However, accidents and near-misses have a habit of endearing people to you, despite your reservations. I can never see Norman Tebbit without remembering the awful image of him being lifted out of the rubble of the Grand Hotel, Brighton in his pyjamas, caked in dust and with a look of anguish on his face. He was never Vlad the Impaler after that. And Farage's plane crash on election day has had the same effect. I feel rather fond of the old boy.
This comes at rather a good time. I had the strong feeling that the country I grew up in and loved had gone in a different and very wrong direction, and away from me, in the last 13 years of Labour. I had high hopes for the coalition, after their promises to roll back the database state and have a bonfire of unnecessary laws. And of course there was the 'cast-iron' guarantee of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Heh.
I do not have unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved and how quickly. I don't expect the coalition to bring back the Golden Age in the first 12 months of office. But there are depressing signs that things are perhaps not going to be done quite as I had hoped. A lot of quangos are to be axed, but an awful lot will be spared too. There is no sign of the Government tackling the spiteful bias of the BBC's news and current affairs output. Nothing was done before the announcement of the Spending Review, which allowed the BBC to colour the whole affair as 'the terrible cuts', and any action taken now won't repair the damage that the coverage did to the public's view of the events. Maybe they won't do anything. Call Me Dave seems to have kowtowed to the EU just as much as Blair and Brown, although with less visible enthusiasm.
I have always voted for the party that stands a realistic chance of effecting the kind of politics that I want, which is why I haven't ever voted for minority parties. Last May, the Conservatives seemed to be the party that was offering something close to what I wanted, and they had a good chance of forming a government and being able actually to do something. I'm not writing them off yet - for all their faults, they are a million miles better then the last lot of hucksters and criminals - but I am starting to feel a lot of disappointment at their lack of activity on certain things that I regard as vitally important, specifically
- cutting the BBC down to size and making it politically neutral once more
- standing up for British interests abroad, and especially with the EU
- starting to reform the law in favour of the law-abiding majority and not the terrorist and the criminal
- "That government is best which governs least".
Farage talks a good talk, and isn't afraid to say what ordinary people are thinking, without the self-censorship that most politicians indulge in. I still hold out hope that the coalition will do some good things, and maybe even start working towards a Britain that I will recognise as my own. But their time is running out for me, and if they lose my confidence and support, UKIP is likely to be the beneficiary.
It's easy to look at small, single-issue parties and see the lack of proportion and paucity of talent. You may agree with everything the BNP says, for example, but would you want them in charge of the economy? Really? Of all the minor parties, UKIP seem the most coherent and competent. And, if Cameron can't or won't deliver what the country needs, how much worse would they be? At least we know what they stand for.
I haven't changed my voting intentions yet, but I can now see a time when I might.