Possibly due to being a largely English electoral phenomenon, I have not really encountered UKIP until recently, and only saw them register in the margins in canvassing and survey returns.
My first real engagement with them was last month at a Strathclyde University debate where I was on the side of the UK remaining in Europe - which won handsomely in a vote at the end.
During the debate the UKIP spokesperson in answering what was a reasonable point on the success of ERASMUS - a body which enables higher education students to work and study abroad as part of their degree stated that this body was designed to "enslave today's students to be part of the EU bureaucracy."
A rather dangerous and eccentric view to put it politely.
There is something deeply troubling about their rhetoric on immigration, their outlook to our partner countries in Europe, and their simplistic approach to leaving the EU. Indeed it appears to have passed them by that joining the European Free Trade Alliance would result in them having to sign up to their pet hates of European Regulation to be part of that body too.
UKIP are on the side of those who see workers rights and hard fought protections such as the Social Chapter (deemed too left wing incidentally, by Major, Blair, and Brown) as troublesome regulation, whilst opposing a financial transactions tax and the capping of bankers bonuses.
On your side? No chance.
The mutual talking up of a Conservative/UKIP arrangement in a future UK election demonstrates that the electoral survival of Tory MP's is more important than being part of a rational debate about our relationships in the world and having a positive vision for our future.The case being put forward to leave the EU is based on a fantasy of turning back the clock to 1973 without consequences - a fanciful delusion.
The case for staying in an institution that has improved the lives and working conditions of millions of working people in Europe, now needs to made in a concise, clear and positive way.
The case for leaving the EU, is a classic case of the race to the bottom.