Why British politics is going through its most turbulent time in modern history

30th April, 2014 8:38 am

If UKIP win the European elections next month, it will be the first time in a hundred years neither Labour nor the Tories have come first in a Britain-wide election.

Farage

The establishment – from the left to the right – is already aghast at the thought. We’ve become accustomed to pragmatic and relatively centrist politics, not uncompromising populism from the Left or the Right. UKIP scares us and we feel comfortable blaming the media. Its easy to believe that if Nigel Farage were to stop being invited to BBC Question Time, UKIP support would collapse and we could go back to normality. But it won’t work like that.

 If we take a step back and look at the broader political landscape, it becomes obvious this wave has been building momentum for a while. What we are seeing is a likely permanent realignment in British politics that will have huge consequences.

There are three major trends that have hastened this realignment.

Firstly, disillusionment with Labour and the Conservatives has risen to unprecedented levels in the modern era. Over 90% of Britons voted for either party just after WWII; that share fell to an all-time-low of 65% at the last election. It isn’t just the LibDems who have benefited – a vote for ‘other’ parties rose to an unprecedented 10% in 2010.

In other words a deeper sense of disillusionment with our political system has set in and not yet  been reversed.

Secondly, immigration and globalisation have changed voting patterns in ways that have not yet been fully understood.

Young and urban voters, who are more comfortable with a globalised and culturally diverse world, have started moving to the Left in the UK and USA. The Labour base is now concentrated in big cities and urban areas (like Democrats), and become more liberal, while rural areas have trended more towards the right and become more anti-immigration.

This increased geographical separation between voters will also have a huge impact on our politics, like it is having in the USA.

Thirdly, conservatives have become increasingly captured by a libertarian-capitalist instinct. Fuelled by a large share of donations from the City (up from 27% to 40%), this reinforces a growing belief among voters that the Tories don’t care for people like them.

The most recent example was that of Allister Heath of City AM being appointed deputy editor at  the Telegraph. Traditional one-nation Tory voices such as Charles Moore (who warned of City influence in 2011) and Peter Oborne are being marginalised by interests that want to protect globalisation, the finance industry and economic inequality. These are the interests of the top 10% and voters can see it.

The impact of all these three trends is broad and cannot simply be wished away.

UKIP have captured voters who are not that well off, hurt by growing inequality and job insecurity, and become disillusioned with the political system. The polling shows it, as does the new book Revolt on the Right.

More importantly, they don’t think the Conservatives stand for them, partly because the party is trying to neutralise its deficit with ethnic minority and urban voters, and partly because it is becoming dominated by City-friendly libertarians. As YouGov point out, UKIP have had little success with better-off voters, graduates and those under 40.

In many ways the rise of UKIP is as much to do with the financial crash of 2007 as the expenses scandal of 2009. An increasing number of Britons aren’t just pissed off with the establishment, they abhor globalisation and immigration for economic (as Owen Jones has pointed out) and social reasons.

The good news is that these events have split the Right like never before, perhaps permanently. The Labour party has avoided a split because Ed Miliband has been adept at focusing on unity above triangulation, and because anger at the Tories have united the Left. But this state of affairs may not last either.

It was widely assumed the Right had captured the public mood despite the financial crash of 2007 after winning the elections in 2010. But the full impact of major events is rarely measured in years – sometimes it plays out over decades. We are in the most turbulent time in British politics in the post-war period for good reasons.

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  • toptophat

    ‘The establishment – from the left to the right’
    Ahem
    You mean – ‘the establishment – from the centre-left neoliberals to the centre-right neoliberals’

    • gunnerbear

      tth,

      You beat me to it…..the Establishment stretching from one inch left-of centre-to one inch right-of-centre….

      …if you are outside of that narrow band, the major parties don’t want you – they don’t like you having ‘different ideas’.

    • Brumanuensis

      If you don’t like neoliberals, why are you voting for UKIP? They’re the neo-liberal Party par excellence, with extremist libertarian views on most topics and headed by a former stockbroker who was educated at a public school. If you don’t like neoliberals and the EU, then vote Green. They dislike them both too.

      • toptophat

        Don’t tell me how to vote comrade

        • Brumanuensis

          So in protest against neo-liberalism, you’re…voting for a neo-liberal Party?

          Yes, that makes perfect sense.

          • toptophat

            Don’t tell me how to vote ‘comrade’

          • Brumanuensis

            I’m just pointing out that your decision makes no sense. It’s like declaring that you don’t like how racist British politics is and then announcing you’re voting BNP in protest.

          • toptophat

            Not sure yet, but if I wanted to vote neo-liberal labour would do well enough…

          • Brumanuensis

            So you think Labour are too neo-liberal and in protest you’re considering voting for an avowedly neo-liberal Party?
            Do you genuinely not see how odd that looks?

          • toptophat

            If it helps make the labour party change it’s policy to regain votes it will be worth the embarrassment

          • Brumanuensis

            Why not just vote for a Party that is actually anti-neoliberal?

          • treborc1

            Do we have any?, not to sure, I mean labour would love us to think it’s changing but actually it still sees the market economy as the way forward it has to because it cannot say which other way it will go,

            The Tories are the Tories, the Liberals have sold out and UKIP is a protest party in the main, I cannot in all honesty see UKIP winning the next or any election. But to show the other parties well yes it a good one for that.

            Will labour and the Tories get all those voters back I do not think so nothing has changed nothing at all.

          • Brumanuensis

            TUSC? Green? NotoEU (if it’s still a going-concern after Bob Crow’s death)?

          • toptophat

            If it helps make the labour party review it’s policies, it will have been worth the embarrassment

  • markmyword49

    I know you want to get the vote out but stop this end of the world scenario. If you’d read yesterdays Guardian there’s a double page spread on the rise of the “anti Establishment” vote right across Europe. Its the result of politicians in all countries losing touch with the voters concerns and not explaining the benefits of the EU, globalisation and economic migration to their every day lives.
    Besides Farage even referred the UKIP phenomenon to a bubble in an interview with the Today programme this morning.
    Globalisation and economic migration is with us to stay. No amount of Luddite machine breaking will alter that fact. The genie is out of the bottle and can’t be pushed back. Its time our politicians made the case about how much good it has brought to this country. As Kenneth Clarke pointed out on the Today programme there are just as many UK citizens working in EU as there are EU citizens in the UK

    • gunnerbear

      Why should economic migration be acceptable? I don’t mind if highly skilled Polish dentists rock up, I don’t mind if the German engineer turns up…..but I draw the line at boat loads of p**-poor, ill educated, tribal, criminal, Iraqi’s, Kurds, Romanians, Somalians and the like being allowed to enter the UK.
      When the East Timorese ran riot in a town near where I live, I’m not 100% sure that the Police felt that immigration was a good thing, when Pakistani men groom young, vulnerable girls, I’m 100% sure that is a not good thing.

      • DaveAboard

        There are just under 6 million British living abroad.

        Having spent a number of years living in Europe, I can assure you there are boatloads of piss-poor, ill educated, tribal, criminal British living there, many of whom are poncing off the state.

        It wasn’t until I moved to France that I discovered you can become a fully qualified and experienced builder in the time it takes a P&O ferry to cross from Dover to Calais and paying into the French system is just something other people do.

        • gunnerbear

          Fair comment. Top notch!

      • Brumanuensis

        but I draw the line at boat loads of p**-poor, ill educated, tribal, criminal, Iraqi’s, Kurds, Romanians, Somalians and the like being allowed to enter the UK.

