UKIP vs the Establishment

david-cameron-ed-miliband-nick-clegg-cartoon-polls-electionBy Haniya Khalid

Nigel Farage, it seems, has tapped into an incredibly lucrative mass market: electorate disillusionment with the establishment and mainstream politics in general. Couple that with the swift capitalization of crimes and social faux pas perpetrated by who those happen to be the perceived ‘other’ and you have the perfect storm for race hatred. Groups portrayed as a “threats to their way of life” – ethnic minorities, immigrants, Muslims, homosexuals, all considered alien by tight-knit, largely homogeneous communities- a nd you have a firm monopoly on the mindsets of large sections of the working class; the group hit hardest by an incompetent government’s fiscal, social and foreign policies.

But in his most recent column for the Independent, with its eye-popping title, Kudos to Russell Brand and the Guy Fawkes Protesters, Nigel Farage says something that those bearing the worst of the fallout from the bloated whale that is Westminster would be hard pressed to reject.

Everywhere you look there is discontent with the mainstream, the establishment, with the corporatist politics that we’ve been spoon-fed for the past few decades. Never more so was this evident than this week in the mid-term elections in the United States, and in the Parliament Square protests that took place on Wednesday evening in London.”

Consider, for a moment the situation here. Farage, very much on the right whose party has connections to the European ultra right (whether due to business reasons or ideological), praising an anti-UKIP comedian-actor-turned-activist socialist for going on an anti-capitalist, anti-establishment leftist protest throughout the streets of London with a million other people, marching against quite a few of the principles Farage himself ascribes to-such as the free-market and the crackdown on Johnny foreigner.

Look to the fact that almost every week, there are protests on the streets of London and elsewhere around the country: some about Isis, some by trade unions, some about Gaza, and some about niche issues like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”

Russell Brand at Million Mask MarchMost probably, Farage is unaware that the Million Mask March that he speaks of takes place every year and has done so for the last few years across the world’s cities, from London to New York. And that the ‘Guy Fawkes’ masks are donned to denote Anonymous, the online ‘hacktivist’ entity that claims to fight state oppression and corruption across the world through infamous hacking ops targeting government institutions and corporations. But that isn’t the point, and he doesn’t make it the point, noting his difference of ideology with people like Brand and his supporters and yet recognizing the glaring similarity between those who are increasingly attracted to anti-establishment parties like UKIP, and its counterparts on the left such as the Green party, and in Scotland at least, the SNP.

So I have a lot of sympathy with people who want different policies from the “three major” parties. Sure, they mistake“capitalism” for “corporatism”, and have a slightly different view as to what a society should look like. But we’re driven by the same innate passion to see radical change in our politics. It’s this discontent that is leading a left-wing populist party to success in Spain; a right-wing, populist party to success in America; and an anti-EU, policy-wonk party to successes in Germany.”

Citing the increasing popularity of Spain’s Podemos party, America’s latest Republican win in the mid-term elections slating a Democrat majority, and Germany’s Alternative For Deutschland (AFD) regional win, Farage, despite his faults, says what every other politician and civil servant in Westminster and Whitehall won’t. There is something wrong with the way things are going, and the masses simply won’t sit on the sidelines anymore.

Podemos-European-Parliament

The people of Britain are hungry for change. And why? Because they can’t tell the difference between Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband, and Mr Clegg. Their propositions are just not that different when you think about it: more borrowing, more debt for future generations, more wars, more powers given away to the EU, more corporatism, more cronyism, and maybe a few billion pounds’ worth of difference in their spending plans.”

Despite his renowned oratory prowess, when Nigel Farage writes he is no Shakespeare, nor is he inclined to verbosity. But anyone can understand what he is saying. Like most successful political leaders, he himself is populist and uses emotion and anecdote to reach out to current public sentiment, sometimes at the expense of statistical facts. This is something that Owen Jones seizes upon in a recent article for the Guardian on the latest study by University College London that European migrants contributed £20 billion to the economy:

Anecdotes end up trumping statistics…earlier this year, Nigel Farage was confronted with figures demonstrating that immigrants did indeed pay their way. His response? “There are some things that matter more than money.” If, he added, the arrival of another 5 million to British shores left us “all slightly richer”, he would rather that we were not slightly richer. It was ingenious trolling of the pro-immigration left, painting them as money-obsessed neoliberals, while he was the champion of community and people.”

There’s no doubt, therefore, that UKIP has a penchant for scapegoating the more vulnerable members of society, although the fault of this may lie more with individual donors and members of UKIP who have joined due to the circumstance that it’s an easy outlet for plain racists, rather than what Farage himself may have promoted. This is not to say of course, that Farage is innocent in the world of politics, having dabbled in the favorite pastime of many of his would be peers at Westminster and escaped not entirely unscathed.

