Monday, December 15, 2014

Ukip wars: When fruitcakes fall out

Grumbling about Nick Robinson is a recognised leisure activity for politicos of all colours. I have been known to indulge in it myself. But his report about Ukip this morning was spot on:
A parliamentary candidate resigns having tried blaming his racist comments on taking painkillers. 
This comes days after an alleged sex scandal at UKIP head office in which the party's chief executive did - or did not - sleep with another candidate. 
Meantime a wealthy donor is said to be threatening to stop funding the party if his friend doesn't get a seat. 
You may think that UKIP's week of bad headlines is just a diverting soap opera. 
You may think it simply shows the growing pains of Britain's fastest growing political force. You may think it has no significance at all. If so, you'd be wrong. 
All the bizarre news stories that have emerged from UKIP in recent days reflect a power struggle within a party that aspires to hold the balance of power after the next election.
The most damaging stories about candidates always emerge from feuding within their own parties.

I am reminded of the Greenwich by-election of 1987, which was won against the odds by the SDP half of the Alliance.

The seat was held by Labour, but as Andy McSmith recalls in his Faces of Labour, that their candidate Deirdre Wood lost after
a virulent press campaign which forced down the already depressed Labour vote and encouraged a huge tactical switch by Conservative voters, to secure victory by the SDP candidate, Rosie Barnes.
I remember journalists saying that this campaign was easy to mount because all the damaging stories about Deirdre Wood had been given to them by Labour insiders in an effort to prevent her being selected as their candidate in the first place.

No comments: