Kilroy has finally come off the fence and stated that he wants to run the UKIP. The usually toothless Frost has managed to get him to admit that he wants the job - as if we hadn't noticed. I know that people are supposed to move to the right as they get older (although I am probably doing the reverse), but it is a massive U-turn for a former Labour MP to decide he wants to head up a party which seems to be composed of right-wing nuts and lobbyists for small/medium size businesses.
On their website, there's a piece from the Telegraph attacking European plans to scrap slogans like "A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play." Apart from the fact that Mars dropped this slogan of their own accord a few years back, the actual slant of the proposed legislation is to ensure that claims on food packaging are justified. This seems fair to me - if a product is described in general terms as 'low fat', I think that we should be able to rely on it to be low in fat.
The UKIP worries me. For all their anti-European cant, there seems to be an old-fashioned rejection of progress behind many of their views. Take education: "A further concern is politically slanted teaching, especially in History, English and 'Personal and Social Education'. A major cause of this problem is dogma-driven teacher training that also promotes flawed 'child-centred' and 'progressive' teaching methods." Now, I'm married to a teacher and I'm the son of a teacher, I've been through the state education system up to postgraduate level and I'm now a school governor and I have never experienced this politically slanted teaching. This reminds me of the noises from some of the right-wingers of the 1980s and it seems to me that the UKIP are a vehicle for deeply-ingrained conservatives who believe that Britain was better in the 1950s when everyone knew their place. It goes without saying that the UKIP believe that their place is running the country.
Also, they often point out that their party represents Britons of all ethnic groupings - funny how all their MEPs and GLA members are white and male, isn't it? Indeed, there are only two women listed on their site - one member of the UKIP NEC and the Party Chairman (sic). Mind you, given the public views of Godfrey Bloom MEP, this is hardly a surprise. Their demands for 'Freedom from Overcrowding' and 'Freedom from Political Correctness' hint at a deeper, more unpleasant side to their place as the polite face of the extreme right. This is backed up by the number of key UKIP members who have close links to right-wing parties like the BNP and 'New Britain' - even leaving aside Kilroy, who was removed from his TV show over a racist article published in the Daily Express in his name. Richard Corbett MEP provides a detailed break-down here.
To round off, good to see that there's a blog out there keeping an eye on this new addition to our political system. UKIP Watch reports a tactless, if not downright offensive, comment by Mike Nattrass MEP at a conference in Cardiff: "In the same way as Chechnya is forced to be a part of Russia, we are forced to be a part of Europe. I hope we won't have to fight our way like them but I suspect we will have to fight our way out." As this came a short time after the carnage in Beslan, other politicians might have thought this too sensitive a subject, but not our fearless UKIP MEPs.
I'd laugh, but politics is supposed to be a serious business - it affects your lives for good or ill. The UKIP are a nasty force to be reckoned with.
UPDATED! Seems I may have spoken too soon - the UKIP have a secret weapon to win over the doubting voters. No less a political force than Rustie Lee has declared her intention to fight the Wyre Forest seat at the next general election.