        Nice of you to assume they’re all criminals and poorly-educated. And you wonder why people might think you’re a bit racist.

        • gunnerbear

          I did post earlier but it has not appeared….I think the links have tripped up the system as it seems to stuck so here’s another attempt:

          In terms of the Timorese, there’s this….

          From the Scunthorpe Telegraph: 14-men-court-violent-street-clash-Frodingham-Road

          Mind you Turkish gangs have been at it as well…..

          From the Hull Daily Mail: Terror-25-men-wielding-weapons-clash-street

          “Nice of you to assume they’re all criminals and poorly-educated. And you wonder why people might think you’re a bit racist.”

          I didn’t say that they were all criminals or ill educated, just that from numerous press reports a large number of them appear to be.

          Perhaps if weeded out the undesirables before they got here, that might help. Ohh, look, yet more joy befalls us thanks to Labour’s open door immigration policy…

          From the Daily Star: Somali-gangs-build-crime-empire-in-Britain

          Ohh…and the grooming gang in Rochdale were all Pakistani-British (their description) – so clearly in Britain but also clearly, still very, very Pakistani. You might want to read about the leader of the gang…..

          Manchester Evening News: Leader of Rochdale sex grooming gang found guilty of 30 counts of rape in new trial
          As to the Catholic Church – it condoned, lied and covered up for years. I think that says it all.

          • Brumanuensis

            First of all, if you believe what you read in the Daily Star, there’s no helping you.

            Second, I’d like a url link please, so I can know we’re reading the same articles.

            I didn’t say that they were all criminals or ill educated, just that from numerous press reports a large number of them appear to be.

            Perhaps if weeded out the undesirables before they got here, that might help. Ohh, look, yet more joy befalls us thanks to Labour’s open door immigration policy…

            Numerous press reports? You trust the press, a body designed to flog as many copies as possible, with accurate reporting on an emotive issue? How do you know what you read is representative? You don’t, is the answer.

            And Labour has never operated an ‘open-door immigration policy’. If you write that, it’s clear you don’t know what ‘open-door’ means.

            Ohh…and the grooming gang in Rochdale were all Pakistani-British (their description) – so clearly in Britain but also clearly, still very, very Pakistani. You might want to read about the leader of the gang…..

            Funny how you don’t mention the White British men convicted of grooming. And ‘Pakistani-British’ is an ethnic designation, not a national one. They’re British and your attempt to suggest otherwise is a classic example of ‘othering’ an ethnic minority.

            As to the Catholic Church – it condoned, lied and covered up for years. I think that says it all. I should imagine most decent Catholics would have been disgusted by the actions of their church.

            I completely agree. But you wouldn’t tar all individual Catholics with that brush, would you?

          • gunnerbear

            “First of all, if you believe what you read in the Daily Star, there’s no helping you.”
            Why? What level of education do you think I hold?

          • Brumanuensis

            Because it’s a second-rate knock-off of the Daily Express and the Daily Express is drivel to begin with. OK! magazine has as much journalistic integrity as the Daily Star.

          • gunnerbear

            “Labour has never operated an ‘open-door immigration policy’.”
            M’Lord Mandelson talked about ‘search parties’ to bring the non-whites and no-UK subjects in……..

            ……..I’d say if some f***kin’ ar**ehole says that they were hunting to bring the scum of the world in to the UK via search parties…..then I’m sorry you and I will never agree on this issue (although we may agree on others)…..

            ..and I say, “scum of the world” because if Mandy didn’t give a flying f**k about immigration, then I think I it is perfectly fine to say that the system was determined to import the scum of the world in an attempt to shatter UK society…

            …unless of course you can prove that everyone imported via Labour’s open door policy were the ‘best of the best’ and the UK needed them.

          • Brumanuensis

            M’Lord Mandelson talked about ‘search parties’ to bring the non-whites and no-UK subjects in……..

            Having looked up that claim, Mandelson’s comments refer to encouraging skilled workers to come to the UK. Which is very different from what you’re implying and is not analogous to an ‘open-door policy’ – do you actually know what that is? It’s where there are no immigration controls whatsoever. That in no way describes UK immigration policy over the last 20 years, whatever your fever dreams tell you.

            And you wonder why I don’t take you seriously.

            I think I it is perfectly fine to say that the system was determined to import the scum of the world in an attempt to shatter UK society…

            And I think it’s perfectly fine to say that you’re a raving lunatic who believes everything they read in second-rate tabloid knock-offs.

            …unless of course you can prove that everyone imported via Labour’s open door policy were the ‘best of the best’ and the UK needed them.

            Whee! Let’s ignore the fact that virtually every academic publication on the economic effects of immigration shows that it has no adverse effects on domestic wages or unemployment, in favour of whacky paranoia! It’s a much better way of making sane, rational policy that going through awkward, boring facts.

          • gunnerbear

            Strangely the House of Lords report isn’t quite so sanguine about the effect of immigration:

            “71: In the UK, the most recent study by Professor Dustmann and others concludes that immigration….lowers wages of those workers employed in the lowest paid jobs.”

            Or perhaps you’d prefer the words of the noted economist Professor Blanchflower who found that “…wage growth slowed in both the UK and Ireland following A8 accession although both economies were booming. He attributed this to a rise in the fear of unemployment caused by high immigration, which in turn leads to lower wage settlements (p 196).”

            Or in terms of youth unemployment you might want to consider this gem,

            “84. The recent ITEM Club report points to the potential negative impact of immigration on youth unemployment. The report notes that youth unemployment increased by about 100,000 since early 2004 and the participation rate has dropped from 69.4% to 67.4%. “Given the age and skill profile of many of the new immigrants, it is possible that ‘native’ youngsters may have been losing out in the battle for entry-level jobs”.

            http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeconaf/82/8206.htm#a8

            Or are the Lords all engaged in a conspiracy too?

            “That in no way describes UK immigration policy over the last 20 years, whatever your fever dreams tell you.”
            The UK can’t close it’s borders to EU citizens thus we have massive net migration of poor people to the UK consuming social resources that they have neither worked for nor paid for. I say that is pretty damaging to UK subjects.

            The only rational policy is to stop the free movement of people from the poor regions of the world to the UK. Since that action hasn’t been undertaken by any UK govt. I think it is fair to say that immigration policy is in a shambles.

            As to Lord M’s comments, I took that to mean that since they were sending out search parties, they weren’t that bothered about who actually came into the UK – remember what Neather said about the policy.

          • gunnerbear

            “How do you know what you read is representative?”

            Because I tend not to read just one source or newspaper. I’ve tried to put links in for the articles but then the comment seems to stick in moderation.

          • Brumanuensis

            Well yes, but newspaper reporting is not automatically representative. If 5 newspapers all report a dud set of statistics, that doesn’t make the figures valid.

          • gunnerbear

            Quite correct which is the reason that I – and I suspect you and lots of other commentators on the site – use all sorts of sources.

          • Brumanuensis

            Yes, but if all of them are reporting inaccurate information, multiple sources will not improve the accuracy of the claim.

        • James Lovelace

          The might not all be criminals. But if LibLabCon and their media bitches told the truth, an anti-immigration party would have been in control decades ago.

          Muslims are 5% of the UK population, but 14% of the prison population and 21% of the under-21 prison population.

          There have been 332 muslims convicted of terrorism since 2001, from a mere 5% of the population. From the other 95% of the population, there’s been 3 non-muslims convicted of terrorism (and one of those was an immigrant). And you want MORE immigration?

