The British centre-left has been tempted to ignore Ukip – the most powerful movement of organised stupidity in recent British history – even to welcome it in a quiet way. Conventional wisdom holds that Labour’s hopes of winning the next election depend on the rightwing vote splitting. Ukip are the splitters, who will let the left come through the middle in marginal seats.
Beyond electoral tactics lies a regard for populists who are anti-establishment. George Galloway may have crawled up the posteriors of half the dictators on the planet, while Alex Salmond may want to place barriers between the English and the Scots where none has existed for 300 years, but at least they are sticking it to the “system”. Likewise, Farage is a card, who hounds the professional politicians – and all those other pampered elitists who rip us off and ruin our lives.
A look at January 2014 shows that you have to forgive and forget a great deal before you can treat Ukip with anything other than hostility.