Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Fwd: The Anti Europeanist

Expand Messages
  • Greg Cannon
    from the new york times January 9, 2005 The Anti Europeanist By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL I. The Raging Squire Last month, Robert Kilroy-Silk -- the best-known
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 9, 2005
      from the new york times

      January 9, 2005
      The Anti Europeanist

      I. The Raging Squire

      Last month, Robert Kilroy-Silk -- the best-known
      member of Britain's most-talked-about political party,
      the anti-European U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) --
      found himself being covered in animal feces by an
      angry stranger. The bucket-wielding assailant ambushed
      Kilroy-Silk on his way to a radio appearance in
      Manchester, shouting something about avenging
      Kilroy-Silk's controversial remarks on Islam. It was
      good that he did, because people dislike Kilroy-Silk
      for such a great variety of reasons that not stating
      your grievance directly would risk misunderstanding.

      In elections for the European Parliament on June 10,
      UKIP (pronounced ''you kip'') won 12 of the United
      Kingdom's 78 seats. (Turnout was 38 percent, up
      significantly from the last European parliamentary
      election.) UKIP's stated goal was to pull Britain out
      of that very Parliament -- in fact, out of the
      European Union altogether. Much of UKIP's success can
      be attributed to Kilroy-Silk, who was elected to
      represent the Midlands in the European Parliament. He
      came to the party after years of wild success as a
      morning-TV-talk-show host. UKIP activists tend to be a
      little odd or to have curious private theories about
      this or that; Kilroy-Silk, while highly opinionated
      and eccentric enough in his way, was at ease striding
      the national stage. By the end of summer, he was
      striking fear into the once proud Conservative Party.
      It is just possible that he and UKIP will transform
      the politics of Britain and of Europe.

      Kilroy-Silk lives at Beel House, a 17th-century manor
      in Buckinghamshire (when he isn't at his spread in
      Marbella, Spain). The house's previous owners include
      Ozzy Osbourne and Dirk Bogarde. You approach the place
      down a wooded driveway of about a quarter-mile that
      ends in a ring of coral-colored pebbles beneath
      several gargantuan cedars of Lebanon, their lower
      boughs carefully propped on posts. ''Politics has
      never been my whole life,'' Kilroy-Silk said in the
      front room. ''A very important part. But I've always
      had a lot of other interests. Look around you.'' There
      was a herd of fallow deer across a meadow. Out back
      were the Vietnamese pheasants and bantams that
      Kilroy-Silk breeds.

      At 62, he is an exotically handsome man, with a very
      un-English facial glow and ice blue eyes. Arguments
      rage in British gossip columns over whether he
      achieves his coloring through tanning lamps or creams.
      ''Tangerine man,'' Boris Johnson, editor of The
      Spectator and a Tory member of the British Parliament,
      calls him.

      Kilroy-Silk was born in 1942, the son of a navy hand
      named William Silk, who was killed in action the
      following year. His mother married Silk's friend John
      Kilroy, hence the hyphenated name. Robert was brought
      up in a tough working-class neighborhood in
      Birmingham. When he told me of the big gatherings that
      his extended family now enjoys at Beel House, he noted
      with some pride that his relations live in public
      housing: ''Every one of them lives in a council house,
      or a council house that they bought, and they're
      virtually all manual labor.''

      After studying politics and economics at the London
      School of Economics, Kilroy-Silk was, for seven years,
      at the height of student unrest in the late 60's and
      early 70's, a university lecturer in political
      philosophy. This stage of his life appears to
      embarrass him a bit. When asked if he was on a path to
      a career in academia, he answered with a quick: ''No!
      My whole interest from age 16 -- from earlier -- was
      politics.'' He taught a course on political philosophy
      from Aristotle to Marx, but he is proudest of the
      course he taught on modern political ideologies, which
      he describes as ''communism-socialism-anarchism-global
      village-Daniel Bell. . . . ''

      For a dozen years after 1974, he held a seat in the
      British Parliament for the Labor Party. On his way to
      Westminster to take his seat, he told a filmmaker he
      would like to be prime minister within 15 years. No
      one dismissed him as nuts. ''If he'd stayed true to
      the Labor Party, he'd be in the cabinet now,''
      Britain's minister for Europe, Dennis MacShane, told

      Instead, Kilroy-Silk went on TV. In 1986, BBC
      producers, hoping to imitate the success of Phil
      Donahue in America and fascinated by the phenomenon of
      Oprah Winfrey, turned Kilroy-Silk into ''Kilroy,'' as
      his show was called. It was patterned exactly on its
      American models, right down to a peripatetic format
      and topics that lurched between the mawkish and the
      lurid: sex addicts, adopted people seeking their birth
      families, does astrology work?

