From Clacton with Hate
Mike Small asks Who are the narrow nationalists now? Remind us who the Death-Eaters are? Where is the denouncement of bigotry and prejudice? The noise from Scotland’s ‘silent majority’ is deafening.
A few more doors knocked and UKIP might have taken Heywood and Middleton instead of Labour. Ed Miliband would have been out of a job, or at least teetering near the exit, a lame duck opposition leader with little to say, even when he remembers to say it. With a majority cut from 6,000 to 617 Labour are a General Election disaster-in-waiting.
There is absolutely no pleasure in the cold realisation that everything the Left Yes said about the choices ahead have been proved right. We were ridiculed for saying that a No vote would open us to the threat of a UKIP breakthrough, not just asserting real influence over the wider Westminster parties but real actual electoral victories.
There is no pleasure in reflecting that the pathetic 36.02% turnout at the by-election points to a dead politics of disillusionment in a country (England) in which blame bigotry and xenophobia are thriving in the vacuum of ideas.
There is no joy in it becoming abundantly clear that Labour, even if they did have a clear and coherent progressive message, are in no fit state to govern Britain, to ‘protect Scotland’, to stand up to the Tories, to defend the vulnerable, or to to do any of the things that so called ‘Left No’ voters based their one dimensional ahistoric hopes on. The folk memory of Labour has been dying for years. Surely failure in the year ahead will extinguish it and a radical politics can be rediscovered for the English left?
Labour has exhausted its political capital and UKIP will now take seats and votes from both Red and Blue Tories everywhere. This isn’t just White Van Man. While the UKIP have been characterised as ‘the BNP in suits’ that’s too crude. As Eric Kauffman puts it on the LSE blog (‘The lessons of Clacton and Heywood: Why UKIP will damage the Tories in 2015 but may ultimately harm Labour‘):
“In Clacton, Douglas Carswell, a high-profile defector from the Tories, carried the seat easily, winning 60% of the vote in a constituency UKIP did not contest in 2010. Popular in Clacton, Carswell carried wide support across a range of social and voter groups. In Heywood and Middleton, UKIP candidate John Bickley won 39%, increasing UKIP’s share by a whopping 36 points over 2010. It was an impressive UKIP tally, but the seat was held by Labour, winning 41% of the poll. Here we have two strong UKIP performances, resulting in a Tory loss in one instance, and a Labour win, albeit narrow, in the other.”
Westminster is knee-deep in the politics of blame. It’s a festival of reaction. Just after we were told by George Osborne, MP for Tatton, heir apparent to the Osborne baronetcy and alumni of Magdalen College, Oxford that the real problem with Britain today was the “anti-business” views of charities and trade unions, now Nigel Farage has joined the chorus extending his message of hate to include people suffering from HIV.
In an interview with Newsweek Europe he was asked what sort of people should be allowed to migrate to Britain, he said: “People who do not have HIV, to be frank. That’s a good start.”
Bringing homophobia onto the stage with the current mix of racism is no surprise. This is the politics of hate, an extension of the politics of fear.
This is an extension of the established platform beyond the racist underbelly to a new Mittel Ingerlund. Faragism and Toryism sit side by side outdoing each other in a vile tabloid bigotry, while Labour stand to the side, an inert useless mute.
Bristling wit confidence Farage went on to say he would like to negotiate Britain’s withdrawal from the EU as Europe minister.
He said: “If things go well next spring, I would like to be minister for Europe. I mean that quite seriously.” And why not?
The threat of a UKIP-focused Westminster was continually ridiculed in the referendum campaign as ‘scaremongering’ and ‘fanciful’. It’s now coming to pass before our very eyes.
We said again and again that a No vote would embolden the radical right and the forces of reaction. We need a renewed radical indy Left movement to combat the tide of nationalism that’s coming our way.