Nigel Farage is becoming a moderniser

The Ukip leader knows that his party needs more support to maintain momentum

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

There are many words that you might associate with Nigel Farage, but moderniser probably isn’t one. Yet the Ukip leader is embarking on the process of modernising his party. He has concluded that it cannot achieve its aims with its current level of support. So he is repositioning it in the hope of winning new converts even at the risk of alienating traditional supporters.

If this sounds similar to what David Cameron did after winning the Tory leadership in 2005, that’s because it is. Interviewing Farage during his triumphant European election campaign, I was struck by how he talked approvingly of ‘New Ukip’, which he claimed had ‘gone past the hobby horse’ phase and had the discipline to target individual seats, unlike ‘Old Ukip’. It was reminiscent of how the Cameroons used to talk in the early days of his leadership or, going further back, how those around Tony Blair would boast of their transformation of the Labour party.

There is an irony here. Cameron’s modernising programme was one of the things that gave Ukip space to grow. The Cameroons assumed that voters on the right had nowhere else to go as they changed tack on a whole host of issues. But Ukip picked up a number of these people.

It has also adeptly tapped into local Tory discontent with coalition policies. ‘Do not underestimate the number of people in the English county elections last year who voted for us on the wind farm issue,’ Farage told The Spectator recently. ‘There are 310, I think, wind farm protest action groups in this country and every single one of them is talking to Ukip.’

Farage would not thank you for comparing his approach to Cameron’s; he prides himself on being different from the Tory leader. He is never going to be seen hugging huskies. But he doesn’t want Ukip to be just a home for disillusioned Tories any more. Instead, he wants it to reach out to working-class Labour supporters who feel alienated from its current leadership.

If this means Ukip losing some of its intellectual consistency, then that is a price that the leadership is prepared to pay. In Ukip’s struggle between its libertarian and blue-collar tendencies, it is the latter who are winning, as James Delingpole’s eloquent cry of pain on page 28 demonstrates.

But you can’t win parliamentary seats with just disillusioned Tories, and Ukip desperately needs representation at Westminster if it is to establish itself as more than a protest party.

Tellingly, the Ukip leadership now believes that its best chance of gaining a foothold in Parliament is in marginal seats where it can make inroads into the Labour and Tory vote. This means that the party has to be able to appeal to a chunk of those who traditionally back Labour.

Ukip did this with some success in the European elections, emphasising that immigration had held down working-class wages and that the only way to stop mass immigration from Europe was to leave the European Union. But those close to Farage know that come the general election, Labour will try to win these voters back by arguing that Ukip is a ‘Thatcherite’ organisation that wants to charge you for using the NHS and abolish your right to paid holiday leave. If the party is to have a chance of holding on to these new supporters, let alone reaching their compadres, it’ll have to be able to robustly rebut these claims.

Farage has no desire to give currency to the Tory accusation that a vote for Ukip is a vote for Miliband. He knows that this charge could well put off both voters and donors. One influential Eurosceptic fundraiser tells me that one of the things that keeps big-money prospects from giving to Ukip is a worry that they’ll be rollocked by their peers, who’ll attack them for paving the way for a mansion tax and the return of the 50p rate.

Farage, like Cameron, is putting his commitment to the NHS at the centre of his modernisation effort. His first aim is to reassure voters that Ukip is committed to the NHS. He knows that Labour will make much of its claim that Ukip would impose charges for visiting a GP. So expect to see Farage stressing Ukip’s commitment to a universal, free-at-point-of-use health service at every opportunity.

This is sensible politics. As a former editor of this magazine said, the NHS is the nearest thing modern Britain has to a national religion. Any politician who suggests radical reform risks being burnt alive as a heretic. But it is rather depressing that even the insurgents in British politics feel that they have to pay obeisance to the old rite. Sadly, Farage is no John Wycliffe.

