This will be part of a short series looking at UKIP in the context of the upcoming election, including expressing my views on immigration since that appears to be UKIP’s main serious concern. This is a long piece, so get yourself a nice cuppa and settle into it.
So to the uninitiated (and to those foreign readers), who are UKIP?
Well, this is what Andrew Fairfoull, UKIP Deputy Chairman North West Region, UKIP PPC Denton and Reddish, told me on Twitter:
As Wiki states:
The UK Independence Party, commonly known as UKIP, is a right-wing political party in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1993 by members of the Anti-Federalist League with the primary objective of securing the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The party describes itself as a “democratic, libertarian party” and is Eurosceptic and widely regarded as right-wing populist.
They are robustly anti-immigration (defined as not seeking to openly endorse it and rather wanting to curtail it), seeking to leave the EU largely on account of being able to regain full control of the UK’s borders. This has now been couched in carefully worded policy/objective advocating controlled immigration so it doesn’t look so “us and them”. Let us look in some detail at who they are before concentrating on the immigration and intolerance issues.
They are lying about being libertarian
Let me first investigate this claim of being libertarian. Libertarian politics was first put forward by Ayn Rand (libertarian godmother) which sees the individual as their own god, seeking individualism as a political goal – seeing the shrinking of government and taxes to a minimum, or nothing, and thus aligning it with perfect free market economics. Ayn Rand, though, was herself an illegal immigrant who believed in the free movement of people (see “Ayn Rand: Free Immigration is Obvious“). As Rand said to one of her students (as reported by the student):
Someone asked her for her views on immigration, if she thought it was a good thing. And she got indignant immediately at the very idea that anyone might be opposed to immigration, that a country might not let immigrants in. One of the things she said in her answer was, “Where would I be today if America closed its doors to immigrants?” That really hit home; I’m sure everyone there realized that she would not have survived in Soviet Russia, that a person with her ideas would have died in prison, somewhere in Siberia…. But it was clear that she was angry at the idea, not at the person asking the question.
The idea that a party can be “libertarian” and then advocate border control in the way it does is ludicrous and invalidates their libertarian credentials. The Libertarian Party in the US understands this: “Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.” Thus the party becomes a vehicle for simple psychological biases of social identity theory, of us and them, dressed up in pseudo-libertarian claptrap. Free market economics, properly understood, requires the free movement of labour. That much is basic economics and there is no way around it.
Of course, this does not invalidate controlled immigration as a good idea, but does show the party to be footloose and fancy-free with the way it describes itself. It is time to be wary. To me, this looks like a corporatist party with a typically nasty edge. Seeing that they are bankrolled by corporates and bankers, this is of little surprise. As the Independent reports:
Nigel Farage has described Ukip’s 2010 election manifesto as “drivel.” But his party seems to be having trouble writing the 2015 version, which has been delayed until after Easter. Although some pages remain blank, Ukip insists it does not lack policies. They include:
- Withdrawing from the EU.
- Backing the Conservatives’ plan to eliminate the deficit by 2018.
- Boosting NHS spending by £3bn a year; maintaining NHS free at the point of use (for now).
- Increasing defence spending.
- Raising the personal tax allowance to £13,500; a 35p tax rate between incomes of £42,285 and £55,000.
- Abolishing inheritance tax.
- Reducing the foreign aid budget by £9bn a year.
- Allowing existing schools to apply to become grammar schools.
- Limiting child benefit to the first two children.
- Scrapping the proposed HS2 rail project.
- Ending the Barnett formula in order to equalise public spending per head in Scotland with that in England.
- Abolishing the Department of Energy and Climate Change —and green taxes and subsidies for wind farms.
- Scrapping the Department for Culture Media and Sport.
- Guaranteeing those who have served in the armed forces for at least 12 years a job in the police force, prison service or border force.
- Allowing pubs and clubs to open “smoking rooms”.
