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Calling UKIP Racist won’t stop them

<Only Chancellor Farage can eliminate the hordes from the eastIt’s become a daily thing. Every day a new UKIP candidate is exposed as a racist, a homophobe, a Holocaust denialist. It’s like we’ve been here before. The establishment is all sixes and sevens as an upstart far right party makes waves, but this is 2014, not 2009. The debates that have rippled across countless Twitter feeds and clogged up party and paper-branded blogging platforms are retreads of arguments had about the BNP. Yet every screwball and screw up leaves UKIP spotless. Just how do you deal with them? There are two broad schools of thought. There’s one camp devoted to pinning the racist tail on the bigoted donkey. And there are those who think that will do nothing to stymie UKIP.

In the former camp we find strange bedfellows indeed. We have my favourite Blairite blogger Dan Hodges, who as recently as Friday decided Farage was finished off the back of that now notorious interview. Far be it for me to rain on anyone’s parade, but looking at things from the perspective of Monday evening the wheels of the UKIP bandwagon are still turning. More’s the pity.

Sharing the tent with Dan are our friends the Socialist Workers’ Party. Keen to be the best builders of something – anything – that can help stave off their terminal demise, we have a new front group: Stand Up to UKIP (SUtU). Now, to be fair to the SWP, their literature is better than what I expected. Unlike Unite Against Fascism material that was all about exposing Nazi Nick and chums as such, SUtU takes aim at UKIP’s opposition to same-sex marriage and dalliances with overt racism. Okay, there’s more to it than that. The flat tax, banks, scapegoating immigrants, it’s a roll call of left touchstones the SWP thinks would resonate with Farage fans. Also, SUtU have protested outside UKIP meetings in scenes reminiscent of UAF pickets. Unfortunately, while it’s a more active opposition than Dan urging people to vote LibDem, I don’t think it will do much to dissuade prospective UKIP voters.

Many comrades, such as Sunny, argue that highlighting UKIP’s racist hues is not likely to smoke the ‘kippers. There are two reasons for this, in my opinion. First, voters have already factored in UKIP’s less-than-PC approach to a range of issues. It’s part of their appeal. It’s how voters can rank them the most racist but the most honest of the parties. They are the only ones who will say the unsayable. And second, when immigration is the biggest self-reported reason why UKIP voters will be voting UKIP, any racism row makes the party look tougher on this issue. When this is stirred with a widespread anti-Westminster nihilism, you have a potent mix. Pulling the rug from under UKIP is not a case of aping them, but addressing the contradictions, problems and anxieties that feed their support. That cannot be done with a few soundbites; it takes patient, methodical work and demonstrable policy delivery.

It’s obvious which approach I prefer. But the ‘UKIP is racist‘ campaign need not be a waste of time. The key point is a matter of focus. Instead of addressing putative UKIP supporters and trying to shame them into voting for one of the mainstream parties, it would be more effective if the campaign targeted non-UKIP voters and mobilised them to give Farage a kick in the ballots. Because European election turn outs are so low, so UKIP’s strength is exaggerated. Yes, it’s not ideal to try and drag voters to the polling station by wholly negative appeals. At best something like this can only a stop gap, a temporary tactic while politics gets its act together. And by politics, of course I mean Labour. Because looking at the rest, the Tories and LibDems both remain committed to the privatisation of everything, and insecure, low-waged labour markets. They aim to deepen the social pathologies from which UKIP draws strength. Only Labour has the policies and the capacity to turn this around.

This post first appeared at All that is Solid

20 Comments

  1. David Ellis says:

    Farage has managed to turn the Euro elections into a referendum on in-out. Such things always work out at nearly 50-50 so Nigel can expect a big turnout for UKIP. Pointing out that he is a racist is merely doing his work for him because as everybody knows he is not allowed to say the truth without being persecuted by the Westminister elite which now clearly includes the SWP with their vote for anyone to stop UKIP approach. If he is really a racist as they tell us the thinking of potential voters goes he can be trusted to actually follow through on his promise to take the UK out of Europe unlike the others who will say whatever, whenever then do the opposite.

    The article is right that we should be mobilising the opposition to Farage but is very wrong about the neo-liberal New Labour leadership having anything to say on the matter that could turn things around. Their uncritical support for EU neo-liberalism and austerity is the problem and the reason UKIP is enjoying such popularity. New Labour are the problem. They are the midwives of UKIP.

