It is fair to say that liberals, by that I mean small ‘l’ liberals of whatever political allegiance, have not had much to cheer about in 2016. In fact, I would say one could almost define themselves as liberal if you found most of what has gone on in politics during this calendar year so far as horrible. But there are always bright spots, even in the bleakest political surroundings.
This week, the Alt Right in Washington D.C. had a conference under the banner of the National Policy Institute in which white supremacy was the topic du jour. There were even Nazi salutes, if you can believe. And these people, including the head of the NPI Richard Spencer, appear to have a direct line to the president-elect of the United States of America.
Meanwhile, although Brexit is on the cards things have not got so bad in Britain (yet). UKIP is fast becoming a sort of national joke, in fact. The latest fun surrounds former leader of the party (for 18 days) Diane James quitting the party altogether. Her comments around why echo pretty much everyone who has ever left UKIP: the party is a mess, the National Executive is a joke that makes any moves to make UKIP a serious political force impossible.
Comments from people who for the time being intend to continue UKIPing such as Suzanne Evans don’t exact help the cause:
“I am very sorry to hear Diane James has decided to leave UKIP. I am sure she has her own personal reasons and I do not question those. However she, like Steven Woolfe, were both elected as MEPs on a Ukip ticket, not as individuals. If they have any honour or integrity, both should now stand down as MEPs and vacate their seats. I reiterate my call for defectors Amjad Bashir and Janice Atkinson to do the same, for the same reasons.”
Politics 101 lesson, first class lesson for you here, Suzanne: when your former party leader of a few weeks previous leaves the fold altogether, the best thing for you to do might not be to remind the press about all of the other elected officials who have left UKIP recently as well. Sort of makes the whole thing seem a bit like it’s falling apart at the seams.
Liberals in Britain don’t have much to be cheerful about. Which is why we should be thankful that UKIP, presented with the opportunity of the century post-Brexit to become a serious player in British politics, descended into something from a Monty Python sketch instead.
We should also on the other hand be vigilant: that opportunity still exists for a UKIP-like party, and UKIP itself could still rise from comedy act to threat again. We only need look at who just won an election in America to remind ourselves of this.