Watching the count results come in and listening to the speeches in the early hours of this morning, something quite odd happened – UKIP found common ground with the Green Party. As Douglas Carswell pointed out in his winning speech for UKIP’s only seat, almost 5 million people will have voted for either UKIP or the Green Party in this election, but that only translated into 2 MPs. Under a proportional representation system, that would instead result in many more MPs than SNP has achieved in Scotland.
That failure to translate those 5m votes into seats is less a translation of how my party or the Green party campaigned. Rather, it tells us how dysfunctional our political system has now become. Approximately four times more people voted either for the Greens or for Ukip than the SNP, yet the SNP is expected to get many more times the representation.
As Andrew Marr pointed out, electoral reform has traditionally been a left-wing issue, but after tonight’s result it is set to become an issue for both sides of the political spectrum. While more UKIP MPs could be very negative for our political discourse, in the longer term a move towards a proportional representation system would undoubtedly be beneficial for our democracy, because the first past the post system is proving disastrous – voting to keep another party out, voting to maintain the union, voting to devolve from the union, an SNP landslide disregarding all ~50% votes for other parties, and the votes of the majority of the country being discarded in the name of a ‘strong government’ – a concept we are growing used to doing without.
If current predictions are anything to go by, UKIP is set to receive the third highest number of votes at the 2015 election, bringing it in just behind Labour and the Conservatives. It means that, tomorrow, around 13% of people in the UK will enter voting booths and think of one party, one that they believe is best for Britain. They’ll think of UKIP, the party that has no time for climate change, multiculturalism or a public NHS; they’ll think of UKIP panjandrum Nigel Farage, with his sweaty face and his colourless M&S suit, splashed with lager and infused with the fog of a thousand cigarettes. “Yeah,” they’ll sigh to themselves. “This is the one – this is the party for me.”
It’s not been an easy election campaign for UKIP. If anything, Nigel Farage’s party – a kind of time machine which will, if elected, transport you back to a Britain where workers couldn’t afford healthcare and anyone with skin a shade off-white was treated with suspicion – has been more gaffe-prone than all the other parties put together. Of late, they’ve been challenged to a duel by a Polish aristocrat, because of their treatment of immigrants, blamed traffic jams on immigrants, and rejected the call for a raise in the minimum wage, because of immigrants. None of the insanity has, however, done much to stymie support for the party. Nor has it convinced UKIP members to stop making excellent mistakes even in the final weeks of their election campaign.
The last seven days made up a particularly eventful week for UKIP, as the question of just how mad had the party become was answered several times; not least when Polish prince Yanek Zylinski offered to duel Nigel Farage on Monday and it seemed like mere business as usual. After Zylinski brandished his sword – and challenged Farage to do the same – in a YouTube video decrying UKIP’s attitude towards the Polish people, UKIP responded in a way only they could: “Nigel doesn’t have a sword. And he’s trying to keep violence out of this election campaign.”
The apparent insanity of what the party now represented was unfortunately lost on Richard Desmond, owner of the Daily Express, who on Thursday revealed he’d donated £1 million to the party’s election campaign. In case you were wondering: yes, he could have spent that money on his poorly paid workers instead. Now, Desmond’s cash will help further the careers of the likes of Tom Andrews, the 72-year-old UKIP councillor who was this weekend arrested for allegedly assaulting a peace campaigner from Hope Not Hate. Money well spent.
As we edge closer to the election, the UK Independence Party shows no sign of easing up on the gaffe count. Since the last edition of The Week in UKIP (which told of one UKIP parliamentary candidate suggesting Israel kidnap Barack Obama, and a UKIP MEP trying to exacerbate climate change during Earth Hour), UKIP’s PR guy – who we’re now starting to imagine as a Winston Wolf-type figure – has surely been earning his keep trying to sort the party out.
