By OTHERSOctober 20, 2016Print : World
By Cristina Criddle
The news that Steven Woolfe, a favourite for the Ukip leadership, has abandoned the party to become an independent MEP might have been music to your ears.
“Ding, Dong! Ukip is dead. Is Nige coming back? No, not this time. Ding, Dong! Ukip is really dead”
Quite catchy, really. But who have they got? Interim leader Nigel Farage quit after the referendum and says the party is “struggling”. Next in line, Diane James, quit as leader after 18 days, calling it a “rotten job”. Ukip’s last hope, Woolfe, said on Tuesday that Ukip is “ungovernable” and in a death spiral. And why shouldn’t we believe him? Even Arron Banks, one of the party’s biggest donor’s, is now threatening to walk away. s
But, as with the Wicked Witch of the East, the winged monkeys could flock to a leader from the other side Jeremy Corbyn.
He’s everything Ukip like in a leader: an outspoken man of the people, who thinks modern society has let the working classes down and, albeit secretly, believes Britain is better off outside of the European Union
Okay, okay, I’ll admit it is an odd choice but, before the Corbynites attack me with a hammer and sickle, just hear me out.
If Ukip becomes no more, which seems likely, one would hope the 3.9 million people that voted for them in the last election, would continue to vote - but this time for a mainstream party.
On the surface, the Conservatives appear to be the perfect fit. But to say Ukip voters are all Tory defectors is too simplified a picture. In fact, Ashcroft polls conducted between September 2014 and April 2015 found that 45 per cent of Ukip voters were former Tories, 29 per cent ex-Lib Dem and 26 per cent ex-Labour.
So sure, just under half of Ukippers will probably return to the right, but the rest are up for grabs. The Greens are an unlikely match for the Ukippers and the Lib Dems’ backing for a second EU referendum rules them out of the running.
But there is no reason why the average Ukipper wouldn’t fit in perfectly with Corbyn’s Labour. According to YouGov research from 2014, they are likely to be working class, older people, who may left school at 15 or 16 and earn less than £20,000 a year. All ring true to Labour’s traditional membership.
Similarly, Ukip fought their general election campaign on the claim that politics was broken, and argued a radical overhaul of the existing system was needed through a protest vote. Corbyn also champions this idea. Incidentally, the current First Past the Post system means Ukip, even at its peak, could never win an election. Would their supporters not be better served by joining Labour, united by a disdain for the crooked workings of Westminster?
As voters are become increasingly detached from tribal party allegiances, a desire for change is sometimes more compelling than ideology. Just look at the scores of socialists who, after putting their might behind Bernie Sanders, claim to have pledged their support to Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, a member of the established political elite.
Who’s to say that Ukip supporters will not adopt a similar stance? This breed of voter follows a cult of personality. Trump, Farage, Corbyn... sure, the latter is wildly different from the former in terms of policy and principle, but all possess the same ability to mobilise the disenfranchised with a radical call to arms.