But unlike the Prime Minister, who whines about the EU bureaucracy one minute – like a dazzled child vying for the approval of his much cooler and popular older brother – then throws a tantrum over an extortionate EU bill that anyone with half the economic literacy of he who is supposedly running the country would have predicted months before, Farage doesn’t just talk the talk.

UKIP policy, however objectionable most Scots find it, is crystal clear. On the EU: get out. On immigrants: extensive crackdown, and for those who come in, assimilate, abide by the law, work or leave. On terrorism: fighting home-grown extremists should be the top priority for British security services, rather than sending off troops fight expensive wars in foreign lands, are what fuel terror at home and abroad in the first place.

cameron-euro-5_2079690b

But it is a testament to the monolithic structure that is the establishment that everything they said about UKIP before it made significant enough gains in the EU elections to warrant Westminster sitting up and taking notice, and Cameron retracting his “loonies and fruitcakes statement”, was repeated with ten times as much vitriol during the referendum campaign against Alex Salmond and the SNP-and is repeated still, towards what they perceive as ‘nationalists’ and the SNP.

At a time when every single Westminster party is in a state of perpetual crisis, perhaps a first in that noble institution’s proud history, none more so than Labour – every new day bringing fresh news of disaster and dissent in the ranks, the threat felt by the establishment, whether by UKIP or Scotland, is almost tangible.

Looking through the prism of UKIP’s success, it is clear that it is not exclusive to Scotland that people are fed up with the way things stand and the way they have been working for a long time, although one may note that Scots may have born the brunt of the Thatcherite politics which have since been ubiquitous in every Westminster government’s policies for the last two decades since the Iron Lady’s reign. But the English certainly aren’t happy, neither the Welsh nor many of the Irish, and it isn’t because they are a bunch of whining scroungers, the way Scots are consistently portrayed by media outlets and society outside of Scotland in general.

So it is easy to see how a party like UKIP has risen in all the turmoil in English politics-for UKIP has very little, if any, traction in Scotland while the membership and support of the SNP grows day by day, having shot up three-fold simply within weeks after the referendum.

And it’s important not to take everything said about UKIP by the mainstream press as face value. It’s easy to label anyone and anything deviating from the party line as racist. You disagree with Obama? Racist. You are critical of Israel’s settlement policy, which is illegal under International Law? Racist. You voted UKIP? Racist.

After all, if we are to exercise critical thinking, the very thing we complained was absent in the press’ coverage of the referendum, media and political bias is not something unique to the cause of Scottish independence, but to anything that is a threat to the London centric establishment. And that’s why it’s not us, who are fortunate enough to have alternatives to the establishment, such as the SNP and the Greens to choose from, that need to worry about UKIP. It’s Westminster.



Categories: Commentary

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24 replies

  1. I agree that not all UKIP voters are racists, but they really should have a closer look at the bunch of rascals they’re voting for. They are semi fascist nut jobs. Here’s one of their European allies. Ihttp://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/08/nigel-farage-ukip-europe-janusz-korwin-mikke

    To illustrate their non-racism they do have Jewish supporters. Like this guy. http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2014/02/chabad-rabbi-running-on-right-wing-anti-immigration-slate-infuriates-some-when-he-refuses-to-shake-womens-hands-345.html

    • Haha I by no means support UKIP, and I know very well of the unsavoury characters connected to the party. And yes, as I highlighted, it becomes an easy vote for racists. But I repeat, I don’t think they are a threat to the public (keep in mind, I say this as someone of colour, the daughter of immigrants / now naturalised citizens, and a Muslim for good measure), especially not in Scotland where there is just under 3% of UKIP support if I am not wrong. And Farage doesn’t seem as smart as we may like to think. After all, he’s been UKIP leader for fifteen years and still hasn’t got into Westminster himself-yet Westminster is still jizzing itself at yesterday’s Rochester and Strood by election results. Reckless is only UKIP’s second MP, so why all the fuss? Populist parties grow fast (live fast, die young), but the British public is smarter than to bring Farage and his ilk into power. That’s why the Greens and the SNP etc are bigger and have more support. Perhaps UKIP is a convenient sideshow distracting everyone from the steady advance of the SNP et al. So it’s good to humour them. And it’s good to say, look, we wont just smear you as racists/sexists etc, so you have to engage in rational debate now and drop most of that populist jargon. Something WM doesn’t seem to have learned. 🙂