      Women, particularly working-class women, loved Kilroy.
      The quality press, if it dealt with him at all,
      dismissed him. The Times of London called him ''the
      most unctuous man in broadcasting.'' But he also
      occasionally did shows on, for example, the
      international arms trade. To the smarminess that comes
      with the territory, he added something tougher and
      smarter than an American would expect under the
      circumstances: an in-your-face, working-class
      common-sensicality that made him more like a
      hard-bitten, boned-up newspaper columnist than a TV
      presenter. Indeed, he turned to column writing too --
      first in a serious way for The Times in the late 80's,
      later in a piece-o'-my-mind grab bag of populist
      gripes, which he writes for The Sunday Express to this

      Kilroy-Silk's television success might also have
      continued had not his secretary, last January,
      mistakenly re-sent a nine-month-old column to The
      Sunday Express, which reprinted it under a new
      headline, ''We Owe Arabs Nothing.'' The column had
      failed to draw much attention the first time it was
      published. The second time around, the uproar was
      immediate from Muslim groups. Of the Arabs,
      Kilroy-Silk wrote:

      ''Few of them make much contribution to the welfare of
      the rest of the world. Indeed, apart from oil -- which
      was discovered, is produced and is paid for by the
      West -- what do they contribute? Can you think of
      anything? . . . What do they think we feel about them?
      . . . That we admire them for the coldblooded killings
      in Mombasa, Yemen and elsewhere? That we admire them
      for being suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women

      The BBC suspended Kilroy-Silk and then forced him to

      A few months later, he was a U.K. Independence Party
      member and a candidate for the European Parliament. It
      was a natural fit. Kilroy-Silk has been skeptical of
      European integration since his Labor days and liked
      UKIP's nonconformist verve. Meanwhile, his firing had
      upset many viewers. His arrival in UKIP married his
      buzz to the party's and drew support from Joan Collins
      and other conservative celebrities. In the June
      elections for the European Parliament, the Tory and
      Labor parties together took less than half the British
      vote. UKIP's taking 16 percent and a dozen seats (of
      732 Europe-wide) meant its delegation was almost as
      large as that of Ireland or Denmark. Suddenly British
      opposition to the European Union was unignorable. It
      was even a bit chic.

      As for Kilroy-Silk, he was again in the limelight,
      having won back everything he had lost with his
      departure from the BBC, and then some. Suddenly he was
      a pivotal figure in the party -- not just as a
      publicity gimmick but as a tactician and theoretician.
      With his Labor pedigree, he could pull voters out of
      the woodwork where no one in UKIP had thought to look
      for them -- he even insisted forcefully on the need to
      welcome ethnic minorities into the British political
      family. And he seemed -- for the first time in his
      professional life, perhaps -- to be part of a
      thoroughly sympathetic fellowship, a band of grateful
      allies who would never fire him for lapses against
      political correctness. He was not breeding resentment
      and bruising egos. But that was before he sought to
      take over the party.

      UKIP, like many rejectionist parties elsewhere in
      Europe, sees the nation as under threat from a distant
      clan of nit-picking, overeducated, privileged liberal
      bureaucrats for whom the European Union is the
      culmination of humankind's political evolution. Often,
      but not always, such parties combine nativism with
      class resentment. They tend to rely on a charismatic
      figure to give them direction. Kilroy-Silk seems born
      for that task. His career and his worldview have a lot
      to do with the embitterment that Britain's class
      system still leaches into the country's politics.
      Journalists snicker at his ''unmistakable Brummie
      accent,'' Brummies being people from Birmingham.
      Kilroy-Silk's fellow Brummie Judy Rumbold wrote in The
      Guardian, ''My theory is that when, rarely, Brummies
      are lucky enough to be given a platform, they are
      outspoken and bumptious in an attempt to cover up or
      overcompensate for the shortfalls in their intonation
      and what is perceived by many to be a serious lack of
      intellectual clout.''

      Just as a strong European Union could wind up bringing
      back the pre-Thatcher British malaise of
      overregulation, in the view of many UKIPpers, so the
      bien-pensant snobs who promote the European ideal
      could be reasserting a version of the old
      country-house condescension. Kilroy-Silk is well
      heeled, well read and well dressed, but social
      condescension may be the only thing that can make him
      express hatred. ''I hate authority that isn't
      accountable,'' he told me. And: ''I hate snobs.'' And
      later: ''I can't abide anybody who talks down.''