Farage smokes, so obviously the last one is sound policy… and I am sure that large tobacco companies have nothing to do with it. Abolishing inheritance tax? That sounds like a lot of benefit to old money and the rich. Which brings me on to this:
Funding: the old corporatist elite
Channel 4 gives a good analysis of the sorts of people funding the party here. Farage’s approach to funding from city hedge funds and banking sorts is well documented, including by RT here: “Hedging their bets: Farage revealed as courting City fund tycoons to bankroll UKIP“. Figures released on Thursday morning by the Electoral Commission show that the total sum of donations received by UKIP were over £493,000 in the first three months of 2014, up from £270,000 received in the final three months of 2013. This comes from, for example:
Stuart Wheeler, spread betting tycoon, donated £185,000 – Old Etonian who claimed woman are “nowhere near as good as men” at games like chess, bridge and poker.
Upmarket London property developer Mura Estates donated £65,000 – upmarket flat property developer with close connections to the Aitch Group
Growth Financial Services Limited, connected to hedge fund boss Christopher Mills, donated £50,000 – Christopher Mills, who is managing partner of Harwood Capital Management, is personally worth £200 million, according to the 2013 Sunday Times rich list.
Robin Birley, club owner and Zac Goldsmith’s half-brother, gave £50,000 – He ran Annabel’s, his family’s Gloucester Square members-only club which is named after his mother, Lady Annabel Goldsmith. A former Conservative party donor, he was a personal friend of the late Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet.
There is a great deal of privilege, city business and old money involved in the party funding. So their policies are more likely to benefit who, exactly? How will they set their tax thresholds? Who is this party for, because it sure as hell doesn’t look like it’s for the working class.
Which brings me on to this:
Attracting the wrong types
A big headache for UKIP is that they have attracted a wide variety of people from all sides of the political spectrum, especially the working class voter. As HuffPo analyses:
It is clear that, demographically, Ukip supporters are more likely to be male, and to be older. Those aged 45 or older – and particularly those aged 65 and above – are more likely than average to support Ukip. Geographically, Ukip support is higher in Eastern England, Yorkshire & Humberside, and the Midlands. Support is noticeably weaker in Scotland, as well as in London.
Ukip support is substantially weaker among public sector workers, private renters, those from a non-white ethnic background, individuals still in full time education, and those with a higher university degree. Indeed Ukip support seems to decrease with educational attainment – there is a spike in support among those with secondary education. Other groups that over-index in support include retirees, renters of council or housing association homes, and individuals living in rural areas….
Ukip undoubtedly attracts supporters from all walks of life – a party polling strongly just three months before a General Election must – but our Ukip Index illustrates the types of voters most likely to have been won over. It also allows us to identify a typical supporter – likely to be male, retired, a former Conservative voter, finished education at the end of secondary school, and perhaps living somewhere in Eastern England.
What this means is that UKIP supporters have been attracted with this one thing in mind: immigration. But they will generally be opposed to the other “libertarian” policies such as dismantling the NHS, giving power to the corporate and free market entities, especially given their working class bias. As Owen Jones points out:
If the seemingly irresistible rise of Ukip teaches us anything, it is that sentiment all too often trumps reality and mere detail in politics. The party is a self-described “People’s Army”, now emboldened by a victory in Rochester and Strood it hopes will bring renewed momentum. Its voters are disproportionately working class.
Polls suggest they support renationalising rail and energy and want higher taxes for the rich and an increased minimum wage. According to research by the academic Matthew Goodwin, 81% of Ukip supporters believe “big business takes advantage of ordinary people”; a slim majority want the government to redistribute income; and they overwhelmingly agree “there is one law for the rich and one for the poor”.
But big business is EXACTLY what UKIP is all about (more on that later). We know that Farage has managed to inadvertently fool the electorate into thinking he is the everyman, even though he is a privately educated ex-financier! Once you get the immigration thing out of the way, it’s like herding cats: the UKIP supporters simply are not in agreement over other UKIP policies. So the party changes to become populist. UKIP drop their original views on, for example, the NHS and adopt what they think their supporters will go for. Thus they become just another populist party, blinding everyone with their immigration light. (Don’t get me started on their education ideas). Here are five U-turns they have made recently:
- Privatising the NHS
- Hedge fund support
- Luxury goods tax
- Gay marriage
- Halal and Kosher foods
Details of these and why they took place can be found here.
Before I get on to this idea of UKIP and immigration proper, it is also well worth noting that they deny climate change and are science denialists. They pledge:
UKIP will abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and scrap green subsidies.
UKIP will repeal the Climate Change Act 2008 which costs the economy £18bn a year.
