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Under Diane James, the death bell has tolled for UKIP

ByDaniel King

Sep 27, 2016

spate of high-profile resignations at the pinnacle of public life have shocked the nation. People who were once the bedrock of our institutions have crumbled under a momentous and transformational decision. Yes, Mary Berry and the much-adored Mel and Sue are walking out of the Bake Off tent for one final time this series.

However, for those of us with a worrying interest in politics, it is Nigel Farage who has truly had his cake and eaten it. For years he campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union yet upon the favourable declaration he packed up his UKIP suitcase and, perish the thought, indulged in some skinny-dipping on our treasured borders. Well, at least there will be plenty of dead fish once we regain control of our waters.

Nigel Farage resigning as UKIP Leader leaves the party as a hollowed tent, rather like Mary Berry departing from The Great British Bake Off. For many voters he was the living embodiment of the party, the only recognisable figure in a movement largely devoid of talent. Whether Diane James can step out of his polished shadow remains to be seen. However, the key argument on the minds of political commentators is that the slow death of the purple rebellion began with Mr Farage’s personal Brexit.

Nevertheless, the decline of the nation’s sixth largest party is not inevitable. Indeed, UKIP, if they approach Brexit with a fresh and distinctive policy agenda, could prosper electorally. There are vast swathes of the country that require a third party to shatter the established order, and it is clear that only UKIP can fill that democratic gap.

We need only look at north-east England where 58 per cent of voters opted to leave the European Union, with every council region other than Newcastle voting to smash the partnership with our neighbours. Yet, the EU-supporting Labour Party continues to dominate the politics of this region. So it must then be asked, how can UKIP convince left-leaning Brexiters to support its candidates?

This draws us to the crossroads the party will soon face when it comes to policy making. Douglas Carswell, their isolated MP, has recently commented that the Party will need to become a free-market and libertarian force in order to survive. When questioned on this, the former arch-Thatcherite Diane James insinuated that this was the direction that she wished the Party to proceed in. It is my belief that this is the tolling of the death bell for UKIP. Continuing in this direction would be a colossal misunderstanding of why the Brexit vote occurred.

Electorates across the western world are turning away from the corporatist, establishment politics that have governed their nations for the last three decades. We need only consider the popularity of Donald Trump in the United States, the extraordinary rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany, and the vote to leave the European Union in the United Kingdom. Voters are turning their backs on free trade, globalisation, and liberalism in a way that would have been unimaginable at the turn of the millennium.

It is this pro-government intervention and anti-capitalist feeling that UKIP should capture. Indeed, with the Labour Party displaying a typical Marxist mess with their inner turmoil, UKIP could become the left-leaning opposition to the Conservative government. That is the real ambition the party should set itself.

However, with Diane James as leader it is imaginable that the Party will return to the safety blanket of Thatcherism and rightwing patriotism. Unless she displays a more radical approach to policy than her predecessor, UKIP will slide into electoral irrelevance. It is time for the party to consider their weaponry. And that will certainly not be a piece of cake.

Image credit: Flickr/Derek Bennett

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