      Against a background of phoniness, snobbery and class
      conflict, the popular media can look like a way out.
      Phonies talk about things like European convergence;
      real people watch shows like ''Kilroy.'' ''The British
      people are fed up with being lied to,'' Kilroy-Silk
      said. ''I know it from my show for 17 years.'' The
      show, to him, was one long focus group.

      But media success is not the same as political
      success, and Kilroy-Silk's chat-show buoyancy may lead
      him to alienate yet another constituency: his fellow
      members of the European Parliament. In Brussels in
      late October, the president of the parliamentary
      chamber threatened to have him ejected when, in the
      tense moments before a scheduled vote on whether to
      accept the candidates for a new European commission,
      Kilroy-Silk began pounding his desk and hollering:
      ''Oi! Oi! Is this a proper parliament?'' Graham
      Watson, the British leader of the liberal-democrat
      grouping, sneered, ''I'm quite ashamed that Britain is
      known for its football hooligans and even more so when
      I see their political representatives here in
      II. Cranks, Weirdos and Gadflies

      ''The man on the Clapham omnibus may not understand
      the legal difference between obligations under treaty
      and obligations under a constitution,'' Godfrey Bloom,
      a UKIP member of the European Parliament, or M.E.P.,
      was saying. He was sitting in the lobby of the Thistle
      Hotel in Bristol during a Sunday morning lull in
      UKIP's annual convention in October. ''But the English
      people know when they're being conned.''

      Bloom is an emblematic figure in UKIP. He is smart,
      good-natured and moderate in many of his positions. He
      has a central worry as a member of Parliament and as
      the investment-fund manager he is in civilian life:
      namely, that the European Union will reimpose much of
      the business-killing regulation that Britain broke
      free of only after a decade of strife over

      This is not an outre position. But in a UKIP man's
      hands it can begin to seem quirky. When Bloom insists
      that he is sincerely outraged over an issue like the
      requirement that British butchers use the metric
      system, or when his fellow member of the European
      Parliament Jeffrey Titford claims to shudder at the
      prospect of British athletes competing in the Olympics
      under the European flag, it is hard to tell whether
      they mean it or are having a little joke. Mike
      Nattrass, the party's deputy leader and a European
      M.E.P., speculated in the fall, a few days after the
      Beslan massacre, that Britain's position in the
      European Union was not unlike Chechnya's in Russia.
      ''I hope we never have to fight our way out,'' he
      said. Another UKIP European M.E.P., Tom Wise, has said
      he doesn't think any plane hit the Pentagon on Sept.
      11, 2001, and refers baffled interlocutors to a French
      Web site for the proof. Steve Reed, chairman of one
      UKIP chapter, wrote to The Yorkshire Post defending
      oil over alternative energy on environmentalist
      grounds. ''Fossil-fuels are constantly being produced
      on the tectonic conveyor-belt,'' he explained, whereas
      ''taking energy from winds and tides irreversibly
      enervates the weather system and slows the rotation of
      the Earth.''

      UKIP's annual party conference was not designed to
      ease worries about the party's seriousness. Out in the
      lobby at the convention hall, Ben Buckland, a
      kilt-wearing bookshop owner from a small town in
      Northern Ireland, who earlier that morning marched the
      M.E.P.'s down the aisle with a bagpipe fanfare,
      revealed that he had always been skeptical of those
      who considered European union a Catholic conspiracy
      until he read Adrian Hilton's ''Principality and Power
      of Europe,'' which one of the makeshift bookstalls was
      selling, along with volumes comparing the European
      Union to the Holy Roman Empire and the Third Reich and
      subscriptions to This England magazine (the patriotic
      quarterly ''for all who love our green and pleasant

      Nearby were photographic shrines featuring some of the
      celebrities who have endorsed UKIP: Joan Collins, who
      clarified in October that she was a ''patron'' of the
      party, as opposed to a ''supporter''; the former
      cricketer Geoffrey Boycott; and (a zealot until his
      death in April) Norris McWhirter, editor of the
      Guinness World Records book. There was no such
      publicity for the party's smattering of former Tory
      M.P.'s (like Piers Merchant and Jonathan Aitken) whose
      careers have been stalled by various scandals. The
      American political consultant Dick Morris, who joined
      UKIP as a strategist two years ago, when both he and
      the party were down on their luck, was at the Bristol
      convention, over near the bar, meeting a
      bemused-looking Kilroy-Silk for the very first time.