  2. Watching BBC’s Brillo last night interesting brief comment by Nick Robinson about the postal votes, having , if I recall correctly, gleaned a preference for UKIP immediately after the count had started ! The postal vote process must be reviewed , its is most definitely open to abuse. Also Farage comments reported today regards Spanish discontent as understandable but also reflectsthe downright contempt he has for The Scots.
    ” Mr Farage dismisses the idea that Labour could mount a fight-back against his party.
    “I doubt they can make those inroads under this leader,” he says. “Labour have increasingly become anti-English, happy to pander in every way to Scotland. New Labour believes any sense of English identity is disreputable and wrong.” ”
    So we have already mustered the enlightened in Scotland for the biggest fight of our lives and that’s the Westminster Election, we must send one big bus full of SNP MP’s to Westminster. We know the end game we must have, so just do it, vote SNP, and we can all get on with our lives in a free Scotland. The shenanigans will be starting big time and no prisoners will be taken by Ed, Dave (or Nick) so the fall of the empire is now underway and Scotland must get out before the final implosion takes place.

    • The postal vote system is indeed open to abuse, or at least to the sort of treatment it received in Scotland at the hands of the Conservative leader here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29489288

      I recently discovered that in Belgium (where voting is compulsory in parliamentary elections at regional, national and European levels) there are no postal voting arrangements.

      A voter who is not able to go and vote personally is required to nominate a proxy. I think that would be a better and safer procedure.

      • Agree Belgium has a marginally more secure voting system but according to Flemish essayist David van Reybrouck it is riven with other problems, not least that the compulsory element seems to favour apathetic scrutiny of politicians and tends to favour the bigger parties.

        He is the very interesting guy who instigated the shadow “People’s Parliament” in Belgium when the poltical establishment there was effectively in limbo a few years back. There were no elections, random people were chosen by lottery on a similar basis to jury duty and they were obliged to do their short stint as parliamentarians. He’s become a great advocate of this style of parliament – a kind of ‘post-democracy’ he calls it – and certainly it seemed to function at least as well as the corrupt, gridlocked legistlature it substituted. Whether it would work in the long run I seriously doubt; it would seem to lend itself to the empowerment of a professional bureaucratic class whose democratic accountability would be significantly less than even, say, an MEP in Brussels.

        Regarding Nick Robinson’s ongoing and unchallenged right-wing pontificating, it’s plain the BBC and the Fourth Estate generally have abdicated any dedication to scrutiny of the democratic process. Last night’s election coverage featured a rotating group of representatives from the “four main parties” by-passing the Greens entirely despite the fact they finished way above one of the parties of Government, polling more than four times the votes of the LibDem candidate. Now it appears the Greens will be excluded from the leaders’ debates in the run-up to the UK General Election (which completely undermine the principles of parliamentary democracy anyway, but that’s another argument). The BBC/Sky/ITN rationale for not including the SNP, the third largest party in the UK, was feeble enough, but the exclusion of the Greens is against all natural justice. Clearly putting a woman espousing genuinely democratic and authentically left-wing policies against four middle class, middle aged, privately educated men trading soundbites on how far right their socio-economic policies should go would be too difficult for the Great British Public to comprehend. I mean, FIVE people debating politics at once? What is this – Question Time?

      • “There were no elections, random people were chosen by lottery on a similar basis to jury duty and they were obliged to do their short stint as parliamentarians.”

        That’s what they did in ancient Athens, to fill certain government functions, though not, I think, to make laws. It’s known as “sortition”.
        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition

    • The bus to Westminster will have to be a 55-seater.

  3. Ukip is not a threat to establishment, it is perfect for a neo liberal tory or a labour coalition.

    However it is a potential threat to UK citizens & residents -the well being and safety of immigrants, refugees and particularly muslims , to people in the street & in detention, not the establishment. Seems to support the whole neo liberal tory platform, including re NHS. Ukip provides scapegoats while changing nothing substantial.

    Actually the Green vote is way up in England. The Greens polled much better in the recent English by election than Lib Dems.

    The SNP,The Greens, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru are a more real anti austerity threat to the status quo, particularly if SNP & other nations MPs were to not abstain from voting on anything.All are part of the UK at present after all & rUK deserves free education, protection from bedroom tax & punitive welfare laws, protection from TTIP, protection of NHS, etc too.

    Were Sinn Fein to work with numerous SNP, as well as Greens & Plaid Cymru at Westminister the est. would have more reason to be nervous.

  4. ” And that’s why it’s not us, who are fortunate enough to have alternatives to the establishment, such as the SNP and the Greens to choose from, that need to worry about UKIP.”

