Adrian Sanders writes: Behind Blue Eyes

UKIP logoBoth UKIP and the Conservative Party fear the exposure of the truth of what lies behind the image UKIP have so successfully deployed.

It is a truth that on the one hand explains why UKIP would be opposed to what they perceive as big government – the European Union – but it also exposes the designs its ideological founders have for the UK economy and our welfare state, and that is where their problem lies.

It is a truth both parties would prefer hidden as it could encourage even more Conservative supporters to defect to UKIP but see them lose much of the support they have gained from Labour, Liberal Democrats and others.  It is an electoral nightmare for both as it would halt the rise of UKIP while doing even more damage to the Conservatives than in the recent parliamentary by-elections.

UKIP describe themselves as a Libertarian Party.  Libertarianism is an ideology that, in short, is minimal government restricted to national defence and internal security.  Health, welfare, pensions, social care and everything else would be funded by private insurance and delivered through the private sector.

While many people, liberals in particular, share the libertarian scepticism of an over-mighty State they also recognise the importance of laws and regulations that protect lives, interventions that assist economic growth and prosperity and the need for a safety net for those unable to make provision for themselves.

UKIP’s libertarianism, at least that part the Party publicly admits too, is mostly restricted to economics.  Their members and supporters are largely socially conservative on issues such as homosexuality, immigration and women’s rights, and would have nothing to do with a truly Libertarian Party, but do they share this ideology when it is applied to what UK Governments should or shouldn’t do?

Herein lies the great irony that surrounds UKIP.  It is a political party whose ideologues think Thatcherism didn’t go far enough, while many of the people who say they support it are among those who think she went too far.

The further irony is of a public school educated former city banker turned Tory MP leading this party and attracting support from people who are among the most dependent on state pensions, a National Health Service free at the point of need and Government regulations that look after the little guy.  This irony is not lost on the other parties and as UKIP comes under the spotlight its blue streak will be widely revealed.

This can only mean the haemorrhaging of support from UKIP of people who oppose private health care and believe in the need for a safety net for people who fall on hard times, or haven’t been able to buy a private pension.  But it could also mean a further swing away from the Conservatives to UKIP of those voters who identified strongly with the ideals of Thatcherism in the 80’s and 90’s and who today want to further roll back the frontiers of the state and make individuals self-reliant regardless of its impact on social cohesion.

UKIP really are the United Kingdom Irony Party.

* Adrian Sanders is a Focus deliver in Paignton, Devon, and was the MP for Torbay from 1997 to 2015.

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  • Excellent article – I have tweeted!

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th May '13 - 3:13pm

    Isn’t it funny how those affable types who seem to be able to get away with doing or saying anything because “it’s just Boris being Boris” or “Nigel being Nigel”, always seem to be very much on the right-wing of politics? Or on the left but only after it is quite clear they have lost any chance of any sort of political power (think Tony Benn). Had someone with exactly the same mannerisms and personality quirks as Nigel Farage (or Boris Johnson) been promoting left-wing politics, would they have been treated the same way by the press? Would it be deemed they are excused being rational, logical, truthful, consistent or coherent ion on the grounds they have a personality which trumps everything else? I don’t think so. A left-wing Farage or Johnson would be torn to pieces, those aspects of their personality which are found so endearing in a right-winger held up as ridiculous and scary and evidence they should never be trusted.

  • A Social Liberal 7th May '13 - 3:21pm


    Whilst I do not necessarily disagree with your article, can you give some pointers as to where we can find evidence that a UKIP government would disband state institutions such as health and welfare? Coming from North Yorkshire I would dearly like to use such evidence to counter Mr Bloom MEPs forays. Just saying that he and his party are for removing funding from the countries safety net will not be enough.

  • Helen Dudden 7th May '13 - 3:41pm

    If it was a protest vote as stated, what was the protest against.

    The failings of this Government?

  • jenny barnes 7th May '13 - 4:08pm

    Small state libertarian politics? Try Somalia

  • @Dave Page “UKIP voters tend to be voting against politics in general”

    Disagree, UKIP has consistent spoken clearly on a number of major issues, that all the other parties would rather be left to fester. Hence where the major parties (particularly Conservatives and Labour) have tried to avoid a discussion on the EU, as they both know there are deep divisions in their respective parties which could cost them dearly if allowed to become exposed, UKIP has been able to be outspoken. Likewise over immigration and other topics that resonate with people, but with which the major parties have problems reaching a single definitive viewpoint .