Ukip also know that Labour will attack them for having backed a flat tax, which would mean rich and poor alike pay the same marginal rate. Farage, when he returned to the leadership in 2010, saw the obvious political and presentational problems with the policy and jettisoned it. But Labour will still use it to create questions about Ukip’s motives and its claim to stand for the working man. Tellingly, when Farage now talks about tax he’s quick to balance his desire to abolish the 45p rate with support for lifting everyone on the minimum wage out of tax altogether.

Even on immigration, Ukip’s trump card, Farage is fine-tuning the party’s position. He’s keen to show that he isn’t anti-immigration per se, but that he just wants it to be controlled and for Britain’s benefit. He boasts of how ‘there are some people within Ukip, as well, who have tried to portray us being an anti- immigration party and I think I’ve taken that away from them’.

Farage’s willingness to take on the hard task of modernising his party is another reminder that he is serious about turning Ukip into a permanent presence on the British political scene. He knows that he has to win seats at Westminster and is doing what’s necessary to achieve that. The challenge for him, though, is to do this without making Ukip seem like just another political party.

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Show comments
  • Tom

    If Farage focuses on aspiration, social mobility and low taxes – as well as the EU and immigration – he has a chance to win votes on both sides of the aisle – much like Thatcher did in the ’80s. Mrs T didn’t win because she looked after the rich, she won because she appealed to ‘Blue collar’ Tories who wanted the Government to get out of the way and let them get on with getting on.

    Farage has made a good start


    • global city

      That is precisley the policy direction they should take.

      Most people who vote Labour are not socialist, but would never vote tory in a million years, so they’re stuck.

      They need an ‘out’ from the trap by being presented with a party that supports aspiration and a way out of their current situations, ironically situations in which their voting Labour has perpetuated for decades.

      • Tom

        The press seem to miss this. It is strange that a former investment banker who at first glance is a million miles away from a plumber in Rotherham would appeal to voters to Labour heartlands; but if you understand ‘blue collar’ Tories its not strange at all.

        Milibands Labour want to protect people from everything bad (energy prices, zero hour contracts etc), the Tories just want to take protection away from those you don’t deserve it.

        People don’t want to be protected, they want to be given the means of protecting and bettering themselves – if Ukip focus on these things, then they have a good chance of making inroads at a GE, and hopefully pulling the Tories back towards this agenda.

        • WirralBill

          When you’ve “tried” Labour and seen that statism doesn’t work, why wouldn’t you vote for a party that promises plain speaking, a much smaller state and a lot less statist BS?

          • Kaine

            Except the polls show, whenever anyone asks the question, the public are in favour of renationalisation of railways and utilities, rent caps, higher taxes on those earning over £100,000 a year and a financial transaction tax on speculators.

            Now you may agree or disagree, you may think the public are in error, but it’s what they want.

    • Kaine

      Simply not true. Maggie’s secured a lower proportion of the vote in the 1983 and 1987 elections than Douglas-Home lost with in 1964.

    • WirralBill

      Very good post.

      At the same time, perhaps, stressing the importance of broad, democratic consent, such as with the Switzerland-style referendum ideas – giving the country back to the people.

      And if the people as a whole support the NHS, for example, then that’s what they get, and Ukip will endeavour to run it as efficiently and non-ideologically as possible.

      I also like the idea of fusing modern libertarian-ish ideas with old-style conservatism. There’s plenty to unite around, such as a smaller state, lower taxes, halving of MPs and Lords and, again, a Swiss-style referendum system (and proper recall mechanism for MPs).

  • Kitty MLB

    Oh is he, I remember when my esteemed leader decided upon
    The modernizing agenda.
    UkIP needs that, but he needs to be careful and not alienate
    people in the process.
    Move forward but remember the past.

    • Streben80

      Cameron modernised the wrong bit, core values. UKIP may find better ways to express our core values, but they will remain central to what we did – the linking of uncontrolled immigration with the EU pushed the core UKIP policy of leaving the EU by showing a practical example of what is imposed on us by it – smart move, given how high immigration polls.

