Sunday, 3 January 2010

Can Farage do better at Buckingham than Esther Ratzen does at Luton?

I have always thought UKIP's good performance in the 2004 Europeans came on the back of Kilroy Silk's huge media presence and popularity which moved UKIP up from 3 seats to 12 seats. Farage of course claimed much of the credit for this and all of the credit for the 2009 UKIP European performance. The real credit for UKIP's good 2009 performance of course belongs to the hundred plus LibLabCon MPs caught abusing their expenses and subjected to 2 months of relentless media scrutiny immediately pre June 2009 giving UKIP a huge protest vote. For sure it had nothing to do with Nigel Farage.

Now we have UKIP, lead by a political numpty, who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth and doing a brilliant job sabotaging the non-existent UKIP General Election campaign for his Tory pals and Farage running his own campaign in Tory Buckingham against Speaker Bercow, forced on the House of Commons by NuLabour. One of the worst exhibitions of political spite and cynicism I can remember. Bercow had a majority of 18000 in 2005 but the bookies have Farage at 4/1 so not out of the race.

Esther Rantzen, with possibly a bigger media presence than RKS, is now standing as an Independent in Luton South and running a very slick and professional campaign in a seat formerly held by Labour's Margaret Moran, one of those caught out in the second homes expenses scandal. Moran is not standing again so Labour will field a 'clean' candidate against Rantzen so unlike Farage she will not have the advantage of being up against a discredited and detested sitting MP. Moran had a 6000 majority in 2005, down from 10000 in the previous two elections.

Both are trying to emulate Martin Bell who in 1997 overturned a 16000 majority against disgraced cash for questions Tory MP Neil Hamilton. Farage's position is closer to that of Bell in Tatton in 97, a Tory seat, large majority and a disgraced MP as his opponent.

Rantzen has a clean opposition candidate in a Labour seat which I would rate a harder task than Farage's. So if she can pull it off it will show the power of having a media persona and confirm my view that 2004 was a Kilroy triumph. A Farage win would be a superb achievement but realistically I expect Rantzen to do better than Farage and the Farage media expertise myth to be shown up by a real professional. The debt UKIP owes RKS will then be clear for all to see and the possibility opens up of more genuinely independent MPs which would be a huge tonic for our devalued political system.

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