          99.5% of British muslims admit to being anti-gay. Imagine the measures demanded by the likes of that immigrant Sunny Hundal, if 99.5% of the indigenous population were openly anti-immigrant.

          • Brumanuensis

            Muslims are 5% of the UK population, but 14% of the prison population and 21% of the under-21 prison population.

            First of all, as is customary [citation needed]. Second, to prove your thesis – which is obviously ‘Muslims are more likely to be criminals’ – you’ll need to control for other variables that might influence behaviour, like mal-education, income levels, etc. How much of that – alleged – behaviour is down to Islam and how much is connected with (for example) low-income areas having higher rates of crime?

            There have been 332 muslims convicted of terrorism since 2001, from a mere 5% of the population. From the other 95% of the population, there’s been 3 non-muslims convicted of terrorism (and one of those was an immigrant). And you want MORE immigration?

            By your logic, would you have expelled all Irish people from the UK for the actions of a tiny minority during the Troubles?

            99.5% of British muslims admit to being anti-gay

            More recent polls differ ( http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thinktankcentral/2011/06/max-wind-cowie-of-demos-british-muslims-are-being-misrepresented-by-a-leadership-that-is-more-extrem.html )

            Imagine the measures demanded by the likes of that immigrant Sunny Hundal, if 99.5% of the indigenous population were openly anti-immigrant.

            The fact that you call Sunny Hundal – who was born in London and is as British as you or I – an ‘immigrant’ merely reveals you to be the jumped-up little bigot that I suspected you were.

          • James Lovelace

            “99.5% of British muslims admit to being anti-gay

            More recent polls differ ( http://conservativehome.blogs…. )”

            If you bothered to read the discussion at the place to which you linked, you’d see how the poll you champion gets torn apart. The question “are you proud of how x treats gays” could just as well have been answered positively by a majority of Iranians, proud their country kills gays. If YOU actually cared about the rampant homophobia among British muslims, YOU would have noticed that. But clearly, the vast majority of gays being forced out of east London by muslim violence & threats (Gay Free Zone), doesn’t bother you. Anything to defend your mascot du jour.

            If you bothered to look at the backgrounds of the muslims convicted of terrorism (and those suicide bombers who committed the worst terrorist killing in Britain’s history), you’d know they were not poor and uneducated. But again, anything to defend the evil behaviour of your mascots du jour.

            There’s nothing stopping any of the 100s of muslim/leftwing organisations, grown fat on public money, from conducting analysis to show that it is poverty/lack of education that drives muslim criminality. But, of course, they don’t. Instead, money is spent manufacturing data on supposed “attacks” on muslims (the worst racist murder in Britain’s history was that of a 14yo white boy, hunted down solely because of his colour – castrated while alive, eyes gouged out while alive, stabbed multiple times, then set on fire while still alive — killed by 3 muslim men). Your bias is transparent.

            The number of non-muslims who engage in terrorist crimes against muslims will only increase. The British elite, having manufactured an irreconcilable conflict in Ireland which has endured for centuries, have now manufactured another such religious conflict in Britain. I’m glad it’s not my children and grandchildren who will die for the actions of this elite, and the defenders of islamo-nazism like you.

          • Brumanuensis

            The question “are you proud of how x treats gays” could just as well have been answered positively by a majority of Iranians, proud their country kills gays

            What, so Iran has same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws? Given that the UK is arguably the best European country for gay and lesbian people ( http://ilga-portugal.pt/noticias/Noticias/Side_A_Rainbow_Europe_Map-%202013may%20(2).jpg ), what else could answering yes to that statement signify. I’ve no doubt British Muslims are on average more socially-conservative than other groups, but that doesn’t mean they’re violently homophobic either.

            But clearly, the vast majority of gays being forced out of east London by muslim violence & threats (Gay Free Zone), doesn’t bother you. Anything to defend your mascot du jour.

            Please provide a source for the claim that ‘the vast majority of gays’ are being forced out of east London. Considering that the Muslim mayor of Tower Hamlets has appeared at Gay Pride events alongside Peter Tatchell, I somehow doubt that the ‘gay free zones’ are the work of anything more than a few nutters. Especially given that almost all the Muslim groups in that part of London – such as the East London Mosque – condemned the stickers as soon as they appeared.

            If you bothered to look at the backgrounds of the muslims convicted of terrorism (and those suicide bombers who committed the worst terrorist killing in Britain’s history), you’d know they were not poor and uneducated. But again, anything to defend the evil behaviour of your mascots du jour.

            That’s actually answering a separate point to the one I made. Go back and read my comment again. I was referring to general crime, not to terrorist attacks.
            The rest of your post is swivel-eyed paranoia, with a side-order of hysteria. Go back to Stormfront you silly little boy and let the rational adults talk seriously.

          • gunnerbear

            “‘Muslims are more likely to be criminals'”

            No, it’s simple, they are in jail or they are not. The reasons are excuses.

          • Brumanuensis

            Who here was excusing anyone? I’m just pointing out that no-one has demonstrated causation.

          • gunnerbear

            “99.5% of British muslims admit to being anti-gay….The fact that you call Sunny Hundal – who was born in London and is as British as you or I – an ‘immigrant’ merely reveals you to be the jumped-up little bigot that I suspected you were.”

            Really….does that square with the Muslim community demanding Shaira Law? Think it’s okay for UK Muslims to stone homosexuals if it suits those shouting about religious law (featuring a chap who liked to have sex with young girls)?

          • Brumanuensis

            Please supply a documented instance where British Muslims have stoned a man to death for being gay.

            And Sharia law is a lot broader than you think it is, nor is it uniform. Most requests – demands is a loaded word – for permission to use sharia law are in areas like investing and drawing up wills, not executing people.

            Also, having quoted that section, do you stand by Lovelace’s obviously racist remark about Sunny Hundal being an immigrant?

          • gunnerbear

            Sorry, should have said, “if Sharia law is introduced UK Muslims will be able to stone UK homosexuals”.

            Islam is incompatible with the operation of a secular, liberal democracy. It just doesn’t fit….or do you want women’s evidence in court to be worth less than a mans?

            As to stoning and attacking homosexuals, looks like they came within an inch of actually achieving their goal:

            From the Daily Telegraph: Police-covered-up-violent-campaign-to-turn-London-area-Islamic (sorry the site won’t allow the link to be posted)

            Or perhaps in terms of social attitudes you’d prefer this:

            From the Guardian: Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance of homosexuality, says poll (sorry the site won’t allow the link to be posted)

            As to SH being an immigrant I think that is bit silly. I don’t agree with SH’s views but I thought he was born in the UK…I was using the quote to show that SH really does seem a bit inconsistent – he wants to allow the immigration of people into this country that follow a religion based on the words of a paedophile and which denigrates all non-Muslims.

          • Brumanuensis

            Sorry, should have said, “if Sharia law is introduced UK Muslims will be able to stone UK homosexuals”.

            It depends which bits are introduced. And no, the relevant sections won’t be.

            Islam is incompatible with the operation of a secular, liberal democracy. It just doesn’t fit….or do you want women’s evidence in court to be worth less than a mans?

            Those same criticisms can be made of Christianity, Judaism and virtually all major religions. The vast majority of British Muslims are well-assimilated and happy to live here in the UK. Relax Gunner. There is no Islamic ‘menace’ to worry about, outside of the tabloids.