      • global city

        They ended up over stepping the mark on that though, and provided their enemies with lots of ammo.

        Everyone knows how the establishment will react to the issue, they basically can’t talk beyond their straight jacket, so UKIP need to be very technical and frame the ‘immigration ‘ debate within the constitutional background of loss of democracy. That way everyone understands that they are not being ‘racist’… and only have the same concern as nearly everyone else.

        • Streben80

          Oh I dont know that they stepped over the mark, did you really think the purpose of those posters was to keep the Guardian happy? It wasnt, it was to provoke the establishment to attack UKIP which they did – the immigration rhetoric served both a policy purpose and to open up the dividing line between all the other parties and UKIP – I would say it worked, they went overboard, then UKIP won the Euros.
          Having stood on the street for UKIP I can tell you that constitutional politics is a niche offering, it isnt the EU that people identify with but the effects of it, that is why the immigration policy is so powerful. The trick is to then broaden the message on the effects to a handful of other clear examples that can be pushed.
          I can tell you the immigration debate is strongest with the lower end of the income scale and it isnt about democracy, it is about opportunities. The big picture may be about democracy, but UKIP failed for 20 odd years trying to make the case that way, there just isnt the time to make some intellectual argument about democracy when the person infront of you is actually just angry because he was denied a Midlands factory job because he couldnt speak Polish.

          • WirralBill

            It’s also about our crowded planet – two extra billion people since 1990. And the fact that the UK is pretty fair compared to the rest of Europe.

            You’re Spanish and you wanna be an architect? If you don’t have any connections in Spain, you won’t make it. But you can in the UK.

            Immigration creates pressure in countries like the UK that are relatively open and free, and reduces the pressure for much-needed change in the countries that immigrants come from.

          • WirralBill

            It’s also about our crowded planet – two extra billion people since 1990. And the fact that the UK is pretty fair compared to the rest of Europe.

            You’re Spanish and you wanna be an architect? If you don’t have any connections in Spain, you won’t make it. But you can in the UK.

            Immigration creates pressure in countries like the UK that are relatively open and free, and reduces the pressure for much-needed change in the countries that immigrants come from.

        • WirralBill

          “UKIP need to be very technical and frame the ‘immigration ‘ debate within the constitutional background of loss of democracy”

          Not only that, but bend over backwards not to make it personal: it’s about immigration, not immigrants, and successive governments of all colours not running the country in the best interests of everyone that calls Great Britain (and Northern Island) home.

          • global city

            Yes. I became rather concerned when the press turned MASS immigration and ‘Freedom of movement’ into anti immigration and ‘open borders’. Even worse when anti immigration became anti immigrant. The worst was that UKIP seemed to be happy to step right into these elephant traps by putting emotion and inference into their own pronouncements on the issues.

            Diane James played it perfectly on the BBC’s commentary on the by-election last night. That is how the subject should be discussed and how ALL UKIP reps should be reminded to.
            There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that proves it is not a race/xenophobia issue, from those immigrants who said that they were a little disappointed upon arriving here, as they most liked the idea of moving to England to experiencec English life and live with English people, but instead faced an ‘anytown’ multiculturalism, to the trouble between Muslims and Roma in Sheffield.

            The worst aspect of allowing the issue to slip into the old dog whistles, etc, was that it NEARLY brought all those old repressive mantras of the previous 30 years of PC back as an effective tool to close debate and crush debate.

            Thankfully that did not quite happen, as the racist slurs did not stick, but UKIO carrying on using that type of language will regalivinise the cultural Marxists to be able to put the issue bak into their box… which would be the worst thing for the ountry.

        • WirralBill

          “UKIP need to be very technical and frame the ‘immigration ‘ debate within the constitutional background of loss of democracy”

          Not only that, but bend over backwards not to make it personal: it’s about immigration, not immigrants, and successive governments of all colours not running the country in the best interests of everyone that calls Great Britain (and Northern Island) home.

  • misomiso

    UKIP’s strategy MUST be to only go for its 20 to 30 target seats. If it does this it will attract donors as it can say it wont interfere too much with Cameron’s fight against Miliband.

    After the revelations by Laura Kuensberg on yesterdays Newsnight, its clear that the Lib Dems and Labour are going to campaign against the Conservatives. If the Right fight each other while the Left collude we can look forward to 5 years of Prime Minister Milliband.

    Farage must not let his hatred of the Cameroons cloud his Judgement. As tempting as it may be, it is not worth trying to destroy Cameron at the next election.

    • rtj1211

      Can you describe one single election when the Labour Party and the Libdems didn’t campaign against the Conservatives, one election where the Labour Party and the Conservatives didn’t campaign against the Libdems and one election where the Conservatives and Libdems didn’t campaign against the Labour Party.

      There is no story here.

      Each party campaigns against all the rest.

      • global city

        and in promotion of itself.

        UKIP must do likewise

      • misomiso

        Publiciy they all camapign against each other but in practical terms they dont. As an example Labour have effectively given up on most of the South East where the Lib Dems are the official opposition. They will probably not try in places like Cheltenham and Twickenham either.

        It becomes about how each party deploys their resources in the marginals. The Tories cant campaign against the Lib Dems, Labour and UKIP. Better to focus on the Lib Dems and Labour.

        • Kaine

          Labour have been out consistently in Sheffield Hallam.

    • Raddiy

      UKIP will be throwing the kitchen sink at 30-40-50 target seats, but it will also be standing in every constituency in the UK.
      In fact it will probably be standing in more seats than any other party, as it will be standing in Northern Ireland as well. It may have gone unnoticed by most, but in the local elections a couple of weeks ago, UKIP won council seats in Northern ireland

      After the smear campaign of recent weeks by the Conservative party against UKIP which failed miserably, but which the Conservative party seem to learn nothing from, I cannot think of a single constituency that would help in any shape or from for any Conservative MP to be re-elected.

      If Kippers hated the Conservative party before, their hate now after the events of recent weeks are visceral. Even now the they refuse to learn the error of their ways as the last mailing by the Conservative party for the Newark by election was back to slagging UKIP off as racists and homophobes.

      • WirralBill

        “After the smear campaign of recent weeks by the Conservative party against UKIP which failed miserably”

        But what will be the long-term effect of the Lynton Crosby-led smear campaign?

        And ask yourself why the press so happily colluded with the Conservatives, with even the Guardian publishing smears direct from Conservative Central Office?

        Simple: a back-room deal over Leveson.

        The press were happy to see Ukip take Tory votes when press control was on the table. Cameron’s cut a dirty little back-room deal with the Mail, News Corp and Telegraph to neuter Leveson, and now they’re trying to stuff Ukip back in its box.

        The emails between CCO and the newspaper execs would make for extremely interesting reading, in my opinion.

    • tjamesjones

      totally agree misomiso, but maybe Farage is just on a revenge mission in which case, welcome to your throne comrade Miliband.

  • global city

    The content of this article shows just how uninformed poor James is. Instead of developing an understanding of UKIP and it’s libertarian bent, he has just accepted the general flapping of the other members of that tight little group of fellow flappers. The build up to the Euro elections proved this, when they all peddled the same garbage, at the same time, as their own ‘insight’…. and all so way off the mark.

    They only read each other, so it becomes the narrative.

    UKIP have always had sound direction at it’s core and much of the ‘loony stuff’ was always obviously peripheral, but so intent are the flapperati to show how they have their fingers on the pulse they miss the obvious tiger traps of irrelevant information.

    Give UKIP a break. Analyse the broad philosophy when they finally produce their manifesto instead of following the tangent following idiocy you have all done for years regarding the party. That way one of you may indeed end up with some worthy insight into them and the success they are having.

