How Labour can stop Nigel Farage

6th May, 2014 7:05 am

Last week I wrote about the potential impact of UKIP on the Tories. This week I wanted to reflect more generally on the causes of the UKIP phenomenon and the significance of it.

I don’t believe UKIP is a flash in the pan that will disappear when the binary choice of a General Election presents itself. Sure, they are always going to get squeezed when people have to pick a Prime Minister, and will be less appealing in an election for Westminster than one specifically about Europe. But the idea that they will be back at the 3.1% they scored in the 2010 General Election in the 2015 one is delusional.

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A lot has changed since then. In the 2009 Euro Elections they won 16.5% of the vote. The latest polls suggest they are on track for 29%, nearly double that. In terms of Westminster voting intention they are on 15%, whereas in 2009 they were on 6%.

Assuming a similar relationship between their opinion poll scores and Euro election support and their subsequent General Election score at the equivalent stage in the electoral cycle in 2009 and now, it looks like they are heading for at least a doubling of their 2010 General Election score to 6% or more in 2015.

They are also beginning to build votes in different sets of elections in the cycle, not just the Euros. Last year they got 22% in the local government elections, which are nothing to do with Europe. This indicates there are a growing cadre of voters who don’t just pick UKIP once every five years as a protest about Europe but are starting to vote for them at every level, year in year out. Eventually a slice of those people will just continue that pattern in General Elections as well because it has become the norm for them.

Success in council elections is helping UKIP to build a constituency infrastructure too. They won 147 councillors last year, and will win more this year, and there is a proven relationship between having incumbent councillors to lead campaigning and success in other levels of election. Generally their infrastructure is improving, for instance they have shop-front offices in many towns, and are increasingly able to field large numbers of council candidates even where they have no chance of winning seats. Whilst they still don’t seem to have even a rudimentary process for vetting candidates (so the media and rival parties find their racist tweets before UKIP does), being able to run large numbers of candidates indicates you have a large number of members willing to stand and a network of election agents able to do the basic legal aspects of the role to get them nominated. UKIP’s campaign literature that I have seen looks increasingly sophisticated, with high production standards and a professionally conveyed message. Some of this machine comes from people previously outside politics who are new to electioneering, but a good deal of it comes from Tory defectors who know what they are up to because a major party trained them.

This is a party which for all its flaws has its tail up, is receiving massive media coverage (my guess is some of the negative coverage looks like bullying of amateurs/outsiders and will backfire as it reinforces the narrative of a conspiratorial pro-EU political and media elite) and is being seen as a legitimate choice to be considered by a growing section of the electorate.

As well as predicting that they will get at least 6% in 2015 I think they will be in contention to run the Tories close and maybe even snatch some wins in half a dozen east coast constituencies, particularly in Kent and Lincolnshire. Even if they don’t win, this will pin down Tory resources. The hysteria being generated amongst every Tory MP whose seat Nigel Farage flirts with running in is not to be underestimated.

Why has UKIP got it itself into such a strong position?

I don’t think it’s good enough to say it’s all about racism. It is now proven, because they are being exposed by the media and online, that a remarkable number of UKIP’s candidates and activists are idiotic racists and bigots. But not every UKIP candidate and activist is a racist, and I don’t believe the majority of their 29% Euro election support are. We have a big problem as a country if they are.

My contention is that there are legitimate reasons why people choose to vote UKIP and we need to combat them as a party with reasoned arguments, alternative answers to the political concerns UKIP is claiming to address, and good campaigning, not just mockery and exposure of their extremist underbelly.

Some of these reasons are the ones I set out last week and are primarily the fault of the Tory Party, who are now reaping the whirlwind they sowed. The Tories stoked up Euro-scepticism and fear of immigration in the 1990s and 2000s when they had nothing else in their policy cupboard because their own period in government had ended so badly and Blair’s answers to most domestic questions were popular and worked. Then in government they have failed to live up to their rhetoric either because they never meant to or because of the compromises of coalition, and disillusioned voters have turned to UKIP to give them what they thought the Tories were meant to be offering.

But other groups of voters have moved to UKIP. People who haven’t voted since the post-1997 collapse in turnout because they are turned off by politics and politicians and like Farage the anti-politician and his amateur army. Labour core voters who are suffering economically and for whom the linkage of this to immigration and by extension EU free movement of labour laws makes sense. People who might previously have looked to the Lib Dems as an anti-system party but who now see it in government as as bad as the main two parties.