            As to stoning and attacking homosexuals, looks like they came within an inch of actually achieving their goal:

            From the Daily Telegraph: Police-covered-up-violent-campaign-to-turn-London-area-Islamic (sorry the site won’t allow the link to be posted)

            Haha! Andrew Gilligan? The guy who was rebuked by the PCC for libelling Lutfur Rahman and whose ‘Trojan Horse’ claims are progressively deflating with each passing week? No to mention his dodgy reporting practices resulted in the government being let off the hook over the WMD fiasco.

            Or perhaps in terms of social attitudes you’d prefer this:

            From the Guardian: Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance of homosexuality, says poll (sorry the site won’t allow the link to be posted)

            As I pointed out up-thread, that finding is contradicted by other, more recent, opinion polling.

            As to SH being an immigrant I think that is bit silly. I don’t agree with SH’s views but I thought he was born in the UK…I was using the quote to show that SH really does seem a bit inconsistent – he wants to allow the immigration of people into this country that follow a religion based on the words of a paedophile and which denigrates all non-Muslims.

            What and the Christian religion, which proclaims the redemptive powers of a zombie cult leader, is any more sane and rational? Or Judaism, whose holy book is made up of a long string of rapes, murders and genocide, all perpetrated in the name of psychotic jealous divinity? Or Hinduism, which is just as violently intolerant as any other major religion and supports a rigid caste system that treats whole groups of people as sub-human? Yeah, Islam really sticks out doesn’t it?

          • gunnerbear

            Hellfire, I agree with you on all the bits about the religious tribes….

        • bf3

          Yeah, yeah, yeah – whatever. Nobody is listening any more.

          Bye bye.

          • Brumanuensis

            Bye bf3. As the late, great former Governor of Texas, Ann Richards once said of George H W Bush, “don’t let the door it your ass on the way out”.

  • PoundInYourPocket

    Calm down – no need for alarm. Immigration is not a new phenomena, nor is globalisation (free-trade). The vast majority are quite content with, even proud of, Britain as a culturally diverse country. UKIP is mopping up votes from –
    (i) The socially right-wing bigots that Cameron repelled
    (ii) The “workin-class” nationalists who could just as easily vote Labour as Tory.
    (iii) Nationaists with a revulsion of all thigs EU.
    There’s no reason why Labour should adjust its position to attract any of the above. Let them vote UKIP. However I agree there is a considerable problem in not getting the message across that immigration has benefited us and will continue to do so.
    As for globalisation, it’s been around for years as “free-trade” which Labour has supported since 1906. No change their either. It just needs managing so that it benefits all of us and not just the CEO’s.

    • gunnerbear

      Can you define ‘socially right wing bigot’ please.

      • PoundInYourPocket

        ‘socially right wing bigot’ , for me it’s those unhappy with the increasing tolerance in society of various minorities and the rights they have gained since the mid 70’s. Wether it’s the race-equality laws, equal pay legislation etc. The hot ones at the momemt for UKIPers are gay-marriage and woman bishops. But there are more.

        • gunnerbear

          Thanks for that. I’ve never seen the issue with SSM or female clergy. It hardly seems to be that radical given that even the most devout Christians don’t stick to the exact commandments in the Bible all the time.

          In terms of equal pay – seems pretty sensible too – but of course the crunch comes when it’s about comparing different jobs.

          As to the race-equality laws – well again, great idea but there is now a huge industry devoted to them and some of the cases brought are ridiculous which I suppose does bring the whole thing into disrepute at times.

          Never understood the row about legalising homosexuality either – I’ve always thought it was a bit weird to attempt to ban it. Equally, I don’t think that it should be promoted either.

          I’m pretty much ‘live and let live’ when it comes to what consenting adults get up to…..

          …..with the possible exception of speaking Welsh in public…..now that is weird.

          • Brumanuensis

            As to the race-equality laws – well again, great idea but there is now a huge industry devoted to them

            I’ll be sure to tell the people I work with that. They’ll be delighted to know that as they struggle along with a perennial lack of funding, that they’re actually sitting on a goldmine. Who knew eh?

            Equally, I don’t think that it should be promoted either

            How exactly does one ‘promote’ homosexuality? Having Graham Norton host a chat show? Arrange for screenings of “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” in schools?

          • gunnerbear

            Still think there is no race-relations industry…following it’s own aims to soak up as much taxpayers cash as possible:

            From EU Referendum (fully sourced post): blank-cheque-for-race-relations

            Or perhaps you might even concede just how utterly stupid it has all become (the laws of unintended consequences and all that)….

            From The Guardian: bnp-far-right-law

            What I mean by promote homosexuality is exactly that – it should neither be overly talked about nor barely mentioned. Leave it in private as a matter between consenting adults (as heterosexual sex should be – a private matter).

            Those that are interested in homosexual relationships will no doubt find out in due course, just as the millions of heterosexual people who were not taught about sex also found out.

          • Brumanuensis

            Still think there is no race-relations industry…following it’s own aims to soak up as much taxpayers cash as possible:

            From EU Referendum (fully sourced post): blank-cheque-for-race-relations

            Or perhaps you might even concede just how utterly stupid it has all become (the laws of unintended consequences and all that)…

            Your url doesn’t work. Try again.

            What I mean by promote homosexuality is exactly that – it should neither be overly talked about nor barely mentioned. Leave it in private as a matter between consenting adults (as heterosexual sex should be – a private matter).

            Those that are interested in homosexual relationships will no doubt find out in due course, just as the millions of heterosexual people who were not taught about sex also found out.

            If that was supposed to make any sense, I’m none the wiser.

          • Steve Stubbs

            I have been to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Doesn’t make me want to take part in SSM though.

            I never understood the hysteria against section 28, which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. Didn’t ban the practice of homosexuality, or lesbianism, though. Only the ‘promotion’ of it. Now you are telling me we don’t really know what that was. Clue – ask Stonewall. They do it all the time.

            More seriously, I have banged on at length in Labour List that we are doing ourselves no favours with the attacks on those who exercise their democratic right to vote for UKIP. Instead we should be tackling what it is that makes them want to do so.

            But that’s a bit harder I guess.

          • Brumanuensis

            I never understood the hysteria against section 28, which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. Didn’t ban the practice of homosexuality, or lesbianism, though. Only the ‘promotion’ of it. Now you are telling me we don’t really know what that was. Clue – ask Stonewall. They do it all the time.

            Section 28 was a blatantly homophobic piece of legislation that depicted homosexuality as a ‘problem’ – why else ban its ‘promotion’ – and discouraged gay and lesbian pupils from talking about problems they were facing. t was nasty and vindictive, and in no way an acceptable policy in a civilised society.

            More seriously, I have banged on at length in Labour List that we are doing ourselves no favours with the attacks on those who exercise their democratic right to vote for UKIP. Instead we should be tackling what it is that makes them want to do so.

            It’s hard to do that when the root causes they identify for those problems are demonstrably wrong.

          • gunnerbear

            The House of Lords report into the impact of immigration on youth unemployment would seem to suggest otherwise. We’ve imported millions of eastern Europeans…..are you suggesting that has had no effect or impact on wage levels at the bottom end of the market?

      • toptophat

        ‘Any one who disagrees with correct thought’?

    • JoeDM

      The history of immigration has gone alongside a history of immigrants integrating, adopting the local culture and social norms. Unfortunately recent immigrant communities seem more interested in maintaining their alien culture and not integrating into our socially liberal society.

