Posts Tagged ‘UKIP’

EU elections: a new perspective

June 9, 2009

Much has been made at the Paintbrush of how the country which repelled fascism is now sending elected fascists back to Continental Europe. Whilst this, and Labour’s humiliating result deserve considerable mention, there has been little discussion of what the votes mean for the EU project in the UK. A rough analysis of the votes for the 6 most popular parties in this election reveal that support for openly (though to differing degrees) Eurosceptic parties is double that for pro-European parties.

I appreciate that this election involves factors considerably more complex than a general referendum on the European project. I believe, however, that this adds to the evidence that the virtues of the EU are not being adequately sold to the British people. Nobody in Government seems to listen to the increasing Euro-scepticism of the British public. There is no attempt to counter this through open debate. I am a European%20Flag(1)vocal critic of many aspects of the European project. I despair at the ECJ, I disagree that the doctrine of supremacy is a necessary part of the project and I think the idea of a common foreign policy is laughable. I am, however, a passionate supporter of the European project in its broader sense. The rise of UKIP baffles and concerns me in equal measure. Until we face them head on and expose their inaccuracies, we will be forced out of the mainstream of the EU by our own, sceptical population.


It’s the way he tells ’em

May 20, 2009

I’m all for the odd celebrity endorsement of a political party, even a political party like UKIP. I also understand that these celebrities might not be quite as clued up on the minutiae of policy as we are here at the ‘Paintbrush’. Is there not a duty on the BBC, when reporting such a news story to correct massive errors made the newly-political celeb?

Today, the renowned heavyweight of light-entertainment, Frank Carson has endorsed UKIP. Clearly this will cause a huge exodus away from the 3 main parties into Mr Farage’s band of “cranks and political gadflies”. Predictably, Mr Carson  stated  “We need to get out of the EU and ditch the human rights legislation”.

Leaving aside Mr Carson’s wish for us to escape the villainous clutches of the EU (which has effectively subsidised his country for years), his desire to ditch HR legislation baffles me. Now it would be easy to caricature Mr Carson as a Stalinist opponent of basic human rights for UK citizens. I suspect his problem is with the way these rights are currently protected in the UK. This is achieved by the Human Rights Act 1998 which gives effect to the European Convention on Human Rights. Now let me do the job which the BBC should have done…

The European Convention on Human Rights has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the European Union. Anyone who suggests otherwise is an ill-informed moron or is a sneaky Euro-sceptic trying to deceive you. It is a treaty. It was produced by a huge range of States including Iceland and the United States, many many years before Britain joined the European Community.

Grateful for UKIP

May 15, 2009

Never thought I’d write that.

But given a choice between UKIP and the BNP, Farage and Griffin, EU-bashing and immigrant/homosexual/leftie/etc-bashing, I’d have to go for UKIP. And I suspect that a not inconsiderable number of voters will be choosing between the two when they’re in the polling booths in June.

None of the mainstream parties have been able to escape the ongoing expenses scandal. Our MPs are currently associated in the public mind with taxpayer-funded massage chairs, moat clearing, and swimming pool maintenance. Against the backdrop of rising unemployment, repossessions, and social inequality, as well as regular reports of British troops dying in foreign fields, disenchantment with the political status quo seems inevitable.

‘A plague on all your houses’-thinking might therefore be expected to aid the party most identifiable as the political outsider: the BNP. However, although the BNPers do appear to be especially energised and optimistic about their prospects in the upcoming European elections, the polls suggest that it is the UK Independence Party that is profiting most from the situation.

A plonker, but at least hes not a Holocaust-denier

A plonker, but at least he's not a Holocaust-denier

Obviously it is deeply depressing to see Labour apparently on the same level of support as the Lib Dems and UKIP. Yet for as much I vehemently disagree with the UKIP programme, and think it is ironic that they are doing well out of an expenses scandal considering their own experiences in this area, I’d still prefer them to be the protest vote beneficiaries of this situation rather than the BNP.

When I attended Labour conference in 2004 as a delegate I remember a trade unionist making a speech in which he claimed that “UKIP are the BNP except they’re wearing suits”. Even back then this statement was completely misguided. For one thing the BNP have been wearing suits for a good few years now and they can no longer be easily characterised as neo-Nazi skinhead thugs. It was also ridiculous to equate UKIP’s eccentric hatred of Europe and its staunchly right-wing policy positions with the fascist history of the BNP and its fundamentally racist constitution.

Perhaps we can rest assured that all the anti-politics anger will be channelled into UKIP. John Rentoul certainly thinks so and argues that Labour is deliberately playing up the BNP’s prospects as a desparate means of motivating its supporters to turn up at the polls. But Rentoul appears to have overestimated the difficulties involved in getting a BNP MEP elected. They only need to get around 7.5% of the vote in the North West to have a good chance of winning an MEP (this is where Griffin is standing). In 2004 the BNP got 6.4% in that region.

I would additionally like to learn more about how accurately polling companies measure BNP support. Rentoul confidentially announces that the vast majority of Brits would not consider voting for such an avowedly racist and unpleasant outfit as the BNP. Although I agree that most people see the BNP for what they are, is there not a danger that some people aren’t admitting their BNP voting intentions when being surveyed because of the social stigma attached to the party? Remember that only a few thousand extra BNP votes on a low turnout will see them win their first MEP, so the margins of errors in these opinion polls could make all the difference.

I thus find myself in the perverse position of hoping that UKIP’s strong showing in the polls accurately reflects the public mood. Labour’s kicking in June is probably unavoidable, but crumbs of comfort will be drawn if the BNP fail to capitalise on voters’ anger.