Being concerned about the erosion of national sovereignty by the EU is a legitimate concern. An elite in some other EU member states actually does believe the rhetoric about “an ever closer union” and sees nation states as an anachronism that will wither on the vine. The fact that the Scots aren’t even sure they want to stay in the UK, and the rest of the UK respects their right to democratically self-determine whether they do or not, suggests that the nation state as a concept still has a good few centuries left in it, and that people’s gut instinct is that they want to be governed by a political entity that they can identify with and that has some shared values, history and concept of citizenship. That is more likely to be a nation state than to be the EU. That means  that if we are going to convince people to hand over limited areas of sovereignty to a supranational institution like the EU we need to be very clear about what the benefits are for ordinary citizens, policy by policy, and about what the red lines are where national sovereignty is inviolable. Guff about “an ever closer union” needs to end. Where we do hand over powers they shouldn’t be to an unaccountable transnational bureaucratic elite but to elected representatives who are accountable at the ballot box.

The benefits of the EU are self-evident in the fields of economic prosperity and growth, social and employment standards, ability to compete as a single market with China, India and the USA, let alone the way in which a continent that was almost constantly at war for centuries now resolves its differences at boring committee meetings. But most people have never been told any of this in any communication by the mainstream parties. The basic arguments are hardly ever made, allowing the only pro-EU voices to be loudly heard to be idiotic federalists in Brussels with their “ever closer union” mantra, who probably are completely unrepresentative of the citizenry of Milan, Marseilles or Munich, let alone their counterparts in Maidstone or Margate who they are blithely herding towards UKIP, and Nick Clegg. Allowing Nick Clegg, the most discredited politician in Britain, to take on Farage as the voice of pro-EU opinion…words fail me. We need to be taking him on, not leaving it to the failed leader of a rump party.

It’s also legitimate for ordinary people to worry that the political system has failed them. On many levels it has. We have suffered a longer period of austerity after the crash than most countries. The recovery is an unfair one where middle income people, let alone the poor, are suffering a cost of living crisis. Basic commodities like energy and housing cost more than people can afford. People worry their kids won’t do as well as they have done. People worry how the UK will earn its way in the world when new economic (and potentially military and geopolitical) superpowers are emerging very rapidly. When Nigel Farage tells them all this is because of uncontrolled immigration and that has been imposed on us by the EU, that understandably makes sense.

Labour has a tactical, campaigning response to beating UKIP that was proven to work in the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election. But I am not sure we have fully rolled out our strategic response that will win voters from UKIP because their minds change, rather than just out-organising them in Get Out The Vote.

We need to continue to make the very clear and radical policy proposals that Ed Miliband has started with the energy price freeze and announcement  on rents that show there are answers to the crisis people face that aren’t just rightwing populism.

We need a clearer stance on what the rules are we will set around immigration.

We need to articulate a position on Europe that is common sense – that we will set limits to erosion of national sovereignty but not throw the baby out with the bathwater and risk our economic future away from the EU like UKIP or the Tory right would.

Above all we need to be able to demonstrate empathy with the kind of people who are voting UKIP. If we want them to vote for the social democratic left not the populist right we can’t sneer and laugh at them or write off millions of people as prejudiced, we need to understand their concerns and set out a better way of addressing them than UKIP can.

If we don’t do that, one day Mr Farage will have the last laugh.

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  • MarkPolden

    So why does Ed Milliband refuse to debate with Nigel Farage, winners are not scared

    • Doug Smith

      Because he knows Farage will wipe the floor with him.

      Just suppose Farage, who objects to military intervention as a tool of foreign policy, asked Miliband to explain his support for the disastrous military intervention in Libya?

      And of course, Miliband has never advanced a positive Labour vision for Europe – one has to assume he hasn’t got one.

      Labour is only now beginning to acknowledge UKIP as a threat because Labour’s polling must be indicating significant support for UKIP. Only a few days ago Miliband thought he could get away with hardly mentioning Europe in his council/EU launch speech, preferring instead to focus on the ‘cost of living crisis’.

      But now Miliband and the out-of-touch Labour elite have been compelled to address a reality they would prefer to ignore. It seems the only way to compel the Labour elite to take notice of us is to vote UKIP.