    So i would suggest that UKIP is receiving votes from people who are fed up (particularly) with New Labour and the Conservatives for putting their party interests ahead of those of the electorate.

  • Like most other aspects of politics, libertarianism is ultimately about class. Libertarianism appeals to those “aspirationals” who don’t actually have much, who would like to have more, but who are intensely fearful of falling back into what they perceive as an alien crowd of have-nots. They seem themselves as scrambling up the greasy pole by their own efforts, but susceptible to being dragged back by a crowd clutching at their bootheels. Hence their instinct is to cut off the pole just below wherever they happen to be clinging. They want to do away with everything that they imagine prevents them from climbing the pole, but that never happens to include the people on top; their attention is always directed downwards to where they came from.
    They are therefore blisfully and blatantly inconsistent. The state must get its hands out of their pockets, but at the same time must impose brutal and draconian restrictions on those who are even less powerful and more economically vulnerable than they are. Their problem with an overweening ruling elite is not that it exists but that it is taking such a deucedly long time for them to be recognized as part of it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th May '13 - 5:21pm

    A Social Liberal

    Whilst I do not necessarily disagree with your article, can you give some pointers as to where we can find evidence that a UKIP government would disband state institutions such as health and welfare?

    The UKIP leaders themselves are always going on about wanting a small state and lower taxes. Their main criticism of the Conservative Party is that it has not gone far enough on these lines. UKIP leaders have described their party’s philosophy as being “libertarian”, and they mean that in the USA sense i.e. regarding the state and its taxation and any public services it provides as being the main restrictions on personal freedoms.

    You will find quite a bit of this in their statement of policies on their website. It’s not always clear, because quite a big feature of their website is calls for large cuts in taxation, especially taxation of rich people, large increases in expenditure on other areas such as defence, and vague hand-waving gestures about how this would be paid for. However, from what they say about themselves on their website, they are like today’s Conservative Party, but more right-wing in every aspect. You could quite neatly triangulate the parties: LibDems on the left, UKIP on the right, Conservative Party in the middle.

    We must make clear again and again, anyone voting UKIP is NOT making a protest gesture. They are voting for a party which is firmly just like the Conservative Party, except more extreme.

  • Helen Dudden 7th May '13 - 5:50pm

    Your other partner in the coalition the Conservatives, are very concerned even, voicing that they should maybe join up, and regroup.

    Unless, this message is taken seriously and acted on, then nothing is learnt. If you have been beaten by the Labour Party no problems, but a small minority party, that wishes us to leave the EU. Dislikes immigrants, and is against the marriage of equal opportunities.

    This is not rocket science, it is an understanding that something is very wrong with the government ,and the policies it produces.

    Europe too, is finding things difficult, the economy is unstable and many are suffering the ill effects. We need stability and growth not unstable ideas from the UKIP party

  • Mathew,
    I know what you mean. John Prescott is a good example of the difference in coverage given to a roguish left winger, compared to Boris or Nigel,

  • “The further irony is of a public school educated former city banker turned Tory MP leading this party and attracting support from people who are among the most dependent on state pensions, a National Health Service free at the point of need and Government regulations that look after the little guy.”

    This irony about right-wing anti-state parties drawing a significant proportion of their support from those most dependent on state handouts is not just confined to the UK though – many of the counties that overwhelming broke for Mitt Romney in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election are also those with some of the highest proportions of Medicare/Medicaid recipients anywhere in the U.S. Not sure what clues this gives for trying to counter such right-wing populism however…

  • The problem with austerity politics is that its advocates is tend to forget that people are allowed to vote. UKIP are a symptom of austerity and declining living standards just as the riots in Greece and Spain are. The people who are most effected by this have little reason to vote for the established parties because they flat out know they are only offering more of the same. and they don’t want whatever it is. The fact that UKIP is incoherent is almost irrelevant, because they are an unknown.
    The problem is austerity and the language of austerity. Things can only get tougher is not a good message.