      • PoundInYourPocket

        I’m not sure to what extent they ever integrated. I suppose it depends where you live and which groups you’re talking about. In Bradford in the 80’s the pakistani community never really integrated as they had their own businesses and communities. Of course some did move out of their local communities and integrate more. But on the whole I’d say that non-white immigrants have never fully integrated as they still live in their own parts of town. The asian taxi drivers in my home town still refer to one side of town as “pinkie town” as it’s where all the whites live. So I think I must disagree and say that non-white immigrants never integrated and still don’t. But that’s their choice. If you go to Spain do the British integrate with the local Spanish ? No.

        • The issue is not measuring a *degree* of integration, it’s how people *feel* about the presence of ‘others.’ Even if people were 3rd gen and the only difference was pigment – it would be a problem for some: people feel threatened by difference.

      • Brumanuensis

        No they don’t. Polling evidence suggests that young British Muslims – that’s who you’re talking about, let’s not pussy-foot around – are arguably the best integrated in Europe. British Muslims are, on average, more patriotic than non-Muslim Brits ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2063828/Muslims-patriotic-British-people.html ).

        • PoundInYourPocket

          Oh dear – a link to the Daily Mail !

          • Brumanuensis

            Using the Right’s own publications against them is quite satisfying.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            I expect it was an old copy wrapped around your fish and chisps. Not one you puchased ?

          • Brumanuensis

            I remembered the opinion poll and decided that using the Mail’s article was best.

            My fish and chips are wrapped in the Mail though. The Birmingham Mail that is.

        • bf3

          Keep playing that same record – nobody is listening any more.

          • Brumanuensis

            Yes, let’s ignore reality in favour of what the tabloid columnists tell us.

          • gunnerbear

            Pity Drummer Rigby’s family can’t ignore reality though is it?

            I wonder if they think Labour’s open door immigration policy was a great success.

          • Brumanuensis

            Lee Rigby’s murderers are no more representative of British Muslims than Mick Philpott is representative of White Britons.

          • gunnerbear

            I didn’t mention the wider Muslim community rather the question was about the success or otherwise of recent immigration policy.

          • Brumanuensis

            So a pair of nutcases can be used to define the success or failure of the UK’s immigration policy?

            Tell you what, if you want to play that game, I’m going to use Mo Farah and Zaha Hadid as proof that our immigration policy is an unadulterated success.

          • gunnerbear

            Fair enough…but I’m not worried about one or two highly skilled people getting in to the UK……its the millions in the other parts of the world that want to get here. We are seen as a soft touch, weak and full of giveaways which is why of course the illegals turn up in Calais and don’t stay in Germany, Italy or France.

      • Steve Cheney

        “Unfortunately recent immigrant communities seem more interested in maintaining their alien culture and not integrating into our socially liberal society.”

        You say that like these are two points at opposite ends of a spectrum – that you can either “Retain Your Alien Culture” or “Integrate Into Our Socially Liberal Society”.

        There are a lot of myths about “refusal to integrate”, and they’re all based on the notion that foreigners are fundamentally not like us in their basic motivations. According to these myths, if someone comes to work in this country, they will refuse to learn English, in order to improve their chances of getting a job somehow. In reality, free English classes supplied to immigrants were massively over-subscribed, until the Coalition hit on the bright idea of making them only available to the unemployed which… ugh.

        I’m always curious as to what integration means to people though. Is integration about more than learning the language, getting a job, buying things, watching TV and so on? We all remember the dreaded “cricket exam”, and I cannot shake the feeling that, as an umpteenth generation native Brit, I would not pass muster by the standards that many “pro-integration” types set for foreigners. I mean, I don’t even LIKE cucumber sandwiches, but I gather that if I don’t know which way to slice them to make them taste better, my passport will be shoved up my bum by Norman Tebbit and his sonwife.

        The kind of integration that is necessary to survive in Britain, rather than merely desirable to xenophobes, can sit easily alongside most “alien” cultures, because most “alien” cultures are not so alien that they don’t involve people talking to each other, working for a living and so on. All countries have laws and crimes, and it’s easy for most people to accept that the laws are different in different countries – it seems weirdly colonial to imagine that foreigners wouldn’t be able to grasp that.

        A lot of the requirements of integration fans aren’t acceptable though. I’m only 30, but I’m old enough to remember when someone wearing unusual clothes was at most interesting, and covering your face was no big deal really. Yet I’m told that now, integration means that you only wear what is acceptable to me and my children whom I have trained to be scared of anyone who wears the clothes you wear. That’s not about integration – that’s about people claiming that their own prejudices are “British culture” in order to impose them on others. If we call that “socially liberal”, then yeah, of course people are going to bump up against it, but that’s not because of refusal to integrate, it’s just not being intimidated by armchair dictators.

    • John Dombrick

      I have no issue with immigration as such. My grandfather came to England as a 12 year old abandoned child and joined the Royal Navy where he served until he retired in 1919. My issue is with the effect of immigration in that the politicians, local and national do not make the necessary changes to infrastructure to accommodate the net inflow. This is mainly why we now live, at least in the cities, with insufficient GPs, school places and housing. The other effect is on the elderly. I speak with old people living on Council Estates who have neighbours who do not speak English in public, do not join in any of the social activities that used to thrive and generally do not mix with their neighbours. Older people in many cases are actually frightened of living in almost complete isolation from their neighbours particularly when many of the community based social activities and locations have been closed down as a result of local authority cuts. I’m not just talking about white English here. Some of these people have their origins in India, post war Poland and so on. When they came here they worked hard, learnt the language and were sociable with their neighbours. Now they feel isolated and abandoned. It is not just right wing loonies who vote UKIP. A lot of these people are intending to vote for them as well not just because they are particularly pro UKIP but because they feel abandoned by the other parties, especially Labour who they think should know better. In my view it does no good if you try to make yourself look good by knocking others. If all the other parties can do is conduct smear campaigns against UKIP it just convinces these people that they are scared of them taking votes. They have to let UKIP get on with it but try very hard to convince people that they understand why immigration is an issue and that they will do something to restore the balance.

      • PoundInYourPocket

        “insufficient GPs, school places and housing”. Is immigration really the cause of this ? I know it isn’t in my area , and I keep asking myself “where are all these EU immigrants ?”, I can’t find them, other than the ocassional Polish bar-maid in the city centre. Is this issue real ? Or is it everywhere else but not where I live. I agree with you on the issue of old people, they do feel ostracised when the street changes in ethnicity, either white to non-white or vice-versa. But as ever all it needs is for people to meet up at a local community centre and they’ll discover they have more in common than not. All it takes is a cup of tea to overcome prejudice. The Sikh’s open-door and free-food custom has gone a long way in my area to improving relations !! If you have a beef with Labour because they’ve left you behind , OK , find or create another; but there’s no need to support a party based on intolerance.

        • John Dombrick

          Things that change are rarely due to a single cause so perhaps I should have said that the reduction in these things as a result of cuts has made things worse when an increase in local population is also taking place as it is in West London and a lot of other places. If you can’t see ‘all these EU immigrants’ come to the London Borough of Hounslow, stand in the High Street in either Hounslow or Feltham and just listen to the languages. Officially 56% of the population of the Borough were not born in the UK. Local Community Centres are being closed due to cuts so having a social is not an option. I have not been left behind, I was referring to old people that I talk to on estates and although my vote is my business, I’m not voting for UKIP, many of them tell me are. If I have a beef with Labour it is because their approach to UKIP is just to rubbish it. I say let them get on with it, Labour should be more positive about itself and what it will do to address the concerns of those who are planning to vote UKIP. Just standing there booing at Farage isn’t going to make anyone vote for them. Making yourself look good by making someone else look bad rarely succeeds. Not for long anyway. I am personally pleased to be living in a diverse society and gald that my children didn’t grow up in an all white Christian community. They are much more worldly for it but at the end of the day you can’t get a quart into a pint pot.

