Farage looks to Canada for inspiration

 
UKIP leader Nigel Farage Mr Farage is aiming high

George Osborne is not the only one looking to Canada for salvation; Nigel Farage is too.

But while the chancellor has merely hired a Canadian financier to run the Bank of England, the leader of UKIP is seeking to emulate a political revolution that swept the country in the 1990s.

You may remember the Canadian Reform Party. They were the populist, right-of-centre, small state, low tax, anglophone party that came from nowhere in 1993 to win 52 seats in Canada's federal parliament.

Reform routed the Conservative Party - which was left with just two seats - and soon became the official opposition. For years the right in Canada were split and the Liberal Party flourished until eventually Reform and its successors merged with the Conservatives.

Last week the UKIP leader travelled to Ottawa to meet the founder of Reform, Preston Manning, to find out how he did it, how a small, insurgent, west coast party took on the political establishment in the east of Canada and won.

Mr Farage shared a platform with John Howard, the former Australian prime minister, before an audience of 1,000 people at a conference run by Mr Manning's political foundation.

This is what Mr Farage told me he had learned:

1. The by-election that Reform won in 1989 was crucial in convincing voters that a vote for them was not as wasted vote. Expect UKIP to throw everything at its next chance for a seat in Parliament.

2. Reform had, he says, a good slogan - "A common sense revolution" - that reflected Reform's anti-establishment, blue collar agenda. Expect a similar slogan from UKIP in this summer's local elections.

3. Reform had a foundation, an organisation that promoted its views and carried out research. "There is a big gap in UKIP's armoury and that is a foundation," Farage says. "Margaret Thatcher had the IEA. We need a UKIP-friendly think tank."

4. Reform's greatest influence came in changing the Conservative Party with which it ultimately merged, in what Mr Farage, as a former City man, describes as a "reverse takeover". No one can ever say that UKIP's leader lacks ambition; he is clearly aiming high and long. "Doing a deal with the Conservatives is not uppermost on our agenda," he says. "It is not something I would consider until after the next election." But the idea has clearly crossed his mind.

Key fact: Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister of Canada, was first elected to the Canadian parliament in 1993. As a young MP for the Reform party.

Now that really is food for thought...

 
James Landale Article written by James Landale James Landale Deputy political editor

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  • Comment number 464.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 463.

    I moved to Canada more than 37 years ago - never regretted it. Preston Manning was the butt of many jokes while he was in politics - but he has a great sense of humour and joined in the jokes sometimes. Fellow Canadians will remember the Royal Canadian Air Farce .... He managed to shake up the Liberal party which had ruled Canada for many years - because they thought they had the right to rule.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 462.

    StuR
    33 MINUTES AGO
    Does the BBC deliberately only use pictures of Farage that make him look like Homer Simpson?

    Difficult not to, and he even has the political nous. He can't eve crash a plane properly.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 461.

    Our current ridiculous level of commitment to the EU is due to Mr & Mrs Blair. The UK debt is due to the trillions paid to the EU from '97 by Blair who was trying to buy himself the position of President of Europe.
    Trillions paid by Labour who taxed us almost to extinction to get our money and hand it over to the EU bottomless unaudited pit, without any shame about the consequences. Farage for PM

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 460.

    The liberal 'metropolitan' Left need to wise up if they think Ukip is a purely right wing phenomenon. More than a few tradnl Labour voters of the type that don't read the Guardian, don't eat ciabatta, don't care for immigration, think Miliband's a twerp, & don't know what HYS is, are starting to look favourably on Ukip. I'd put a few family & friends in that category.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 459.

    Yes, how about we all move to Canada, we've wrecked our old island.

    Cameron, Gideon, Clegg, Miliband and Blair can stay and make grand speeches to each other.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 458.

    UKIP is only important because it terrifies the other main parties, breaking up the cosy system of control that has existed for years. UKIP is unlikely to form a government, but stands a chance of holding the balance of power after the next election and will certainly ensure a vote on EU UK membership. We may just end up with something different rather than just an exchange of label CON to LAB.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 457.

    Instead of admiring Canada from a distance, why don't we all move there? It's 40 times the size of the UK, so they should be able to squeeze us in.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 456.

    Does the BBC deliberately only use pictures of Farage that make him look like Homer Simpson?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 455.

    UKIP have put the tories in a right old panic behind closed doors
    They could,nt win outright against Brown when Labour were dead in the water.What chance do they have when UKIP will take half of their votes next time.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 454.

    Ah UKIP, where insane, xenophobic, Tories go to get on Question Time. You think the Tories are bad now you should see the damage UKIP will do. Goodbye NHS, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, 2.8 Billion contributed by immigrants and €850.6m by the EU each year. Hello more money for bankers and big business. Be like living in Fritz Lang Metropolis

  • rate this
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    Comment number 453.

    If UKIP continue with common sense policies on immigration, EU and taxation then they will continue to attract voters from both main parties(I used to vote Labour) as UKIP don't duck issues and have MEP's and representatives that have held real jobs in the real world ignoring the pathetic trendy speak bleating of Tory's and Labour.If learning from Canada aids this,well worth a trip!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 452.

    No doubt the establishment are working on their propaganda against Farage right now.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 451.

    Ukip offer the opportunity for us to retain what little British independence and personality we have left. The only party to categorically oppose unaffordable HS2 too! All the major parties can offer is feeble puppetry. Just like a serious asteroid hit is overdue, so is a major political shake-up. The other parties just slag each other off for the sort of thing they would do themselves, farcical!

  • Comment number 450.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 449.

    348.Rich

    "...My fear is that in order to gain electoral success they will drop focus on spreading the truth about the EU..."

    ===

    It's quite hard to find the truth in the UK.

    That's because, as I read, there's no law under which an action can be brought for misrepresenting the EU, its officials or institutions. Quite a lot in our media seem to earn a good living doing just that.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 448.

    438. ToryBoy
    >Any idea why Nigel received an 'award' from the 'City'

    One of UKIP's main (unspoken) aims is make sure that people in the UK can ONLY borrow money from the CoL. Didn't know he'd got an award from them!

    He got "Politician of the Year" from MSN - 21% of the vote vs Cameron's 13% - but the runway winner of that poll was actually "None of the Above" - with 48% - which says it all.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 447.

    I just to be big on the EU until the 2004 extension into eastern Europe when the principle of freedom of movement of people suddenly became too one way.

    We urgently need a long hard look at the EU, immigration, asylum and settlement issue.

    For example, did you know a child born in the UK to an EU migrant gets a British passport?

    That sort of thing can't just be undone by an EU referendum.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 446.

    422.Knut Largerson

    Why does a party with no MPs get so much coverage?

    ===

    Perhaps to create enough froth to hide this:

    "The rating agency Fitch warns that it may downgrade the UK's credit rating in April following the cut in growth forecasts in this week's Budget".

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 445.

    If you think Liam fox and crew are neocons you should listen to farages ideas on the NHS and welfare

 

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