    • ..
      deleted. Getting confused over james’ on the Speccie; this isn’t JD’s article.

      • global city

        LoL! I do that way too often myself.

    • tjamesjones

      but UKIP has benefitted from the same phenomenon – beyond a few goals (leave the EU), it is not at all clear what the party stands for. This then attracts protest votes, and votes from voters who look on Nigel and see their refelection. But, once you write down what you actually believe, then you have to pick a point on the left-right spectrum, both socially and economically, and you’ll find that narrows support quite significantly.

      • robertsonjames

        It was previously known as the Lib Dem Paradox. You can pick up votes from both Left and Right because no-one really knowing what you stand for means you can duck and dive opportunistically while allowing a miscellaneous array of voters to project their own mutually-incompatible fantasies onto your blank screen.

        Clearly those left-wing voters tempted by UKIP’s talk on stopping immigrants taking all the low-paid jobs haven’t picked up that prominent Kippers actually want to privatise the BBC and the NHS while those right-wing free-marketeers attracted to UKIP’s anti-EU message have managed to block out the noises from many Kipper supporters about the need for an economic policy based on protectionism and aggressive government intervention.

        Avoiding problems arising from such contradictions gets much more difficult once you’ve actually got explicit policies. That makes Farage’s rubbishing of his own party’s 2010 manifesto tactically very astute because it keeps everyone in the dark about what UKIP is now really all about. As a strategy, however, it has a limited shelf-life.

      • global city

        ‘Direction of travel’ is sufficient for an insurgent party….. that is until September, when they will live or die on the strength and coherence of the policy manifesto they present.

        Personally I hope that it is a cracker that I can vote for.

  • Raddiy

    The core of the UKIP appeal is anchored in the reality that UKIP alone believes in the concept of an independent self governing country, that puts the interests of the British people first, second and third, and respects and defends its culture and traditions.

    The patriotism of the other parties revolves around forms of words, dragged out at election time, whilst their actions at all other times have shown that unlimited open door immigration, billions given away in overseas aid, whilst cutting at home, and perhaps more importantly the deliberate attempt by all three parties to dismantle our country for its EU masters, have all now tipped people into a new form of thinking.

    UKIP will change, of course it will change, but the core sense and belief of a people and a country betrayed deliberately by Lib/Lab/Con treachery transcends the old political left/right,

    The people of Rotherham, Boston or Thurrock today all think the same on these core issues of identity, and you are very foolish and ill-informed if you think in any shape or form that Nigel Farage would do a David Cameron and betray his people and support.

    UKIP is its grassroots or it is nothing, the managing hierarchy are the servants, not the masters. It will be the Kippers at association level that will determine the direction of the party, with I have no doubt the full support of NIgel Farage, and however it changes, it will be at the behest of real people not anonymous focus groups and vested interests.

    Stop trying to fit UKIP into your warped view of politics. Core vote strategies are the old solutions for the tribal sheepies, thankfully most people have now started to think for themselves.

    • Denis_Cooper

      But how can you continue to support Farage after the shocking revelation in the Mirror today about him helping a disabled woman back to her hotel?


      • Raddiy

        You old rebel rouser Denis. 🙂

        The one thing I have learnt in recent years, is the rather obnoxious type of person mainstream politics attracts.

        I would hope that all Kippers would help somebody if they needed it, whilst I also have no doubt that our opponents in general would do nothing unless they were paid, or saw some personal advantage for themselves.

        I hope Nigel sues the Mirror, I would be more than happy to contribute to a fighting fund to do so. His wife should have wacked the Mirror ars*hole around the head with the first heavy implement she could put her hands on.

      • HookesLaw

        At 4 in the morning as part of a freebie jollie and when he should have been campaigning for is party. What kind of insurgent is that.

