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UKIP and Political Coding

"Only racists talk about immigration..."

 

Labour, like the ‘Cameroon’ Conservatives, are terrified of talking about immigration. They fear that any oxygen given to the subject will mix with the heady gases of prejudice and lead to the bad old days of Enoch Powell and the National Front.

The nature of our political landscape over the next few years will boil down to a simple choice: translating the anger at stagnant wages and living standards into action against one of two targets, either 1) foreigners, or 2) industrial relations and the labour market.

Gillian Duffy

Gillian Duffy: just because you refuse to offer an explanation of why everything is getting worse, doesn’t make people bigots when they make up their own minds.

Within the current toolbox of political debate, there is only one way it is going to go. There are two solid potential narratives which can be constructed around growing insecurity and poverty – but current economic common sense is clear: we cannot possibly criticize the basic ‘freedom’ of workers to accept low wages, to lose their jobs, to be put in danger at work, to be exploited.

So the strategic success of UKIP is down to the assumption that flexible labour laws, with increasingly ‘at-will’ employment and few rights, are non-negotiable.  When there is no appetite to explain falling living standards in terms of an imbalance between the power of employers and employees, the only available explanation is the emotional one – other people are coming and stealing our jobs, our standard of living, our England1 away.

Normally UKIP, and other devotees of ‘entreprenurialism’ and market economies, believe that losing out to other jobseekers is your own moral failing – we don’t begrudge others their success, try try try again! It is only by racializing and ‘othering’ a group of jobseekers that it is made morally acceptable to hold a grudge against them, and articulate this as an external imposition or ‘invasion’.

UKIP Policy

This is from their policy documents:

UKIP would put an end to most legislation regarding matters such as weekly working hours, holidays and holiday, overtime, redundancy or sick pay…

It would be up to each employer to decide whether to offer parental leave…

UKIP proposes…  to amend the Race Relations Amendment Act (2000) so that it is much less intrusive into the affairs of companies and organisations, in particular, by removing the need to positively promote ‘diversity’ in the workforce which many see as divisive. The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations (2003) and the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2003), which each implement EC directives imposing duties on employers to positively promote social engineering policies, will be repealed as a natural consequence of leaving the EU.

In essence, UKIP has nothing to offer workers other than a return to a pre-1975 political system – but of course, one which will lack the strong unions of the time.

Von Mises Free People

Enough already…

Their 2011 manifesto for the Scottish Parliament was a riot:

Repeal the Climate Change (Scotland) Act, which is pointlessly wrecking our world-famous landscape with wastefully-subsidised, useless, bird-killing wind-farms.

End all subsidies to monstrous, climate-irrelevant, cost-ineffective wind-farms.

Subject all wind-farms to democratic planning procedures. Owners of existing wind-farms rejected by planning committees will pull them down at their own expense.

Stop the proposed wind-farm projects that will ruin Scotland’s forestry land.

Aim to make Scotland a low-tax, small-government nation.

Scrap State promotion of multiculturalism. We are Scottish and British.

Obviously wind-farms that kill migratory birds are fine.

UKIP represent a strain of Conservatism that believes in a certain British exceptionalism – and that this exceptionalism must be replicated at a political and legislative level.

A quick recap on Capital and Labour

A large population of surplus labour places huge power in the hands of businesses when it comes to negotiating wages. Capital is hugely mobile, people are less so. People are tied to place by family, culture, language and habit. Even the managers of capital – the global elite, e.g. bankers, CEOs etc – choose places to live based on these sorts of values. Capital, on the other hands, has no family and no sentiment – it can be moved around at will.

The problem for capital is that many of its opportunities for profit are in communities where people wish to live, ones which don’t necessarily have the lowest costs – if a house needs to be wired for a Londoner, you can’t wire it in Guangzhou, even if you can get the wires made there. This problem is solved by increasing the mobility of labour – although this marginally increases the power of labour, is greatly increases the flexibility available to capital, and lowers the wages it must pay.