        • treborc1

          Then your lucky report from 2007.

          THIS is the Welsh town that has become such a draw for immigrant Poles that it has been nicknamed Llane-ski.

          Llanelli’s population of 40,000 has been bolstered by an influx of at least 2,000 Polish immigrants, and thousands more in the surrounding Gwendraeth Valley.

          It means the Carmarthenshire town famous for Felinfoel beer and rugby is now 5% Polish – and it became the centre of a UK-wide debate about Polish immigration yesterday..

          Some estimates put the number of Poles living in the wider Gwendraeth Valley area at around 8,000.

          That was in 2007 it has really gone up they says it locally around the area at 9000 plus and that without all the others.

          Nothing wrong with immigration if labour has build a few hundred council houses they have built nothing since the 1980’s the waiting list in my area is seven years, yet Polish people are housed in council housing, somebody is missing out.

          We are to lose four maybe five major hospital in Wales mine now is only a holding hospital and has no specialist or consultants, the NHS dentist has reached 12,000 patients for three dentist.Have toothache like my wife did and I took her tooth out myself , she could not stand the pain anymore.

          My eight year old grandson was in the national press , he was taken into hospital to under go an operation he had all his teeth taken out after a bad tooth infected his gums, he lost his first and second teeth. Immigration get priority for dentist, private dentist are paid to treat all immigrants for the first two years and children until they are fifteen, except my grandson.

    • Steve Cheney

      An interesting point has come up recently regarding UKIP’s anti-immigration posters:

      http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2014/04/30/ukip-posters-branded-a-lie-as-builders-report-labour-shortag

      Between this and their “26 million EU migrants are pointing at YOUR JOB” campaign, they are actually just relying on myth and conjecture, and I think a lot of people do see through that. The worst possible thing would be for the other parties to meet them on those terms – to acknowledge that these myths might be true and argue from that false point.

      Buuuuut, what’s frustrating about all this is that Labour have traditionally been less pro-immigration than the Tories, for economic reasons similar to those the UKIP throw over their tacit (and not so tacit) xenophobia. Then a bunch of racists started saying “yeah, we agree with Labour, kick out the black bastards!” and suddenly it was impossible to debate the issue at all – which in turn allowed the racists to claim that everyone was too scared to debate it, when actually, the whole reason the debate wasn’t happening was because they kept showing up to it.

  • EricBC

    You say: ‘The Labour base is now concentrated in big cities and urban areas(like Democrats), and become more liberal, while rural areas have trended more towards the right and become more anti-immigration.’

    I am not so sure about ‘and urban areas.’ It is too sweeping. There are very many smaller cities and towns where Labour support is dead. I have lived in two. Labour is now the party of the major CONURBATIONS and nowt else. Labour seats are concentrated in seven areas, namely six conurbations and South Wales.

    • toptophat

      Very interesting work by Bristol Uni ‘Labours Lost Grassroots BP FINAL.pdf’
      demonstrates this perfectly, London membership has gone from less than 12% up to 21% total of total party membership, at the expense of losses from all ten other regions.
      Labour is now the party of London not cities

      • Brumanuensis

        Labour is now the party of London not cities

        Well except Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Sunderland, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Aberdeen, Plymouth, Swansea and Bristol.

        • toptophat

          Which have all seen drops in the membership while London has seen massive growth
          Did you read the report…

          • Brumanuensis

            How can Labour be ‘the party of London not cities’ – what, is London no longer a city? – when it continues to dominate both local and national government in those areas?

          • toptophat

            Durr London is one city not all cities…’all not A is B’? how thick are you?

          • Brumanuensis

            I note you’re avoiding my point. Also, don’t blame me for your sloppy grammar – if you’re referring to ‘cities’ and you wish to distinguish them from London, you need a ‘the’ in there, otherwise it looks as if you’re implying that London is not a city.

          • toptophat

            London is one city, not all cities – ok a comma looks better
            ‘Always criticize grammar if you have no factual counter-argument’ – student politics 101′?
            If you can’t parse that then your knowledge of English grammar is as faulty as your understanding of…well, pretty much everything
            much smirking

          • Brumanuensis

            Whatever makes you feel better.

          • toptophat

            Mocking the afflicted shouldn’t be so much fun, but hey, what ya gonna do

          • Brumanuensis

            Well in your case I’d take a remedial course in interpreting statistics, because it’s clear you badly need a reminder of how numbers work.

          • Brumanuensis

            Are you just going to ignore the massive numbers of councillors, MPs and voters in those areas then, purely because they’re not all Labour members? They’re part of the movement too, you know.

        • EricBC

          Seven conurbations and a few outlier areas total around 25 millions depending on definitions. Rural folk on farms and in smaller villages bring that up to 30 million. Outside of that area Labour has very few seats.

          The other half live in small cities, and large and small towns. The EU elections will show UKIP taking seats in these cities and towns from the Tories as Labour voters switch from a no hope candidate to one with a chance.

          • Brumanuensis

            You mean outside of the areas where almost half the country lives? Is that meant to be a criticism of Labour, Eric? If so, it’s pretty weak.

    • Brumanuensis

      Define ‘conurbation’. I’m guessing you mean Greater London, the metropolitan West Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and South Wales. That leaves out a number of areas where Labour is very competitive like Bristol and the Nottingham-Derby urban area.

      So aside from being more than seven, why exactly is it a bad thing for Labour to be concentrated in areas where around half of the UK’s population lives? Ooh-er! How scary!

      • Trofim

        Don’t forget how many people DON’T want to live there but have to. Noticed how there’s a Start a New Life in the Country TV programme, and others similar, but not a Start a New Life in the Inner City. I live in Brum, for my sins, and am always being asked why, as a Worcestershire native, I live in Birmingham instead of my native county. Raised eyebrows all round at such bizarre behaviour.

        • Brumanuensis

          Well as a Brummie myself, I must question the influx of interlopers from Worcestershire. What with their fancy rural ways and fondness for tractors (I imagine).

          [narrows eyes]

  • toptophat

    Lets see labour party membership below 200 000, less than before WW2 and decreasing by the year, unions slashing or even cancelling financial support, union membership itself lower than since before WW2…talk about losing relevance
    The Womens Institute has more members than the LP, and I would more likely vote for a WI candidate if one turned up…

    • Brumanuensis

      And yet Labour is still the largest Party and is larger than it was 4 years ago. The decline in Party membership has hit all Parties hard; it’s not a Labour-only phenomenon.

      Trade union membership rose last year, on the back of a sharp increase in private-sector union members, outweighing a loss of members in the public sector.

    • Brumanuensis

      And yet Labour is still the largest Party and is larger than it was 4 years ago. The decline in Party membership has hit all Parties hard; it’s not a Labour-only phenomenon.

      Trade union membership rose last year, on the back of a sharp increase in private-sector union members, outweighing a loss of members in the public sector.

      • toptophat

        Vote labour, not quite as bad as the tories!
        no charge

        • Brumanuensis

          You were implying that it was a problem that only Labour had. That was inaccurate.

