Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just A Passing Thought

Back in 2004, at the last EU elections, a lot of people were cheesed off with both the government AND the main opposition parties. The BNP got 4.8% of the vote and UKIP got 16% - helped no end by a wealthy donor (was he a carpet millionaire ? I forget) who paid for an awful lot of billboards. I remember seeing them in Swindon as I negotiated the Magic Roundabout. My impression was that they made UKIP somehow look more electable. Big billboards = big party.

My gut feel is that a lot more people are cheesed off in 2009 - maybe 25% of the voters. But it must be said that despite their dozen seats and Mr Farage's magnificent demolition of El Gordo last week, UKIP haven't exactly set the Rhine on fire. As far as I knew, they didn't have a sugar daddy either, as they did in 2004. Where would the cheesed-off vote go this time ? Would it stay with UKIP, move to the BNP, or find some new party coming up on the rails ? Is Libertas the dark horse ? Didn't look likely - it looked as if the BNP might be the ones to benefit.

Enter a sugar-daddy.

The Conservative party says it is expelling one of its multi-millionaire donors after he gave £100,000 to UKIP. Spread-betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler said he had made the UKIP donation because he believed the Tories were too soft on European integration.

Mr Wheeler, an outspoken Eurosceptic, gave £5m to the Conservatives in 2001 and wanted to remain a party member. The Tories said he would be given 28 days to appeal against expulsion but Mr Wheeler said he had no plans to do so.

It's not long to the elections. I'm not a big conspiracy theorist - at least, not unless Mr Wheeler suddenly finds another half-million or more for election billboards, before rejoining the Tories in 2010 - but you do have to say it's most helpful for UKIP - and uncharacteristic, not to mention bad-mannered, of the Tories to expel a chap who's given them five million quid. Just saying.

1 comment:

Edwin Greenwood said...

I am not generally known for my tin-foil hat proclivities either, Laban, but I was waiting for this development. The sudden massive infusion of funds into the UKIP campaign in '04, allowing the party, as you suggest, to project a bigger media shadow, always struck me as suspiciously fortuitous.

Prior to that, UKIP was justifiably seen as a Mickey Mouse single-issue outfit fronted by people of questionable mental stability. The raising of the profile may have been - no, probably was - a major factor in providing an effective, "decent" sump to drain off the plague-on-all-your-houses vote, chopping the BNP off at the knees.

Whether it will work this time remains to be seen. UKIP seems to be disintegrating and there are so far no celeb candidates in the offing. Whatever you may think of Kilroy-Silk, the Orange-faced One did a lot for UKIP's appeal.

It could backfire as well. If I were Griffin or Darby I'd be looking to play this up as a cynical indirect anti-BNP move by the establishment. Not only are people pissed off about the economic crisis, immigration, etc, etc, but they don't like being manipulated and they very much despise denial of "fair play".

Direct moves against the BNP, such as banning membership by policemen, clergymen and soon, nurses, are seen as unfair, and violent disruption by UAF/Searchlight and their ilk such as the Friday 13th fracas in Leigh generate underdog sympathy for them.

The established political classes have completely lost touch with "the people" and continue to operate in a kind of bubble, play the game by old rules. When a Labour-party apparatchik, commenting on the recent election of a BNP councillor in Swanley, starts to bang on hysterically about Auschwitz and, Gordelpus, the Rwandan genocide, you know these people aren't living in the real world.

Interesting times.