Richard North, 27/11/2012  

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The Guardian - employer of the likes of Monbiot – has a nerve complaining that Ukip is "seriously unserious", representing as it does a failing industry that has elevated trivia to the status of a religion.

That said, the paper does have a point. Although revelling in an unusually high level of publicity on the eve of an important by-election, Ukip is a political party which cannot even assemble a coherent policy on its core issue – leaving the European Union.

While its leader, Nigel "one trick" Farage, almost takes pride in his own superficiality, the heavy lifting is left to a disconsolate rump of zealots. These "guardians of the faith" grumble to themselves over an e-mail network, slapping down anyone who departs from the mantra of demanding an instant repeal of the European Communities Act. Theirs is the doctrine of immediate withdrawal from the European Union.

Thus, while the Guardian simply cannot help itself and sprays the epithet "Europhobe", like an incontinent dog marking its territory, it might be more appropriate for it to apply the suffix misia. It is "hate" rather than "fear" that is the driving force. 

"Euromisia" actually does have a certain ring to it, and to describe UKIP as including a band of unreformed "Euromisiacs" would not be wholly wrong – as long as one allows "Euro" as a stand-in for "European Union".

Meanwhile, the decidedly Europhilic Independent is acquiainting us with its latest ComRes poll. That tells us that a majority of people (54 percent) want Britain to leave the EU provided it could keep its close trade relationship with the bloc, while 36 percent disagree.

The finding, the paper says, suggests that Eurosceptics who want the UK to withdraw from the EU might be able to win an "in/out" referendum if they could persuade the public that trade ties with the other 26 EU members would not be damaged.

And there we have to return to the "seriously unserious" Ukip and its band of Euromisiacs – including "one trick" Farage – who, in demanding an immediate exit would have us maximise the disruption to our trade to such an extent that they give the game to the opposition.

Interestingly, in an attempt to limit the damage of their own making, one of the Euromisiac rump – by the name of Marcus Watney - yesterday circulated an e-mail asserting that Booker was "misinformed" in claiming that our membership of the Single Market is dependent on our membership of the EU.

Watney's thesis is that the agreement creating the European Economic Area is a stand-alone treaty, signed and ratified by a soveriegn UK. It would remain in force even after we had left the EU, and thus Britain would automatically remain a member of the EEA and the Single Market.

It took Booker gently to point out that the agreement is between EFTA and members of the European Union, defined as "contracting parties" (Article 2), and that, on leaving the EU, the UK would no longer conform with the definition of a "contracting party". It would thus fall outside the treaty.

Then there is the minor matter of Article 126 which makes clear that the agreement applies only to the territories defined by the EU treaties, and to the territories of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Kingdom of Norway. Once the UK had left the EU, its territory would no longer be part of the territories so defined.

Returning to the smugness of the Guardian, one finds it informing us that Ukip "deserves to be taken more seriously than it has been" – which is most certainly true. On the other hand, it adds, "Ukip should not be taken as seriously as some observers do", which is also true.

The loss-making Guardian anchors this assertion on the self-evident truth that most of Ukip's results do not match up to its claims. It has far fewer councillors than, say, the Green party. So far, it has no MPs either. Talk of Ukip surprise wins in the recent police and crime commissioner elections came to little.

The "real importance" of Ukip, therefore – according to the Guardian - "is as a permanent, single-issue temptation for anti-EU Tories, the net effect of which is to make the Tory party both increasingly unmanageable and increasingly unfit for office". 

Sadly, though, the one area where Ukip has shown itself to be of little importance is in developing a credible exit strategy for leaving the EU. Its leader today talks in the Telegraph of us being "decent people, who are fed up with the nannying, pettifogging overlordship of the grey bureaucracies", ironically referring to the machinations of a local authority bureaucracy which is entirely home-grown.

On the other hand, when it comes to getting rid of the "pettifogging overlordship" of European Union bureaucracies, Farage hasn't a clue. The "cheeky chappie" persona can disrupt, but he cannot construct. Until Ukip can come up with a credible EU exit plan, it will indeed remain "seriously unserious".

And that is serious.

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