    While we continue to be governed from Westminster, I’m afraid It very much is us who need to worry.

    There is a real possibility of not just a UKIP/Tory coalition but an actual UKIP Majority Government. If the prospect of UKIP having their way on all non-devolved matters isn’t something to worry about, what is?

    • I can see UKIP winning a lot of silver or bronze medals in English constituencies next May, but gold medals (i.e. Westminster seats)? I can’t see them winning more than five or so. FPTP will see to that. Yes, they’ll almost certainly win a lot more votes than they have previously and they’ll close the gap on the big three, but their support is spread too thinly across England, rather than being concentrated in certain areas, to make a big dent in any other party’s block of MPs. Now, if England had its own version of the SNP, that might cause Cameron, Clegg and Miliband a few sleepless nights. But, of course, the LibLabCon and their media lackeys would ensure that such a party is strangled at birth.

      • I suggest you travel around Eng. … I have yet to come into contact with any “working class” Englishmen..exclaiming support for any of the existing wm parties… those I listen to are seriously sick of the daily diet from ” the mother of parliaments” … equally as Haniya has pointed out… immigration is another factor .. which Ukip has developed as one of its themes and that the other groups … from fear of the left labelling them racialists…. they have simply ignored… or hinted at curbing… but when these same working class parents find children sharing desks in overcrowded schools and millionaire labour mp’s tweeting about flags & white vans… what can you expect… so… your suggestion that Ukip will have possibly 5 seats is not viewing reality from my recent experience…

      • “when these same working class parents find children sharing desks in overcrowded schools and millionaire labour mp’s tweeting about flags & white vans … what can you expect”? Being “working class” doesn’t make you a simpleton from whom decency and good sense can’t reasonably be expected. So I can expect, or at least I can hope, that people will not respond by embracing fascism. If any of them do, we must not find excuses for them. There is no justification for that, and we should be open in denouncing it.

    • However, if we had already taken the courageous step to independence in September, this would not be a worry for us. This is the point!
      We are very fortunate to have the SNP and to a lesser extent the Greens to fight the case for Scotland, but we are still constrained by what Westminster does and the lies, corruption and deceit that flows from there. Thus we are not yet immune from being affected by decisions that do not take us into account.
      It is quite obvious that the only way that Scotland can and will flourish is if the people who live and work in Scotland have a Scottish Government at Holyrood with complete control of Scottish affairs and who are accountable only to the people of Scotland.

  5. Multi-party democracy needs to flourish, undeterred by ruling hegemonies. Look how the previous liberators of South Africa rule its people today, twenty years after the birth of democracy. Any opposition to the ANC is derided as ‘racist’. Here, in South Africa, the consequences of this type of rule as you have outlined is beginning to manifest itself much earlier in this country’s ‘democratic history’, Julius Malema.

    • I’m interested in what you say about the ANC and Malema.

      Are you saying that Malema’s conviction for hate speech is as a result of the populist position he’s taken on land and mines nationalisation and his “J’accuse” to the SA Govt on their complicity in the mass murder of striking miners?

      I’m not quite clear whether you’re equating Malema style populism with UKIP, attacking the ANC, both or something else?

  6. The problem with UKIP is that they very much are ‘the establishment’ – their financial backers are ex-Tories who would love nothing more than to have a mass fire-sale of the state. The’yre the establishment posing as anti-establishment. Unfortunately, all the major parties are neck deep with big business, so none can call them out about it.

  7. Like most parties of the extreme right, it is almost de rigour to display their sympathies with the interests of the less privileged. This can be seen in the public face of all European Fascist regimes, from Fascist Italy, through Nazi Germany to Falangist Spain, equally revealing is the almost total lack of concern, indeed antipathy shown by these regimes to the interaests of the poor, once in a position to effect their poverty.
    Indeed this faux concern with the marginalised and powerless has revealed itself as nothing more than a superficial attempt at winning the support of those sections of working class opinion who are for want of another description, less discerning.
    Once again, in the shape of UKIP the familiar pattern can be observed and once again the familiar complacency and lack of challenge,can be witnessed in the establishment and its representatives. For example, by the way in which UKIP has been allowed to dress itself up in the traditional anti-establishment clothes of its left of centre opponents. At the same time the parties, dependence on what could be politely called ‘maverick’ figures on the extreme right for both ideological and financial support is curiously never examined in any great detail by the mainstream media.
    The fact that UKIP is undoubtedly a political party of the haves and the have a lots at that, is something that should be being shouted from the rooftops.the fear I have is of the damage that will be done if even simply by the grievous sin of emulation to the fundamental values of many of us North of the border.