      • MarkPolden

        So UKIP is bringing Labour to the fire. Labour need to sort themselves out and start to be a party worthy of trust not shy away and hope to win an election by default.

    • Monkey_Bach

      I’m pretty sure that on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday Ed Miliband said that he would debate with Farage if the television channel hosting debates between the main party leaders invited him. Personally I think it would be a wonderful thing for the general public to become more acquainted with UKIP’s domestic policies which are for the most part insane.

      Eeek.

      • treborc1

        What is UKIP it’s a party which wants to pull out or have controlled immigration, it’s a party which wants to have a referendum, hence I will vote for it.

        Come next May I’ve no intention of voting for any of the four Tory parties Labour Tory Liberals or UKIP so I shall not vote, because for me the Welsh Assembly is now more important.

        So for the EU it does not matter what UKIP home policies are because this is the EU election not a national, come the national the race as always will be between the Tories and labour, which one you see will do the smallest amount of damage to the country.

        • Monkey_Bach

          My point was about the television debates prior to the next general election not the forthcoming European elections. However you make a valid point which I myself have tried to make in the past: UKIP are essentially a single-issue pressure group dedicated to achieving an in-out EU referendum for the British people after which they will disband and cease to exist and people who would normally be disgusted by and repulsed by UKIP’s extreme right-wing “policies” and credentials are willing to vote for them to register disapproval in respect to Britain’s relationship with Europe.

          It really is the oddest thing.

          Eeek.

    • Duncan

      Because UKIP are a minor party in terms of what they’ve achieved in elections. Cameron was right to say you can’t include UKIP and exclude the Greens and Salmond was right to say you can’t include the Greens and exclude the Nats.

      • Grouchy Oldgit

        UKIP is on the verge of winning a national election.

        • Duncan

          And has no MPs. And only a few hundred councillors. As we’re talking about a general election debate firmly minor party ground.

  • JoeDM

    Being concerned about levels of immigration, the quality of those coming to live in this country and the future impact of the lack of integration by some immigrant communities is not racism.

    Anyway, in my opinion UKIP is far more about economic fundamentals than immigration.

    • treborc1

      Well it is to politician if you are asking questions, for which they have no answers.

    • Mukkinese

      Utter nonsense.

      Unless you think that a flat rate of tax is fair?

  • Duncan

    I don’t think most people know about the Treaty of Rome and “ever closer union”, or you wouldn’t have many people who voted yes in the 70s who are surprised at the EU now (a good reason to minimise referenda imo … but I digress). So unsurprisingly I don’t think a lurch to soft Euroscepticism and attempting to “shoot the UKIP fox” is wise, particularly given how that went last time someone tried it.

    I also think that you are overstating UKIP’s power to win seats and underestimating their power to get bigger parties to freak out and adjust policy in their direction (ie exactly what you propose). I won’t rule out your scenario of several seats but I think exactly zero is still the most likely count. I’m sure that as a Labour supporter you don’t enjoy dwelling on the SDP-Liberal alliance but 1983 should tell you how little even 25% with incumbencies and existing strongholds can net you.

    I mean, really I’d agree with your assessment of what isn’t working but not with your solutions to the problem. Ultimately this is not primarily about the EU and more imaginative solutions are required to make politics not look like a bland much of a muchness, part of UKIP’s appeal lies in being seen as different from the establishment parties who most people (who go by mood music rather than manifesto) see as offering a lack of choice. The fact that they’re actually as establishment as any of the serious parties appears to not be noticed by many.

    PS this is a bit of a sideline but I’m not sure I buy your stuff about nation and eurofederalism either. 1) Current EU integration is pragmatic improvement and extension of older integration, ideological federalism motivates few. 2) That the nation state is not fit for the modern world is I think pretty evident, issues like tax evasion or climate change (terrorism if you must) show its weakness in a harsh light, capitalism simply makes nation-states obsolete. Federalism is just an unimaginative method of trying to gain some sovereignty that nations cannot hope to attain. I don’t support it. 3) Scotland shows nothing more than that the UK (like most European countries) is not a nation-state. Surely the kerfuffle over continued EU membership shows that? Yes, people are attached but that doesn’t indicate any objective significance of nation any more than the (much milder) attachment to county indicates any significance of them.

  • Dez

    ‘Some of these reasons are the ones I set out last week and are primarily the fault of the Tory Party, ‘

    Are you having a laugh or just forgotten about the mass uncontrolled immigration from 2003 – 2010 under Labour combined with the lowest level of social house building for 70 years?

