Home > General Politics, Labour Party News, Terrible Tories > “Farage Fever” – a Labour opportunity in disguise?

“Farage Fever” – a Labour opportunity in disguise?

The Tories have always had Labour on the argument about the EU.

Knowing which side of the fence a good majority of Tories sit on, regarding the European Union, they are able to draw political capital both from crises within the eurozone, but also look like the fighting party on getting a referendum put to parliament (and because the majority of the British public want a referendum and support leaving the European Union this doesn’t play havoc with the Tories one bit).

According to YouGov polls in October (pdf), if there were to be a referendum the next day 71% of those who voted Conservative in 2010 would have voted for the United Kingdom to leave the EU (compared with 41% in Labour). Further, 69% of those who intend to vote Conservative in the next election would vote the same (compared to 39% Labour).

There is a lot resting on the Tories to provide the right line on Europe to those who intend to vote for it next time – but this will come after a European election in 2014 where, let’s be honest, Ukip are going to do quite well.

This has sent Farage’s babes round the twist with excitement. One such member, Michael Heaver, wrote during one blog post:

According to the latest YouGov poll, some 11 percent of 2010 Tory voters now intend to switch to UKIP. And that’s only since last year. A smattering of highly credible 2010 Tory candidates such as Janice Atkinson-Small and Andrew Charalambous have switched sides as has Lord Hesketh, former Tory Treasurer and perhaps the biggest defection to UKIP in the young Party’s history.

For people like him, 2015 is set to be marked by “Farage Fever” – that is where the Liberal Democrats and their 7% polling “boom” will seem timid in comparison.

Yesterday, I was reading through Jon Worth’s article on LabourList, where he praised his Ukip interlocuteurs for, basically, not being mad and actually bringing some good information to the fore. This got me thinking.

Ukip are able to have a go at the Tories because they look lightweight on Europe and left-leaning in comparison with the political make-up of the general public as gleaned from polls. To Labour, the Tories will always be right wing, but more so because of their fiscal conservative rhetoric. So, Labour have the opportunity to do the unthinkable: split the right by saying something like “Ukip are wrong, but they look even more reasonable than the Tories these days” – or something to that effect.

Expect more backhanded complements to the Ukip now that they are actually a threat the Conservative party, but remember that they are at best unreconstructed Thatcherites (i.e. blind to the causes of today’s crises).

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  1. jamesg163
    November 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I would like you to put some reasoning as to why UKIP is ‘blind’ to the causes of todays problems! We have a debt crisis, caused by overspending by Labour and by bankers giving themselves bonuses! UKIP members know that! We also know that spending £50 million a day on the EU, an institution that is slowly killing Democracy, is not an option for a country in this much debt!
    UKIP is the real deal and you will see that come 2014 and 2015. We have many policies on many different issues and we are not ‘unreconstructed thatcherites’!!!

    • November 29, 2011 at 12:14 am

      Since the end of the Keynsian era in 1973, a generation of politicians have been bred to believe that their input in market capitalism may be to the detriment of wider society, because no matter their expertise the market can fix itself and the state should allow for that.

      Despite government having a right and a moral duty to raise taxes towards capital investment and to provide a universal barrier as a right of citizenry to every man, woman and child in this country, the word tax becomes a dirty word in the public mind.

      The government should use its moral duty to legitimise tax raising and spending on incomes according to ability to pay, but not content with this the neo-liberal has convinced the government that there is no such right to tax at all.

      The upshot of the state, not doing its duty, and the neo-liberal pushing the state into the corner by threat of capital flight mythology, is that over the last 40 years since the Keynesian era the share of assets enjoyed by the bottom 50% of the wealth owning population fell from 12% to 1%.

      The wealth of half the population has been almost entirely wiped clean, personal debt is set to be at a staggering £2.1tn by 2015, social housing is dropping our standards of living are dropping. Suggesting Labour were complicit in this mess is one thing – and fine with me – but this is a crisis of capital.

      Your neo-liberal project is finished, the rules have changed now, it’s a dead horse you’ve draped across your shoulder and you’re likely to want to try and sell it – but if this country was sensible it would let you keep it.

      If you cannot see this then, in a purely metaphorical sense, you are blind to it. As are the other proponents of the neo-liberal project – for which Ukip are an example.

  2. November 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    What a lot of utter, utter twaddle. Tell me, have you visited the Planet Earth recently?
    Would love to know what it is that YOU do that is to the benefit of the voting public.

    Sounds like a case of sour grapes to me.

    • November 29, 2011 at 12:24 am

      I am the voting public. Anything I do for the betterment of the voting public is done purely as an active member of it. Ukip, on the other hand, try to woo the voting public. What I will take great pleasure in doing, in my opinion towards the greater good for the voting public, is do everything I can to try and convince my fellow public that Ukip really aren’t paying attention to the fact that their economic plan is old hat.