Large business and the banking industry were the major funders of the ‘Yes’ campaign for the 1975 referendum for  the UK to continue its membership of the European Economic Community – as an increasingly globalized financial elite they saw an opportunity not only to simplify and broaden labour markets, but to gain access to larger markets – larger volumes of consumers, and greatly increase the mobility of capital in its search for ‘moments of profit’. This ‘rationalization’ has been of great value – as has the increasing role of the EU  in enforcing ‘fair markets’ in areas, such as the NHS, which previously ran under non-market logics.

The Right and Left, and Europe

This is the context in which the National Front, the Left of the Labour Party, and the Morning Star, were against entry to the European Community in 1975. Both saw a common symptom of the loss of power for the British worker – the difference is that one blamed immigration/foreigners, the other blamed the increased velocity of capital/financial power.

Blame Ca-pital!

Who is to blame? Blame Ca-pital!

We find ourselves in the same debating position today – but because there is no loud leftwing explanation, the easy route is taken – blame immigration – and currently immigration is always coded language for ‘foreigners’.

The BNP fell apart as an organization because their message fell on fallow ground – a lot of this was down to anti-fascist campaigners and street politics, but its also true that you can’t get the general public to be racist without putting in a lot of ground work. UKIP is not an explicitly racist organization quite yet – though everything they argue enables racism – but that doesn’t mean they are in complete control of the arguments they’re making. Before long, if they can stabilize their support, there is only one direction their message is going to go. Already when they say immigration, people hear ‘foreigners’ – and at the very least a racist discourse is primed for use. UKIP are setting us up for far more sinister developments. Its not just UKIP, but the Tory party, the constant narrative over ‘Islamic extremism’, Gordon Brown’s ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ – the stage is set. It will only get worse. UKIP will be pushed to constant widen what is acceptable within the British political debate, and will drag the other middle-ground fetishists with them. But the edge they push is into the territory of communitarian and racial division, rather than the nature of how the social wage is determined.

At some point this growing strain will show, with a clear ideological differentiation and a collapse of the current generation of ‘consensus’ (post-Thatcherite) politics. However, this may not take place before the political debate is shifted in a highly regressive direction.

We need to hear explanations, narratives, for why we all feel worse off – the ‘left’ have a deeper, and more true option they refuse to use. We need to discuss the role of Europe, of course, but more importantly we need to talk about our labour markets, and industrial relations.

 

UPDATE, May 5th: It seem’s the BNP have a very similar analysis to mine, in an article called ‘The Crossroads’2 Nick Griffin gives this takeaway:

“Join us – or do this!

If, for whatever reason, anyone who thinks of themselves as a nationalist isn’t prepared to join us and lend a shoulder to our wheel, then there is one other useful thing they can do:

That is to join UKIP or to put in effort in the social networks to find and `influence those who have. Over the next few months, UKIP will sign up thousands of new, mainly newly politicised, members. Most of them are not merely patriotic, they are also instinctively, though at present totally incoherently, nationalist and racially aware. They don’t really belong with Farage and his internationalist big business set at all.

It will not take many people within UKIP to set about the quiet, careful promotion of genuine nationalism in order to create an underground ideological tendency. Done systematically, this can bear big, juicy fruit for real nationalism in the future. UKIP is growing too fast to be stable and it contains too many fundamental contradictions to avoid explosive divisions in the future.

Those nationalists who are not willing to be with us in the BNP should take note of this massive medium-term opportunity and get to work to seize it. We’ll be doing our bit too, but the more who move in and spread nationalist groundbait in the expanding UKIP pond the better.

Because, one day in the not too far off future, the Powers That Be which have created the Farage Mirage are fated to discover, too late, that their creature has merely helped wreck their old order, woken people up, legitimised the core messages of genuine nationalism, and created a giant pond in which to nurture fish which will feed the true nationalist movement.

It won’t happen tomorrow. It won’t happen next year. But it will happen. And we will be ready.”

References

  1. UKIP are a largely English phenomena – one of the major reasons that such an alignment doesn’t appear in Scotland is that the SNP has occupied the nationalist debating space with a far more benign species of patriotism – English BNP/UKIPism is largely a result of the difference between self-conceptions of Britishness and Englishness []
  2. I am not linking to the article due to a policy of no platform for fascists []

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