Why I’m standing against Nigel Farage in the European elections

As a working class immigrant, I'm sick of hearing people like Farage talk about representing the 'common man'.

On 26th June 2016, as I was returning home from work at Winchester, I was confronted by two men on the train who pointed to my “Labour In” sticker and pointedly told me, “Get the F*** Out.”

I was shaken, angry and disappointed that the country I have been calling home for the past ten years doesn’t consider me one of their own and was asking me to leave. The Brexit campaign, which seems to have been won almost entirely on the single issue of immigration, has been one of the most divisive things to threaten community and social cohesion in this country.

It has been almost three years since that fateful referendum and it has become increasingly clear that there is no progressive vision of Brexit from this Tory government.

It has remained a right wing nationalist project supported by the likes of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and others. From the very beginning of the campaign taking cue from their colonial past, Brexit campaigners have played communities against each other. Their vision of Britain steeped in capitalist fantasy sees it unshackled from regulations and protections afforded by the European union and aggressive privatisation of services such as the NHS.

I am aware that several Labour voters rightly voted to leave. In areas which has seen little growth and no incentives from being part of the EU, working class people have rightly asked what good has the EU done for them. It is now up to us as politicians on the progressive left to make that radical left case demanding a change and making sure that communities left behind are part of the renewed vision going forward.

As a working class immigrant from India I have been particularly angry to see commentators talk about the ‘real’ working class. This is yet another tactic of the right to divide us, one which we must rise above. Austerity is a political project which effects us all and if we want to see our public services thriving and a strong economy then we have to fight for our internationalist socialist values.

Freedom of movement has been a sore point. What the Brexiteers will never admit is that this primarily benefits working class people since the wealthy and upper middle class can live and work almost anywhere they choose. Not only does it allow working people to escape poverty and unemployment but also oppression – be it Polish and Irish (until recently) women moving to exercise their reproductive rights or the gay couple from Lithuania who cannot get married in their own country.

As a socialist, immigrant whose politics is steeped in feminist and queer politics, these Euro elections really matter to me and should matter to all of us. One of the big concerns is also the loss of protection currently afforded to us by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which the tory government wants to rip up. This will lead to one of the biggest exercises of rolling back protection for the most vulnerable in UK.

I am by no means saying that the EU is a beacon of progressive politics. When it comes to issues like migration the EU spends millions to guard its external borders, it continues to have greenwashing policies which are starting to be challenged, and the benefits of EU membership just like globalization remain uneven. These can however be changed by making sure we have a set of progressive socialist MEP’s representing our voice in  Strasbourg.

We have seen a growth of far-right populism across the country where rape threats from UKIP candidates and homophobic statements from Brexit candidates are being normalised. These people will continue using ethnonationalist comments to discredit those of us who want to make a radical case for Europe in the upcoming elections. We must stand against this rhetoric of hate.

I look forward to start campaigning in Nigel Farage’s own backyard- South East England and make the positive case for Labour. The only way to ensure we halt the rise of far right populism and make sure we have a progressive socialist vision for Europe is to vote Labour.

Dr Rohit K Dasgupta is an MEP candidate in South East England. He is a Labour-Cooperative councillor in Newham and senior lecturer in global communication and development at Loughborough University.

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13 Responses to “Why I’m standing against Nigel Farage in the European elections”

  1. NMac

    Very best of luck Rohit, I sincerely hope you succeed.

  2. Geoff Taylor

    Second NMac’s support for you, Rohit. We want good internationally-minded democratic socialists like you in, not cynical exploiters of people’s fears and prejudices.

  3. Neville Ball

    This is a response to Rohit K Dasgupta’s statement above.
    In your contribution you fall into the trap of assuming most of those who voted to leave the EU are racist. This seems to be a common thread from politicians and the news media, but it isn’t true and is rather patronising. You say that Brexit is a right wing nationalist project and that the EU protects our NHS, which is patently untrue as this government is in the process of selling the NHS off to giant multinationals who will milk it for profit for all it’s worth.
    Can I tell you I voted to leave the EU, not only in 2016, but also in 1975 when Ted Heath ran a referendum I voted not to go into the EU, known then as the Common Market, as we were not in then. I am not in any way racist. I am a Socialist in the Labour party and my objections to the EU is that it is bureaucratic, not democratic – the Council of Ministers are not elected but appointed and the EU never takes no for answer as Ireland found to their cost when they first voted against joining the Lisbon Treaty and then were forced to re-run the referendum to suit the dictates of the EU. The EU is run by the banks, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others. No country in the EU would be allowed to nationalise their utilities like water, gas, electric or the railways, as well as banks.
    The treatment of Greece was disgraceful forcing them into eternal debt to the banks and leaving the population with austerity. Don’t you appreciate that people were sick of the EU and our political system which has allowed austerity and poverty and suffering to run riot at the hands of this far right government we have. By gratuitously stating that the people were taken in by the racist Farage is insulting to say the least. The people have spoken and their decision is final – they don’t want another referendum, just abide by the one we’ve had.
    If you want the UK to stay in the EU then I am afraid it is too late – we have voted to come out, and that vote should be honoured.