UKIP supports a diverse energy market including coal, nuclear, shale gas, geo-thermal, tidal, solar, conventional gas and oil.
We will scrap the Large Combustion Plant Directive and encourage the re-development of British power stations, as well as industrial units providing on-site power generation.
UKIP supports the development of shale gas with proper safeguards for the local environment. Community Improvement Levy money from the development of shale gas fields will be earmarked for lower council taxes or community projects within the local authority being developed.
There will be no new subsidies for wind farms and solar arrays.
UKIP will abolish green taxes and charges in order to reduce fuel bills.
Nigel Farage, the leader, himself waxes lyrical (contemptuously) about how, for example, the BBC has a liberal bias concerning the “debate on Energy, Climate Change and the Environment”.
And this is perhaps most worrying of all. As politics.co.uk reports (a very scary read):
Ukip MEPs are actively supporting an American right-wing corporate lobbying body which its critics say denies climate change.
Three of Nigel Farage’s MEPs, including its energy spokesperson Roger Helmer, have added their names to a letter signed by over 200 US state lawmakers and organised by the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec).
This is not a body most political parties in Britain would be keen to associate with. It is a powerful lobbying group sponsored by corporate interests and is a favourite of Tea Party types. It bankrolls climate change sceptics and promotes a ‘model’ climate change bill will suggests global warming is “possibly beneficial” to the planet.
Alec encourages climate change deniers to “educate” lawmakers by claiming there is no scientific consensus on the issue. Its most recent meeting in Dallas saw one of its speakers deliver a presentation dismissing the International Panel on Climate Change as being “not a credible source of man-made economics”. Its incoming national chair, the Texan Republican Phil King, has said: “I think the global warming theory is bad science.”…
All this contributed to Google’s decision to leave Alec this autumn. Eric Schmidt, its chief executive, told an American news broadcaster: “Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.”
It was Alec’s response to this letter which Helmer, together with south-east MEP Janice Atkinson and the West Midlands’ Bill Etheridge, signed up to.
“Your calculated departure from Alec is based on misinformation from climate activists who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial,” the letter stated…
Helmer’s views on climate change have long fitted those encouraged by Alec.
In 2010 he spent £9,000 on a poster campaign attacking the “Great Climate Myth” by pointing out green climate change policies were “probably unnecessary, certainly ineffectual, ruinously expensive”. He insisted in response he is speaking for the majority of British voters.
In 2011 he appeared at Alec’s annual meeting in a workshop called ‘benefit analysis of CO2’. That was an alteration from its original name: ‘Warming Up to Climate Change: The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2.’
Now he is advocating an energy policy for Britain based on “proven technologies” including coal and gas. In his speech to the party’s conference in Doncaster this year, titled ‘Big green is obscene’, he told delegates: “‘Big green’ hates industry, hates capitalism. ‘Big green’ campaigns against jobs and growth and prosperity. Oh, and by the way, ‘big green’ tells lies.
This is MEP Roger Helmer – Speculative climate science destroying European economies.
UKIP are dangerous, they really are. They are in bed with ALEC and other corporatist pseudo-libertarian organisations which will sound an early death knell for more honest British politics, bowing to the pressure of American style corporate lobbying at the expense of truth. If you want to see ALEC exposed, you can do no better than the awesome John Oliver:
As the NewStatesman reports:
Helmer is not the only Ukip MEP who actively promotes climate change denial. He is joined by Paul Nuttall, the party’s deputy leader, who represents North-West England in the European Parliament where he has been a member of Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. Last September, Nuttall made a speech against biofuels and described “so-called global warming due to man-made carbon emissions” as “increasingly discredited as a climate theory”. He cited the recent slowdown in the rate of rise in global average surface temperature as justification, along with a notorious article in the Mail on Sunday, which wrongly suggested that Arctic sea ice extent increased by 60 per cent between 2012 and 2013.
Of course, Ukip is not the only party to have openly denied the science of climate change while supposedly representing the best interests of British voters. The BNP shares Ukip’s disregard for the scientific evidence, with its leader, Nick Griffin, previously having called global warming “a hoax”.
