Skip to main content

Farage doesn't have a mask

No surprise that UKIP did well in the local elections. It was anticipated. It would be wrong to dismiss it as a 'simple' protest vote - something is afoot. Old party loyalties are being broken. What is striking is how easy it has been for Tory voters to switch to UKIP. The worry for Cameron is that, according to a YouGov survey so many of them will not return for the general election next year - well we will see.

Labour should be worried too but their result in the local elections has been better than many had thought in large part because they did well in London where UKIP did badly. On the basis of the local election results, and that should always be treated with caution, the Lib Dems would lose about 20 seats in the general election - hardly the stuff of what Nick Clegg likes to call 'a party of government'.

Nick Clegg has said that Nigel Farage's 'Mask has slipped'. Frankly Farage doesn't have a mask which is why he is appealing to voters who believe that politicians don't tell it straight. And even if he does and the mask slips the problem for the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour is that too many voters like what they see.

UKIP is tapping into some genuinely felt discontent. Unless the main parties address that then normal politics won't be resumed for some time, even supposing it would be a good thing.

Essentially Farage and UKIP are in a win-win situation. If they are dismissed as racist then it appeals to a deeply felt concern that immigration is challenging local communities and identities. The reality of statistics doesn't make any difference. If people feel 'threatened' there is no point in telling them they have nothing to fear. It simply adds to the feeling of disconnection of politicians at Westminster.

For many 'multiculturalism' is synonymous with their own communities and culture being challenged. They feel 'swamped' whether it is statistically correct or not. In politics 'feeling' matters.This is why Farage's use of statistics works no matter how barmy. If people feel there is a 'threat' from massive EU migration then that is what they feel and frankly they don't believe it when they are told they are wrong. This is one reason why Farage bested Clegg in the debates - statistics were irrelevant and Mr Farage knows it. When he said that over 400 million EU citizens could move to the UK he was strictly speaking correct no matter how absurd the notion that they would. What people are concerned about is that they could not that they necessarily would - and there you have the conundrum for Cameron, Clegg and Milliband. Many people feel that the UK is 'an overcrowded island' and that immigration is a problem. It isn't easy to persuade them otherwise when their children cannot afford to buy a home.

The left in British politics need to square the circle. It can't go on ignoring the issues. But the key question is how - that is not easy to answer!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

The secret life of Giant Pandas

Giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca , have usually been regarded as solitary creatures, coming together only to mate; but recent studies have begun to reveal a secret social life for these enigmatic bears.  GPS tracking shows they cross each others path more often than previously thought, and spend time together.  What we don't know is what they are doing when together.  Photo by  Sid Balachandran  on  Unsplash For such large mammals, pandas have relatively small home ranges. Perhaps this is no surprise. Pandas feed almost exclusively on bamboo. The only real threat to pandas has come from humans. No wonder then that the panda is the symbol of the WWF.  Pandas communicate with one another through vocalization and scent marking. They spray urine, claw tree trunks and rub against objects to mark their paths, yet they do not appear to be territorial as individuals.  Pandas are 99% vegetarian, but, oddly, their digestive system is more typical of a carnivore. For the 1% of their diet

Work Capability Assessments cause suffering for the mentally ill

People suffering from mental health problems are often the most vulnerable when seeking help. Mental health can have a major impact on work, housing, relationships and finances. The Work Capability Assessments (WCA) thus present a particular challenge to those suffering mental illness.  The mentally ill also are often the least able to present their case. Staff involved in assessments lack sufficient expertise or training to understand mental health issues and how they affect capability. Because of  concerns that Work Capability Assessments will have a particularly detrimental effect on the mentally ill,  an  e-petition  on the government web site calls on the Department of Work and Pensions to exclude people with complex mental health problems such as paranoid schizophrenia and personality disorders. Problems with the WCA  have been highlighted in general by the fact that up to 78% of 'fit to work' decisions are  being overturned on appeal. It is all to the good that they