    It’s the Tories fault that this mass immigration put massive pressure on housing,education,the health service and drove down wages,talk about living on another planet.

    • treborc1

      The question is which Tory party the one in power now or the ones in power from 1997.

      • gunnerbear

        That is ice cold. Cynicism of the finest and highest order. Top notch!

  • driver56

    Nigel Farage is simply saying what people want to hear, Normally he would have been shot down and debated out of existence and shown up for what he actually represents. The only way to stop Farage in his tracks is to offer a straight in out referendum, nothing else will do. It would seem that the Labour elite are having to face reality and some inconvenient truths. In reality it matters not who wins the Euro elections as MEPs are just sounding boards, The real power lies with the council of ministers. Labour needs to stop apologising for the Blair /Brown era and move on whilst acknowledging that Blair won three elections, Sadly you have to ask why are so many working people so easily fooled by the Tories and other parties. we need to address the perceived and real image problems labour have. We need to show that not everything is money, we need to be more effective in educating the public as to what we stand for. we all support the NHS even Tories yet it cost’s the country a lot of money but people would pay a few pence more on their tax to keep it. So some things are above money even welfare benefits, People have seen the injustice and the media demonstration of anybody on benefits and don’t believe the hype any more. we need to break down the myths with facts and do it quickly. Labour can win in 2015, just remember the Tories did not win the last election.

    • Monkey_Bach

      To be honest I don’t think offering an in-out EU referendum would make one jot of difference to Labour’s fortunes, which is presumably why Labour have taken a stand against such a precipitous undertaking.

      Eeek.

      • driver56

        It would make a difference in so far that it would show labour is listening. The biggest problem in Britain is the politicians are no longer frightened of the electorate. Ask Tony Blair.

        • Monkey_Bach

          I believe about 70% of the United Kingdom’s population would like capital punishment restored. Far more than want Britain to leave the EU. Should Labour listen to public opinion on that issue and include a promise to restore the death penalty in its next manifesto?

          I want politicians with consciences, not glove puppets, in power.

          Eeek.

          • driver56

            I would support the return of the death penalty. call me old fashioned or anything you like, labour must listen. I have been asked how is it that multi millionaire is running the labour party? my answer is and always has been, just because someone is wealthy does not mean they don’t have a conscience. I would happily return corporal punishment in schools. It is high time respect and justice were returned to this country.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Well, personally, I do not support state sponsored violence in any form whether an adult beats another adult, or, even worse, a child as a punishment, or executes another human being after being given license by a court to cold-bloodedly kill that person by whatever means. As far as millionaire MPs are concerned, well, to be honest I couldn’t care less. I’m not against personal wealth I’m against poverty and injustice. It doesn’t matter to me whether the progressive politicians who support such an agenda are millionaires or paupers. I judge politicians by their actions not their words

            Politicians set out their stalls based on what they believe in or think is best and people make a choice. This seems a much better way of doing things than simply bowing to public opinion and committing the country to what you believe is a wrong course simply to keep your voters onside. Why bother to stand as an MP at all if you don’t stand for, and stand up for, what you believe is true and right?

            Eeek.

          • driver56

            I think if you read my comments you will find we are practically on the same side. Sadly some of the politicians would sell their soul to keep voters onside.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Fair dos. Eeek.

          • gunnerbear

            “I would support the return of the death penalty.”

            You can’t have capital punishment and be a member of the EU…..

          • Monkey_Bach

            Another reason to be pro-EU as far as I’m concerned although somewhat academic. No modern British Parliament would ever restore capital punishment, EU or no EU. Eeek.

          • gunnerbear

            “Should Labour listen to public opinion on that issue and include a promise to restore the death penalty in its next manifesto?”

            Or offer a referendum on it……but wait, we can’t be a member of the EU and also have the death penalty so as long as we remain in the EU….we can’t have the Death Penalty….no matter what the UK voters want.

            So on a serious policy issue the MPs in the HoCs are powerless…unless they chose to ignore EU treaties and law…..

            ..or leave the EU….so they can make UK laws freely again.