  • A lot of hand wringing here in this article, with regards to UKIP, but you still haven’t addressed the real concerns that have given rise to UKIP. Even Nigel Lawson is beginning to get the point that ‘Europe’ is a stretch too far in these troubled times. Like he points out, why do we need an ‘EU club loyalty card’ to trade within Europe, when China, and India, and most of the world, trade just fine without any problem?
    Hiding in the back of my cutlery drawer, I have a pointed ‘V’ shaped tool that was indispensible for opening cans of coke and beer, right up until some clever clogs invented the ring pull can. Like supersonic Concord, cross channel Hovercraft and a myriad of other good ideas, sometimes we just have to let go of things that have been either superseded, or prove to be uneconomic, or not what they originally promised.
    Nostalgia, prevents me from throwing out that little obsolete ‘V’ shaped can opener, but when it comes to Europe, its dictatorial bureaucracy, and its £50,000,000 cost per day, I’m willing to bite the bullet, and let it go.
    If only we had a true democracy, we could heal this open wound called Europe.

  • @Dave Page
    I think we’re both right and wrong. UKIP has been around long enough for it’s key policy of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU to be generally known. Likewise some of it’s other headline policies. So it will have both loyal supporters and protest voters , I suspect that you are referring to many latter day protest voters who voted UKIP to stick two fingers up. I’m gauging my view on the UKIP voters I’ve come across who have heard the message (or the media’s version of the message) and hence had decided to vote UKIP before the elections. what is clear the UKIP vote cannot be simply pigeon-holed, which also means that it is probably vulnerable come a general election where the general perception is that more is at stake. The question for the LibDem’s is whether it is them or UKIP who will have the third largest share of the vote.

  • “Like he points out, why do we need an ‘EU club loyalty card’ to trade within Europe, when China, and India, and most of the world, trade just fine without any problem?”

    Did you really just compare the UK to China and India? You know, my grandmother once imparted some wise words to me, “if you do not have anything intelligent to say, do not say anything at all.” I feel you would do well to heed these words.

    @Roland: I have found that outside of the Europe/Immigrant hating extreme-extremists who make up the core of their party , generally speaking, those saying they want to vote UKIP are doing so because of one of three reasons:

    1=”That Nigel chap speaks sense; I mean, yes, I have no idea what he is on about, but it sure does sound right and seems very anti-politics, so I like it.”

    2=”All you other political types hate them, so they must be doing something right.”

    3=”This Government is too Right Wing, so I am going to vote for that even more Right Wing party because it keeps talking about the Glory Days.”

    Although the issues that the general voters care about – whether it be education, immigration, the economy…etc – is personal to each voter, I cannot help but feel most of their vote is a protest vote because, outside of their core, it is never about what UKIP want to do in the voters interest areas, but instead, it is always about what the other Parties have/have not done in them.

  • Liberal Al :
    Dragging your grandmother into the argument doesn’t make your view any more legitimate.
    The plain fact is that people of the UK do not want to any part of this Federal Europe that started its life as an EEC ‘Trojan Horse’ in 1975. And if the three main parties would stop being cowardly (Nick Cleggs words !), we could resolve the matter once and for all.
    I don’t trust Farage, any more than anyone else, but I and many others would vote for Beelzebub himself, if it will finally break the ‘lock down’ politics the three posh boys have imposed, to suppress democracy in the UK. Like it or not, the tide has turned and the referendum will come, even if it takes a lot of Westminster kicking and screaming to get there.

  • @Liberal Al
    I think you may have also summed up quite nicely the Scottish independence supporters, headed by Alex Salmond… Although here the underlying theme is probably more anti-Westminster/English than anti-politic’s.

    However, whilst it is relatively easy to dismiss UKIP and Scottish independence and their supporters, the concerns that have given rise to them aren’t so easy to dismiss – carrying on regardless, hoping they will go away, is no longer an acceptable course of action.

  • @John: You are the one claiming that the UK is like China and India. As for the EU, well actually, most political studies find it to be quite low on people’s agenda. The EU is one of those things that the people who care get tied up in notts over, while most actually just sort of think to themselves, meh.

    @Roland: I admit I do not have much experience with those who support Scottish independence, so I cannot really comment there. However, I should explain that I am not dismissing UKIP, they are of great concern to me; I am merely saying that I do not see the vast majority of their current support as supporters in the positive sense of the word. It seems to me to be a very negative sense of the word support. At best, it seems to be support for them simply not being the others guys. I admit, this is something our party has utilised for a long time, but the difference between the Lib Dems and UKIP has been the level of discipline and organisation in our local parties; however, just knowing how badly even we have been hit hard by this problem, despite our previously strong local parties, makes me think that UKIP’s future is certainly uncertain and unknown,
    I think the difference possibly between the SNP and UKIP is that the SNP has utilised its position in Scotland and the Scottish Government well to ensure that it is seen to be addressing a host of issues and not just allowed itself to become a one-issue party.

