Yesterday, UKIP officially launched its general election campaign. Predictably, Farage gave a speech in a target seat in Essex. He described his party as “the challenger in virtually every seat from Birmingham to Hadrian’s Wall” and later described both Labour and the Conservative parties as “regional” ones, with the Conservatives only able to get seats in the south, Labour the north, whereas UKIP are a “truly national party”.
Okay, lots to get through here so I’d better start. First of all to call yourself a national party, presumably a party that can win anywhere in the country, and then describe your catchment area as Birmingham north to slightly south of the Scottish border, you are sort of taking the piss a bit. So Labour are a regional party because they can only get seats in the north of England, supposedly, but UKIP are a truly national party because it can get seats in the north of England and a bit of the north Midlands? Also, last time I checked, the area Farage described is entirely within England. I thought they were UKIP, not EIP.
Secondly, describing yourself as the “challenger” in virtually every seat within the Midlands/northern England is strange language to use. It sounds like they want to come second everywhere. Which under First Past the Post, someone should mention to Nigel, gets you precisely zero seats.
Other highlights included someone pointing out to Farage, after he’d said that UKIP wouldn’t do a deal with anyone, that the SNP were much more likely to have loads of seats and thus hold the balance of power. Nigel responded by saying that the “electoral maths do not bear that out”. Again, so much to explain about how the electoral system works to the Kippers. It’s all about concentration of vote, chaps. So the SNP and the Lib Dems look set to have their votes pretty much exactly where they are needed, whereas like Nigel says, UKIP will be “challenging” in a massive amount of constituencies across the country. I can imagine a scenario very easily in which the Lib Dems end up with 9% of the vote and 30 seats; the SNP with 5% nationally and 50 seats; and UKIP getting 15% and ending up with one seat. The fact that we are weeks away from a general election and their leader still does not get this bodes poorly for UKIP.
As for the rest, well, it was the usual UKIP nonsense gumbo: the essence of their pitch is that austerity can be brought to an end once we get out of the EU, because the amount of money saved would be enough to fund a social democrat spending spree. The multiple layers of ignorance involved here I won’t go into for the sake of brevity, other than to say that whomever is in government after May will have a £30 billion a year hole to fill. Meanwhile, remember when everyone went apeshit about getting a bill from the EU for £1.7 billion? The scale of the numbers involved here makes UKIP’s claim either terrifyingly economically stupid, or woefully misleading.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if UKIP get even a second place in any of the 4 Bristol area constituencies at this election I’lll eat my hat and pretty much any other garment you name. This is one of the bigger cities in England and we have an established 4-party set-up; so far they have one councillor in a historically Tory-dominated suburb. Yes, they are seeping through (like rising damp or toxic waste), but for them to posture as even an ‘English’ ‘national’ party which can challenge ‘everywhere’ is still based on hyperbole and in some cases outright lying.