But with the wipeout of the BNP in last week’s European elections, Ukip has become the standard bearer for all those who believe that the science of climate change has been concocted by environmental groups and scientists. However, with Ukip now setting its sights on seats at Westminster, and Nigel Farage speculating openly about holding the balance of power in a hung parliament, its candidates should face a far more rigorous examination of their unscientific beliefs and the lack of robust analysis behind their energy policy.
It’s desperately bad. I won’t get into the whole climate change debacle, since that is what we have consensus of experts for. Which UKIP ignore in favour of big business.
Immigration and Racism
This is on the back, of course, of Jonathan Stanley resigning from UKIP the other day, complaining of a culture of bullying and racism. Straight from the horse’s mouth.
The problem with UKIP is that they have “controlled immigration policies” which look on the surface to have perhaps dodgy provenance. They appear to possibly come from racist or intolerant bases. But UKIP supporters, members and councillors always (as they have to me many times) make such claims:
Yes, I am sure there are a few nutters in UKIP and I am sure there are unsavoury sorts in every other party. Can you name a UKIP policy which is ‘racist’? Can you also explain why there is such a diverse group of MEP’s and candidates if the party is ‘racist and intolerant’ ?
The ‘just a few nutters’ meme is getting tiresome. We know, empirically, that UKIP supports are more racist and intolerant than all other parties. As Robert Ford states in the HuffPo:
A study I co-authored last year with Matthew Goodwin and David Cutts took a look at the attitudes and preferences of a large sample of over 4,000 Ukip voters gathered just after the 2009 European Parliament elections – Ukip’s biggest electoral triumph to date. We looked at British voters’ attitudes towards immigrants, Muslims and ethnic minorities, and in each case we found the same thing: Ukip were less likely to hold intolerant views than the BNP, but more likely than the supporters of any of the three maintream parties. I’ll take them in turn.
On immigration, we asked voters whether they felt immigrants jumped the queue for council housing, whether they were responsible for most crime and whether the government should repatriate migrants. Support for the first two certainly counts as intolerance, as the evidence available suggests migrants are less, not more, likely to claim for council housing or commit crime. Ukip support for all of these items was around 10 percentage points below BNP support, but around 15 percentage points above support among Conservative voters and 20-30 points above support among Labour and Lib Dem supporters. On immigration, hostile views were widespread, but Ukip voters were consistently the most intolerant group after the BNP.
Our survey featured just one item on Islam, but additional evidence is available from a survey of Ukip supporters conducted by Matthew Goodwin and Jocelyn Evans earlier this year. Our survey asked whether voters felt that Islam posed a threat to Western civilization – 64% of Ukip supporters agreed that it was. This is lower than the 79% of BNP supporters who felt this way, but much higher than agreement among mainstream party supporters, which ranged from 31% (Lib Dems) to 49% (Conservatives). Goodwin and Evans additionally asked their survey respondents whether they would feel uncomfortable if a mosque was built in their neighbourhood – 84% said they would be. Again, lower than the 94% figure for BNP supporters but much higher than the 54% figure for the general population. On Islam, as on immigration, Ukip supporters are more negative than supporters of any other party – except the BNP.
Finally, we looked at out and out racism, looking at support for views that are broadly regarded as illegitimate and unacceptable by mainstream voters and politicians. We found that such views were also shared by only a minority of Ukip voters -22% agreed that employers should favour white applicants over non-whites, 18% agreed that non-white people are not really British and 17% agreed that black Britons are less intelligent than white Britons. However, while a large majority of Ukip voters reject such explicit racism, we once again find more intolerance among the party’s supporters than among supporters of any other party, except the BNP.
A common pattern emerges here. In each case, we find many Ukip supporters who reject such intolerance. But equally, in each case, we find that intolerance is more prevalent among Ukip supporters than among supporters of any other political party except the openly racist BNP. It is therefore pretty clear that while not all Ukip supporters are intolerant, intolerant voters clearly find Ukip attractive.
Intolerant voters are over-represented among Ukip’s support base, but this does not prove that Ukip itself is an intolerant organisation. Ukip’s euroscepticism and hostility to the political mainstream may be the main appeal to voters who also happen to be intolerant to immigrants and minorities, even if the party never actively seeks to mobilise intolerance. We can say three things against this idea.
Firstly, our analysis used a statistical method called regression to isolate the impact of different motivations on support for Ukip. We find, unsuprisingly, that euroscepticism is the strongest driver of Ukip support, but also that intolerance – in particular hostility to immigrant also attracts voters to the party.
