Monday, 21 April 2014

UKIP's Turn to the Workers

I don't love UKIP. I don't love to hate UKIP. I simply loathe them, despise them. UKIP is the Daily Mail in party form, a chamber pot spilling over with effluvia and poison. From climate change denialism to sexism, from 'are-you-thinking-what-we're-thinking' wink-wink racism to stupid-minded selfishness, it is the new home for everything that is vile, everything that is anti-human about our politics. Small wonder they inspire so much disgust. At the moment volunteers are handing out food parcels to the needy on a scale not seen since the 1930s, UKIP appear hell bent on re-staging the foulest politics of the period. Like the demagogues that have come before Farage, be they populist or fascist, theirs is a politics of dividing and ruling, of hatred and fear. The solution to the problems facing Britain is not banding together to face them collectively, but to point fingers, to blame anyone who comes to this country in search of a better life for its ills.

This said, UKIP aren't a fascist party. Nor are they symptomatic of a creeping fascism. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, UKIP are part of an ongoing process of decomposition. Mainstream politics has been through the blender. Throw in the solids (some might say stolids) of the two-party system, switch it on and the end result is something more viscous. That is basically what's happened to politics since the late 1970s, though the social blender works slowly and on a longer timescale. The old solidarities that held up two party dominance have melted. On the one hand the labour movement remains a substantial body of considerable potential social power, but the vast majority of those who pay into it do not, unfortunately, participate beyond their monthly dues. But on the other, the Conservative movement - the web of grass roots organisations, Tory clubs, and back scratching societies - have fared much worse. Under the reign of the blessed Margaret, Tory party membership halved from just over a million to around 500,000. That decline has continued to the point where the party can barely muster 100,000 members - and there's very little chance the direction of travel will change. Voters are also increasingly likely to support third parties at the ballot box. 65% supported the two main parties in 2010. In 1979 it was 81%. The trend is more pronounced in second order elections - look at last quarter's local by-election results, for example. The only thing propping up two party dominance of national politics is the antiquated first-past-the-post system, which discriminates against smaller parties.

UKIP have certainly been helped by a great deal of favourable media coverage, just as the BNP were last decade. Yet the media is the catalyst - UKIP would have come to nought if British politics wasn't in a crisis of decomposition. So UKIP is more than just an obsession about the EU, it speaks to the diffuse anti-establishment, anti-politics sentiment of the right. This feeds off anxiety about immigrants, about modern life, about Britain's place in the world. UKIP is the libertarian party that opposes same sex couples marrying and opposes foreign workers from getting jobs by virtue of their birthplace. They mainly speak and find an echo among white men of a certain age, and promise a splendidly isolated Britain that whistles with arcadian ignorance of the rest of the world. UKIP knows it cannot stop the world, but will try its damnedest to get off.

Here too, the fraying of the Conservative party rends UKIP too. The ingredients for long-term decline are all there. A ragtag and bobtail party organisation stuffed with misfits and misanthropes, a backward-looking set of ideas out of kilter with modern life, and a core constituency that is literally dying. A greater proportion of its support now will not see the general election than any of the other parties. Their rise is a flame that flares brightly just before it eats the remainder of the wick. But nothing in politics is inevitable. A party is not a passive victim of social forces. It can ride them, and UKIP has proven adept at that; and it can change them. A party can affect social relations so it stands to be nourished from them - the Tories have tried doing this on many occasions. And Labour should consciously and actively pursue this too.

It's in this context we should understand UKIP's new poster campaign that recalls the British Jobs for British Workers populism of Gordon Brown and the BNP. Two of the three posters firmly and squarely blame immigration for unemployment, and represent a deliberate attempt to whip up anxiety and hate. But as it's European Union free movement in UKIP's sights, it's definitely not racist. Oh no. For those interested, Channel 4 have checked their claims, which range from wanting to what you call in politics "factually accurate". Yet in the game of Brussels thrones, this is more than standard vote-catching.

