Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Symbolic Policy & The Eton Rifles.

If a party knows that it has no hope of forming a government, it does have the luxury of being able to say absolutely anything it wants safe in the knowledge that it will never have to deliver the goods. We call this symbolic policy.

UKIP are in this position, and they have got the Tories running from pillar to post trying desperately to find something that they can be sincere about that might challenge Flash 'Arry and the boys.

UKIP can say, for example, that they will stop Romanians at the border, or that they will tear up the treaties, or that they are both for and against HS2 at the same time depending on who they are speaking to. It doesn't matter, as they will never be in a position to do anything about it. The Tories, however, are in government, and so they are somewhat constrained by the fact that they could actually do something if they wanted to.

And there is the rub: they don't want to.

The Conservative Party administers the UK on behalf of a relatively small number of very wealthy interests. Romanian immigration would actually be good for these guys, as increased demand for housing would mean higher land values and higher rental income, the latter being mostly at taxpayer's expense as most newcomers tend to have their rent subsidised by housing benefit.

So the Tories have 3 policy options.

1. Say nothing, and let UKIP do all the running.

2. Make promises with absolutely no intention of honouring them - the cast iron guarantee of a referendum on Lisbon comes to mind.

3. Tell the electorate what they want to hear, and then do it.

The latter option, of course, is highly unlikely to materialise, not least because any significant action will require resources that could otherwise be diverted to those interests I referred to earlier.

Possibly the most unspectacular abortion in recent political history was the attempted smear campaign launched against UKIP just a few days before the local elections. Such a campaign needs at least 3-4 weeks to be effective, and I have to wonder who is advising the Eton Rifles at this particular moment in time.

The 2009 Euro elections, at which UKIP won 13 seats, was defined by expenses scandals, and it was this that hit the 3 main parties hardest. UKIP know that this is what won them those seats. What is not often reaslised is that UKIP themselves were implicated. Just a few days before the elections the Sun ran a story about a UKIP MEP who, despite his claims to the contrary, was employing a member of his family, and also had staffers from his own company on the parliament payroll. It was, however, too late to have any impact. I would have thought that there might be somebody in Central Office who would remember this, but apparently not.

The run up to the next euro elections will be interesting, although I would suspect that the Tories are resigned to the fact that they will do badly. I don't expect the Tories to spend too much on the elections - they will be more concerned about the next General election.

Whether or not David Cameron will still be at the helm next time is questionable - It probably depends on how much a certain media mogul is prepared to spend on revenge between now and then.

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