UKIP’s policy framing

Another short post, as I’m off to Tbilisi today for a meeting of our INOTLES teaching project.

This week’s interesting news has been the change-over in the UKIP policy team, with Tim Aker moving on. Reputedly because of delays in the production of the party manifesto, Aker’s departure is newsworthy for two key reasons.

Firstly, it speaks to the continuing lack of decisiveness in the party about policy. At part of moving into a more mainstream position, there has long been a discussion about presenting a more mature set of policies to the public, so that the ‘one issue’ label can’t stick so well.

Even if Aker was being slow, the changeover to Suzanne Evans (who’s already written a text about the party) will have inevitable transition costs, not to mention creating the potential for more clashes over what policy should actually be.

And this is the second point. Personality clashes appear to be flavour of the month in the party, with Carswell and Farage at loggerheads, and Farage having to backtrack on NHS privatisation. This is driven by a tussle (rather than a fight) about the future of the party, between the libertarians and the populists. This is now a central question for UKIP and one that they will have to address if they are able to maintain their momentum past May.