Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The UKIP revolt

If we are to believe certain oracles of crafty political views, a little revolt is desirable from the point of view of power. System: revolt strengthens those governments which it does not overthrow. It puts the army to the test; it consecrates the bourgeoisie, it draws out the muscles of the police; it demonstrates the force of the social framework. It is an exercise in gymnastics; it is almost hygiene. Power is in better health after a revolt, as a man is after a good rubbing down.

Victor Hugo - Les Misérables (1862)

Of course Hugo was writing of far more dramatic revolts than anything UKIP is ever likely to achieve. He was writing of death and destruction at the barricades on the streets of Paris in the nineteenth century. Even so his words sound a note of caution for those of us who hope UKIP might at least rock the political boat.

Can we really see the future of UKIP in the words of a nineteenth century French writer? Unless the UK electorate suddenly turns radical I think we can. Not clearly and not in any detail, but the establishment is likely to absorb and make use of UKIP as it absorbed and made use of socialism.

When UKIP is absorbed, then Hugo's point will apply. Effective UK opposition to the EU will not only have been neutralised, but the only viable vehicle for that opposition will be gone. A few UKIP MPs on the green benches will probably help the process of absorption rather than hinder it.

Power is in better health after a revolt. 

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3 comments:

Sackerson said...

As I said elsewhere (http://howtobeacompletebastard.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/has-douglas-carswell-gone-mental.html):

Can I suggest?

Any small party starting to grow is going to attract an element of cranks, which is why it also needs a somewhat autocratic leader and policies to insulate the party from undesirables, as e.g. UKIP has on racism. Naturally the major parties will exploit the opportunities presented to taint by association.

And there will always be the tempation of spilntering because (a) no programme, party or leadership is perfect for everyone and (b) it's more fun to mix with the exactly-like-minded, even though that means bemoaning one's fringe status. "The Life of Brian" springs to mind - all the Marxist splinter groups of the seventies.

If Carswell has hesitated, that's natural, given the odds against any newcomer party being allowed a place on the benches. The temptation is to delude oneself (or give the appearance of doing so) that you can somehow change the existing (well-established) party and leadership - see Hannan?
Perhaps Farage has flirted with strands one doesn't like, but flirting is a politician skill, like it or not. And if some of those who were attracted to the BNP have been swayed towards a party that may do practical things that alleviate their difficulties without leading them down a much nastier path, then pulling the fangs of the BNP is a public service.

I think the British approach will be the usual one - "we'll give them a go since the other lot are useless, if they're no good too then we'll think again." But perhaps UKIP will fizzle out and have selected clothes stolen, like the SDP; perhaps Cam and Miliband will flirt cynically and pull away potential UKIP voters. Perhaps we should give up and accept that Britain's multifarious problems are intractable, and just get the best for ourselves we can.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - as you suggest, UKIP is probably doing the best it can under the circumstances.

However it will be opposed, undermined and denigrated by power and money. The racist meme already seems effective and others will be devised.

Unless far more voters see the benefits of an independent and vigorous democracy then UKIP is likely to be sidelined by a far more powerful and wholly unscrupulous opponent.

James Higham said...

Boring but I agree with both. :) Fledgling party, relatively.