In Greek mythology the Lernaean Hydra is a monster with many heads, and every time one head is removed two more grow in its place.
So too, it seems, is the case for the UK Independence Party just now.
Yesterday there was a new (and, for UKIP, rather predictable) media furore about a council candidate in Crowborough who denies the holocaust. This follows candidates with BNP links, and one that said that gay adoption was unhealthy. UKIP, as it has sporadically done in the cases before, suspended the Crowborough candidate from the party.
But while all of this is going on, UKIP is gaining councillors from the Tories – those new heads of the Hydra to replace the ones cut off.
Farage was even forced to admit on The World At One that there are some candidates he would “rather not have” in the party, but I am actually left wondering: does this actually matter? The limit for Farage seems to be to exclude people who are hardline racists, but beyond that not worry too much. Also look at the Olly Neville case – when UKIP tries to do traditional style party discipline and candidate control it blows back at them, internally.
Further, while the liberal press and lefty bloggers are jumping up and down about the Crowborough candidate, the people who might end up voting for UKIP do not probably care that much, and are not going to be the people reading those papers or blogs anyway. And in the meantime the party, with a lot less coverage, keeps building strength.
The only way for the mainstream to deal with all of this is to go for the body of the Hydra, for Farage himself, and for the mainstream parties to put up compelling politicians who can rival him. Until that is done all we will be doing is cutting heads off the Hydra.
[NOTE: the logo is my adaption of the official UKIP logo, and the high resolution version of my adaption can be found here. The Hydra heads are adapted from this CC/Flickr image by RailBlue of a train called Hydra. Feel free to use the logo for your own purposes, with credit.]