          • toptophat

            Nope, wrong again I never mentioned any other party…

          • Brumanuensis

            So why didn’t you mention the similar trends in the other Parties? You’re being devious. You meant to imply that this was a Labour problem and now someone has called you out on it, you’re dissembling.

    • Steve Cheney

      Party membership in general has declined. You say Labour’s membership is “less than before WW2”, but the figures from that time show party membership for Labour and Tories in the millions.

      The point being, it is not that Labour have fallen out of favour; it is that party membership has. UKIP are able to boast that they are “the fastest growing party”; however, that is not hard, and arguably just demonstrates how different their supporters are from the majority of people.

      My experience of UKIP supporters online is that they are not only extremely defensive of Nigel Farage, but seem to imagine that supporters of the other parties will feel the same way about their leaders. They don’t seem to share the lack of deference and the general cynicism that most British people feel towards politicians – all of them, not just the ones outside their pet party.

      I think it was exemplified by the reaction to the “w*nker gesture” video recently. Had it happened to any other political leader, it would be a rare moment of unity where people from all parties unite to have a chuckle. But when it happened to Farage, the supporters were outraged, accusing the passerby of being a paid plant, and saying how typical it was of “the lib/lab/con”.

      That, I am guessing, is why their membership is increasing, and why we don’t really need to worry about it.

  • Brumanuensis

    Young and urban voters, who are more comfortable with a globalised and culturally diverse world, have started moving to the Left in the UK and USA

    That’s true of young people in the US, but in the UK – as the Economist gloatingly noted – young people tend to be ‘lberal’ in a social and an economic sense. Fine with same-sex marriage, immigration, etc. but also hostile to benefit recipients and sceptical about public services. Older voters are the other way round.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      I agree with you on the point that many of our “young and urban voters” are in fact very right wing, they are the new fighting spirit of the Tory party. With some really abhorent and intolerant views. A mix of tabloid hatred and US libertarian anti-goverment policy. Never heard of Richard Cobden before so thanks for the reference. But there is distinction between “free-trade” and what we have now which is far from “free” or equitable. What the Tory party support and promote now is not what was previously thought of as “free-trade” but more akin to serving monopoly interests that masquerade as “free-trade”. Adam Smith would be just as appauled as Keynes at the lobbying, cronyism and corrupt practices of the likes of Crapita, Serco, etc etc. There’s no “Manchester Liberalism” here is there ?

      • JoeDM

        “What the Tory party support and promote now is not what was previously thought of as “free-trade” but more akin to serving monopoly interests that masquerade as “free-trade”.”

        Exactly why there is so much cynicism about Cameron’s Tory Party given its real pro-EU, pro-big-State, high tax agenda.

      • Brumanuensis

        I would certainly agree that modern day ‘free-trade’ agreements – like the TPP or the EU-US deal, are not about free-trade, but about IP regulations and extending corporate protections, at the expense of workers and the wider public.

        With luck, the Right will acquire their own version of the Militant Tendency and sink accordingly.

  • Aidan Kerr

    First of all a great column Sunny, I have been enjoying reading your work lately.

    One issue missing is the ‘Scottish’ dimension to the issue the rise of UKIP in ‘British’ (read English) politics. UKIP will get a single percentage point of the vote in Scotland in May. This will add fuel to the already post-1983 fire of the ‘diverging politics’ of Scotland the rest of the UK (read England).

    We will have UKIP win the European elections, perhaps win the Newark by-election and be an electoral force in the UK. At the same time having miniscule support in Scotland. This is an interesting dynamic to the independence referendum which very few London based commentators have picked up on.

  • James Lovelace

    Great to see that Sunny Hundal is as clueless as ever.

    The rise of parties like UKIP, PVV, Front National was predicted by people like me 4 years ago. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

  • Steve Cheney

    What has frustrated me most about the “rise of UKIP” (which hopefully is just a blip but who knows) is that it’s come at a time when, following an election where no one really won properly, people were starting to get that politics is just as much about making sure you have desirable choices when the election comes around as it is about voting.

    Think about it: in the past few years, groups like 38Degrees have grown to such an extent that the Tories tried to make them illegal (sort of) – because ordinary people responded to the lacklustre 2010 election not by looking for an “alternative”, but by trying to pressure the existing parties into representing them. We were at a point where none of the Big Three could take people’s vote for granted anymore, and it was increasing people’s engagement: normal people, rather than just disgruntled parish prodnoses, were starting to get in touch with their MPs and ministers and let them know how they felt.

    The paranoid/cynic in me says that the effort made by the media to propel Farage into the spotlight is a reaction to that – after all, the major parties don’t really *want* to work hard, and if they can get people off their back by jingling some quasi-racist keys around, why wouldn’t they? But it’s probably not the case.

    Still, it does seem that UKIP’s presence has allows the major parties to relax and return to their most comfortable partisan territory. It’s provided a justification for the Tories to go as far to the right as they want – under the pretence of competing with UKIP, and not at all because they just really really want to, no – and it has allowed Labour to slump back into a “we’re not the other guys” campaign and start taking the UK’s substantial left-leaning vote for granted again.

    It’s probable that the press are overstating the impact of the Euro elections, which I swear most people seem to treat as “mock exams” for the generals – a good way to Make Their Point and protest, before they have to start thinking about who they’d actually want running the country. It’s unlikely that UKIP will be able to do as well in the general election, and there’s a pretty low upper limit on the damage that UKIP can do with just MEPs, no matter how many they get.

    The real danger, I think, is that Farage is allowed to retain this dreadful “elephant in the room” status, whereby every political decision now has to be thought of in terms of how it will appeal to Nigel’s Army. There’s enough information out there for people to know that spurning the major parties in favour of someone way worse is childish and counter-productive – since it acts as an endorsement of bad politicians and simply says that we want them to wear slightly different outfits – and I think that if people are still committed, that’s probably going to be the case until they’d pissed their votes away.

    But while he’s around, the major parties have an excuse for the lazy reactionary politics that everybody hates them for – the kind that UKIP claim to oppose but in fact both practice and necessitate in others. Blanking him is preferable to engaging with him; the majority still don’t support his party and if the major parties fall over themselves to court back the UKIP vote, it’s just going to lead to massive disillusionment among the rest of the population – again, taking them for granted. UKIP’s only real talent is in presenting issues that are really important to a minority – who could always just vote for them – as something that the other parties MUST mirror their position on. UKIP’s supporters seem to believe that, unless every party is promising a referendum on the EU, then that’s just not good enough – even though right now there is probably more diversity of position on that across the parties than on almost any other issue!

    Labour is the only party that stands a fighting chance of properly opposing UKIP, rather than just allowing them to dictate their agenda. According to polls, more people want to stay in the EU than leave, and Labour should be appealing to those people – discouraging them from voting for the Tories who refuse to fully commit.

    My suspicion is that UKIP will burn out after the 2015 election – they are unlikely to gain more than a couple of seats if any, and they will have expended vast resources on getting to that point. The party is highly dependent on a small number of donors, and while Paul Sykes says he’ll back them forever and ever, realistically, I think he won’t want to back a loser – he is, after all, a businessman, and if UKIP can’t get him what he wants, he’ll have no further reason to deal with them.

