There is a live debate around whether Stoke Central was UKIP’s Waterloo or not. I have thrown my hat into the ring already, saying that I think it was; however, such a declaration was not made without a certain amount of nervousness on my part. UKIP have been written off by the cognoscenti many times previous, only to rise from the dead stronger than ever.
An article by Nigel Farage in yesterday’s Telegraph made me feel a great deal better about my declaration regarding UKIP’s demise. It is entitled “Douglas Carswell has brought constant division and is actively working against UKIP. He has to go.” You know how some headlines are purposefully inflammatory and then you read the body of the article itself only to find a much more sensible and weighted position? This is not one of those. In the piece, Farage lays bare for all to read far, far more than he must have intended. The entire article could be summarised thus: “Douglas never realised that I am UKIP. And to insult me is to insult UKIP by proxy.”
The article is uncanny in its lack of self-awareness on the part of Farage: the more he complains about how wronged he is – by Carswell, by Suzanne Evans, by fill in UKIPer here – the more he illustrates exactly why UKIP never has been and never will be functional as a party. He bemoans UKIP’s lack of campaigning nous without realising that a huge part of the reason the party is so dysfunctional is directly down to him personally and his approach. He has always come at UKIP as if it were a bunch of idiots that he had to keep on the straight and narrow. I’m sure there’s a lot of truth in that, yet his paternal oversight has stifled UKIP badly. It has stopped other UKIP figures from developing. A telling passage of the Farage piece goes:
“There are some of course who will say that Douglas Carswell is an electoral genius because he was the only MP elected last time round. However, the demographics of the Clacton constituency make it Ukip’s number one seat in Britain. That is not to say the he has been a bad local MP but frankly, he had the easiest seat to win of any of us.”
That passage is dripping with a pathological hatred that a substandard psychology undergrad could diagnose. Carswell has shown he has a personal constituency inside of the constituency for which he is an MP; it is obvious to any objective political observer that it is the Carswell brand that means UKIP are nominally allowed to retain Clacton and very little else. Farage, who has tried to get elected seven times and failed in every single one of those attempts, drips with loathing for a man who clearly knows how to campaign and retain a seat, even after crossing the floor. The fact that Farage can’t see that this makes Carswell unique amongst UKIP figures is actually genuinely sad.
Farage doesn’t want to lead UKIP any longer; nor can he seemingly just get the hell out of the way. It’s Nigel’s inability to let his pet project get on with developing a life of its own that will ultimately destroy UKIP. It has probably done the trick already.