December 17, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith
What a week UKIP have had. Any other political party would have collapsed under the ridicule that they have brought upon themselves, but such is the political culture at the moment that they are STILL gaining traction as offering a “none of the above” solution. In fact, one could argue that the calamitous nature of this past week could actually HELP them, because it makes them seem so, you know, ‘normal’. But you have to remember something, if they win enough seats, it is possible for them to hold the balance of power in government next May, and if that is so, the UK might benefit from them being a little bit more normal.
Before I comment further, Hugo Rifkind in the Times kindly provided a list of events of the week, which I will paraphrase now:
1) Nigel Farage suggests in a radio interview that establishments should be allowed to set their own rules, and if that means women are told to breastfeed in the corner then so be it.
2) He then pops in his car and tries to get to an event in Wales but traffic on the M4 means he misses it. He blames the overcrowding on that motorway on overcrowding in the UK caused by immigration.
3) Natasha Bolter quits the party. Having been paraded at the last UKIP conference as a 35 year old, ethnic minority, Wadham College Oxford PPE graduate, state school teacher, ex -Labour member and mother of five, she left claiming she was propositioned by Roger Bird (yes, seriously, that is his name), the General Secretary of UKIP.
4) Roger Bird is suspended after some sort of abuse of power. He publishes what he says were text messages from Bolter that suggests they had some sort of consensual relationship, which she denies.
5) Natasha Bolter had been favourite to be selected as the candidate for UKIP friendly south Basildon. Kerry Smith had been deselected because of this. So now Neil Hamilton (who lost his Conservative seat in 1997 having accepted money to ask question in Parliament from a controversial businessman), becomes favourite to be selected for the seat. Hamilton is UKIP vice-President. Yes, the party that says they will clean up politics is offering us Neil Hamilton.
6) Hamilton is then forced to withdraw as someone in UKIP releases his expenses claims, which include him claiming for the rent he gives his wife to live in her flat (Hamilton still owes people a lot of money so he can’t own or earn anything as it would be repossessed). Kerry Smith is reselected to fight the seat.
7) Meanwhile, its been revealed that whoever vets the candidates for UKIP got a little bit overexcited when they pushed Natasha Bolter through. It turns out that she has never been to Oxford (clue: she called it ‘Wadam’ college on her CV), she is 39 not 35, she has two kids not five, she was kicked out of the Labour Party for not paying membership fees as opposed to defecting, and was never a teacher, but a ‘cover supervisor’ which is an entirely different thing.
8) Nigel Farage appears on Question Time at the same time as the comedian and self-appointed revolutionary Russell Brand. Brand calls him a “pound shop Enoch Powell” and reminds us how much ex city banker Farage is part of the same establishment he professes to be offering to replace. Meanwhile, two sensible MPs, one from Labour and one from the Conservatives, are on the panel, restricted from just spouting populist and controversial claptrap because they have, you know, responsibilities.
9) A recording is released of Kerry Smith, who, should you be keeping up, was reselected as the a South Basildon candidate after the fall of Bolter and Hamilton, making offensive and homophobic comments. He is deselected from the candidature after a day of UKIP trying to protect him.
I go back to what I have said before about UKIP. They are performing a very important role in UK politics by shining lights on parts of it that were in the dark. They speak for people who haven’t had a voice in politics for many years and whilst we may not like what they say our job is to debate with them not ridicule them.
Which is why it is a shame that they are doing such a good job themselves.