The constant talking down of St Mirren by BBC Scotland football pundits, “the recovery”, Cheryl Cole/Tweedy, the popularity of Simon Cowell. Hell, the sexual attractiveness of said Mr Cowell. A few things that I just don’t understand. Alongside which can be placed the apparent popularity of UKIP, this is even more the case after flicking through their election leaflet.
The UKIP master plan, if it can be described as that, is to target immigration as the key issue that’s dragging Britain back. Except that this leaflet is being economical with the truth. For starters immigration from outwith the EU is not “unlimited” – there is no open door to people coming from countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas or European countries that are not members of the EU. 1950’s man’s main gripe is with the freedom of movement that applies to all EU citizens and wants us to be angry at plumbers, joiners and other manual workers who are not surly, obtuse, S*n reading white van men.
While the banner slogan states “4,000 people a week come to live in Britain from the EU”, the flip side is not put forward by UKIP. Under freedom of movement, Brits can move abroad and work, and many do so. In 2012, 154,000 people left the UK to work abroad, an average of 2,962 a week. Then again if the assumption is that the majority of those people leaving are retirees inspired by the thought of the “a year in Provence” lifestyle, then that doesn’t really help UKIP’s arguments.
The problem though is UKIP’s right front & centre is just attacking the EU, without either providing viable solutions or identifying the real problems with “The European Project”. Only UKIP will take back control they say, yet they bemoan cheap labour and putting our infrastructure under pressure and… er… basic human rights. Yet these are issues created by their bedfellows at Westminster level, the Conservatives.
If UKIP have firm evidence that companies are employing EU citizens for below minimum wage rates, they should name and shame rather than throw baseless accusations about. Either that or advocate a proper living wage for workers. As for UKIP’s line on public services being under pressure, that’ll be the real cost of austerity. Except that Farage has blamed Greek Austerity on the EU and is nowhere near as critical of the Osborne led austerity (mind you, Osborne was influenced by the former head of the IMF, Lagarde). Osborne might have been claiming he was acting to placate the markets, but Osborne’s plan is still his and his alone – nothing to do with the ECB or the EU.
The time before last that I blogged about UKIP, I made the point that their message is targeted at a squarely disaffected Tory constituency, which will have concerns with EU regulation, straight bananas and all that. The UKIP message is to all intents and purposes a middle England message. This has not changed, with not a peep about the enshrinement of the privatisation of public services within the Lisbon Treaty. What has changed is their polling, about 15% for Westminster elections and north of 25% for the upcoming European Elections. But not in Scotland, where in the three Holyrood by-Elections in the last year, they polled below 5% in each one. Not the performance of “Britain’s most popular party” (© The Independent).
The seeming residency on Question Time, the endless good press, the fear among Westminster’s main parties, it all adds up to a party on the rise, yet they do not have an elected MP at Westminster. The SNP in the 60’s and 70’s, the SDP in the 80’s or Ashdown’s Lib Dems in the 90’s (pre the Blair landslide) never got this good a run and they had MP’s.
I would understand it if UKIP had a set of radical but popular policies. They don’t. All they have is blame the migrants for all our ills. Maybe it’s the equivalent to the oldest trick in the book, but it makes it all the more infuriating that Westminster’s finest are in fear of a party that has shown itself to be a BNP-Lite. Is it any wonder that a still fairly debatable case for Independence is still running rings around the Westminster parties. Still, blame the outsider worked for Hitler and for Mussolini in economic times of trouble, maybe Putin’s not the only dubious leader that Farage models himself on?