UKIP needs to stabilise its base. As the 2009 European elections, the 2010 general election and dozens of local authority elections showed, there is a small but significant level of support in core Labour areas - particularly mainly white and mainly working class inner city areas and suburbs - who are prepared to vote for an outright fascist party in protest. Some of that number have returned to Labour, though I doubt with much enthusiasm, while others still want to send a message to an uncaring, remote establishment. Understandably given the similar rhetoric and imagery, UKIP are keen to swallow up those former BNP voters. This, however, is not the limit of UKIP's ambition. There is a long tradition among certain layers of the working class to vote Conservative. I know, this is the milieu I grew up in. The Tories, notwithstanding their ridiculous (and already forgotten) push to promote themselves the "workers' party" have long-abandoned any pretence of being anything other than a party for the very rich. This is UKIP's chance to grab as large a chunk of Tory workers as possible. And as any psephologist will tell you, the more often you can get someone to vote for you in elections that "don't matter", the greater the chance they will later on in the ones that do.

More interestingly is the second, more cunning aspect of this turn to the workers. Farage will not say it, but you don't need to be gifted with special insight to know he would prefer a Tory general election win in 2015. This is more than political preference, however. UKIP are targeting the Labour heartlands with their message. Despite Labour voters proving more resilient than former Tory supporters, Farage is appearing to throw a bone to the panicking Tory right pressing for some sort of accommodation with UKIP. Their reasoning is if only UKIP focus on Labour the damage UKIP support will do the Tories in 2015 might be mitigated. And from his point of view his anti-Labour posturing will curry favour with some backbenchers whose feet are getting rather itchy. Pity the fools that don't realise he's making a play for the right of centre non Labour-voting working class. Yet in matters of strategy, quite apart from preferences a Tory win in 2015 suits UKIP's interest better. If Dave carries on "betraying" traditional Toryism UKIP will continue to gorge on their cast offs. The general election, in which Farage very well knows is likely to yield few if any seats, need not be the moment marking UKIP's declining purchase.

These posters were designed and conceived to hoover up votes. However, in the grand scheme of political things they represent a direction of travel in UKIP's march to effectively lock down a constituency. Their racist workerism is more than a pose, they want ex-BNP, anti-politics types, and ex-Tory voting members of the working class on their side. It's not about challenging Labour but supplanting the Conservatives. And with the latter effectively abandoning the field to them, UKIP may well have taken its first significant step in doing so.


Speedy said...

Hm. UKIP, side show. The black swan of Scottish independence meanwhile draws nearer.

Implosion of rUK politics. Division, bitter recrimination, and blame.

The biggest thing to have hit this country in 300 years.

And more importantly could mean -

Tory win in GE (at least after 2016)
Referendum on Europe, which without the Scottish votes will definitely mean exit.

Subsequent scorched earth policies on welfare, NHS etc as global markets force competition on public sector.

UK becomes pretty much like US, or Canada, only worse, as Class ever more embedded.

And it won't do the Scots many favours either. They won't stay smug for long.

Getting closer......

Chris said...

Great article Phil and spot on. It will be interesting to see how well UKIP do in Wales and Scotland, where support for them seems to be much thinner on the ground.

Anonymous said...

Some on left continue with the accusation that UKIP only attract white, older males, as if they don't count! This is typical of the descent of the left into outright liberalism. No wonder the far left can't connect like the far right can!

"At the moment volunteers are handing out food parcels to the needy on a scale not seen since the 1930s, UKIP appear hell bent on re-staging the foulest politics of the period."

No the foulest politics are the politics that consign people to food banks, i.e. Ian Duncan Smith is the living embodiment of the foulest politics, have you heard the monotone evil banality of this person? UKIP are merely the symptom.

asquith said...

This was brought to my attention earlier:

Now, UKIP's campaign is in several regards the exact opposite of Farrago's views, which are ultra-libertarian. I never thought he actually had a problem with immigration or equal marriage, in a personal capacity. But he was prepared to say he was in order to win over the sort of person most likely to be leaving the Tories in disgust at Dave...

... and if, today, he's set these policies (because it will all be his brainchild), what does that say? That, having locked in the ex-Tories, he's now trying to broaden his appeal to ex-Labour voters and the sort of person who would have voted Labour if they hadn't become apathetic/disillusioned years ago.

He has had some success in this and now, being the allthingstoallmen tit that he is, has evidently made the decision that more will follow.

Have you read "Revolt on the Right"? I haven't got round to it yet- I will do so during next week's holiday- but giving it a few glances it seems very good stuff, of great interest.

Ralph Musgrave said...