  4. Anne

    The bIggest thIng that upsets me through this whole farcical mayhem is the unleashing of the far right dogs. Hey, I was planning to retire to Portugal when I get to retire and will be very annoyed (understatement) if I can’t do so. But that pales into comparison with the upset I feel at the racism and nationalism since Brexit. Worse hit of all are our ethnic minorities and our Muslim compratiots and I must point out too that it is also white faces who don’t conform to far right notions. European nationals pro EU voters are also targets. ALL of it totally unacceptable in any form. I would love to move down there pronto and vote for you. Everybody is at risk now, bar the far right whities from an imaginery England that rightfully bit the dust. RIP. No resurrection please. Go for it Dr R! With you all the way!

  5. Rishcombe

    All this talk of the “people” clearly voting etc.
    The referendum recorded 37% of the voting-age/eligible population voting to Leave (definition of this being wide open), 35% voted Remain, and 28% did not vote. Hardly an overwhelming result for any position. Which may explain why Parliament struggles to define what Brexit means.And how to arrange it. Instead, we are faced with politicians like Farage giving his own, hardline, version of Brexit, and then claiming that that is what “the people ” voted for. The whole thing resembles a very rancid tail wagging a very confused dog.

  6. Frederick Jones

    Heath joined the Commom Market without a referendum so Mr Ball cannot have voted as he suggests. Wilson however did have a referendum on whether to stay in. Presumably Mr Ball voted in that one. I remember it well

  7. nhsgp

    Welcome to the club.

    standard behaviour of guardian posters against anyone they don’t like

  8. Dave Roberts

    Silly article from a silly site which, before anyone complains, I come o here to listen to self indulgent rubbish. This writer is, quite clearly, a liar. He claims he was assaulted by racists but, it seems, didn’t call the police. The Guardian is full of such allegations none of which it seems are pursued. Probably for the very good reason that they are false.

    The most abused, reviled and spat on section of the population of this country is the white working class which have done the most to welcome immigrants and to assimilate with them. No section has done more to work with, live next to and intermarry with other races than my own, white people, and then we have a site like like this and a writer like this spitting on us. Disgusting.

  9. Dave Roberts

    Had a Wiki around and came up with this. http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohit_K_Dasgupta if that doesn’t work just wiki him. He’s and academic who has never had a proper job in his life. Working Class, don’t make me laugh! And what’s worse he’s a Labour Councillor on £ 10K a year expenses in Newham in East London while earning a salary elsewhere!

  10. Tom Sacold

    Brexit is painted as ‘right-wing’ by Labour’s pro-EU Blairites.

    We need major socialist reform and the only way that can be achieved is outside the neo-liberal, capitalist club of the EU.

  11. trevor fisher

    Neville ball is wrong about the 1975 referendum, and Frederick jones is right – Labour called the first one and I voted leave, remain in 2016 as socialists should accept Benn was wrong, bureaucratic it is but a moderate success it has proved. Roberts is showing serious prejudice – against academics. Without universities this country would be an intellectual desert However Dasgupta is wrong to sayhe is standing against farage as this is a list system. The reason to vote is to get a vote on the issue of Leaving – that is how to stop Farage. We await news on whether Labour will support a third referendum and that is the only way to take the Brexit party seriously

    trevor fisher

  12. Patrick Newman

    Well spotted that the 1975 referendum was called by Wilson, not Health but what is often forgotten is that there was a two-thirds majority for staying in the common market – the kind of majority that is often required to make a constitutional change. So I say respect the 1975 referendum! The Leave vote was only marginally above the remain support and for a major constitutional change – it has been achieved with only 35% support from the adult indigenous population. Dave Roberts is obviously the EDL person in residence!

  13. Sofia Dee

    Great article. Well though out and precise.You show courage and I wish you success in your campaign.

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