  • Fenman

    Surely Mr Forsyth, you realise that a large sector of the skilled working class are instinctively conservatives in their values. Many aspire to have their own business or are already self-employed. The Tories can only have amajority when enough of these peole vote for them. The reason they are not doing so currently is much more to do with Cameronism than Thatcherism. That is they distrust smooth talking metro bienpesant politically correct liberals, whom they believe have sold them down the river. They know Labour are led by the same class . So, the logical place to go is UKIP. If you go into provincial pubs and talk to people you will find this attitude prevalent. Most people are worried about immigration but are not racist, so Farage is right to purge the extremists. Let them go back to the BNP or EDF.. There are many improvements that can be made to the NHS without making it charge at point of access, such as putting the medics back in charge of hospitals, decentralising and tearing up the ridic. 2004 GP contract.
    My joiner who is self-employed is still furious Cameron will not restore the assisted places scheme nor grammar schools, which his children benefited from. he was working class Thatcherite and now a UKIP supporter. Farge’s instinct is right to go after these people.

    • atticus1900

      An insightful comment. Looking to the future I think that Labour and the Conservatives are going to decline to be replaced by UKIP and the Greens who do not have such toxic legacies; the Tories with the Poll Tax in Scotland and Labour with the betrayal of the working class and illegal wars.

      The Lib Dems will be gone as a political force by 2016.

      • HilaryChapman

        You forget that the Labour Party is well ahead in the polls (on 37% today), because people like what they have done (NHS, welfare state minimum wage …). The Labour Party is attracting huge numbers of new members. UKIP, by contrast with not a single MP is now in decline. In a year or two no one will have heard of toxic UKIP.

        • WirralBill

          “the Labour Party is well ahead in the polls”

          No it isn’t. It is polling pitifully.

          “people like what they have done (NHS, welfare state minimum wage …).”

          All historic “achievements”.

          “The Labour Party is attracting huge numbers of new members”

          No it isn’t. It is declining horrendously.

          “UKIP, by contrast with not a single MP is now in decline”

          Ukip has a record number of members and polls strongly for a party and leader that has been subject to a smear campaign across almost the whole of the press.

          “In a year or two no one will have heard of toxic UKIP”

          Toxic? The Labour party is stuffed with former BNP members and leads in only one thing: corruption, both in councils and, of course, in postal-vote rigging.

          • HilaryChapman

            WirralBill. You are guilty of wilful silliness. On opinion polls: Latest YouGov / The Sun results 5th June – Con 31%, Lab 37%, LD 8%, UKIP 15%;

            And yes, the Laboiur Partty is picking up new members all over the country. Why you should deny this simple truth is beyond me.

        • global city

          if you read the press of the time that Labour formed as a party and began contesting election you will find similar nonsense as that which you have just written.

          • Kaine

            Not really. From it’s inception Labour had a pact with the Liberals. By this time in the cycle it had 57 MPs, and was going to go on to form the next government. UKIP are rather far from that.

        • saffrin

          People that vote Labour today are either immigrants or idiots that know nothing about politics other than their parents and grandparents voted Labour.
          It is the only explanation as Labour 1997-2010 did nothing good for the country or anyone living in it.

    • WirralBill

      Even people who don’t aspire to too much in life can be infuriated by all the nonsense that a big state imposes, such as the high house prices and the consequences of high immigration, and develop a political outlook that can be summed up in two words: Eff off.

      • Kaine

        The state does not ‘impose’ high immigration. Further, high house prices beyond the reach of ordinary people are the historical norm in Britain, it was only the post-war, state-run slum clearance and building programmes that made home ownership widespread.

        • global city

          it does when it sends out the search parties in order to fill the place up…. as Mandy boasted.

          • Kaine

            The government doing the leg-work for the business community is not an imposition, it is a capitulation.

          • global city

            that has never really rung true.

            Common Purpose, politically correct, fetishists of the internationalist agenda 3rd way lalaland lunacy of nulabour exploiting the world’s poor to provide a pool of unending cheap labour for their corporate mates?

