So, we have to talk about UKIP. First up, their policy on Europe is bonkers. (If you want local proof of why just listen back to the BBCNI Spotlight debate and the poor way Jim Allister answered the question of what would happen to CAP payments to small farmers after a Brixit).
Yet policy is not the point of UKIP. Or at least it’s not why it’s still here and prospering. There are many contributing factors to its rise and rise, not least the overindulgence of the mainstream press of a party based on such bonkers notions.
But more directly they are speaking in very direct and understandable English to ordinary working class people. It was clear from the coverage from Portsmouth Council last that they were eating into the base of all three parties, much to the distress of them all.
And it is clear that from local to national none of them have a clue what to do about. Jacob Rees Mogg’s suggestion of a coupon election (where Tories would stand down in favour of UKIP candidates to let them in) has all the hallmarks of backbencher moral panic.
Labour will have its best EP showing on Sunday for a very long time. But that may be simply the equivalent of a man stepping out of a hole rather than starting to climb a hill. They became a clear pro EU choice merely by refusing to talk about it.
They are going to get discounted too (which is why Cameron won’t be panicking as much as his own bank-benchers just yet). Think Gordon Brown’s dismissal of ‘that bigoted woman‘ in Rochdale.
It all comes back to the Political Trilemma…
…“the political trilemma of the world economy”: economic globalization, political democracy, and the nation-state are mutually irreconcilable. We can have at most two at one time. Democracy is compatible with national sovereignty only if we restrict globalization.
If we push for globalization while retaining the nation-state, we must jettison democracy. And if we want democracy along with globalization, we must shove the nation-state aside and strive for greater international governance.
It’s not problem easily resolved, and it’s not as simple as calling individuals racist or even calling their policies bonkers. They may have difficulties appealing to “the cultured the educated and the young”, but that won’t get the mainstream of the hook they’ve impailed themselves on…
“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty