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.
Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.
Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.
Sat 2 Mar, 9.30-17.00
Confronting the Rise of the Far Right, European Conference
Organised by Transform UK.
Bloomsbury Central, 235 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EP.
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