UKIP – the new party of the Right

Kevin Ovenden looks at the rise of the right wing UKIP party in Britain which won a large vote in the Eastleigh by-election yesterday
ukipUKIP’s central slogan was “Stop open-door immigration” – lumping together the movement of EU nationals with asylum seekers and others through a deliberate sleight of hand into a single racist or xenophobic scapegoat. Studies show that the “core” UKIP voter holds social attitudes closer to the BNP than the Tory party on a range of issues connected to race, immigration and multiculturalism (excepting the question of whether a “race war” is likely in Britain in the “next few years”, where the core UKIP voter is closer to their Tory counterpart in not thinking so, as opposed to the BNP).The wider “strategic” UKIP voter – who lends support at elections for tactical reasons or as a protest – holds essentially the attitudes of the historic right wing Tory core.

That was before the Rotherham and Eastleigh by-elections where UKIP came second in both with 22 and 28 percent.

Both the core vote and the protest element appear to be consolidating. And the party is radicalising its message. The politics of race are central – with immigration rather than Brussels as the organising principle of the populist right wing message. Opposition to equal marriage for gays and lesbians (an issue unconnected with Europe) was a further radicalisation as well as a pitch to disaffected Tories.

The result is going to be a lurch to the right by the Tories on race as they press on with the austerity that propels the underlying protest vote that UKIP is tapping. The result will be a further radicalisation, and the crescendo in the right wing press about Bulgarian and Romanian migrants has already started 10 months before the cap on their movement within the EU is lifted.

And this article shows that Labour is going to adapt further to the anti-immigration frenzy (their canvassers in Eastleigh identified it as the number one national issue raised).

Ed Miliband is to make the third of his interventions on immigration – admitting “mistakes” during their years in government – next week with a political broadcast.

His first speech, at the Labour Party conference, could have been a lot worse. He said we need “to make immigration work for everybody” (in other words it was not necessarily a bad thing) and that the way to deal with attempts to undercut pay and conditions was through enforcement of the national minimum wage and tough action on gang-masters (people who recruit and often abuse casual labour).

But since then Labour’s interventions have got a lot worse and have slid more towards the “Blue Labour” wing who believe that being seen to be soft on immigration is the reason why New Labour lost 5 million votes in the Blair/Brown years – nothing to do with the imposition of neo-liberal policies and methods of doing politics, or the wars, etc.

The need for a principled pole putting anti-racist arguments in ways that can effectively target the radical right and connect with wide layers suffering from the austerity drive is glaring.


3 comments

3 responses to “UKIP – the new party of the Right”

  1. Roger says:

    Where the Left was needed in combating the free movement of people as they do when they argue against the free movement of capital instead they have become the EUs last defenders in the race to the bottom.
    Adopting the core essence of globalisation they left the British working class on its own. It did the same by using parties any parties to protest against the core centre.
    The Left Will never be reborn with an open borders agenda even if it pretends its anti-racist…to whom that is?

    • Guy Harper says:

      I don’t think your assessment of the left’s position is accurate Roger – I think the left tends to be against the EU and the concept of globalisation in the way it has been adopted by global capital, in terms of the exploitation of the global working class for profit in a world market.

  2. Roger says:

    I could be wrong no doubt about that but the meteoric rise of UKIP has to be explained in terms other than race. UKIP only seeks unity with NAFTA as its a banksters front but it can play politics which the Left used to many years ago. Bar a few exceptions the majority of all the liliputean grouplets adopted the EU. So did the majority of union leaderships. When the EU expanded in 2004 and we were in the midst of the corporate housing bubble backed by the banksters which fot the public sector became PFI they cheered on the effects in terms of the plight of humans . The biggest waves of mass migration were analysed in terms of race not class and they still are. What the Left has achieved is turning the BNP into a national force with a million votes & UKIP into a new governing force whilst it has disintigrated intwo irtelevance.


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