      At Beel House, when I had remarked to Kilroy-Silk,
      ''There's one thing I found strange about your party .
      . . ,'' he flashed a broad smile and interrupted, with
      mock astonishment: ''Only one? I've found many.''
      III. Should Brussels Worry?

      The European Union has been around in some form for
      half a century, but the Continent's nonbureaucratic
      citizens are only just beginning to take it seriously.
      From a group of six nations that joined in the 50's to
      bind France and Germany together through a
      coal-and-steel union, ''Europe,'' as it is confusingly
      called, grew gradually into a larger European Economic
      Community. Britain -- after being vetoed in the 60's
      by Charles de Gaulle -- signed up in 1973, and its
      citizens passed a referendum approving membership two
      years later. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty committed the
      countries to turning the economic union into a
      political one. By 2007, the 25 countries in today's
      European Union should have either signed or rejected a
      constitution meant to set the stage for a unified
      European government that may eventually make policy on
      economics, diplomacy and defense.

      Europe's citizens differ sharply on whether this is
      truly a good idea, with feelings varying from country
      to country. In Denmark, which barely accepted the
      Maastricht Treaty and (like Britain) chose not to
      abandon its currency for the euro, attitudes toward
      Europe can be quite hostile. In Spain, whose economy
      was modernized largely thanks to European ''structural
      funds'' (subsidies), the European Union wins steady
      majority support. But Europe's governing classes are
      not similarly split. ''Europeanism'' is the policy of
      all the mainstream left and right parties in most of
      Europe's major countries. The many Europeans who are
      suspicious of the entire project complain of a
      ''democratic deficit.'' This creates a rich vein of
      opportunity for populism, and Kilroy-Silk is a master
      at working it. At his Manchester radio appearance, the
      one where he had been showered with dung just before
      arriving, he harped on the cabinet of the British
      prime minister, Tony Blair, assailing its members for
      being an unaccountable elite who impose ''one standard
      for them, another for the rest of us.''

      The nature of popular resistance to European
      integration (or ''Euroskepticism'') varies widely. In
      France, it includes a powerful corner of the Socialist
      Party, which fears that the constitution will drag
      France into free-market arrangements that could
      destroy its social compact. Resisting, too, is
      Jean-Marie Le Pen's fascistic National Front, which
      fears the erosion of Frenchness -- cultural and
      demographic -- that will result from the European
      Union's bias toward open borders and (again) free
      markets. The resistance also includes a party led by
      the European M.E.P. and aristocrat Philippe de
      Villiers, who works closely with UKIP. De Villiers has
      built a history theme park in Puy du Fou that includes
      a sound-and-light show about the Vendee uprising
      against the French revolutionary government, which
      began in 1793 and brought tens of thousands of common
      citizens into alliance with royalists -- and the
      lessons of the uprising are not lost on Euroskeptics.
      The park draws 20,000 visitors a day in the summer.

      Such resistance, in all its variety, is replicated
      across Europe. Poland's Euroskeptics include
      anti-Semites and Poles worried about the European
      Union threat to the United States-Polish defense
      relationship. There are Swedish Greens, fearful Greek
      monks and Czechs who want to give their country a
      chance to breathe after the cold war before seeing it
      swallowed up in another (albeit more benign)
      multinational empire. As a result, an intense
      public-relations game is played out in every European
      country. For the anti-European camp, resistance is a
      matter of despising things that it is healthy to
      despise -- like unaccountable bureaucrats and
      arbitrary regulation. For the pro-European camp,
      resistance to ever greater union is a matter of
      despising things that it is noxious to despise -- like
      foreigners, particularly dark-skinned ones. As the
      former European external-affairs commissioner Chris
      Patten put it: UKIP, in its rejection of Europe,
      embodies ''a particularly unattractive, blazered
      xenophobia. They live in a fantasy world of
      conspiracies against gallant Blighty, white cliffs,
      Dambusters, Panzer helmets, a world in which every
      foreigner is a threat, a world which is totally at
      variance with the one in which we have to earn our
      living and keep the peace.''

