Yesterday afternoon, I visited my mother, and elder brother Toby also dropped by. He was a UKIP local council candidate in the recent elections, and did quite well, that is to say about as well as UKIP candidates did in the rest of the non-London southern part of England.
He said a number of interesting things, interesting to me anyway. He said that the EU’s accounts have not been audited for a decade (i.e. it is a criminal gang, financially speaking). He said that when canvassing, you do not waste time by arguing. You just say you are from UKIP and say please vote for us, and leave it at that. (Talk about their flowers.) He said that Kilroy had helped UKIP a lot. He said that UKIP had done well in a great doughnut, so to speak, of places which are not London itself, but which are all around London – the South East, the South West, the Midlands, East Anglia. He said that UKIP people and Conservative people get along really well with each other, and that the Conservatives often now talk and behave as if they and UKIP are on the same side, which for all practical purposes most Conservative activists are. (UKIP gives them a stick to beat their leaders with, and an exit if their beating up of their leaders gets nowhere.)
I found all this pretty interesting, although maybe this was because he is my brother, and we have always got on well, and also because I do not now read the newspapers as avidly as I might, every day.
But the most interesting thing Toby said concerned UKIP’s money. UKIP has, he said, a lot of money. Electoral politics is like warfare. You need lots of soldiers, and you deploy them where they will make the most difference. You do not ask these soldiers to convince anyone of anything. You do that with posters and advertisements, which bombard the public with your message, and, just as important, influence your media coverage, which results in the media also spreading your message reasonably accurately and sympathetically. (Nothing like a few full page adverts in a newspaper to get them to cut out the worst of their lies and sneers about you.) UKIP did a lot of advertising before the last lot of elections – plus there was Kilroy of course – and this meant that whereas, when he canvassed a year ago, Toby had to explain what UKIP was, this time all he had to say was: vote UKIP. UKIP, he said, got massive and excellent media coverage this time around – “more than we deserved” was, I think, the phrase he used. Unlike before, when UKIP got a lot less than it deserved. Whatever deserving means, in this context.
Like warfare, electoral politics takes money. The more you have of it (assuming you spend it properly), the better you will do.
Now here is the interesting bit. In Toby Micklethwait’s opinion (this is all it is so make of this what you will) UKIP has now and is going to have in the next few years a lot of money – more, he said, that the other parties. More than the Conservatives? More than Labour? Yes, he said. More than any of the others.
How come? Well, simply, most of the business people of Britain support UKIP. They hate the EU and they want out. Maybe not the big business people. But in terms of the sheer number of businesses, the majority of them support UKIP. The majority of the people whose job description is “Managing Director” want Britain out of the EU.
And these people, says Toby, between them, when you add them all up, have more politics money than anyone else. People in general do not have much spare cash. Labour supporters make a positive virtue out of not having much spare cash. Ditto the Lib Dems, and the Greens. Even (although we did not talk about this – this is an addition to the point by me) the executives of big businesses do not have much in the way of money which they control and which they can dispose of as they please. Big business people used to have a ton of discretionary money, but not any more. No, it is the “small” business folk, the individual capitalists, the people who can afford weekend boats and fancy houses with garages for three cars, and three cars, who have the money. A few thousand from this guy, and another few thousand from this guy – that is how political money is now raised, and UKIP is, at the moment, better at this than anyone else, because these people, of all people, now hate Britain being in the EU – hate it, hate it – and are willing to spend big money – boat money, car money – to damn well buy whatever it will take to get Britain out of the EU.
Toby’s UKIP-optimism cannot be rational unless UKIP also knows how to spend its money, and in this connection Toby attaches great importance to the fact that one of the things UKIP has spent its money on is a guy called Dick Morris. Yeah, him. Bill Clinton’s electoral strategist. The very same. And Max Clifford, the guy the British celebs or media wannabes/victims all go to when their lives go pear-shaped and they need to handle their media profile with maximum canniness. He has been working with UKIP as well.
Morris and Clifford and UKIP has been (read the final sentence there) noted by the big media, he said. But the simple money thing has not, he said. I said: Can I quote you on all this? Pause. Then: Yes.
I hope he is right. What he is basically saying, to quote Ronald Reagan (and to indulge in a form of grammar that Samizdata’s editors now strongly discourage but which I hope they will forgive this once), is: You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.