            The ideology goes deeper than mere money.

    • global city

      If the 1945 Labour party had took their inspiration from the Frankfurt school, rather than the Methodist chapel then they would never have got close to Downing St. They had their ‘internationalist’ rhetoric, but they were grounded in an honest, patriotic even, love of their country…. THIS country. They wanted to improve the lot of the working classes, not foment international revolution on the back of whackjob theory.

      The problem today is that Cameron is much more comfortable with Gramsci than Smith et al.

  • robert d

    Shocking piece once again pandering to NF and the NF Party. Pictured in solemn pose as if being ordained. All he’s doing is looking at what is unpopular and it becomes Ukip policy. In the benign was his word etc.

    Where is the information about Nigel Gill?

    WALES’ newly-elected Ukip MEP has admitted his family employed staff from Eastern Europe and the Philippines.

    Nathan Gill’s family business, based in Hull, was a residential care home which looked after people in their own homes and provided domiciliary care.

    He said he employed no “more than a couple of dozen overseas staff from over 180 employees” from abroad and secured appropriate work permits for them when he did so.

    Mr Gill said he was unsure of “precise figures” because they were employed “many years ago” and recruitment and training was not his responsibility.

    He said: “We had a high turnover of staff, as caring is a very demanding career. We ended up having to employ carers from the Philippines, and did this by acquiring appropriate work permits.”

    • Raddiy

      Are you really thick as sh*t or is it just your public persona.?

      • Ted Cunterblast

        I’d go with the first possibility.

      • robert d

        Such an educated turn of phrase.
        If you disagree with or don’t understand a point of view you revert to insults . How very Louise Bours.
        I dislike Ukip in the extreme because they are misleading voters into believing they are the party of the people with the guy next door image – they are demonstrably not so, e.g. Farage – public school boy, millionaire banker; Helmer – public school, Cambridge, wealthy businessman. And they twist their message to suit their own personal situations, prime example Nigel Gill.

  • tjamesjones

    Incidentally, this is why the NHS is so crap – because sensible reform means political death, parties that should know better go out of their way to say “yes, you know what, it’s not a problem to make something free at the point of delivery, that won’t waste resources.”

    • Kaine

      The NHS achieves higher levels of patient satisfaction, with some of the lowest spending in the OECD. It does this despite the fact that we Britons have some of the worst health in the developed world when it comes to chronic problems like obesity, alcoholism and mental illness.

      That the NHS does not collapse is a daily miracle, largely down to its staff.

      • tjamesjones

        I’d serve that up with a large grain of salt. Any data about national medical systems such as the NHS is almost hopelessly politicised, and dominated by the interests of interested parties – doctors and medical staff who want more funds, bureaucrats justifying their existence. And even at face value, although satisfaction is no bad thing, the only benchmark for most people is their previous experiences within the same system. eg If you’re used to waiting 1 hour after your appointment to see a doctor then you might report yourself as satisfied.
        Structurally, the NHS is a mess, because it has grown used to consuming more and more resources (4% in real terms every year since 1950. In real terms – source dept of health), and trying to deliver more and more services to yes an aging population. £130 billion this year. In Oz they spend $65 billion which at 1.8x exchange rate means UK spends 3.6x as much which is 30% more on per cap basis. Ask your Aussie friends if they think the NHS is better than medicare.

        • Kaine

          I would be intrigued as to where you got your statistics, as according to both the OECD and the WHO Australia spends more on health on a per capita basis than the UK.

          And I fundamentally agree that the NHS is a political project. The British people, when asked, value equality of access above absolute quality. That is, we are prepared to tolerate a slightly worse service, if everyone gets the same. We are simply not prepared to tolerate the ‘tiering’ of other countries.

          The NHS is cheap, and does a tremendous job of holding down healthcare costs. It also has the bulk to negotiate on parity with drugs companies, and to map health demographics over a large population.

