Nothing, it seems, can stop the rise of Ukip. However outrageous its luminaries’ pronouncements or hypocritical its leaders’ behaviour, it is still expected to top next week’s European elections.
No matter that the rising star of Ukip’s youth wing resigns in disgust at the party’s racism, or that its ex-Tory banker leader is involved in one expenses scandal after another, or that on most issues – from a flat tax to wholesale NHS privatisation – the majority of Ukip’s voters don’t remotely share its ultra-Thatcherite politics.
It’s not just that on immigration and the EU they do – or that few have much interest in Ukip’s actual policies. As it has moved out of the Tory backwoods into Labour heartlands, Nigel Farage’s party has succeeded in tapping into a deep vein of disenfranchisement and anti-establishment anger.
The more the political class turns on Farage, the more it confirms his phoney status as an outsider. And it’s the same story across Europe: the populist right is on the march, along with a hotch-potch of anti-Brussels mavericks such as Italy’s Beppe Grillo – and, in a handful of states, growing parties of the radical left.