      Odd comment you left there, by the way.

  3. November 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Still a risk to trump up a party that 41% would consider defecting to.

    The best strategy is to win the argument, sadly with the media we have it’s always a massively unlikely plan.

    • November 29, 2011 at 12:28 am

      I think it is noble that you believe the best strategy is to win the argument, but sadly it’s probably the case that parties during election time will stoop to some dirty depths to make short term gains on whatever constituency that presents itself to them. If that means Ed Miliband woos the Tory vote, that’s what they’ll do [http://eoin-clarke.blogspot.com/2011/11/ed-miliband-turns-his-back-on-more-that.html].

      A productive of short term-ist politics, or just not enough fire in the belly of our politicians? I’d say a little of both.

  4. November 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    @jamesg163 – well, the cost to the UK is more like £25m per day, based on the £57bn net cost over the period 2007-2013. In any case, the idea that the EU is slowly killing democracy is laughable. We’re neither more nor less democratic than we were when the franchise was at last made universal. The problem has never been the EU; the problem is that representative democracy generally does not provide much in the way of accountability – and those in power, whether of the EU or of our dear old Blighty, have ways of insulating themselves from ever being accountable. UKIP has no critique of this; it has an anti-EU hobbyhorse, the odd bit of anti-banker populism notwithstanding.

    As for over-spending by Labour being the cause of the debt crisis, that’s a laugh. Surely the worldwide economic recession is the cause of the ballooning debt, triggering, as it automatically does, rising spending (e.g. on unemployment benefit) and declining tax receipts? You can argue that Labour should have cut spending faster, as a result, but we’ve got a Tory government doing just that and it doesn’t seem to be helping matters. Perhaps you want to suggest that UKIP are likely to cut still faster? That’s what UKIP’s “What We Stand For” book says. I can see such a proposal going down like a cup of cold sick.

    Unlike the Left, UKIP don’t want tax increases on the wealthy, they want a flat-rate income tax, which disproportionately affects the poor. They want to attack public sector pensions, which they describe as “unfunded” and “generous”. In fact public sector pensions are pisspoor for the vast majority of workers, who are low paid, even in government service. And so on, and so on. This is why UKIP are widely regarded as right-wing shitbags. Which they are; or “unreconstructed Thatcherites” if one prefers (though Thatcher was, despite rhetoric, not implacable in her opposition to the EU). Or financially illiterate. Unlike UKIP.

    • November 29, 2011 at 12:32 am

      Too right, Dave. In fact I think I’ve been rather kind to Ukip today – I don’t write them off as a single issue party. They’re far worse than that. They’re the party of Daily Mail mythology, Victorian era divide-and-conquer social architects and the regurgitators of moral panic and folk devils.

  5. paulinlancs
    November 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Leaving aside what UKIP loyalists think and think they know – as it’s not that important in itself – the Left would do well to focus on the core bits of the EU that need reform because they are too rightwing:

    a) the CAP
    b) the neoliberal assumptions emerging first in the Stabilty & Growth Pact and now written into the Lisbon Treaty
    c) the independence from the EU parliament of the ECB, such that a social democratic EU parliament with teeth could focus the ECB on the facilitation of productive economies via (post) Keynesian monetary/fiscal management
    d) with b and c sorted, the political capacity to tell the Credit Rating Agencies and the vulture speculation industry where to stick it.

    These are the biggies. If CAP were reformed in favour of sustainable agriculture (actually by coincidence Monbiot’s quite good on it today), and if govt’s had the flexibility (post Euro collapse) to puruse social democratic economic courses, then we’d all be better off. UKIP’s stuff about waste blah blah is a sideshow, and the left needs to develop a coherent narrative about what does need doing so that UKIPery is indirectly exposed for the frivolous, populist bollox it is.

  6. November 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    As a union member I have actually read the UKIP Manifesto. It is very much ‘middle of the road’ and I am sure it will appeal to the great majority of the of British voters. UKIP has the major problem of being continually rubbished and shouted down by the the media of the political elite – in particular the BBC

  7. Edgar
    November 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I have also read the UKIP manifesto and it was obviously produced by either a) Drunk aristocrats and their gardeners or B) Aliens from the planet Boadicia Iceni.

    I take a rather cynical view of Tory Euro skepticism. Judge them by what they do and never ever by what they say. What they say is strictly for the ears of their moronic voting base, what they do is stuff their moronic voting base don’t notice. So on the EU they talk tough but deliver pro EU policies every time. No Tory leader is ever foing to leave the EU, will never happen.

  8. November 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Yes, Mick of Orpington is obviously a UKIP troll or just plain stupid. I mean, agree with the manifesto – but call it moderate? They’re extreme Tories, are you taking the piss?

    Not quite sure why being a union member is relevant to reading the UKIP manifesto.

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