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The Ukip shuffle: Can the party become more than a one man band?

23 July 2014

7:51 PM

23 July 2014

7:51 PM

Nigel Farage has started his long awaited reshuffle of the Ukip top team tonight. Patrick O’Flynn, the former Daily Express journalist, becomes the party’s economics spokesman. Given O’Flynn’s writings, we can be pretty sure that he’ll make taking the middle class out of the 40p tax band one of Ukip’s defining policies. Steven Woolfe becomes migration spokesman. His tweets tonight indicate that his main emphasis will be how EU membership skews Britain’s immigration policy in favour of low skilled EU citizens and against high skilled people from the rest of the world.

There’s no word yet on the other front bench roles. There’ll be particular interest in what role Diane James, the personification of the new more professional Ukip, gets.

But the big question about this reshuffle is whether it enables Ukip to be more than the Nigel Farage party. To date, Ukip’s advance has been built around Farage and his distinct appeal. But if Farage is going to properly contest a seat at the general election, he is going to need others to take up some of the burden. Equally, he is going to have to be prepared to allow others to become big figures in the Ukip firmament.

This reshuffle, though, marks another step in Ukip’s journey towards becoming a proper political party rather than a protest group. If Ukip can add a pro-middle class tax policy to its position on immigration, no one will be able to dismiss it as a single issue group anymore.

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