It’s not always easy growing up. I remember particularly in my case of having growing pains in my legs which were exasperated by the wholesome sport of fencing. Much like my own growing pains, UKIP seem to be having their own. It is plain to see that UKIP is on course to make some considerable gains in the 2015 General Election. To deny this or to hope that the power of persuasion can mitigate the feelings of animosity and disenchantment felt by many UKIP voters at the mainstream political parties is pure folly. Indeed the polls bear witness to this UKIP strength. A recent Lord Ashcroft poll puts the Conservatives at 30%, Labour at 32% and UKIP at 16%. The Lib Dems are currently sat on 7%, less than half the poll support of UKIP who seem ready and poised to become the third largest party in Westminster, at face value. Polls are one thing though, and charismatic pint drinking figureheads are quite another. What makes a strong and coherent political party is its mechanisms of party discipline and policy formulation. Both of which it seems UKIP and Farage have been experiencing as a learning curve in the last few months.
The saying goes that it is not the critic who counts, only the man who is in the arena. UKIP have had to move gradually by degrees away from the critic towards the role of the man in the arena, and what an arena it is. Farage has had numerous parry and ripostes (excuse the fencing lingo) to conduct, most of which originate from his own team. Douglas Carswell declined to offer a specific endormsent of Farage’s call to ban migrants from entering the UK if they have HIV or other serious illnesses. He recently, during a live debate program ran counter to Deputy leader Paul Nuttall and the UKIP home website which detailed that sex education should be banned for under 11’s.
The woe continues with a former party deputy Lord Monckton claiming some gay people have 20,000 sexual partners in their miserable lives. Mark Reckless’ proposed forced deportation of existing EU migrants didn’t go down well and led to hurried clarifications from Farage and there was also the question of same sex couple adoption which a former UKIP candidate Winston Mckenzie described as ‘unhealthy’ which only added to the woe and despair of Farage and the UKIP top leadership.
The NHS debacle when Ed Miliband called Farage out on UKIP’s policy of the NHS being run by private companies led to another quick revision and clarification of UKIP policy.
It’s not an easy jump to make from critic to a man in the arena. UKIP have borne witness to the old adage that wisdom belongs to the man who has made the most mistakes. To not learn from these mistakes though is the opposite of wisdom, it is ignorance coupled with a pinch of arrogance. UKIP is facing off against two well run, disciplined and slightly desperate parties trying to hang on to their predominance. Decades and centuries of party formation and growth lie behind Labour and the Tories, UKIP is the new kid on the block.
The growing pains will have to end soon because sections of the electorate want strength and consistency from a party who they think could stand up against the EU and Westminster juggernauts. If they aren’t perceived as able, then maybe that could sound a death knell for UKIP next May.
By Connor Smart, Junior Writer for Daily Political View