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Ukip: A One-Dimensional, One-trick Pony Flogging a Dead Horse

22/04/2013 16:53 BST | Updated 22/06/2013 10:12 BST

Ukip is a party with no MPs and few policies. If it was a pony it would have only one trick and certainly wouldn't be able to dance like those on the phone adverts. If Ukip was a pony it wouldn't be dappled and multi-coloured - like the ones on the television - it would be a one-dimensional, monochrome, non-dancing pony.

If Ukip is to make substantial progress in British politics, it has to learn new tricks - it needs new policies. The party has made much of the number of candidates it is putting forward in May's council elections. However, unless they can say anything new, all that will happen is some disgruntled former Tories will bang on about the same old things Nigel Farage bangs on about - but in some local council chambers rather than Brussels.

Any success Ukip has had is the result of a small minority of Brits feeling antagonistic towards immigration and the EU. However, even in recessionary periods - when you would expect voters to be less sympathetic towards immigrants than they would in a boom - Ukip does not have broad appeal. In 2006 David Cameron described it as "a party of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists". The perception has not gone away.

Ukip will remain a one-dimensional, one-trick pony until something can bring it to life. At the moment it seems that the party believes that Romanian and Bulgarian workers offer its best bet of being re-animated. Restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians working in other European countries will be lifted from the end of the year and Ukip is desperately trying to gain as much political capital as it can from this.

In fact, the party has been so excited about what Bulgarians and Romanians can do for its own fortunes that it has said some wildly fantastical things about the number who might come to the UK.

A recent Ukip leaflet claimed that 29,000,000 Romanians and Bulgarians will be able to "live, work and draw benefits" in the UK. Given that the entire population of those countries is less than this figure - and many are not of working age - the claim is ridiculous. Nevertheless Ukip continues to flog the issue like a dead horse - if it is possible for a one-dimensional monochrome pony to flog a dead horse.

For many Brits and other Europeans, Ukip is a joke - a cartoon party dominated by disgruntled men of a certain age and held together by insularity and fear. However, for Romanians and Bulgarians the joke is wearing thin.

Alluding to Ukip's local election "propaganda", Bulgarian ambassador to the UK Konstantin Dimitrov yesterday told Sky News: "It is not the reflection of the prevailing mood of the British people towards the Bulgarian people but it is very disappointing and very discriminatory in certain aspects.

"We react firmly, politely, but very strongly against these assertions and the atmosphere created by this propaganda."

Referring to the Ukip leaflets, he said: "There were, for instance, pre-election leaflets in counties that say the Bulgarians will be a threat to social system of the UK. This is absolutely unacceptable in a European country."

In relation to Farage, he said: "He is usually very feeble in presenting solid arguments - to put it mildly - and prefers to indulge in propaganda which deviates markedly from the essence of the debate."

Earlier this year Farage caused offence by stating to MEPs that Bulgaria and Romania "do not belong in the European Union". It is strange, therefore, that he doesn't feel an affinity with people from those countries as he has been claiming for quite some time that Britain doesn't belong in the EU. The reality is, though, that Romania and Bulgaria do belong - they have been in the EU since 2007. Mr Farage has had long enough to adjust to the idea.