What happens to a movement after it incorporates a street-protest element? I’ve adapted the game-theory outcomes from the Radical flank effect page on Wikipedia. This effect applies to movements with two flanks, political and violent – organisations like the ANC or the IRA. Obviously this isn’t UKIP, but the possibility of violence, the recognition that violence is a feature of a possible future, makes it relevant.
What Batten is doing, it seems pretty clear, is not looking away from this possible future. He isn’t dismissing the aspirations of a swathe of the population because it occasionally becomes King Mob. In fact, offering a home within a liberal political organisation – one with solid liberal political theory behind it and some talented communicators to put it over – is deradicalising.
But by recognising that when liberalism and democracy fail, violence likely follows, UKIP becomes associated with violence. UKIP has acquired a virtual violent wing.
What does a mixed insurgent movement do? Its violent side reaches past the electorate to extract concessions from government on behalf of its moderate side, and the government may or may not give in. What can this spiced-up UKIP do? It once again needs to have voters concede something – their votes: and the voters may or may not give them up. And it needs the government to get thinking about riots so it concedes meaningful reforms. This appeal to voters separately from government is, perhaps, a problem.
The outcomes depend upon the relative strengths of UKIP’s persuasion against other persuaders.
If UKIP stays mild:
1. Voters persuaded by mild-UKIP: UKIP grows. (This didn’t happen. Although has it really been tried?)
2. Voters reject mild-UKIP:
a. Voters have strong opinions: UKIP defeated & ignored. (This didn’t happen either. Again, has it really been tried?)
b. Voters are apathetic: UKIP becomes radicalised. (This is what is happening. The public debate is full of lies, evasion and make-believe. And you might say that UKIP has been apathetic and left itself open to takeover.)
So we come to the outcomes for two-flank-UKIP.
UKIP allies with radicals like TR:
1. Voters persuaded by spiced-up-UKIP: UKIP grows.
2. Voters reject spiced-up-UKIP:
a. Voters have strong opinions: UKIP discredited & destroyed.
b. Voters are apathetic: UKIP wins..?
If voters are persuaded by spiced-up-UKIP and there’s high polarisation with a strong opposing side, the opposing side can point to the radicals in order to hurt the moderates. This is the case. With UKIP allied to street protestors, it’s public opinion around TR, the lower class, Islam etc that’s key, and there’s a wall of entrenched opinion / prejudice to break through. How many people will see past it? How robust is it? What resources is UKIP using to persuade people around it?
I’d be a bit gloomy about the answers. Fear and envy are powerful tools – you can feel it yourself when you read “Y-L’s making a fortune, he just bought a big house..”.
In my one and only previous article for UKIPD I pleaded for the MEPs to churn out media, podcasts, etc: they didn’t do this. Their persuasion game is weak. Among paid-up Kippers it completely relies on Sargon, as far as I can see, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong places. And culturally the street protests are very weak – just chanting, miming drag acts, bad stand-up comics, and a sing-along to Hallelujah. Football is not culture, IMVHO.
Voters could reject spiced-up-UKIP. With insurgent groups, this is the line marked ‘Victory’: the insurgents seize power from a weak government. Now, people and governments both certainly agree to change weak-conviction behaviour when a motivated and implacable minority demands it. But do people vote to do so? Because voting is a positive act, I can’t see it. What they do is stay at home.
Therefore it’s all about persuasion. Persuade who? First of all, the Gammon* have to persuade themselves – some kind of deep and fast cultural shift, something which is of objectively high virtue and is outside of family bonds. Traditionally we stuck to our own domains, the vicar dealt with the theology, the farmhand dealt with the cows and his children. Now the farmhand has to do the theology as well.
Hallelujah is nearly a hymn, but it’s not quite. We’ll see if any thundering preachers take the stage on the 9th.
*Gammon – an insulting term describing red-faced conservative men and Ukippers ranting about Brexit.