What is happening with the establishment’s attitude to UKIP? The broadcast and print media have done as much as the can to big up UKIP for quite some time now. It has been given the oxygen of publicity and promoted in an incredible manner. They have been used as ammunition with which to destabilize David Cameron’s coalition with the Lib Dems, to enforce the Tories to opt for an even more right-wing minority government, one that can dispense with David Cameron and to get some kind of electoral pact with UKIP. What has gone wrong?
David Cameron undermined the coalition when his troops helped defeat the Alternative Vote referendum. I bet a lot of Tories realise the mistake they made. Same goes for the Tory press. AV would have allowed UKIP and Tories to stop them splitting each others vote. Now they are faced with a first-past-the-post electoral system that is incredibly damaging to the Tories unless UKIP is destroyed. But it didn’t look like they were going to be destroyed, with Farage refusing to surrender. They are all up shit creek without a paddle. So the media have gotten cold feet. UKIP is now a threat to their project. They now need to rein it in. But is it too late?
There is clearly no single strategy around which all Tories can unite. Many Tory voters have made up their minds. Nigel Farage is the man for them. Can the Tory media’s exposee of a series of UKIP candidates smash their vote? Several threads to this. In the first place, I think they have left it too late. UKIP have established themselves sufficiently as anti-establishment that relatively unpopular publications won’t dent the vote of political illiterates who need to protest against a lot of what David Cameron is doing. Most right-wing Tories will overlook the odd neo-Nazi who has sneaked in. They care about the bigger picture. If it is a local candidate who has been outted, then their vote could collapse if they haven’t already been dissociated by the UKIP hierarchy.
What about the working class protest vote against Ed Miliband? It is a disgrace that Labour under Miliband is so pitiful that many Labour voters are willing to vote for the only protest party with a profile in the media and poll ratings sufficient to make voters think this may not be a wasted vote. For these Labour voters it is UKIP or abstention. They do agree with some UKIP policies because the establishment policy is genuinely laughable. Other policies are deeply reactionary but so, alas, are many Labour voters, which is why some voted for the BNP etc..
The less politically literate members of the working class are unlikely to be touched too much by the last minute exposee of fascist candidates for UKIP. They will turn a blind eye. Others will, thankfully, run a mile. But where will they go? Some may vote Labour, very reluctantly; maybe the Greens, maybe not.
I do not believe the Tory establishment’s last minute bid to destroy UKIP’s electoral prospects will help the Tory Party. If anything it may disguise the unpopularity of the Labour Party with its voters.