          Addressing chronic health issues, many of which are deeply tied up with wider social inequalities, should of course be done. This however tends to be opposed as ‘interference’ by those rich enough to imagine they don’t need the social contract anymore.

          • tjamesjones

            I just took the budget figures for UK spending on heath and Oz spending on health (via a bit of googling). That’s where I got the 130gbp and 65aud and also the 2 populations. I then used current market exchange rates – the aussie is weaker than it has been, so a stronger aussie would imply greater health care spending (you can try to adjust for this stuff, e.g. with PPP rates, but whatever you do will have strengths and weaknesses).

            For what it’s worth: I agree that the NHS has political support across the majority of the population, and the political class recognises this by just accepting an ongoing real spending growth in spending in return for (largely) neutralising the question politically. But it isn’t a great service: labour asked the doctors if they’d like to stop working out of hours, and they said, yes, what a good idea. Appointments are scheduled with total disregard for the time of patients, in large part (IMO) because there is simply no disincentive for making an appointment in particular by those who have the time (the bored, the lonely, the elderly, the hypochondriac). Without a market mechanism, resources are allocated suboptimally and this I think is the result – if you make an NHS appointment you’re more than likely to spend an hour waiting (my own experience). At even a nominal £10 an appointment, I wonder how much that could improve.

      • global city


        It is only patients who suffer when people make those blind defences of the NHS.

        It’s status as shibboleth and principle of state control means that, for all the adjustments down the years, some core flaws cannot be fixed.

        • Kaine

          If you view the principle of treatment free at the point of use, allocated on the basis of clinical need rather than ability to pay, and given as a right to every citizen as a ‘flaw’, then no, you can’t change it without demolishing the system.

          Anything else is going to cost more.

  • coffeyp

    This must be the most rational article I have ever heard – LIBDEMs selling grandmothers – very non-emotive, rational and intelligent; but if you are trying to champion UKip – bigoted UKip – it would be difficult to rely upon the rational and intelligent to win an argument.

  • global city

    Bizarrely the BBC evening news has just broadcast a ‘not searingly anti UKIP’ story on last night’s by-election.

    Perhaps the world view is changing a tad down at PC central?

    probably not………………..!

  • global city

    Two of James’ colleagues have the MSM sussed.


    so many political analysts should hang their heads in shame.

  • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

    I’m amazed the Spectator aren’t getting behind UKIP, the Tories are history.

  • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

    I’m amazed the Spectator aren’t getting behind UKIP, the Tories are history.

  • gram64

    The problem with Farage’s new ‘all things to all men’ approach is that it is resulting in cases like this, which has caused much disquiet among UKIP members:


    • Streben80

      That is simply a case of not screening a candidate enough, it has nothing to do with the individual concerned but the people that put him there. It is certainly nothing to do with policy.

  • dalai guevara

    For UKIP to truly be a party of the people, it must deliver diverse messages and be *all things* to all people.
    Labour managed that under Bliar, I don’t think I remember the Tories doing that, ever. So I will now call to rephrase the headline:
    Farage needs to become his party’s Tony.

    That is the bitter truth.

  • Phil_Aterly

    Nige is one of the shrewdest political operators we’ve had in a long time and uniquely since Maggie, he operates in favour of this country. Although on the right, I fully support encompassing former Labour supporting blue collar voters, who are as little cared for or understood by Labour metroelites as conservatives are despised by the Cameroons.

  • Pier66

    Most people who vote Labour are not socialist, but something WORST pedophile, scum of the world

  • CraigET

    In this article you assume that people cannot change their minds about policy. That the aim of the game is to nit your policies together to agree with the majority of voters, this is exactly the attitude that has made government so dysfunctional.

    Thatcher was successful because she was able to convince people she would do best by them. UKIP (and government) should do the same; incentivise the immovable, encourage the movable and get out of the way of those who move.