      British Euroskepticism is particularly important
      because it involves a global tug of war. Many
      Europeans hope that a united Europe will be large
      enough to compete with the United States for world
      leadership. Britain's full integration would be
      necessary for Europe to function as such a superstate.
      For one thing, London has the only world-class
      financial-services sector in Europe. For another,
      although France spends as much as Britain on its army,
      only Britain's military has the experience to fight at
      an American level. At the same time, American
      influence in Europe greatly depends on Britain's not
      disappearing into a generic ''European'' identity. A
      baseline pro-Americanism is certainly the norm in
      UKIP. Kilroy-Silk, however strident his patriotism,
      regrets not having gone to graduate school at Harvard,
      admitting, ''I might never have come back.''

      British Euroskepticism is also particularly intense.
      Many Britons claim -- not without ample evidence --
      that their thousand-year-old constitutional tradition
      has a better track record of guarding liberties than
      the Continental traditions that provided most of the
      basis for the European Union. The unease that results
      when local eccentricities are flattened out by
      globalization is present in all countries, but Britain
      is a place with more eccentricities than most. The
      European Union can be a convenient scapegoat for the
      end of a world of cooked breakfasts, drafty houses,
      nondecimal currency and afternoon tea and its
      disorienting replacement by a world of gay rights,
      immigration, espresso and laws against smoking. There
      is a strong mood of longing for the past among
      Britons. And unlike most continental powers, Britain
      has no shameful World War II past, the specter of
      which pro-Europeans can wave in front of voters
      elsewhere as a tried-and-true means of checking
      patriotic nostalgia.

      Euroskepticism runs across the British political
      spectrum. Its two leading champions over the past
      half-century were arguably the late Enoch Powell on
      the right of the Tory Party and Tony Benn on the left
      of Labor. (Kilroy-Silk has some admiration for Benn,
      but he was embarrassed by the way even his Labor
      colleagues deferred before Powell's erudition and
      high-flown oratory.) In recent years, Euroskepticism
      has been stronger on the right, and has threatened to
      break up any Conservative electoral coalition that
      tries to hold a middle-of-the-road position on the
      European Union. So Tories were in a panic when they
      gathered for their party conference at Bournemouth in
      early October. What the Tories saw in UKIP was a Nader
      effect writ large. The winnability of dozens of Tory
      seats in coming British national elections --
      including that of Oliver Letwin, the shadow chancellor
      of the exchequer and a Tory rising star -- now
      appeared to depend on whether a UKIP Euroskeptic ran
      and siphoned off Tory votes.

      David Davis, the shadow home secretary and
      Tory-party-leader-in-waiting, set at 50 the number of
      seats the Tories could lose as a result of UKIP's
      diluting the conservative vote. The American-style
      conservative John Redwood, brought into the party
      leadership to revivify the Euroskeptic current, urged
      stealing UKIP's clothes. So did the party's
      co-chairman Liam Fox, whose remarks at a private party
      meeting had been secretly taped and published in The
      Times of London. ''The No. 1 issue to get UKIP voters
      back to the Conservatives is immigration and asylum,''
      Fox reportedly said. When they used the term Europe,
      ''what they meant was foreigners, a lot of them, to be
      frank. It is acceptable to say, 'I am anti-Europe.' It
      is not acceptable to say, 'I am anti-immigrant.'''

      Many top Tories, however, took solace in the hope that
      UKIP's Euroskeptic politicians, even if they were
      sitting on a gold mine of potential votes, would have
      no clue what to do with it.
      IV. Who Dares, Wins

      It was obvious even before June's European Parliament
      election that many of the people flooding into UKIP
      belonged to Kilroy-Silk more than they belonged to the
      party. Naturally, they would wish to see him take over
      as party leader from Roger Knapman, who was elected to
      the post in 2002. Knapman is a canny political
      operator. He was a Tory M.P. for a decade until being
      swept away in the Blair landslide of 1997. He is well
      liked among the party's old guard and works closely
      with Nigel Farage, the party's European parliamentary
      leader. The elfin Farage, 40, fond of smoking,
      drinking and talking about smoking and drinking, is
      indeed a compelling orator. His spiel doesn't vary
      much -- in fact, you're apt to hear him say verbatim
      from a dais the same thing he said at a cocktail party
      the night before -- but it is a good spiel. His
      speeches give a distilled version of UKIP's program:
      an ''amicable divorce from the European Union and its
      replacement with a free-trade agreement, which is what
      we thought we voted for in the first place.''