  • AC Trussell 8th May '13 - 12:43pm

    As most people are ignorant of most of what “Europe” is about and, they are simply nostalgic reactionaries ,; UKIP (The United Kingdom Isolation Party) is ideal for them.

  • As i think I said on another, I do not think the appeal of UKIP ia anti-politics so much as it is anti the business of politics. The problem with having professional politicians, or a political class if you prefer,, is that they tend to get caught up in what polls, analysts, other professional bodies and their peers are saying and have become somewhat disconnected from ordinary voters. All of which is fascinating for people, like me, who love stats and will stay up all night for a local election result. But that is a minority thing. To counter act something like UKIP you have to reconnect with the electorate, Say thing like this is what we are doing for you, this is what we will do for you, this is why UKIP will damage your incomes, we are your representatives, not your leaders. What you don’t do is wave graphs at people, talk about minutiae, retreat into a bubble that insist that Westminster is real politics and you lot what voting is just a bunch of hill-billy anti-political heathens and you hate us anyway, so yah boo sucks. In short you are reliant on the electorate and they no matter how it might seem are not reliant on you.

  • If the EU and its open doors policy is so low on everyone’s agenda, why did UKIP get 25% of the vote, and Lib Dems got 14% last week?
    The only people I see, getting tied up in notts (or even knots), are Lib Dems, running around screaming like ‘Edvard Munchs’, in abject fear, and determined to be seen as the party of referendum suppression. What was it Clegg said in the 2008 pamphlet? ” Let’s stop being cowardly and have a REAL Referendum on Europe”.
    / sarc on/ ~With so many trustworthy, honest and sincere politicians on the front benches, it’s a real mystery why UKIP went from zero to 25% of the vote. ~ / sarc off /

  • nuclear cockroach 9th May '13 - 12:08am

    @john dunn

    It is curious to come across someone who believes the vote for UKIP in May was anything other than the angst ridden scream of social conservatives giving a signal that they want the Conservative party to change course. Perhaps some of that vote will stick, but much of it will return to the Conservatives in 2015. The Blues will fight a defensive election, retreating to their comfort zone.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th May '13 - 3:03pm

    John Dunn

    I don’t trust Farage, any more than anyone else, but I and many others would vote for Beelzebub himself, if it will finally break the ‘lock down’ politics the three posh boys have imposed,

    Well, there you go. You don’t like “posh boys”, so you think the alternative is a party led by someone who went to a public school and made a fortune as a city stockbroker, now being heavily financed by another City fat cat.

    In other words, you have been successfully fooled. Yet another posh boy has convinced you he’s something different from the posh boys we already have, somehow he is something different, on the side of the people, etc. Isn’t this all a repeat of “Cleggmania”? Some new novelty posh boy comes along and convinces people he’s different? Except this time he has the rabid support of the right-wing press, which has long played the game of posing itself on the side of the people against “those in power”, while pouring out propaganda on behalf of City fat cats taking over our country and turning it into a private fiefdom.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th May '13 - 3:11pm

    AC Trussell

    As most people are ignorant of most of what “Europe” is about and, they are simply nostalgic reactionaries ,; UKIP (The United Kingdom Isolation Party) is ideal for them.

    They’ve been fooled into thinking it is, but this is rather like someone being fooled into voting for the Socialist Workers Party because they think Labour isn’t pro-business enough. That is UKIP is the very opposite of what they want.

    UKIP’s main gripe with the EU is with the attempts it is making to get international co-operation against the power of big money. It stands for extreme free-market policies, pushing forward the globalisation agenda started under Margaret Thatcher. Its leaders have said they want to pick up policies from right-wing free market think tanks in order to establish coherence – well then, that will just make them the fourth party after the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats doing that. Yet it is this globalisation and extreme free market mania that has destroyed traditional ways of life in Britain more than anything else. Anyone who was REALLY an old-fashioned nostalgic would be doing all they could to push it back, not wanting to push it faster and further than the other three parties as UKIP wants.

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