    • They will be found to be the fools and fruitcakes that they are and I doubt whether they will influence any future government.

    • You could easily substitute UKIP for SNP in that post!

      SNP claims to represent the less privileged, but in reality has avoided doing anything to help them. In fact the have cut funding for Further Education thus condemning another generation to poverty, while subsidising university education for the middle classes, and subsidising council tax bills for the middle classes.
      SNP supporters like to claim they are on the left – but what is left/right – if it relates to treatment of business, is their promise of lower corporation tax not fairly right wing, are their education priorities (in paragraph above) not fairly right wing, is Nationalism itself not extremely right wing?
      Yes they object to austerity – but they give no viable alternative so this is an empty policy designed simply to engender nationalist resentment.

      The SNP are quick to condemn various discrimination by UKIP – instead try to take the moral high ground. Typically they keep their heads down when it comes to finding solutions to English concerns – they take no account of the fact that immigration is a much greater strain on public services in the south, while they employ exactly the same anti-Westminster tactics that UKIP employ.

      • Where does one start with this nonsense, Andrew:
        – Free tuition fees and free prescription charges are an example of universal benefits which assist the poorest in society. They are not targeted at and do not disproportionately assist the middle class. The Jimmy Reid Foundation has developed a clear research base on this http://www.allofusfirst.org/the-key-ideas/universalism-works/
        – The SNP have no control over corporation tax. However, if they did, their corporation tax policies cannot and should not be seen in isolation from the rest of their taxation policies which are redistributive. For an example of what could be done, look at their treatment of house purchase tax which they have recently taken control of. The corporation tax pledge during the referendum was a very reasonable response to having an economic neighbour 9 times our size. It was about national competitive advantage.
        – is nationalism itself not right wing? No, the SNP espouses a civic social democratic nationalist agenda which is inclusive, diametrically opposed to UKIPs racist exclusivity.
        – the SNP offered a clear anti-austerity programme in the Scottish Government White Paper during the referendum campaign. Given the powers that Scotland has, the SNP, like any other party can only mitigate austerity. Scotland simply doesn’t have the levers of economic control to do anything else unless it becomes independent.
        – the SNP does not take the moral high ground. On immigration, Scotland needs significantly more of it due to our demographics. The UKIP demonisation of immigrants, aside from being abhorrent, does nothing to assist Scotland’s economy. The SNPs pro-immigration stance isn’t about morals, it’s about the economic necessity of immigration for Scotland.

        I do however resent cuts in the FE budget. It’s a mistake for the young people involved and gives a bruise to silly people like you to keep punching.

      • Student funding in Scotland is a disgrace, contrary to what you say Jim, it favours students from middle class background, and puts off students coming from the poorest backgrounds due to Scottish government cutting back on grants given out by 40%.

        Parents of many middle class students will be able to pay the accommodation cost for their kids, which gives their kids freedom to go to any university in Scotland. But the only option for students from poor background is to go to a local university and live at home, and many living far away from university will not be able to attend at all.

        Student grant levels for Scottish students are the lowest in western Europe, the maximum grant is about £1700 which is less than half of the years accommodation cost at some university. So poorer students must take out higher student loans than their middle class counter parts, so Scottish student from the poorest background end up with around £5000 more student debt than middle class students over a four year degree, which will put off people from the poorest backgrounds going to university in the first place, and once they get to university, they are also less likely to succeed with higher drop out rates.

  8. The Trident Test

    by craig on November 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

    The Rochester By-Election further destroys the intellectual case for the BBC’s decision that only male party leaders who support Trident can debate on TV before the UK general election.

    The Greens got five times as many votes as the Lib Dems in Rochester, and are ahead of them in several recent national opinion polls. I do not posit the support of Trident as the criterion for inclusion, in any sense as a joke. Support of Trident stands as a good marker for adhesion to the neo-con establishment consensus. The establishment is simply not prepared for more radical views to be put before the public as a serious choice. UKIP is the chosen right wing vehicle into which disillusion with politicians should be channelled…….

    ……..The Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP have female leaders and are anti-Trident, a symbol of their broad radicalism. All are, to use that crude measure, to the left of the parties which will be included. To be in, you have to be led by an identikit posh male and support Trident. That is the BBC test.

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/11/the-trident-test/

    • That is so well put. How can the BBC defend its position? You are right. UKIP is a safe channel into which discontent can be directed, knowing that no UKIP rep.is going to say anything that will really make people start thinking,at least not along lines that will lead to questioning capitalism , and the foreigh policy that goes with it. Jane wilson.

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