UKIP swung into the limelight in 2014, capturing the nations attention with “traditionally conservative values” and the aim of leaving the EU. Much of their popularity was not a result of their policies, it was a result of people deriding them as “fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists.” Their shiny new manifesto opens by reminding us that “UKIP is at its best when it is being radical,” a point I whole-heartedly agree with – so long as we are defining ëbestí as the amount of time one gets on the telly being laughed at. Though it seems odd to think of, the notion of leaving the European Union was considered radical, and was certainly presented as such by the media during the rise of UKIP; it was arguably their status as outsiders that made UKIP so popular, the first sign of the trend we later saw reach itís peak with Donald Trump.
Reading through UKIP’s manifesto now though, that revolutionary feel has completely departed. Very little has changed between their last manifesto and this one, and even to a Leave voter such as myself, their arguments for leaving the EU without triggering Article 50 sound like a desperate attempt to stay relevant. The rest of their policies also offer none of the severe distinction that contributed to their previous fame: scrapping tuition fees for STEM students and pledging more affordable housing. Nearly all of their plans and ideas are covered in either the Labour or the Conservative manifestos.
The lack of excitement and passion is clearly visible in the election result. In fact, the only place where UKIP has any sort of popularity left (aside from the BBC, which seems to be under the impression they are still very relevant) is in the European Parliament, where they still hold the majority of this country’s seats. However, as it appears UKIP will be getting their wishes regarding Europe, even this last foothold of power is unlikely to last much longer.
Perhaps if they had tried to re-brand as a party that offered something exciting and new, they could have clung on to their last shreds of relevance. It seems instead that UKIP and the LibDems have had the same problem this election: the vote on Europe has already happened. Nobody wants this election to be another.