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A policy vacuum

Posted by Richard Monday, December 19, 2011


Andrew Sparrow in The Guardian interviews Nigel Farage. Yet, in a lengthy transcript, there is only one small section where there is any discussion of Britain in a post-EU world, and this is expressed in terms of the fate of UKIP. Sparrow asks: "If Britain ever left the EU, would Ukip ever wind up and cease to exist?". He is told:
In electoral terms, the USP [unique selling point] that most people know Ukip for will have gone and it will make it much harder for Ukip, much, much harder for Ukip. However, there are so many other things that Ukip is trying to talk about, in terms of sensible, genuine, managed migration policy, in terms of a free enterprise agenda, in terms of Britain's role globally. There are a whole host of things for Ukip to campaign on, post EU. Quite what form that takes, it's difficult to say.
This is not a man who appears to have given much thought to the shape of Britain, once we have left the EU. He effectively acknowledges that his campaign relies on selling a negative, apparently unaware of the inadequacy of such a pitch in marshalling public opinion and motivating a mass movement.

Harping back to something I wrote on the forum yesterday, the significance of this is quite profound. Referring to the preparation of an exit plan, I noted that such a plan was an investment in our own future and a statement of hope. Furthermore, having invested a great deal of time and effort in a plan, the natural tendency is to want it implemented, turning the wish into the promise.

That, I observed, is perhaps the rot at the heart of UKIP. Farage (and therefore the Party) has a considerable stake in the continuation of the EU. He is reliant on it financially, and has invested nothing in its demise. But if UKIP, with Farage at its helm, is not prepared to put its money where its mouth is, it will not make a breakthrough.

Viewed as a whole, therefore, the Sparrow interview is deeply depressing, most notably for what is not said. The only thing that Farage demonstrates with any clarity is that he lacks vision. His shop window is full of tawdry, tatty goods. Even a massive January sale wouldn't pull the punters in.

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