Monday, February 07, 2005

He Could Have Been A Contender

There have been sufficient bloggers taking a pop at Kilroy-Silk and Veritas to make any efforts of mine redundant. I'll just try and draw up a few pointers.

The performance of UKIP in the last Euro elections showed that there is a large constituency of the disillusioned out there. Having done nothing in the 5 years since the 1999 elections, despite having three seats, UKIP still picked up a massive vote increase - almost certainly due to their expensive, millionaire-funded poster campaign as well as Mr Kilroy-Silk.

At the time I wrote that the rise of UKIP demonstrated a sea-change in politics, where money and a charismatic front-man could get more votes than years of the traditional ward meetings and canvassing. I thought this a dangerous development and still do.

Kilroy-Silk's criticism of UKIP - namely that they don't seem to do much - was a valid one. But I'm not sure he's one to talk. Somehow I can't see Veritas as grass-roots campaigners - more as the Respect Coalition of the right, a colourful figurehead with minimal organisation at the individual constituency level.

Had he stayed within UKIP he may (or may not) have been able to change that. But he was easily their most recognisable face, and a great electoral asset. His speeches would attract much more publicity than the speeches of the leadership, he's a soundbite king. Had he stayed and avoided abusing his colleages (and they him), together they could have done a great deal of damage to the major parties, and the leadership might have been his inside a couple of years.

Alone, even if he finds UKIP levels of funding, things will be harder. There's not enough room on the right for two 'we're angry white men but not the BNP' parties. Unless a deal can be worked out where UKIP and Veritas keep off each other's turf, my money's on Veritas sinking without trace. He could have been a contender.

PS - I see that Baroness Kennedy is leading an enquiry (RealAudio) into the high levels of cynicism and disengagement among voters. I think it unlikely that she'll register the truth - that the high levels of disengagement are due to the fact that people like Baroness Kennedy have been running the country for the last 30 years.

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