          • Monkey_Bach

            It’s called a rhetorical question, sport, and used to illustrate preposterousness in respect to an issue, like asking “Should Britain reinstitute burning of witches and heretics?” or “Should torture be restored as a means to extract information and confession from traitors?”. Britain won’t ever restore witch burning, or torture, or capital punishment, with or without the EU, because as a civilised country we have evolved beyond such primitive brutalities!

            I would be amused if UKIP mounted and attack on the EU by complaining that it prevented us from executing criminals or sending them back to countries which might torture or even kill them.

            It can’t be long now…

            Eeek.

          • gunnerbear

            Be careful what you wish for….more than a few polls have called for the return of the death penalty for certain crimes especially as life no longer means life.

            The US has capital punishment; are US citizens primitive brutes?

          • gunnerbear

            “Should torture be restored as a means to extract information and confession from traitors?”

            Why not?

          • gunnerbear

            Why not offer the vote on capital punishment but also suggest that ‘LIFE MEANS LIFE’ on the paper and then see how the Great British Public respond.

  • FMcGonigal

    “We need a clearer stance on what the rules are we will set around immigration”.

    Indeed but isn’t EU immigration the big issue here? Free movement is a fundamental EU principle, so assuming we are staying in the EU it would need a revision of Treaties to set any new rules around immigration.

    • gunnerbear

      “Free movement is a fundamental EU principle, so assuming we are staying in the EU it would need a revision of Treaties to set any new rules around immigration.”

      And as the EU has made clear, that is simply not on the table. Ever.

      • FMcGonigal

        Chuka Umunna has put forward some ideas.

        “Chuka Umunna calls for reform of freedom of movement rules to ban skilled workers taking low-skilled jobs in richer EU states”

        “The founders of the EU had in mind free movement of workers, not free movement of job seekers”

        SOURCE
        http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/10/stop-eu-citizens-travelling-uk-work-labour

        It would require major changes to the treaties but as it affects several of the main EU countries there could be support for such a change.

        • gunnerbear

          And the EU Commission has made it clear that there will be no treaty revisions in relation to the free movement of people.

          “Separately, European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding warned: “Freedom of movement is non-negotiable as long as you are a member of the EU and the single market.”

          (Policy Review, assorted newspapers).

          • FMcGonigal

            Yes it would be a fundamental change and non-negotiable within the current treaties. But anything can be changed if the member states agree..

          • gunnerbear

            Well, the EU has now been around for decades so you’d have thought that if it was going to change it would have done so by now…..

          • FMcGonigal

            If eurosceptics are well represented in both the European Parliament and in their national parliaments in the next few years then they have the perfect opportunity.

          • gunnerbear

            I admire your optimism, but if one of the key pillars of the ‘common market’ is removed, their is logical reason for the EU staying in existence.

            The UK cannot be given a special deal as EU member…….otherwise each and every EU member will also want ‘special deals’ for different things…..and then bang goes common EU – the Commission and the pro-EUers know that hence their determination to push ahead regardless.

  • LeeMatthews

    Is this EU policy now?

    “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”

    • Monkey_Bach

      How can we judge when the quote is unattributed. Who said it? Eeek.

      • Doug Smith

        A. Hitler.

        Certainly the citizens of east Ukraine don’t seem to be enjoying many rights at the moment while the Kiev EU-backed government, along with neo-Nazis, uses military force against them.

        As EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton (never elected to any position in her life) said last week, with regard to Ukraine: “The state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence needs to be respected.”

        • Monkey_Bach

          Ah! Adolf Hitler, that well known pro-European. Well, in that case the quote seems even more inappropriate and, in context, makes absolutely no sense at all.

          Where I live a leaflet distributed by UKIP entitled “Only UKIP will take back control” expresses a desire to “… tell the European Court of Human Rights where to go…” so that we can dispense with all of those pesky rights and freedoms currently extended and afforded to British citizens and other EU citizens, which seems mightily contradictory to me.

          Surely then if UKIP are correct withdrawal from the EU would by definition reduce the freedoms and human rights enjoyed by the British and free future British governments to behave in much nastier, lower, crueller and intrusive ways than they have done in the recent past and I would imagine that the vast majority of Ukrainians would be delighted to have the chance freedoms and human rights enjoyed by citizens living within the EU were it possible.

          For myself I can do with as many human rights as possible, especially in respect to online security and data privacy.

          Eeek.

          • Doug Smith

            If you think you’ll be able to shelter beneath a panoply of rights when TTIP drives more than coaches and horses through public service provision in a drive to the bottom, you’ll be in for some very uncomfortable shock-therapy.