Secondly, Ukip has at various points offered policy proposals with a clear appeal to intolerant voters, including proposals to end multiculturalism policies, ban the wearing of burqas, dramatically reduce immigration and restrict immigrant access to benefits. None of these policies is racist or discriminatory, but all are likely to appeal to voters with negative views of immigrants and minorities.
Finally, Ukip’s political candidates and campaigns focus very strongly on their promises to drastically reduce immigration and as Mehdi Hasan notes has frequently strayed into criticism of immigrants and Muslims. The prominence given to immigration by a party which is ostensibly focussed on the European Union suggests Ukip are well aware that intolerance towards immigrants and minorities is a much more potent political force than opposition to the EU, and target their campaigns accordingly.
So, while not all Ukip supporters are intolerant towards immigrants and minorities, such intolerance is a lot more common among Ukip supporters than it is among supporters of other political parties, and this does not look like an accident. Ukip, like many European radical right parties, has recruited most strongly from voters with a wide range of anxieties about immigration, Islam and identity. It would be a mistake to dismiss such concerns as racism – they are widely held by many voters and need to be engaged with and addressed by mainstream politicians as well as by Ukip itself. Ukip’s politicians are right to condemn the seizure of children due to their parents political views as the worst kind of political bigotry. But they must also acknowledge and respond to the darker motives attracting some voters to their party.
Empirically, from two studies, UKIP supporters (who become councillors and candidates and policy-makers) are more racist and intolerant than other parties.
On what basis do people claim that the party is not racist? A party is
- its general supporters
- its members and people in authoritative positions
- particularly its leader
- and its policies
On the first point, its supporters have been shown to be, at least proportionally significantly, more racist and intolerant than other party supporters (apart from… the BNP!) as shown above. This is empirical data. Above, one and two are broadly synonymous here, especially when we consider the following cross section of news reports on UKIP councillors and candidates selected below:
- For example, this councillor “has a problem with negroes’ faces”.
- This UKIP councillor blames immigrants for not having paid his council tax.
- UKIP candidate shows himself to be homophobic amongst other things.
- A UKIP Christian group claims that Manchester Pride is a “parade of depravity”.
- Ukip Under Fire As Activists Defend Apartheid And Mock Mandela’s Death
- Ukip Disowns Councillor Over ‘Disturbing Racist Language’ and Ukip Cllr’s Fire Station Remarks Were Racist, Review Finds
- Ukip Suspend Election Broadcast Star For ‘Repellent Views’
- Newly-Elected Ukip Councillor Sacked By Party For ‘Poofs’ And ‘Pakis’ Tweets
- Ukip Candidate’s Chocolate Freddo Comparison Isn’t Going Down Well
- Here’s The Latest Ukip Candidate To Quit Over Shameful Web Posts
- One of my personal favourites: UKIP Councillor David Silvester In Bizarre Homophobic Rant Blaming Gay Marriage For Bad Weather
- Most Ukip Voters Claim To Be Prejudiced Against Other Races… But Not Racist
- Ukip MEP Roger Helmer, Who Compared Homophobia To Disliking Earl Grey Tea, Will Stand In Newark
- Ukip Councillor Alan Jesson Accused Of Racist And Homophobic Rants On Facebook
- And the bizarre: Gay Ukip MEP David Coburn Says Gay Marriage Supporters Are ‘Equality Nazis’ – wow, now that’s cognitive dissonance!
- Ukip MEP Roger Helmer Denies Saying ‘It’s Ok For People To Despise Homosexuals, Like They Do Certain Types Of Tea’
- When Godfrey Bloom MEP, infamous for making a speech in the European Parliament – one of his better ones – while heavily intoxicated, said that “no employer with a brain in the right place would employ a young, single, free woman”, Farage’s reaction was “Dear old Godders! Godfrey’s comment [as above] has been proved so right.”
- In 2007, Jack Biggs alleged that he had been banned from running as a candidate because of his disability and presented significant evidence in support. Later, high-ranking member Alexandra Swann sided with a Ukip councillor who said it was dangerous to allow those who do not work to vote.
- The openly racist BNP and Britain First groups advocate voters turn out for UKIP.
