How should Labour tackle UKIP?

John Mann

UKIP is a bigger problem for the Conservatives than Labour, but only if Labour moves fast to address voters concerns.

My evidence for this is the detailed analysis that we are able to carry out on Bassetlaw results, which can compare over a 10 year period.

We cannot be certain how any single individual votes, but we can reach an accuracy of over 90% by voter surveying (knocking up in Labour parlance), use of the marked register and sampling each individual areas.

This we have done in detail in Bassetlaw since 2008, but with most data going back to 2003.

We will need the marked register for these elections to fine tune our analysis, but it is already very clear what happened.

  1. Core Tory voters switched to UKIP. This is very important, because it creates a huge headache for the Tories. These people always vote and never vote Labour or Liberal. There is nothing worse than having to fight for your core vote.
  2. The Labour core vote stayed Labour, with virtually no exceptions.
  3. Lost 97 Labour voters voted UKIP, but many didn’t get round to actually voting.
  4. Public sector lost 97 Labour voters are beginning to return to Labour
  5. Floating voters and lost Labour voters to UKIP have voted non Labour before (BNP/Liberal/Tory/independent)
  6. there are a few split Labour households, man UKIP, woman Labour, but not many
  7. there are neighbour clusters of UKIP voters- one neighbour persuading the others
  8. Areas with a popular local pub are more likely to vote UKIP

Most of this is not a surprise. I briefed a BBC policy analyst that UKIP would win over 100 seats two weeks ago and predicted their local result to within a few votes.

Crucially the UKIP vote is not being determined as much by extended family discussion as by friends, neighbours and workmate discussions. UKIP’s appeal stands outside the family, making them vulnerable on all family issues. Therefore strong incumbency pull will protect disproportionately against UKIP.

Trade unionists or those who should be in unions – working class private sector employees are the biggest UKIP threat to Labour, by a significant degree. These are the people we lost to UKIP.

UKIP will need tackling in different ways in different parts of the country. In the industrial North, the unions should have billboards with Farage holding his Thatcher mug, quoting his support for Thatcher’s de-industrialisation. Crude but effective. It is time he was taken head on. (Come on BBC or Sky put me on head to head with him)

However, we will fundamentally fail if we do not see that the UKIP appeal is well beyond UKIP. For every Labour vote lost to UKIP, there are many more lost 97 voters refusing to turn out. The issues are the same. We can expose UKIP on their love of bankers, hatred of the NHS and general Thatcherism, but this does not bring back the lost voters.

Let me pose three questions therefore.

  1. How is it fair that a youth can be born in a council house, live in it for 18 years and then lose out in allocation to a Polish family who have been in the country for a few months. How is this social justice?
  2. Why is it fair that a 58 year old man, disabled from coal mining loses his incapacity benefit, but a family new to the country gets full housing benefit?
  3. Why should an employer be able to employ from a Polish agency and refuse to interview a 24 local person seeking work?

The problem we face is not the EU Common Market. The highest per capita Eastern European immigration into Europe is into Norway, outside the EU.

Nigel Farage with his German banker wife and his salary paid in Euros is a beneficiary of the free movement of Labour. Many of my constituents are the losers.

The Labour Common Market Safeguards Committee morphed into some vague anti EU body. Today it has been re-created, it aim an end to the Common Market.

It is not socially sustainable to allow flexible labour markets, free movement of Labour and capital and have social justice. Why do people think that Google and Facebook base themselves in Ireland and Amazon in Luxembourg?

It is time to stop meddling with vague concepts. Let us have clear social justice priorities

The top priority in housing for those who have lived in social housing as children;

No benefits for anyone until they have paid National insurance for two years

No free flow of capital to avoid taxes

No zero hours agency contracts with no employment rights

No open market in labour in the United Kingdom, rather a system of work permits, including for all Europeans.

Ed Miliband needs to commit Labour to a people’s Europe, by announcing that he will tear up the single Market in labour and capital. I think we will find that Germany, France, Holland and Denmark will quickly follow our lead.

A control over the Common Market, free flow of people but not free flow of labour and capital. That’s what I call a real renegotiation.

John Mann is the Labour MP for Bassetlaw

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