Simply put: while I once had a degree of satisfaction from being in UKIP, and in a certain sense am grateful for the fact it introduced me to some good friends, and indeed one of the editors of the journal, I detest and am embarrassed by what it has become. It is awash in poorly disguised bigotry, thuggery and unprofessional behaviour. The mainstream media have been crying wolf for sometime about UKIP, now I will definitively say: they would be right. I am now firmly against UKIP and all it stands for.
If you had told me three years ago that I would see the anti-Islam (and borderline anti Muslim) part of the party take over by this time, and that I would leave in part due to the craziness that ensued, then I would have laughed in your face. However, now it is very clear: UKIP’s supposed revival is one of a shadow: looks scary, but is in fact completely insubstantial. All the major centres of UKIP support (Boston, Thanet, Hartlepool, Thurrock) no longer contain any significant number of UKIP voters, and Brexiteers disappointed by Theresa May’s weakness are not turning to UKIP for the most part. This is of course because they have supported the outright thug that is Steven Yaxley Lennon, who is a known convicted criminal, and wishes to be painted as a martyr for “exposing” a grooming scandal that was already exposed well before he jumped on the bandwagon – by proper and courageous journalists who risked the accusations surrounding Racism and Islamophobia far more than he ever did. There is something in the argument that his recent arrest was rushed which suggests a miscarriage of justice. It does also shine a light on our overly secretive courts , but turning him into a martyr will not help the latter cause (or indeed the cause for free speech).
If UKIP wishes to have a sensible conversation about Islam (and as a Christian, I have many things to say about the false “prophet” Mohammed and his book, none of which are positive) , then its contribution to the discourse needs to stop involving fools and lawbreakers such as Lennon. There is a conversation to be had about Islamic theology, but embracing a discourse similar to Anne Marie Waters’ soon to be defunct For Britain party is, and was never going to work from a political perspective (or a moral one for that matter). This is simply because the people of the UK do not give in to nastiness, they do not dismiss brutal and lethal far-right terrorism as simply part of a “war” as Miss Waters did. They do not see this phantom takeover of Muslims (and no, demographic shift due to immigration does not count as a takeover, even though there is an argument for more controlled borders). The people that now support this hostility towards Muslims were always around in the party (2014-17) but no-one listened to them, infighting has now allowed them to take over the party.
The policies announced in their recent conference tell a far scarier story though. All Muslim prisons are yet another terrible idea to come out of Batten’s party . They reek of Jim Crow behaviours of the 1930s. Again, the problem is a real one: radicalisation in prisons, but all this policy would do is result in more radicals, not less, as less-extremism inclined Muslims are easily radicalised in single faith prisons. Look also at their plans to scrap any kind of discrimination laws. While I would agree that a conscience clause to avoid cases like Asher’s bakery ever happening again (and that would go for a gay bakery, they do exist, being asked to make a Westborough Baptist cake) would be a good step, discrimination based upon race, sex, disability etc is something that should be punishable in my view. These policies are not the makings of a Christian supporting party, but one which would hide behind my faith in order to advocate for “No blacks, No Irish, No dogs”.
Also worth mentioning is the exodus of credible people from all sections of the party; James Carver, Caroline Jones and William Dartmouth being the most recent prominent casualties. UKIP is losing its electable people as they can see the problems with the party. While I personally don’t think their replacements (youtubers who have nothing but internet relevance) are as evil as people claim them to be, their current representatives are bad enough. We have a Welsh Leader who complains about people of different ethnicities with regards to rubbish (and I can safely say I’ve heard far worse from him when I was in the party), we have a leader who is clearly a far-right nutcase and “street movements” such as the DFLA being advocated that resemble brownshirts more than anything else. People have criticised the few positive policies (abolishing inheritance tax) and cried wolf about previous UKIP policies, and now no-one will believe them. It is fortunate that UKIP are an irrelevance, or the wolf may have got the chance to devour the sheep.
To conclude: I would not vote for UKIP in the next election. The party has embraced the lunatic wing of its anti-immigration faction and thinks it can pander to anti-Muslim and, dare I say it, racist sentiments. If Nigel Farage does return and re-establish a somewhat more libertarian, socially conservative version of the Tories, then I would consider it. As it stands, I do not see how a social conservative or really anybody with a good conscience could vote for or support UKIP in any way. In fact they should be against UKIP.