            Our rights are best protected by enhanced democracy, not by supporting an undemocratic institution whose European Court of Justice, according to Labour MP John Cryer, “persistently rules on the side of big business”.

          • Monkey_Bach

            TTIP hasn’t happened yet and the final agreement won’t be finalised until the end of the year at the earliest. Nobody knows exactly what form the final draft will take, what will be included or what will be dropped after consultation has taken place. Actually there is a great deal of sense in trying to establish a free-trade area between the EU and USA with the potential to create millions of jobs; so the logic behind making some sort of agreement is sound and America doesn’t reap more than it sows: when it comes to business and trade America has a somewhat chequered history.

            When you say “enhanced democracy” do you mean a greater plurality of political influence, e.g., by changing the voting system from first-past-the-post to single transferable vote guaranteeing a more proportional parliament enabling individuals and/or smaller parties to exercise a greater influence ? More transparency? More referenda? Shorter parliaments? A wholly elected House of Lords? More devolution of power, localism and regional assemblies?

            I don’t know what you mean by “enhanced democracy”.

            Eeek.

          • David Battley

            Surely no-one was more “pro-European” integration than Hitler, apart, possibly, from Napoleon Bonaparte or Charlemagne.

            🙂

          • Monkey_Bach

            At least UKIP wouldn’t have been able to complain about Hitler’s human rights agenda. As far as a federal Europe is concerned the Caesars and Roman Republic had similar ideas along the same lines too I believe. 😉

            Eeek.

          • LeeMatthews

            The reason i did not attribute the Quote was that it did not matter who said it but the actual quote itself. If you follow how the EU has behaved over referendum’s and changes in leadership of certain cash strapped countries then it seems quite apt. As for the heading of this article then it would seem you would have to change the mindset of quite a large proportion of the country that have said they would vote UKIP in the polls before the EU elections. After the elections then it may be easier as there will be more time to take a pop at UKIPs other policies to discredit them. I have just emigrated to France but i do not like the EU, and it would seem a lot of the French don’t either given the rise in popularity of the NF headed by Marine LePenn

          • Monkey_Bach

            I think that in the real world you will find that the author of a quote does matter to most people. For example a quote from a sixty-nine year dead German Chancellor and Nazi imperialist monster in respect to the EU probably doesn’t cut as much ice as it would if the quote could be attributed to the fifty-nine year old living German Chancellor and fluent Russian speaking post-doctoral physicist Dr. Angela Merkel.

            As is your chosen quote makes no sense whatsoever.

            When you use other people’s words it’s common honesty to attribute the quote to the person who wrote and/or said those words rather than use them randomly so that readers could decide whether the quote is relevant or can be dismissed out of hand; your unattributed Hitler quote wasted three minutes of my life which I can never get back again.

            Eeek.

          • gunnerbear

            How about these then:

            “The single market was the theme of the Eighties; the single currency was the theme of the Nineties; we must now face the difficult task of moving towards a single economy, a single political unity.” (Romano Prodi, 13 April 1999)

            Clear statement of intent – the creation of the US of Europe with or without public support.

            Or perhaps these:

            “Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe” (Treaty of Rome 1957)

            “This Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union…” (Maastricht Treaty 1992)
            Note that again, the drive towards full economic and political integration – not something people voted for back in the ’70s on EEC membership.

          • Monkey_Bach

            I appreciate your efforts.

            To be honest my own personal belief is that the days of the nation state are numbered and increasing globalisation will compel disparate nations, with common interests, to band together in various ways in order to maintain their collective clout on the world stage. Some of what your quotes indicate I agree with and others not so much; it’s always like that with quotes used selectively to back up a point of view.

            I imagine the converse must also be true, e.g., how many practising Jews, or even Christians, would quote Leviticus 11:12 at the dinner table prior to chowing down on Lobster Thermidor?

            Eeek.

          • gunnerbear

            What about the English that have had to put up with the Jocks returning Scottish Labour MPs that have ruled a non-Labour England?

          • Monkey_Bach

            My point exactly. One man’s democracy is another man’s tyranny. You pays your money and you take your chance and in my opinion, like the Scottish Nationalists, the EU looks far a much better bet than the Conservatives, or their cerebrally challenged offspring UKIP.

            Eeek.