    Really, the most important thing is not to let UKIP undo the good work that was being done before Faragemania took over. The parties can be moulded by their voters into better representing what the people want, but only if they are not allowed to relax into lazy partisan grooves. Labour need to fear that people might all go and vote for someone else if they don’t listen to them, and unfortunately, that’s not the case right now; they are currently coasting towards the least earned general electoral victory since… well, 2010, but before then it was probably Major in ’92. There is a huge amount of support for some quite traditionally leftie policies, and Labour are the only major party that can capitalise on it without having to do a ridiculous and unpopular U-Turn.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      “people were starting to get that politics is just as much about making
      sure you have desirable choices when the election comes around as it is
      about voting.”
      Excellent point.
      It reminds me of how Colin Crouch ends his thoroughly depressing book on politics by saying that “You can’t wriggle out of being human.”
      Meaning that democracy isn’t a “given” and it involves more than just putting a cross on a bit of paper. You have to try somehow to create parties that deserve your vote. UKIP don’t and will expire. But the main damage they cause, in my opinion, is in the local elections. We will soon have hundereds of tin-pot opportunists meddling with serious service delivery challenges, the outcome of which seriosly affect our lives. They are the national anti-EU party but the local pot-hole party.

      • Steve Cheney

        It is tempting to think of their supporters are The Green Ink Brigade – or I guess they’d be the Comic Sans Brigade these days.

        It shows in the way that UKIP approach issues like unemployment – speaking directly to the financially secure and/or retired parents of young workers, rather than the workers themselves, and using 30 year old arguments that don’t hold up for a second to anyone who is looking for work in the here-and-now. The image of people queuing up for a job is pretty telling.

        This is unfortunate. UKIP have the advantage that the demography of their votership is pretty focused on older white men, so it’s a lot easier to pander to their prejudices knowing that everyone who would be offended by them isn’t going to vote for them anyway. It is a lot harder for Labour or even the Tories to create strong simple images that their more diverse voter base won’t dismiss as hogwash.

        But yes, you are certainly right that democracy is only effective, and i would argue only more desirable than a benign dictatorship, if people are able to determine what choices they will be offered, rather than just which one they will choose.

        And you are probably right that UKIP will burn out soon enough. It would be nice if they could burn out before they have the opportunity to ensconce themselves in more cushy jobs. But still, when I want reassurance, I just look at poor bankrupt Nick Griffin, still in his Euro seat, but having gone from a pantomime villain to the biggest irrelevance in politics in a few scant years.

        What I would say is that, if you’re worried about those tinpot councillors, don’t be. Someone on a Facebook group I use has been keeping track of this, and the odds of a UKIP candidate making it from election to the end of their first term without either quitting the party, being fired from the party, or being removed from their position for impropriety are pretty solid. Council elections attract weird people at the best of times, of course, and those people get in because of low turnout and low interest; still, it seems that UKIP have been taking on candidates for these roles without really checking even whether they’re aware of what the job will entail or what the party’s position on anything is.

        It’s unsurprising – since all their policies other than “leave the EU” have been up in the air for a while, there’s not much point in a local councillor knowing what they are. Still, you have to think that a sensible party would have gone for a smaller number of candidates and exercised a bit more quality control!

        • PoundInYourPocket

          It’s certainly interesting to look at the Local Manifesto of the UKIP party in my area:-

          Campaign for free parking in all borough town centres.
          Review and revise the proposed market place modernisation plan to reflect the town’s medieval history.
          Re-instate the public conveniences in the town centre.
          Remove councillors allowances for sitting on committees.
          Local referenda on major issues.
          Independent review into possible historic corruption within the council.

          There’s the populist themes that are not costed, appeals to history and tradition, suggestions that salaries are too high and a bizarre accustation that previous unnamed councillors were corrupt.

          But of course no detail on how a UKIP council will manage to deliver the rising demand for statutory services with a government funding cut of 20% over the next 3 years.

          The most frightening aspect is the local referendum, given that when the council polled the voters on which services should be protected, pot-holes were voted as priority number one , whilst council tax benefits for the poorest were given the lowest priority. Perhaps Plato was right after all.

          • Steve Cheney

            Based on my summer as a temp at a Council Transport & Highways complaints department, this guy is a study in short-termist populism which, yes, might get him elected, only to be a complete disaster, and I would want to murder him.

            And yes, the “local referendum” thing… this might be reading too much into it, but there is a lot that is very American about UKIP. There’s superficial stuff like loosening gun control and the general contempt for the NHS; but this idea that the law should vary from one area to the next is very central to American politics, even though it has so many dreadful implications – most obvious of which is that it prioritises issues people care about in the moment over issues that people will only care about when they are neglected for long enough.

          • Quiet_Sceptic

            People’s concern for basics like bins, pot-holes, street sweeping is completely natural – people don’t like being forced to hand over large amounts of cash and get nothing in return.

            A lot of people aren’t heavily reliant on the council, their main interaction with it is through the basic services like bins, roads, parks and when most households are paying £1000+ each year, of course they want to see something for their money.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            That’s OK providing you don’t have children or become old or disabled or unemployed or catch a bus.

          • JoeDM

            The Council Tax payers are interested in the quality of service provided to them, not in the benefits paid to the scroungers.

        • Trofim

          Older white men? How dreadful. I mean white is bad, white male is dreadful, but old, white and male is astonishingly dreadful. By the way, I find the word “white” extremely offensive when used of pinkish people. I would like to see its use discontinued.

          • Steve Cheney

            “Older white men? How dreadful. I mean white is bad, white male is dreadful, but old, white and male is astonishingly dreadful.”

            I am, of course, not saying that there is anything terrible about older white men. But it is objectively true that they are the most pandered to demographic in existence, and any party claiming to be an alternative to the establishment will look a bit fishy if they are the only people it can attract in any quantity.

            “By the way, I find the word “white” extremely offensive when used of pinkish people. I would like to see its use discontinued.”

            Too bad?

          • Trofim

            Too bad? That’s exactly what I would say to those brown people so dreadfully, mortally traumatised by hearing the word “nigger”. No, don’t start going on about brown people being hard done by blah blah whereas I’m not. I’ve heard it all before.

          • Steve Cheney

            I was actually just going to call you a prat and not waste another second on you.

          • Trofim

            A prat whose lived much more than twice as long as your time on earth and done things a kid like you never will, including living in the USSR. The left, always, but always resort to abuse. You’ve got a good mentor in Hundal. In true leftist fashion, those who don’t agree with him are pricks, tossers and idiots. Now пошел ты на хуй, блядь.

          • Danny

            Trofim, old boy, you’re deeply confused. People aren’t calling you a prick, tosser or idiot because you don’t agree with them.

            They are calling you a prick, tosser or idiot because you are a prick, tosser and idiot.

            And you’ve probably lived three times as long as me and I’ve only ever lived in Norfolk. Yet I could work out this quite clear fact where you couldn’t. Best get back to the USSR and become a bit more wordly and do a few more things us kids never will.

            Age is no excuse for ignorance.

          • Trofim

            Can’t get back to the USSR cock, it stopped existing in 1991, as you may remember.

          • Steve Cheney

            “Age is no excuse for ignorance.”

            Can this be the next anti-UKIP slogan?

  • bf3

    “UKIP have captured voters who are not that well off, hurt by growing
    inequality and job insecurity, and become disillusioned with the
    political system.”

    Weren’t you MSM pundits telling us last year that UKIP supporters are all ex-Tory golf bores?

    What a bunch of idiots lot you are!

  • Caroline Molloy

    tedious to see another article mischaracterising ex-banker farage as somehow ‘outside the establishment’. farage is the city’s creation, funded to triangulate the tories to the right, esp on workers rights.

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