    OK Farage has turned this into an in-out referendum and Labour should meet him head on on this ground. It will hugely boost their general election prospects. They should be the party that unequivocally stands for the UK remaining in the EU but at the same time they must address the concerns of the working class about the principles of privatisation, mass migration, austerity, the race to the bottom etc on which the EU is currently based and which are tearing it apart and will see it collapse. There is no solidarity between nations in the current EU just cut-throat competition. The members are like robbers chained to a cart.

    Labour should say that it is pro EU but it will be seeking to re-negotiate the founding treaties with other European labour movements that come to power in accordance with socialist principles such as an EU-wide living wage and an EU-wide regime of full employment by which all school and college leavers and unemployed workers who cannot find their own job are bought into the local workforce to share in the available productive work.

  2. Mick Hall says:

    Nigel Farage’s ‘car-crash interview my arse, there is nothing this reactionary toff likes better than talking about the EU and immigrants. You cannot play Farage at his own game, as the days go by UKip looks more and more like a neo liberal spoiler.

    More here:http://www.organizedrage.com/2014/05/nigel-farages-car-crash-my-arse-there.html

  3. Rod says:

    “while politics [i.e. Labour] gets its act together.”

    Better get a new leader then.

    Miliband’s silence on the EU, support for the disastrous military intervention in Libya and deceitful behaviour re the Falkirk non-crisis provide clear indication of his unsuitability for high office.

  4. David Ellis says:

    What was disatrous about the limited Libya intervention? Gadaffi’s long over due death? I don’t think so. He should be condemned for the disatrsous non-intervention in Syria and he would be if it wasn’t also the position of the far right and the Daily Mail who place Arabs just above vermin in the Western Book of Racial Hierarchies.

  5. Mick Hall says:

    Libyan intervention, remind me how that was a great success, the country is on the road to chaos and civil war as NATO intended. If they cannot control it’s the neo liberal fall back option.

    A dead dictator in a drain pipe is not a successful outcome as far as the majority of Libyans are concerned.

    No country which does not face a direct military threat has any right to involve itself militarily in another countries business.

    Libya could be and should be the most prosperous country in the Med, instead we have the militias and CIA frontmen fighting over the spoils like rats in a sack.

    1. David Ellis says:

      `Libyan intervention, remind me how that was a great success’

      Gadaffi died.

      1. Robert says:

        The problem is with removing one puppet like Saddam is you normally end up with another until he decides to bite the hand that feeds him, Afghanistan the same. lets see what happen in Libya lets hope it peace, some how I doubt it.

  6. Rod says:

    David Ellis: “What was disastrous about the limited Libya intervention?”

    That’s either the political howler of the year or you’re a member of Progress.

    1. David Ellis says:

      Like the left should take lessons from UKIPPERs like you on what political stance it should take on anything. You can kiss up to semi-colonial tyrants if you like but that is not our job. Not doubt like your beloved Nigel you are a fan of the homophobe little Bonaparte Putin.

      1. Rod says:

        You are misrepresenting me.

        But no doubt you feel it necessary to present myself as a Great Satan in order for you to feel better about your support for the West’s/EU’s imperialism.

        1. David Ellis says:

          I am an unconditional supporter of the Arab Spring and all its manifestations. I do not see why the revolutionaries in Libya and Syria should not seek support from wherever they can get it. Certainly Western intervention in Libya did not suddenly turn me against the Libyan National Democratic Revolution as it did the Putin-loving ghouls of StWC in alliance with UKIP and the Daily Mail.

          1. Rod says:

            “the revolutionaries in Libya” – does that include CIA-linked ‘rebel leader’ General Khalifa Hifter?

            http://news.antiwar.com/2014/05/18/is-us-behind-rogue-generals-libya-coup/

  7. James Martin says:

    David Ellis is so consistently right wing I think he only comes on here to give everyone else a giggle. Pro-EU, Pro-NATO bombing, pro-western liberalism.