      Kilroy-Silk had something considerably grander than
      this in mind, a new and potent British party, and
      until October his takeover of UKIP looked inevitable.
      The reason was not just his magnetism. It was money.
      Paul Sykes, a 61-year-old high-school dropout from
      Yorkshire, had turned a scrap-metal exporting company
      into a $1 billion real-estate fortune. This gave him a
      lot of free time, which he devoted increasingly to
      Euroskeptic activities. Sykes financed the
      anti-European Democracy Movement in the 90's. Since
      then he has pursued his political interests by
      financing candidates -- spending $10 million over the
      past decade, according to some estimates. Kilroy-Silk
      claimed that Sykes would put up either $40 million or
      $60 million -- in either case, dozens of times what
      UKIP had to spend during the summer's campaign -- to
      contest the general election in 2005, provided he
      (Kilroy-Silk) was at the helm.

      Such was the state of play on the Saturday of the
      Bristol conference, when a partywide debate was
      scheduled to iron out a central philosophical
      question: Should UKIP husband its resources to topple
      only those British parliamentary candidates who
      promote European integration? Or should it contest all
      seats, with a view to becoming a ''regular'' political
      party, even at the risk of splitting the anti-Europe
      vote? Knapman had pronounced himself eager to hear the
      party's views on the matter.

      But Kilroy-Silk wasn't interested in chitchat. He was
      interested in sweeping the party off its feet. Early
      Saturday afternoon, he stood before 900 people under a
      white spotlight in a pitch-black theater and gave a
      dazzling performance. He began with a flourish of
      flattery (''It was an amazing thing you did on June
      the 10th''), and then worked through a repertory of
      effects. He deployed reams of statistics, and he
      eventually worked the crowd into a feeling of
      victimhood. (''They call you and I xenophobes just
      because we want to govern ourselves.'') Toward the
      end, people were beginning to shout ''Thank you! Thank
      you!'' Then Kilroy-Silk turned to substance. The idea
      of making common cause with the Tories over Europe, he
      said, was preposterous. ''The Conservative Party is
      dying,'' he said. ''Why would you want to give it the
      kiss of life? What we have to do is kill it.''

      Maybe Kilroy-Silk should have waited for the afternoon
      debate, as Knapman had wanted. Because threatening the
      Tory Party in this way did threaten to divide the
      Euroskeptic vote. That bothered Sykes. He announced
      that he would not finance UKIP for the British
      national elections.

      It appeared that the steam had gone out of
      Kilroy-Silk's leadership challenge before it had
      begun. Weeks later, his candidacy was rejected in a
      leadership-sponsored poll of UKIP's local committee
      chairmen. But by now Kilroy-Silk was willing to
      destroy the party to save it. He called the poll
      ''amateurishly rigged'' and began to denounce the
      leadership as incompetent and corrupt. In late
      October, hours before a meeting in which it was
      rumored that Farage would move for his ouster,
      Kilroy-Silk resigned from the party parliamentary
      grouping. He announced that he would remain a UKIP
      member, however, and that he planned to take over the
      party by taking his case to UKIP's rank-and-file
      voters. As Knapman said of his rival, ''He's a
      death-or-glory man.''

      Knapman often compares UKIP with the Scottish National
      Party or its Welsh equivalent, the Plaid Cymru. He and
      his allies hope that the party will grow over the
      decades from a small marginal party into a small party
      with some influence -- that if they just sit perfectly
      still and declare their Britishness with sincerity, an
      electorate will grow on them like moss.

      Kilroy-Silk says he believes in something more
      radical. It may be that having read his Lenin and
      Gramsci and Sorel in college, he has a distinctly
      20th-century idea of how parties come to power. He
      says that movements like UKIP, while not ''fads''
      exactly, have only a brief window of time in which to
      seize the advantage. He constantly harps on this theme
      in his speeches (''The opportunity is here today,'' he
      said in Bristol), and even sitting around his living
      room in Buckinghamshire, he said: ''What people don't
      understand is there's a lot of smoke and mirrors here.
      We've got an influence all out of proportion to our
      size, and we have to seize the moment.''

      For now, Kilroy-Silk is in an ambiguous position. He
      is a candidate for leadership of the party but not on
      speaking terms with its leaders. ''In a way I'm set
      free,'' he told me. ''I don't have to defend the
      deputy leader talking about fighting our way out, like
      Chechnya a few days after Beslan. I will be an
      independent person, untrammeled.'' Like most in UKIP,
      he preferred Bush to Kerry in the last election. But
      he has strong views in favor of gay rights and
      abortion that few of his colleagues share, and he
      insists, ''My view on none of these issues will be
      altered by what the party says.'' It will be his way
      or the highway.

      Christopher Caldwell, a new contributing writer for
      the magazine, is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.