I could go on… [EDIT] In fact, in the last day or so another UKIP candidate has resigned over racist/intolerant jibes by Scottish MEP David Coburn. Tim Wilson, in his resignation letter stated he was “systematically gagged by the party whip” and forbidden to speak about Islam favourably.
And then there is my local Rowner UKIP candidate:
#UKIP Councillor Patrick Bergin and his plan for “The Muslim Threat” pic.twitter.com/DQT8US6LC7” going to condemn this @Chris_Wood_1989? — Ionmeister (@IonMeister) March 6, 2015Gosport
In conversation with my other local UKIP councillor (Chris Woods), it was clear that these common problems are a real thorn in the side for him (Woods) locally in trying to have serious appeal. But this is the party. You can’t just claim a “few nutters” because it is not just a few, and you cherry pick the bad ones out in favour of the good ones, which is special pleading, and tantamount to the No True Scotsman (UKIPper) fallacy.
Nigel Farage, the leader, as I pointed out before, was a “racist”, “fascist” and “neo-fascist” when a teenager at school. Here is a typical reply I have had to the letter which a school teacher sent to the head to plead he not be made a school prefect on account of, amongst many things, singing Hitler youth songs through the village:
On the letter: The letter is utter garbage from an upset lefty teacher who couldn’t cope with a little banter …. Farage sensing weakness probably went a little far but people grow up and people do things when they are kids that they shouldn’t ….
‘singing Hitler Youth Songs’ – he doesn’t even speak German … and in 1981 there was no google translate. I find that difficult to believe and more likely to be an embellishment than a fact. Whose word do we have for this … an upset lefty teacher who can barely remember writing the letter ….. mmmmm – what do you reckon Sherlock?
What a giggle you reckon that digging up views expressed as a teenager whilst trying to wind up classmates and lefty teachers are a credible measure of showing somebody up as being a racist. Jeez …
Tell me who doesn’t say things as a kid we all cringe a little at now. Saying things that we didn’t believe in but said for effect. Be rather boring if we didn’t. But those who want to see racists will see them everywhere and exploit every avenue even if it is dialogue from kids!
In other words, the cognitive dissonance is strong in this one. Rather than taking the evidence, he finds it “hard to believe” because, you know, he would have to reassess his evaluation of his dearest leader. The ad hoc rationalisations are superb (ly bad) and have absolutely no empirical backing, just merely a case of making sh!t up. Farage was “so offensive” he had to be removed. The recount includes opinions and accounts from several members of staff.
Here is part of the letter. It is well, well worth a read. The phrase “intolerance, political extremism or bullying of the nastiest kind” is very contextually apt, as is “his notorious views and behaviour, well known to both Master and members of the staff”, which shows that this is not just the disillusionment of one member of staff. Farage was notorious for it:
People can change. But what are the chances of a teenager with these views running a party which is routinely viewed as being racist and fascist, which attracts more racist voters than the other parties, and who marries a German? To ignore this, as the previous commenter on You Tube seems wont to do, is beggaring belief.
Let’s look at his links in Europe:
Ukip is part of the group Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD). The group includes representatives of the Danish People’s Party, the True Finns Party, the Dutch SGP and the infamous Italian Lega Nord – all of them far-right. Nigel Farage is co-President of the group along with Lega Nord’s Francesco Speroni, who described multiple murderer Anders Breivik as someone whose “ideas are in defence of western civilisation.”
Mario Borghezio, another member of the group, declared in a radio interview that Breivik had some “excellent” ideas. Farage’s reaction was towrite a strongly-worded letter to Borghezio, asking him to withdraw his comments or Ukip would pull out of the EFD. Borghezio not only did not apologise, but responded with an extraordinary speech in which he raged: “Long live the Whites of Europe, long live our identity, our ethnicity, our race… our blue sky, like the eyes of our women. Blue, in a people who want to stay white.”
Nigel Farage did not withdraw from the EFD. He continues to co-preside over it, along with the leader of the Lega Nord. MEP Nikki Sinclaire, however, was expelled from Ukip for refusing to take part in the EFD because of their “extreme views”…
Christopher Monckton, their Scotland Leader and Head of Policy Unitinvited the now-defunct British Freedom Party – an amalgamation of mostly breakaway BNP members led by a former Ukip candidate until January 2013 – to join Ukip: “I would very much like them to come back and join us and we stand together.” Ukip’s excuse for this lapse? Monckton had been away on a tour of the US and was not up to speed with current policy. More recently, however, Farage refused to vote to oppose moves for the European Union to fund the BNP.
