Farage’s last stand

A Farage victory in Thanet South would be a disaster for the Cameroons. 

South Thanet is a quiet, unassuming and picturesque constituency nestled in a corner of the Kent coastline. Its story is synonymous with many of Britain’s seaside communities; a once thriving economy, now suffering from the ravages of dwindling tourism and an ailing fishing industry.

Despite these shared characteristics, South Thanet is unique. Like no other constituency in this election, it has come to symbolise the broader national struggle between the two main parties: Labour and Conservatives, and the threat posed by a popular uprising in the form of the Ukip insurgency.

For years, Kippers have been misunderstood by Westminster insiders. Political commentators from all sides of the divide have long peddled two misconceptions. The first is that the group’s ascendency was merely a flash in the pan – an opportunity for non-voters and those on the fringes of the mainstream voter class to vent their frustration before obediently returning to the fold. This was neatly shown in 2012, when the Blairite Telegraph columnist, Dan Hodges, confidently predicted Ukip’s forthcoming demise. So sure of his prediction, he pledged to ‘streak naked down Whitehall in a Nigel Farage mask whilst singing Land of Hope and Glory’, should the Party break six per cent on May 7th.

The second was that Ukip was primarily a threat to the Conservatives, and that its ranks are overwhelmingly constituted by disaffected former Tory voters motivated by their dislike of the European Union and a similar disdain for immigration.

These overly simplistic messages are not only wrong; they also reflect the extent of the gulf between many in Westminster and traditional voters from all the main political groups.

In fact, national polling indicates that on May 7th as many as one-in-seven voters are likely to back Ukip – so much for that flash in the pan, Dan.

Similarly – and while it’s true many of Ukip’s early supporters were once Tory – polling, combined with conversations with disaffected voters in safe Labour and Lib-Dem seats, indicates the rise of the ‘purple scourge’ has implications far beyond just the Conservative Party. A poll earlier this year by Populus found fewer than half of those pledging their support for Ukip on May 7th voted Conservative at the last election, while one-quarter voted either Liberal or Labour in 2010.

And so it is that we find ourselves in South Thanet. For all the Ukip bluster, you can forget Clacton, or Rochester; there’s only one Ukip battleground that really matters at this election.

The outcome has profound implications for the future path of the Conservative Party (and, for that matter, Labour). A Farage victory in Thanet spells disaster for the Cameroon agenda. The Tory leader – or more likely his successor – will have little choice but to shift to the Right; to take a tough line on immigration, Europe, foreign aid and defence. Forced to reconnect with the Tory base, hoody hugging and husky selfies will be out, replaced instead by a return to a more traditional Conservative agenda.

But, should the Tories cling on in Thanet, it will spell disaster for Ukip and will likely keep Cameron’s modernising agenda on life-support. For all his political acumen and triumphs at extending the peripheries of the political debate, Farage’s principal failing is his inability to people manage.  Unlike Salmond’s careful nurturing of Nicola Sturgeon, Farage’s contempt for potential rivals has left him with no viable heir – at least no one with the ability and appeal to capture the minds of disillusioned voters.

Ukip is Farage and Farage is Ukip. Whether they know it or not, the party’s chips are riding exclusively on South Thanet. It’s all or nothing. A Tory win will see the Ukip leader leave politics and, in all likelihood, Ukip fizzle away and return, once again, to the political wilderness.

A Farage win, however, combined with a Labour, Lib-Dem wipe-out in Scotland at the hands of the socialist Scottish nationalists will likely see a redrawing of the political divide not witnessed since the heady days of the early eighties when the SDP broke away from an increasingly extremist Labour Party.  A Tory shift to the Right to counter Ukip, matched by an already left-of-centre Labour Party pulled even further left by a necessity to appease their backroom SNP bedfellows, could see British politics go back to the future.

Centrism will be out; a real choice will be in. Politics might just get interesting.

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  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see https://mises.org/blog/goal-socialists-socialism-—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. https://mishtalk.com/2017/03/29/bad-brexit-deal-better-than-no-deal-mathematical-idiocy-odds-of-no-deal/ and https://www.worldheadlines.info/2017/03/after-brexit-9-reasons-to-be-bullish-on-great-britain/

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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