Last Thursday, UKIP’s Oxford West and Abingdon candidate Alan Harris was blaming a ‘hack’ for the fact his Facebook account appeared to be saying things like, “why cant i say in my own bloody country black is still a colour and gay are still queers”, and, “A bacon sandwich – a piece of English heritage the fucking Muslims don’t want”, in posts between 2011 and 2013. Another parliamentary candidate, Kendrick ‘Dickie’ Bird, for Banbury, was found to have posted, “on the train sat opposite some gay prick”, in a 2013 Facebook post. Unlike Harris, Bird hasn’t claimed his Facebook was hacked, presumably more confident he won’t be penalised knowing he was just homophobic and not racist as well.
It didn’t look to us like things could get much worse for UKIP after last week; happily, we were wrong. By our count, two UKIP candidates have just up and left the party in the week since the last edition of The Week in UKIP – South Northamptonshire candidate Tim Wilson quit the party last Wednesday after UKIP MEP David Coburn likened an SNP MSP of Asian descent to Abu Hamza, while just today, Jeremy Zeid, who was standing as MP for Hendon in northwest London, left UKIP after he suggested Israel should kidnap Barack Obama Nazi war criminal-style and “lock him up for leaking state secrets”.
Could the past week have been the worst ever for UKIP? Not only did evil party overlord Nigel Farage find his new book The Purple Revolution trashed and his humanoid outer shell hounded by a circus of protesters outside one of those British pubs he so loves, but his beloved
cash cow racist-magnet of a party saw three parliamentary candidates mired in controversy and out of the running in the space of a single day.
First up was general election candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale Jonathan Stanley, who quit UKIP on Friday due to “open racism and sanctimonious bullying” within the party. (This comes not long after UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir defected to the Conservatives after citing racism in the party, and after UKIP’s LGBT chair resigned over the party’s unwillingness to establish a “gay-friendly tone”.) On the same day, UKIP also suspended its parliamentary candidate in Scunthorpe, Stephen Howd, following mysterious “allegations of an incident at his workplace”. Finally, MEP and general election candidate for Folkestone and Hythe Janice Atkinson was suspended, later expelled, for “bringing the party into disrepute”.
That we’re just going to skip right over the fact that a UKIP candidate asked, “What happens when renewable energy runs out?” on Thursday should give an idea of how much ridicule has been on offer for the party over the last seven days. That’s because last week British audiences were treated to not one, but TWO major documentaries on UKIP, Great Britain’s answer to the immigration question, providing the question is, “How abhorrently can we treat immigrants before we get investigated for Human Rights violations?”
The first, aired last Monday, was a docudrama that gave us the most horrifying depiction of the UK since 1984’s apocalypse-in-Sheffield odyssey Threads. Entitled UKIP: The First 100 Days, the Channel 4 show gave us an idea of what would happen if UKIP came to outright power in May and Page 3-loving cartoon turtle Nigel Farage got himself the job of Prime Minister. The show imagined a country of rising unemployment, increasing racial tension and clashes in the streets between opposing factions, with the obligatory crackdown on illegal immigrants in full effect.
So predictable they now have their own soundbite generator, Union Jack-loving Nicotine addicts UKIP continued to apologise this week for the indiscretions of their own members. Only last week, Mark Walker – a would-be UKIP candidate on the shortlist to stand in the general election – was deemed “unsuitable” by the party after he promoted an article on Facebook claiming mixed-race couples are a “plague”, and this week party candidate Donald Grewar resigned over the fact he approved of comments on a BNP website that described gay people as “perverts” and “paedophiles”. The party similarly distanced itself on Tuesday from a publication by Christian Soldiers of UKIP, a UKIP-authorised group which described a gay pride event as an “annual parade of depravity” in a recent newsletter.
Ever since lite-Right nostalgia merchants UKIP goosestepped onto the national stage in the 2014 European Elections, it seems like a day hasn’t gone by without a new controversy making the headlines. When a bunch of actual, professional politicians are as
bigoted fascinating as this, it can be hard to keep up with all the gossip – which is why, every Sunday, we’re going to be bringing you The Week in UKIP, your one-stop shop for everything Nigel Farage and associates managed to do wrong in just a single week.