When, in October, I suggested that Kerry Smith may have been sacked as UKIP candidate for South Basildon & East Thurrock to make way for Neil Hamilton, I was bloody joking.
But apparently UKIP are so much of a joke that they took it seriously, and came perilously close to selecting the disgraced former Tory MP for Tatton. In the end though, they seem to have gone for some bloke by the name of Kerry Smith.
Yep. The self-same candidate they deselected not two months ago.
It’s a universal truth that all political parties are coalitions. The Labour Party, for example, is a coalition of old Labour traditional socialists to modernist “Blairite” factions and everything in between. The Conservatives have (a declining faction of) one-nation-type Tories, ideological Thatcherites, and further right almost-nationalist types.
The Liberal Democrats are still broadly divisible into the Liberals and the SDP, with a mix of those who joined when they were a left-of-Labour party, and have since pretty much melted away. And the Greens are an alliance between the middle-class, tree-hugging liberals of old, and old socialist elements floating around since Kinnock declared war on Militant Tendency.
But UKIP — UKIP have perfect the mongrel art of the political party. Farage is a sometime-Thatcherite, with a taste for the little Englander world-view, whilst UKIP’s first, and at time of print sole, MP is more of a classic liberal. And in elections in the north of England, they have been manoeuvring to be an Old Labour replacement.
So with such a varied composition, it can be no surprise that there are ideological fault-lines all over UKIP’s topography. And they seem to be coming to a particular head in South Essex.