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UKIP's Political Strategy: Opportunistic Idealism in a Fragmented Political Arena

Simon Usherwood

Since the early 1990s, The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has campaigned on a central ideological platform of British withdrawal from the European Union (EU). The negative construction of this core value has resulted in repeated internal divisions within the party, in large part on the best strategy for achieving it. The mutations of UKIP's strategy since its foundation thus reflect both internal tensions as well as shifts in the institutional arenas within which it operates, both at national and EU levels, and the limited resources available to the party. Building on qualitative and quantitative assessments, the paper identifies the central determining factor as being the political opportunity structure, with ideological priorities only affecting choices within the parameters that this structure sets out. The paperposits that UKIP will remain in this situation for the foreseeablefuture.

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