The trouble is, [UKIP] needs more than just leaders. Slowly, it draws to itself activists who are essentially refugees from mainstream politics. Most of them are reasonable people. Many are not. For example, when Mr Farage made the humane case for accepting refugees from Syria, the Ukip Facebook page came alight with angry commentary. “Have you been smoking crack with Toronto’s mayor?” asked one. Another: “Sorry nigel dont agree. This country is full now but with more scum headed our way in a few days.” And another: “keep out of UK its full up ENGLISH are the ethnic minority now.” Someone even asked whether Nigel was being bankrolled by “the Muslims”.
I’ve experienced this unpleasantness at first hand. I have been making a series of tongue-in-cheek online videos for the Telegraph that offer “five top tips” for the party leaders on how not to mess things up in 2014. The one I filmed for Ukip was intended to be as light-hearted as Mr Farage himself: keep Godfrey Bloom under lock and key, avoid Scotland, read your own manifesto. The emails and thousands of comments that followed contained personal vitriol of the sort you rarely get from any other party supporter — and that would probably horrify reasonable Ukip sympathisers. Common themes were my ugliness, youth, class and sexuality. [We moderate comments, but you'll find plenty of belters on YouTube].
...why should any reporter write nicely about a party whose supporters throw homophobic insults at them? Especially when “Ukippers” effectively write their own negative headlines. It wasn’t journalists who made Godfrey Bloom refer to women as “sluts”. It wasn’t the media that made Lord Pearson forget the contents of Ukip’s own manifesto. And it is far too easy to find one of the party’s activists willing to say something derogatory about a minority.Given that UKIP is a threat to the established order, and that the media in general see UKIP as a problem to be eradicated, it is tempting to dismiss Tim Stanley's comments as part of an establishment which aim to belittle the party. Yet looking through the comments below Tim's piece they largely make the point for him. They illustrate quite clearly that anything mildly critical is tantamount to heresy.
Sadly this is also personal experience, and experience of fellow bloggers, which suggest that Tim's comments are uncomfortably accurate.
For example to merely venture on this blog the (not unreasonable) point that UKIP has failed in the 20 years of its existence to offer a coherent exit plan brings out rapid condemnation, despite the obvious fact UKIP has many well paid MEPs yet there is no real policy on the matter. This is a point that has been made elsewhere.
Revealingly only by the phenomenal hard work of Richard North (unpaid) has there been an attempt to answer the longstanding question about Brexit and how it can be done. And he has done it by putting forward a very coherent and detailed argument in terms of the "Norway" option which has been shortlisted for the IEA Brexit prize. To point out the lack of such a policy where UKIP is concerned though is heresy.
Autonomous Mind has had similiar problems when he makes the following justifiable points:
For as long as I choose to blog (which may not be much longer given the way I am feeling), shutting up about it isn’t an option for the simple reason that, rightly or wrongly, Farage is seen by many as the head of the Eurosceptic movement by virtue of his position as UKIP leader. If he fails, the Eurosceptic cause will fail. Hoping no one will notice the failings by keeping quiet about them is not the way to get the problems addressed. In speaking out I am not trying to ‘do down’ or undermine UKIP. I am trying to draw attention to what needs to be improved in the hope more people will apply pressure for change.And Witterings From Witney too:
To turn to the Guardian article, this is a damning view of Nigel Farage, albeit one that is undoubtedly a dish of revenge served cold. If Farage is someone who does not do policy and is not interested in running his party, why on earth would any sane person elect him to run the country? With regard to Bloom’s assertion that the party is without brains, that has become apparent when one considers the number of open goals that have been missed.
I am often taken to task by commenters on this blog for my condemnation of Ukip – aka Farage – and admonished for criticising the ‘only alternative’, come the next General Election. To which I can only reply with one question:
Just why would anyone vote for another political party headed by yet another politician who, it seems, does not do detail or policy; who would appear to care not one jot for his country or those to whom he appeals for support, but would appear to be interested in only one thing, namely – and would seem not to care by which avenue that he achieves it – power?
And we come back to Tim Stanley who believes the party needs a "chill pill" (an ungainly phrase):
Believe it or not, Ukip needs to lighten upIt's not a "chill pill" UKIP needs, instead it's grown up policies, detail, strategy and above all maturity - the recognition that politics is a very rough game where criticism comes with the territory, and not all of it is unfriendly or malicious. However in the absence of this we see a cult in the form of Nigel Farage's UKIP, not too disimilar to the 'cult' of some in the media who have a "love affair" with Cameron:
In a very unhealthy way, party politics in the UK is beginning to develop a feel not dissimilar to that of North Korea where, amongst the faithful, only expressions of the most abject adoration are permitted.Thus those not in awe of the "Great Leader" become a 'Suppressive Person'. This is no way to exit the EU.
Sadly, though, with the cult of the leader also comes the cult of the follower. The lumpen masses, mindless and inert, demand leadership before they can begin to exert themselves. Gone is the initiative, independence and assertiveness that once made our nation great. We whinge and whine that we have no leaders, and then demand absolute fealty to our anointed ones, whom we are expected to follow over the edge of a cliff if demanded.