Thursday 26 September 2013

Life On Mars

Has "Red Ed" Miliband shot UKIP's fox? Following the shock of his 1970s style proposals of wage controls and nationalisation comes the realisation that the "LibLabCon" metaphor is basically dead, upon which UKIP has staked much of it's appeal. The ramifications of this sudden dramatic move to the left are far more serious for UKIP than the Bloom farce that played itself out at our own conference. It is really pretty difficult now to argue that all the other parties are the same, with identikit Metropolitan policies and personnel, as we have done for the past few years. The Tory refrain that "a vote For UKIP is a vote for Labour" will clearly have far more power than it did, and no doubt some of our voters will, however reluctantly, trudge back to the Tory fold. Moreover, this socialist populism will play well with many hitherto alienated Labour voters who are sick of suffering austerity, making it harder to attract them.

This was truly Labour's Life On Mars moment. However, what has so far attracted very little comment is that it would not have been possible but for the fact that the Tory party got their first, and retreated to their very own Life On Mars world with the rise of the Cameroons: the party long ago rejected blue in tooth and claw Thatcherism in favour of their patrician tradition of weak, reactive managerialism. Just as the pusillanimity of the Tory Party in the 1970s was as much to blame for the truly atrocious state of the country as the ever increasing militancy within the Labour movement, the cowardice and myopia of Cameron and Osborne are major factors in the rise from the dead of socialism now. Ever since the financial crisis has begun, they have shied away from mounting the necessary if unpopular defence of free market capitalism. That would have been the courageous and principled thing to do, but of course courage and principle have always been negotiable qualities in the Tory party.

It is plainly very depressing for Britain to be once again given a choice between the wild ideals of the unreconstructed Left and a tepid Toryism which has so little to offer. It is doubly so for those who are old enough the remember the 1970s and to where the country ended up as a consequence. However the difficulty is that a very large fraction of the electorate have no recollection of that time, which is why Miliband's ideas may prove surprisingly seductive, particularly to the young people who are completely priced out of the housing market and see nothing but a future of toil until their old age.

UKIP has no alternative but to stick to it's guns and offer a courageous, radical alternative, even though in the short term the going may be harder than it was. In time we will proved right, but how sad it is that another 1970s style calamity may well have to happen first.