          • gunnerbear

            The UK is big enough, strong enough and flexible enough to stand alone in the world. I want UK laws for UK subjects made in Westminster, made by people we can vote out…..

            …not grasping Greek, Spanish, Italian or French officials and MEPs who view the UK as a cash machine.

  • Steve Stubbs

    The title of this piece is “How labour can stop Farage”. ( It seems to have degenerated into the usual anti-UKIP rants based on immigration. )

    The question should instead be “Why should labour try and stop Farage?

    The UKIP surge in the polls for the EU elections seem to show that the vast majority of their support has come from tories. Labours projected share has not moved much. Call me simple if you like but it seems to me trying to stop damage to our main opponents is a bit counter-productive.

    Unless of course the private polling by labour that we don’t see is tell them something else?

    • Dan

      The majority of Ukip votes come from people who voted Tory IN 2010. But that’s a very narrow measure. Many of them voted Labour between 1997 and 2005, and many of them had moved over to the Labour column in the middle of this parliament, especially in 2012. In fact, you can make the argument that many UKIP voters are the typical swing voter.

  • Grouchy Oldgit

    People feel aggrieved that council housing seems to be found for new arrivals that the indigenous population who have worked and paid heavy taxes here for years have no chance of. They feel aggrieved that new arrivals who have contributed nothing can claim benefits or have (non-urgent) medical treatments paid for by their taxes. That’s not racist, it’s natural concern. Ed & Dave both know the economy needs immigrants to flourish, but unless the injustices are addressed people will continue to turn in large numbers to extremists like UKIP.

    • gunnerbear

      “extremists like UKIP”

      Wow. I’ve never thought of myself as an extremist for considering UKIP. Do I get a special tie or something?

  • markmyword49

    Economic conditions and the stupidity of our national politicians are the reason for UKPs popularity.
    When times are tough economically people want someone to blame. The “outsiders” within the local community are an easier target than those remote politicians sitting inside the Westminster village.
    Our MPs still “don’t get it”. They’ve pretended to listen over expenses but the first time they could have set down a marker for the future when MPs break the rules they fluff it. Miller should have been sanctioned but wasn’t. All she got was a tap on the wrist.
    UKIP are riding the crest of an anti Establishment backlash. They and equivalent parties across the EU whose standing has increased dramatically in the run up to the EU vote will give all the major parties a kicking at the end of May.
    The best response is to keep hammering away at the policies they’ve put forward for things other than immigration and the EU. These policies don’t stack up as a manifesto for a party that should be the government.

  • gunnerbear

    “The benefits of the EU are self-evident in the fields of economic prosperity and growth, social and employment standards………”

    The Greeks, Spanish, Italians, Portguese might argue otherwise……..
    ..mind you I forgot they bring nothing to the table apart from insatiable demands for more EU i,e, Northern taxpayers cash.

    • FMcGonigal

      Eurosceptics in Greece (2nd most Eurosceptic country after the UK) argue just the opposite. So while UK Eurosceptics in northern Europe complain about cash going to the southern countries, their counterparts in Greece want more!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euroscepticism#Greece

      • gunnerbear

        “, their counterparts in Greece want more!”

        I know, imagine that….the poor southern states, who joined a club they couldn’t really afford are now becoming increasingly anti-EU as the cash taps from the northern states are turned off.

        Turn the money taps back on and they’d soon love the EU again……the Greeks are currently against the EU as they don’t like paying the price for their membership. Perhaps if they all didn’t retire at 50 and actually paid taxes, then they could learn to live without huge subsidies provided by UK taxpayers.

  • Daniel Speight

    If we want them to vote for the social democratic left not the populist right…

    Luke if we want them to vote Labour then Labour has to sound and act more like a party of the social democratic left and not like a liberal American Democrat-like party. That means dumping a whole load of Blairite and Progress baggage along the way. Are you up to that Luke?.

  • Mukkinese

    I don’t get it.

    Anyone who even gives a cursory look at UKIP policies can see they have no substance on anything, but Europe and even there they are stuck in the rut of saying all things European are bad and we must get as far away as possible.

    A childish, over-simplified point of view, and this is their strongest area of appeal.

    On most other things they come across as more Thatcherite than Thatcher, in an incredibly shallow way, with nothing costed, no details and no real concrete policies, yet a lot of people have moved from Labour to this far right party.

    How the hell they twist their heads around that is a mystery…

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