    But back to Farage. The UAF approach is a joke and a dangerous one at that. Yes, right-wing anti-immigrant parties like UKIP open up some space for genuine fascists, but UKIP aren’t fascists, just run of the mill right-wing Tories with a reactionary social agenda to match: complete privatisation of the NHS (auctioning off hospitals!), attacking the unemployed and claimants (plans to make it illegal for them to buy fags and booze are just two examples) and a rolling back of equality and workers rights/safety legislation. These are the things we can hit them hard on, and hit them hard we must, but for me the constant racist stuff, true as much of it is, is not the way to break UKIP support when it is done in the manner of a middle class student campaign (which let’s face it is all most of the far left can do because that is where their members are).

    1. David Ellis says:

      Your a political idiot plus a seriously dishonest waste of space.

      I supported the popular revolution agaisnt Gadaffi. The fact that the West were obliged to prevent him from blasting Benghazi into rubble did not turn me against that movement. I have no illusions in the self-serving nature of Western imperialism certainly not like the illusions you have in the Gaddaffis, Saddams, Assads and Putins of this world who you solidly support with all your rotten heart. As for the EU I have consistently said that the EU as is based on neo-liberal treaties must be exchanged for a socialist EU whereas you simply echo the foul shit of UKIP.

      1. James Martin says:

        You really are quite a nasty person aren’t you?

        But here’s the thing. Rather than twist or make up things I have never said, why not just look at what I have instead. Where have I ever said I support Gaddaffi, Assad or Putin? Where David? Or do you just make things up when you have been exposed for the pro-NATO main enemy is abroad ‘socialist’ that regularly comes out of your own posts?

        Me, I’m just a long suffering Labour Party member of many decades standing who opposes NATO and the EU among other things (I also oppose the UK state as it is now constituted incidentally). Disagree with that as much as you like, but please do not throw so many personal insults and lies at people as that says a lot more about yourself than you probably realise.

        1. David Ellis says:

          You are the one making stuff up. That is how you opened your first comment. I give no support to NATO and never have and if you can find a single word that I have said in its praise knock yourself out. Otherwise fuck right off you neo-Stalinist Gadaffi loving whore.

          1. James Martin says:

            David, can I ask how old you are? Because you seem to have the bad manners of a very badly brought up teenager. I have been an active trade unionist and socialist for a great many years, I am used to having sharp but comradely debates. What I am not going to put up with is personal abuse, needless swearing and bad language (why do you find it necessary to talk like that? Even Lenin had a campaign against swearing you know) and baseless allegations that you make up. It is also rather ironic that you appear to enjoy belittling and besmirching anyone who dares to disagree with you and call them ‘Stalinist’ when in my experience that used to be quite a common Stalinist trait.

          2. David Ellis says:

            You say you won’t put up with personal abuse and yet look how you opened this little discussion. Flat out lies. What use has a labour movement for the supporters of tyrants and annexationists?

        2. David Ellis says:

          By the way what is this shit you have made up about me being a `main enemy abroad socialist’? Did you make that up all by yourself?

          Do you think that Lenin in opposing Russian imperialism threw his support behind the British version? Your position is designed to rationalise your support for Putin.

          1. James Martin says:

            Odd how you continually never answer any questions and just go on throwing abuse isn’t it.

            But here’s the answer to yours. You openly admit being a cheerleader for NATO bombing Libya (and I assume by logic other places too, such as Iraq given that after all Saddam like Gadaffi is also now dead). So whether you like it or not your position is essentially the same as Blair. Now whether you are a member of Progress as has been mooted I don’t know (politically you seem more likely to be one of Claggy’s Lib-Dims to me), but you do enjoy trolling on here from a rather right-wing position don’t you?

            As to Putin, well here’s the thing. I’m a Labour Party member in the NW of England. It may surprise you to learn that I actually do not have any influence at all over Putin and can’t do much to get rid of him (but I support socialist opposition to him nevertheless). But what I can do as a Labour Party member in the NW of England is actively oppose NATO, Trident, British foreign policy, the EU and a million and one other things that are within my own little orbit.

            Now in all the posts you have made on this site not once have I seen any – not once – where you have opposed NATO. Instead the opposite is the case isn’t it? So I am happy to repeat, you are by your own postings Pro-EU, Pro-NATO bombing, pro-western liberalism. Progress, Lib-Dim, it matters little, but you are definitely rather right-wing in terms of the politics of this website.

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