Attacking UKIP as racist appears to have backfired. But don't despair - exposing UKIP policy can be effective too.
Attacking UKIP as racist appears to have backfired. But don’t despair – exposing UKIP policy can be effective too
Ed Miliband has refrained from labelling UKIP leader Nigel Farage a racist. Instead he has tried, sometimes in vain, to offer policy solutions to the issues leading to the apparent surge in the popularity of the Eurosceptic party.
And yet many have taken a different view as a matter of principle: three senior Labour figures – David Lammy, Yvette Cooper and Diane Abbott – have all condemned recent comments by Nigel Farage as racist; and it’s hard to argue that Farage’s recent comments – that he didn’t want to live next door to Romanians – were at the very least xenophobic.
But regardless of the rights or wrongs of labelling UKIP as racist/xenophobic/fascist, does name calling actually damage the party’s image?
Not if the polls are anything to go by.
Indeed, today’s polls actually show that UKIP is on course to win tomorrow’s European Elections. According to YouGov in the Sun, among those certain to vote the parties are polling as follows: C21 L25 LD11 UKIP30 Green7. A Survation poll for the Mirror also has UKIP on top: C23 L27 LD9 UKIP32 Other9.
As a piece by Patrick Wintour in the Guardian puts it, “telephone polling and focus groups have said that the attacks have raised Farage’s profile and confirmed him as the anti-establishment candidate…One source said: ‘Calling people names does not work. It confirms the old politics'”.
So what, then, to do about the rise of UKIP?
Well how about Ed Miliband’s much criticised approach of refraining from name-calling and instead focusing on the incoherence of UKIP policy? It may not offer as much satisfaction as holding up a placard condemning the UKIP leader as ‘fascist’, but if the polls are anything to go by it’s more likely to yield actual results. The public appears to have already decided that Farage is not a racist, therefore the portrayal of him as such is likely to entrench his position as the ‘anti-establishment’ candidate.
Don’t panic, though, for a policy-based approach to UKIP should bear fruit; it isn’t as if the party has a reasonable or attractive set of pledges or anything.
Charging NHS patients to jump waiting lists
Back in July of last year, UKIP’s ‘health spokesperson’ John Stanley penned an article arguing that people requiring urgent NHS treatment should be seen within two hours – a reasonable enough proposition. He added, however, that those requiring non-urgent treatment should be given the option of paying to jump the queue:
“We should accept that if a triaging clinician feels we don’t need treating within two hours required for standard cases then we be either willing to pay or willing to wait longer so cases most deserving are treated best. People should pay a higher charge if they haven’t registered with a GP as being directed back to primary care avoids unnecessary A&E visits.”
Stanley also endorsed GPs charging to see patients.
Banning all teaching of climate change in schools
IN it’s 2010 manifesto, admittedly since dismissed by Farage as “drivel”, UKIP promised to ban the teaching of climate change in schools. This despite the fact that there is a 97 per cent consensus among climate scientists supporting global warming and the fact that human emissions are responsible.
In January UKIP education spokesman MEP Derek Clark told Index on Censorship:
“We will still ban Al Gore’s video for use in schools if I’ve got anything to do with it. I will not have much opposition within the party. It is, of course, not just this video which needs banning; all teaching of global warming being caused in any way by carbon dioxide emissions must also be banned. It just is not happening.”
Lazy MEPs that are on the take
Thinking of voting UKIP to ‘stick it to the bureaucrats in Europe? Perhaps you ought to consider that UKIP’s MEPs hardly even bother to turn up to sessions of the European Parliament – not that it stops them picking up their expenses, of course.
UKIP’s attendance record in the European Parliament is worse than their counterparts from the three major British parties. UKIP’s nine MEPs missed around a third of the votes in the European Parliament between 2009 and October 2013. UKIP has also lost 45 per cent of the MEPs that were elected in 2009: Nikki Sinclaire (expelled), David Campbell-Bannerman (defected to the Tories), Mike Nattrass (de-selected and then resigned), Trevor Coleman (quit UKIP’s European grouping) and Marta Andreasen (defected to the Tories). HT: Lib Dem Voice.
A party that don’t want the rich to pay their fare share
Just 2.6 per cent of those who die every year pay inheritance tax. The average taxpaying estate is worth £875,000, according to HMRC. Inheritance tax raises £2.9bn a year for the Treasury from some of the wealthiest people in the country, while estates worth less than £325,000 don’t pay a penny.
Yet UKIP wants to abolish it completely. So much for their representing the ‘common man’.
Their mates are on the nasty European far-right
If you want to get to know a person, get to know their friends as well. I’ve always thought this quite a sound rule, and I think it’s just as sound when applied to UKIP, so let’s take a look at who Farage’s pals in Europe are.
UKIP is part of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group in the European Parliament (EFD). The EFD is comprised of 10 parties and one independent MEP. These include the anti-immigrant Movement for France, the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party and True Finns. EFD was in fact founded by Umberto Bossi, who once said that illegal immigrants should be shot.
Not that he’s the only, shall we say, problematic character amongst UKIP’s chums on the Continent.
The leader of the Slovak National Party has said the best policy for dealing with the Roma is “a long whip in a small yard”. In December 2011, an opinion poll of True Finn voters (another UKIP ally) revealed that 51 per cent agreed with the statement “People of certain races are unsuited for life in a modern society”.
All of this is apparently fine with UKIP, though. Indeed, anyone objecting to such alliances is liable to face severe repercussions – in 2010 UKIP expelled MEP Nikki Sinclaire after she objected to working with the “extreme views” of UKIP’s political allies.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.