The founder of the party, Alan Sked, says it has become “extraordinarily right-wing” and is now devoted to “creating a fuss, via Islam and immigrants”.
Farage has been in trouble for borderline racist comments about Bulgarians and Romanians, and did not much better in his apology.
And here’s an important point. If you were not yourself racist, you would be very uncomfortable in doing deals and associating yourself with those who were openly racist. But Farage does this in doing deals in the EU with far right parties, and abstaining from a vote on funding of the BNP. His carefully worded policies are not enough to get him off the hook. He is a clever rhetorician, but sometimes lets the odd thing slip, as mentioned above, which lead you to see a glimpse of what the real Farage is.
All this, then, leaves us with the policies. The refinement of these policies is absolutely vital for UKIP to be functioning as a serious contender. They simply cannot afford to couch their policies in the way that most of their supporters would phrase it. I know this first hand; I know a good number of UKIP supporters personally, and they phrase their dislike for immigrants and foreigners in no uncertain terms. Farage himself has bizarre views, such as banning immigrant children from state education for five years.
There is nothing wrong per se with wanting to be out of Europe, as a political stance, given a rational defence of such a position (though it is quite rich when we got into the EEC to get us out of an economic sinkhole). But when you add it up with all of these other factors, it all looks a little more sinister.
Of course, I could detail the nonsense that was the 2010 UKIP manifesto – a tirade of insanity – but, alas, I do not have the time. Suffice to say that, as far as I am concerned, the party is dangerous. It is dangerous on most of its policies irrespective of immigration and accusations of racism. I will look in the next post at what my views on immigration are. I am not saying that immigration controls are intrinsically bad; I am saying that, given the views of UKIP members, councillors and its leader, that such “controlled immigration” policies appear to be grounded in racism and xenophobia, itself a function of social identity theory which is grounded in pragmatic psychology. Pragmatic for palaeolithic times.
I have detailed elsewhere how racism and xenophobia rise and succeed in times of economic crisis – well worth a read. The time is ripe for UKIP, for sure, and its policy makers surely understand this.
Essentially, though, UKIPpers equivocate on what “UKIP” or “the party” means. When it suits them, UKIP, or the party, become just the words of a policy or an objective set out on a website, and racist and xenophobic UKIP members, supporters or councillors are “just a few nutters”. This is equivocation. UKIP is its supporters and its councillors. If they are statistically significantly racist and intolerant, then we have every right to call the party that. And when these people are their leader, such as MEPs, and arguably their leader, this really is pertinent.
UKIP have dangerous, science denialist policies and approaches. They are almost entirely funded by the banking and corporatist elite whilst being in bed with notably infamous organisations both in Europe and the US. If you are a blue collar worker, a working class voter, you should be very, very wary of this party indeed. They have attracted people under the wide umbrella of fear and “us and them”, or “controlled immigration” and xenophobia. This has gained them support from people with different political backgrounds who ostensibly disagree over the other main policies (though of course there are those who also agree). This is causing the party to have a fairly incoherent approach to governing, given their original objectives. They are becoming a second rate Tory party.
Essentially, though, UKIPpers equivocate on what “UKIP” or “the party” means to try to get away from the reality that the party is peopled with a high density of intolerant people. As a foundation for their policies, things generally look and feel the worse side of racist, even if the wording on their website is careful. A party is not defined as a collection of words written on a website in the same way criminal isn’t defined by what they write in their diary but by who they are and what they do and say.
- On the Skepticism of Free Market Economics (part 1)
- On the Skepticism of Free Market Economics (part 2) – No True Capitalism
- On the Skepticism of Free Market Economics (part 3): Free market success stories
- Dealing with replies to my free market skepticism posts
- Does free market capitalism close the inequality gap? No.
- Political Libertarianism, Science Denialism, Philosophy and the likes of James Delingpole
- Racism and xenophobia in economic downturns
- The extreme right: UKIP and the evolution of ideas
- The UK on brink of sliding into right-wing chaos