There are left-wing answers to the questions posed by UKIP

Progressives shouldn't be running scared of UKIP. There are left-wing answers to the questions posed by the party, writes James Bloodworth.

Progressives shouldn’t be running scared of UKIP. There are left-wing answers to the questions posed by the party, writes James Bloodworth

Everyone seems to have a theory as to how the left can defeat UKIP. For some it means robustly calling out the party as ‘racist’; for others it means treading more gently and highlighting the economic benefits of European integration.

For UKIP’s growing base of support, the reasons for the party’s recent surge in the polls are obvious: voters are fed up with the identikit ‘political class’ and want politicians to drastically reduce immigration and pull Britain out of the EU. The solutions therefore are obvious: stick two fingers up to Brussels and pull up the drawbridge on fortress Britain.

But aren’t there perhaps some progressive answers to the questions posed by UKIP? I think so, and without pandering to the regressive instincts of die-hard Kippers there are some areas where UKIP is currently getting an easy rise through a fear many progressives¬† have of confronting the party on its own turf.

Indeed, UKIP is being allowed to position itself as the only party that’s willing to talk openly about a whole range of issues that worry voters. This is dangerous. It’s also misguided, for on a number of the areas where UKIP is currently allowed to hold sway the left actually has some powerful arguments it could use to push back against Farage’s toxic fearmongering.

Make immigration work for unskilled workers

Most lefties will know the stats almost of by heart by now: migrants from the EU make a substantial contribution to public finances in Britain and are far less likely to claim out-of-work benefits than working age UK nationals. That said, the effect of immigration on a person’s wage packet depends largely on where they sit on the income scale: on average low-wage workers lose out while medium and high-paid workers gain according to the respected Migration Observatory.

Over the long-term the negative effects on employment and wages tend to be mitigated by growth; but in the meantime it’s important to address the plight of unskilled British workers who are worried about the effect immigration could have on their prospects of work. This means recognising that the immigration experience differs across the social classes. It also means we must…

Understand the importance of trade unionism

Following on from my first point, it’s absolutely vital that we recognise the important role trade unions can play in assuaging some of the fears people have about immigration. After all, anyone with any kind of socialist or social democratic background ought to understand why employers might happily opt for Eastern European workers over their British counterparts. British workers have higher wage expectations, a better understanding of their rights at work and are more likely to seek out trade union representation than migrant workers.

Rather than trying to force British workers to compete in a race to the bottom with migrant workers, the left should see its primary task as to unionise migrant workers and educate them as per their rights at work. In an economic sense, a British worker has far more in common with an Eastern European worker than he does with his employer after all.

Recognise that integration is not a dirty word

In embracing the best of multiculturalism too often progressives ignore the potential challenges that come with it. A community of people from different backgrounds sharing values and broadening each other’s cultural experiences is what multiculturalism should be; an assortment of isolated communities that barely interact with each other is actually monoculturalism, and isn’t a cause for celebration.

Too often when a politician calls for migrants to learn English they are accused of pandering to anti-immigration sentiment. And often they are. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a progressive case for migrants to do the things that will help them to become full members of British society. Socialism ultimately starts at the community level, and progressives shouldn’t allow demagogues like Nigel Farage play on public concerns about integration (or a lack of it). The left should have its own answers as to how we create a sense of community in the places where the level of immigration is high.

25 Responses to “There are left-wing answers to the questions posed by UKIP”

  1. Kryten2k35

    We should drop Farage off at Sealand and let him govern that.

  2. Sparky

    What a change from the ‘everyone who disagrees with us is racist’ approach which was the default position of virtually everyone on the Left until very recently. You’d read that in every article and comment on this site: immigration was amazing, immigration wasn’t too high, immigrants didn’t take British people’s jobs, they didn’t claim benefits, they didn’t depress wages, or put pressure on housing and the NHS, we lived in wonderful vibrant, diverse communities where everyone got on and shared a common vision of a ‘Britain we all call home.’ And anyone who disagreed was just a hateful racist.

    Of course, that approach won’t wash any more. I know it, Mr Bloodworth knows it, next-door’s cat knows it. The jury of public opinion on Labour’s extreme immigration policy has come back and the verdict is so much against Labour that the Left knows that it is completely untenable to go into an election clinging to accusations of racism. It would simply antagonize and alienate even more voters, especially the voters in the middle that decide elections. And once Labour realised that the opinion amongst swing voters had moved against it, that’s when it changed.

    So we see these touchy-feely articles which attempt to reposition Labour as the party which ‘listen’s to voter’s genuine concerns’ and would like to ‘assuage their legitimate fears’ about immigration. I don’t buy it for a moment. It was the Labour government that increased immigration levels to five times that of any level since the early 1960s. They partly did this out of their normal misguided socialist dogma but also largely out of an attempt to change the voter demographics in favour of Left wing voters.

  3. Anna Hayward

    The thing I like to get UKIP on is Health & Safety Legislation. They say they’re against it, so just shoot them with a few industrial accident stats and watch them squirm. Fact is, the current cuts to the HSE have already lead to a large increase in accidents, going further is going to mean more accidents and more lives lost. I put this to a UKIP supporter recently and he just stood there like a goldfish, opening and closing his mouth.

  4. LB

    The problem with this article is that its making up the questions, and then supplying deceiptful answers.

    Most lefties will know the stats almost of by heart by now: migrants from the EU makea substantial contribution to public finances in Britain and are far less likely to claim out-of-work benefits than working age UK nationals

    So they make a substantial contribution. You’ve got the condems saying they are getting tough. 3 months of 150 a week before you get a slice of the fixed welfare pot. That’s ¬£1.56 total NI paid and no tax. For a family of 4, you can then get.¬£26,798.25 a year in direct benefits. 12K a year for the schooling of your kids. 8K free health care. 10K free pension contributions.

    Since when is that a substantial contribution? The question is does a migrant make a NET contribution, not that they contribute less than 2p a day. Hence the deceit amongst both the left and right. The public have wised up. They can quite clearly see that all migrants on benefits are not paying enough tax to cover the cost of the benefits, the are net consumers. With a fixed pot, that means the poor get less.

    Similarly, when it comes to housing . The public are quite aware of supply and demand. It’s lesson one on economics. They know you can’t built enough property to cover 5.1 million migrants so prices go up. The supply of social housing is fixed, so people who need social housing lose out to migrants and the Bob Crows of this world keeping the housing the needy require for themselves.

    So how does any migrant on welfare cover the average 11.5K a year government spend?

    How are they going to pay citizen’s pensions when they are earning pension rights of their own?

    That’s why the poor are poor. You took their cash, spent it, and can’t even afford to return the pittance you offer as a pension.

    Meanwhile look at the debt, all of it. If you can’t even mention the trillions you owe for pensions, its not surprising people have lost complete trust in you.

    So what we have now is collective action. The public are acting collectively against the scum in Westminster. What have you got against collective action and a bit of democracy?

  5. LB

    Notice the replies.

    “We take on board you concerns”

    So what’s Labour going to about it?

    “We take on board you concerns”

    In other words. F-all.

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