The two main political parties in Britain, the Conservatives and Labour, have in common the fact that they no longer represent the core vote that has given them their historic identity and raison d’être. The current David Cameron government (admittedly in coalition with Liberal Democrats, a spiteful but insistent minority), has completely alienated conservatives by paying little or no attention to the national interest, cutting defense spending to the point that is a threat to military and naval operations; failed to introduce an immigration policy that regains control of national borders; legalized gay marriage, has not resolved the looming black-outs from power shortages, and so on, giving rise to the new word, omni-shambles. The sole purpose of the Labour Party was to distribute the state’s wealth, and now that there is no wealth the voters can’t be bothered.
The journalist Auberon Waugh used to mock that the country was so badly governed that we had better hand it over to Belgian ticket inspectors. Except for a few dissenters, both political parties went along with this. Now we are discovering that the Belgian ticket inspectors superimpose another yet higher level of incompetence and self-seeking. To the British electorate, the European Union appears to be designed to do harm to Britain, to take its resources, to sever its ties with the Anglo-sphere, and to rein in its competitiveness, in short waging an underhand war.
The United Kingdom Independence Party, UKIP, steps into this bleak no-man’s-land. This party is the creation of Nigel Farage, who is a cheeky chap. UKIP stands for one thing and one thing only, and that is saying goodbye to the Belgian ticket inspectors. A few weeks ago, Douglas Carswell, a Tory Member of Parliament, defected to UKIP, resigned his seat, and was immediately re-elected. A second Tory MP, Mark Reckless, has just had the same success in his constituency. Taking votes from both main parties, UKIP cannot be categorized as right or left. Not exactly a protest either, it expresses the patriotism and sense of nationhood that the two main parties have long since suppressed. The main parties have no retort. Cameron was foolish enough to slang them off as fruitcakes. The BBC and the media pundits have so lost touch with patriotism that they write off UKIP and disparage Farage.
The two-party system works only when the parties represent genuine interests. Now that the two parties represent merely the personal ambitions of their leaders, UKIP might well be the equivalent of a timely kick in the backside.