For those who favour the secession of the United Kingdom from the European Union – and there are many millions who do, cutting right across the mainstream of political divides – Ukip offers festive mulled wine, mince pies and a roaring log fire, even throughout the balmy months of summer. They’ve also got The Sound of Music – or is it The Wizard of Oz? – playing on perpetual video loop. You can sing along with glee, like nuns and Munchkins with songs of praise and thanks; or you can snooze in stuffed contentment, like Ratty and Mole, with all your own nice things round about you. However you like to transport yourself to the planes of confidence in confidence alone, Ukip welcomes you to a land where you can make history; where your name will be glorified, and you can even be a bust in the hall of fame.
The Ukip General Election Manifesto is an impressive document, packed with pledges of social goodness and promises to restore the natural order. It is the song of a pilgrim people, if not a prayer of exhortation to lift the eyes of the nation to the hills, whence comes hope, comfort and rescue. There is patriotism, morality, virtue and a commonsense vision to rescue us from the depths of brokenness which David Cameron used to talk so much about. He doesn’t anymore. Maybe he thinks he’s fixed it all.
He hasn’t, of course. So Nigel Farage and Suzanne Evans will heal the nation’s broken borders, cure the bleeding economy, treat the NHS, rehabilitate welfare, revive the family, restore education, resuscitate housing, repair transport, rebuild defence, mend farming, fix fishing and rectify every wrong that has ever been inflicted on Englishmen since the
foundation of the world accession of the UK to the EEC in 1973.
But there is a problem with this Manifesto: it promises too much; far too much.
If Ukip exists – as they say they do – to withdraw the sovereign UK from the bureaucratic and anti-democratic EU, what does that have to do with grammar schools? Or tuition fees? Or dementia research? Or the mental health budget? Or social care? Or housing rental? Or Inheritance Tax? Or war widows’ pensions? Or the Barnett Formula?
If you want to leave the EU but oppose academic selection, who do you vote for? If you want to leave the EU but support HS2, who do you vote for? If you want to leave the EU but favour subsidising Scotland, who do you vote for? If you want to leave the EU and scrap Trident, who do you vote for? Why would anyone who opposes the plethora of Ukip’s (secondary?) policies support them on the overriding single issue of rescuing Britain from being an offshore province in a country called Europe?
Moreover, for those who habitually prioritise these things, it is worth noting that while Ukip’s Manifesto talks vaguely about ‘Judæo-Christian’ beliefs (once), there is no mention of same-sex marriage, abortion or any other form of the moral life which transgresses the boundaries of Judæo-Christian orthodoxy. Do they concede that the culture war lost? The Conservative Party’s Manifesto does at least mention the importance of the Church (twice). The only Church mentioned by Ukip is prefixed with Winston.
But you can credit Ukip’s political paradigm with one virtue: they do, at least, have the courage of their convictions. It’s just a very great pity that they lack the conviction, discernment and insight to strategise latitudinally in order to achieve their desired super-objective.