Many of us will have suffered a sense of deja vue as news came through of Ukip’s wipeout in the local elections. Although on a vastly greater scale, the disaster was all too reminiscent of the BNP’s obliteration at the general and local elections of 2010.
While we could debate the cause of the BNP’s decline and fall – if it still mattered – there can be no doubt about the cause of Ukip’s eclipse. It is perceived to have done its job – Brexit – while Mrs. May has moved her party onto the socially conservative territory previously occupied by Ukip, albeit more by nods and hints than anything that she has actually done.
Ukip owed its rise in recent years primarily to two men, Nigel Farage (of course) and David Cameron. Cameron’s contribution was to take his party so far to the left that a gulf opened up on the right, a gulf into which Ukip expanded. It was Cameron’s ambition, correctly, to “reach out” to people who would not normally vote Conservative, but he reached out in the wrong direction. He proclaimed himself to be a “liberal” and the “heir to Blair”; he made no secret in the early days of the coalition government of his desire to absorb the Liberal Democrats into the Conservative party. And then there was “gay marriage”. It was at the time of the controversies about gay marriage that Ukip really began to rise in the polls as socially conservative Tories realised that the Conservative party was no longer recognisably conservative. In all of this Cameron was entirely consistent for it aligned with his own personal beliefs.
This outreach was in the wrong direction because there was no great unexploited reserve of socially liberal voters who were likely to be accessible to the arguments of the Conservative Party and who were not already its members or supporters. The only great unexploited reserve, uncatered for by any mainstream party, was that of socially conservative voters, hence the rise of Ukip. Hence too Brexit, which was achieved by the coming together of socially conservative voters from both Tory and Labour traditions.
Mrs. May has contrived to corner this socially conservative electorate for the moment. It is not inconceivable that the Conservative party could appropriate it indefinitely, but it is unlikely. That party is a coalition of the socially liberal and the socially conservative, and it is the former element which is usually dominant in its upper reaches. So while the party might tack to the right for a while – as now – sooner or later, and probably sooner, it will tack back to the left. At that point there will again be a need for a party like Ukip, and there will be electoral space for it.
So could that electoral space be occupied by racial nationalism ? Not as things stand. Not only is there no one dominant racial nationalist party, only a scatter of shards and burnt out dog ends, but there is little public appetite for our kind of politics. Nevertheless, public appetite or no public appetite, we must continue to make the argument through outlets such as this because it is right to do so. We can also do so in the knowledge that with the rise of the Alternative Right increasing numbers of people are hearing the arguments for race based nationalism. The absence of a public appetite for our kind of politics may therefore be passing, and when that space to the right of the Conservative party is occupied again we should be playing a part in the process.
By Frederick Dixon © 2017
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