shows the “maintain a policy void – for the neoliberal status quo to fill” strategy of the NPF Right and Centre majority.

    1. Danny Nicol says:

      I agree that after well over a year and a half of “left-wing” leadership of the Party the lack of an economic programme now constitutes nothing short of a crime against the working class.

      Unless remedied, which alas seems increasingly unlikely, it does indeed mean that under a Corbyn-McDonnell government we would end up de facto with a continuation of the same economic policy Britain has had since 1979 (or arguably 1976), namely neoliberalism.

  3. JohnP says:

    Oops – accidental posting in wrong topic. Please remove !

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