Phil's hypocrisy is breathtaking. The party he supports took part in the slaughter of a million Muslims in Iraq. Meanwhile UKIP opposed the Iraq war. And he describes UKIP as racist.

UKIP are going to have to mow down an awful lot of Muslims with machine guns before they sink to Labour's level. And far as I know UKIP has no intention of getting out the machine guns.

Speedy said...

I don't think Labour noticed they were Muslims, which was actually part of the problem - ie, they imagined they could simply impose Liberal Democracy on a nation without considering the cultural implications.

I note TB is now going on about Islamism being a threat, the horse having bolted through the stable door opened by him and W. Silly man.

Phil said...

I do wonder if Ralph ever bothers looking at the world as it really is, at times.

While I am touched Ralph's concerned about my creds to pronounce on the racism of UKIP, it's worth pointing out that

a) The largest politically active contingent against the Iraq War were Labour Party members.
b) The current party leadership regard the war as a mistake.
c) The current party leadership played a not inconsiderable role in derailing the war locomotive over Syria.

Still, best not the complexities get in the way of a tired cynic peddling nihilism on the internets.

David Peppiatt said...

So young man, why do you loathe a politics redolent of the ethnic interests of the English people? Are you African? Are you Asian? Mixed race, perhaps? Jewish? If not, don't you comprehend that the English are being race-replaced by Africans and Asians? Don't you realise that this is an ethnocide generated by the political class on behalf of the interests they serve, and all justice, all good is with the English people.

Your talk of fascism reveals a politically sick mind. What is "fascist" about securing the existence of our people and an English future for our children? Life, as a value, trumps everything, and the defence of life is an unimpeachably moral cause. Beside them the fascinations of the radical left are simple mistakes ... a totalistic and deeply intolerant misapplication of the existential nature of liberation.

The times have changed. Anti-racism and reflexive bourgeois anti-white hatred is dead. It has no moral agency. You have a great deal of catching up to do. I suggest you begin now by voting UKIP like any decent, loyal Englishman who has seen through the left's self-loathing and sloughed off its magic words.

Phil said...

Anyone who takes "ethnocide" seriously as a political argument applicable to Britain is a nincompoop. But thank you for providing some evidence that racist idiots are attracted to UKIP for idiot racist reasons.

David Peppiatt said...


Four sets of questions, and then we will see which of us is morally compromised and uses intellectually flawed arguments.

(Clue: it's you).

1. Does the demographic record demonstrate that we English people are being relentlessly replaced on our own soil, and are a minority in several English towns and in London already? What do the extant studies (ie, Oxford, Leeds) project for us?

2. What do you think must happen to any people with an ageing profile and a low fertility when an endless flood of colonising foreigners with a youthful profile and a high fertility are introduced to its living space? Nothing? Is that what you claim? Is that the experience of the Plains Indians or the Maori, or the Tibetans today?

3. If replacement is in train, how and why did this happen? When was it explained to our people? When we were asked for our consent? What moral and political legitimacy does it have? For whose benefit has it been generated, if not that of the English because, obviously, it cannot benefit a people of the land to be ethnocided?

4. How can it be "racist" to argue for the survival and continuity of one's people? In your moral universe, is self-defence from colonisation and replacement admissable only for peoples with brown or black skin? As ethnic survival and continuity is the ultimate interest in human life (which is why genocide is the greatest crime), is it not racist to deny it to white peoples?

You won't be able to answer any of these questions. You won't be able to deconstruct them without inflicting moral damage to yourself and without relying on untruths. But, also, you won't be able to confront the enormity of what is being done to us, because you have decided to act out the role of race-traitor and you are in too deep now to examine your own heart uncritically. Aren't you.

Phil said...

I reject the premise of your argument. You have a fixed idea of what the "English people" are. I don't.

Right back to prehistory England has been home to waves of migration, from the Picts and the Celts, the Romans, the Angles and the Saxons, the Vikings and the Normans; the small migrant communities that have always clustered around British ports and centres of industry, to the waves of post-war immigration. And yet this thing we call England still exists. People still drink tea, watch the football, mind their own business and do what English people always do.

The difference between you and I is you reject the English as it's currently constituted. I embrace it. So just who here is anti-English? It's sad fools like you and those racists who vote for UKIP for the self-same reasons.