French Left’s Dilemma After Front National Breakthrough in 1984.
Like Cabu’s Grand Duduche you start by feeling that you don’t want to have anything to do with anybody who voted UKIP.
This came to me when the BBC’s Look East showed a chippie in Great Yarmouth. That town elected UKIP Councillors to Norfolk County Council. The chip-shop owner was vociferous in his UKIP support, as were many others in the seaside resort.
I like Yarmouth chips. They sell them with a choice of sauces. Inspired by Belgium custom you can get mayonnaise and curry, amongst other flavours.
I will make a point of not going to Yarmouth for my annual day-trip.
The party now has 15 councillors in Norfolk and scored 23.47% of the county vote – Conservative 32.6pc, Labour 22.75pc, Liberal Democrat 10.97pc, Green 6.55pc, Independent 3.27pc, Christian People’s Alliance 0.13pc, United People’s Party 0.02p
They got a councillor in Ipswich too, in Whitehouse and Whitton.
I will not feel comfortable in the company of anybody who backed James Crossley, or those , 20% of the electorate across town (and they didn’t stand in 2 divisions) who voted for them in Ipswich.
But that’s a reaction, not a strategy.
We need clarity on how to deal with UKIP.
For a long time people on the left have been convinced that the threat from the far-right came from the BNP and the English Defence League.
Principally that there was a “massive surge” in hostility towards Muslims.
This view was reinforced by a whole industry of speculation about the Islamic ‘Other’.
This was always a skewed analysis: there is a little evidence that the masses were ready to engage in a wholesale attack on Muslims.
‘Islamophobia’ was also used by those who took this line to denigrate those who backed the secularists, feminists and trade unionists who, after the Arab Spring, have had to face right-wing Islamist governments.
Now we have a party that has focused on an ‘Other’ that is lot closer to home: the Eastern European hordes from Bulgaria and Romania.
Standing in, of course, for the ‘foreigners‘ already here.
In place of abstract ruminations about the Other, we had better look at an older anti-racist idea: scapegoating.
This is not a vote of the ignored’ working class’s expressing their real needs.
It is the result of a conscious attempt to deflect people’s anger at austerity, stagnating wages, and mounting personal debt, onto an easy target.
Foreigners, we know, are not the only thing UKIP are about.
They want to make life easier for British capitalists, they attack trade unions and the poor, and their cultural views are a mix of Norman Tebbit, Jeremy Clarkson and the US Tea Party.
They are dyed-in-the-wool free-marketeers.
UKIP councillors will no doubt often make fools of themselves.
But we cannot count on their ability to self-destruct.
We, the left, need to attack them where they are weak: are they for austerity or are they against it?
What will they do to help working people defend their rights?
Will they support the Living Wage?
Will the fight against tax breaks for companies and the rich?
Will they back the NHS?
Before anything else the Left should shout, loudly, its internationalism!
Against hatred between the peoples!
For European unity of the peoples, the workers and the poor!
For a European Social Republic: level wages and benefits upwards!
Down with the Xenophobes!
Down with UKIP!