Ukip will be the star in dramatic upset

“Despite revelations over the questionable views of his candidates and officials, an on-air grilling about the employment of his German wife and accusations of a ‘racist’ poster campaign, Nigel Farage remains on course for one of the greatest upsets in political history in next month’s European elections,” says Jane Merrick in The Independent on Sunday.

In a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times, Nigel Farage’s Ukip gained the lead for the first time with 31% support, three points ahead of Labour, leaving the Tories trailing a distant third on 19%. Later, a ComRes poll for ITV showed Ukip leading with 38%.

In a further blow to David Cameron, former Tory donor Paul Sykes, worth a reported £650m, is currently backing Ukip and has indicated he will bankroll the party at the next general election, increasing Farage’s chances of winning seats at Westminster, says Tim Shipman in The Times.

But Farage has said he will not stand in the Newark by-election following the resignation of Patrick Mercer, who quit over a cash for questions scandal.

He argues that standing would be a “massive distraction” from the European elections. What’s to be done, asks John McTernan in The Times. “Scandals that would halt mainstream politicians in their tracks seem merely to strengthen Farage.” This has led to a “defeatist view” that nothing can be done to prevent the rise of Ukip, a party that embodies the current “anti-political mood”.

In reality, there are ways to fight back. First, “have faith in the facts”. Two million of the 26 million jobless Europeans in the Ukip poster, for instance, are actually British. Pick at the “dangling thread” and the entire argument unravels.

Second, “use gentle mockery”. It’s “ludicrous” for a man who has been an MEP for 15 years to “claim to be a champion of the people”. It’s not the “detail of his expenses”, but the fact that he doesn’t turn up to vote (he reportedly has the fifth worst attendance record out of all 752 MEPs).

Third, “you beat populism by being popular”. Most of us would “give good money for a leader who is clear and direct and appealing”.

Actually, there’s not much mainstream politicians can do right now – although it’s obvious that disowning the “metropolitan elite” to which they belong is counter-productive, says Janan Ganesh in the FT.

The rise of populism is powered by long-term “structural trends”. First, the vote share of the two main parties has shrunk since 1950, leaving far more votes “up for grabs”.

Second, wage stagnation and unemployment, resulting from increasing global competition and automation, have produced a “sizeable” class of people who feel “frozen out by mainstream politics and its economic orthodoxies”.

Farage’s real test, however, comes with the general election. This is when mainstream politicians should remind populists who does the hard work: “representing constituents, reconciling competing claims and taking an interest in the dry corners of legislation that affect people’s lives… Seen from this angle, the ‘elite’ are the people who get their hands dirty. And populists who damn the whole spectacle from cosy sidelines are the truly decadent ones.”

  • rpaco

    We don’t need Farage to be a brilliant Prime Minister, all we need is for him to get us out of the EU and repeal all these expensive nonsensical eurolaws. Stop bleeding us of £55m a day.
    Make political correctness an instant imprisonment offence!
    Spend the saved £55m a day on the NHS.
    Build ten new prisons, stop soft sentences.
    Then he can bugger off or not as he wishes.

66% off newsstand price

12 issues (and much more) for just £12

That’s right. We’ll give you 12 issues of MoneyWeek magazine, complete access to our exclusive web articles, our latest wealth building reports and videos as well as our subscriber-only email… for just £12.

That’s just £1 per week for Britain’s best-selling financial magazine.

Click here to take advantage of our offer

Britain is leaving the European Union. Donald Trump is reducing America’s role in global markets. Both will have profound consequences for you as an investor.

MoneyWeek analyses the critical issues facing British investors on a weekly basis. And, unlike other publications, we provide you with the solutions to help you turn a situation to your financial advantage.

Take up our offer today, and we’ll send you three of our most important investment reports:

All three of these reports are yours when you take up our 12 issues for £12 offer today.

MoneyWeek has been advising private British investors on what to do with their money since 2000. Our calls over that period have enabled our readers to both make and save a great deal of money – hence our position as the UK’s most-trusted investment publication.

Click here to subscribe for just £12