Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ukip - a lesson from history

In retrospect the European elections in 2014 were a turning point. Voters in the UK, as it was still known, had taken them no more seriously than the Eurovision Song Contest, and Ukip under its populist leader Nigel Farage performed rather better than expected. Nevertheless the most popular daily newspaper of the time, Rupert Murdoch's Sun, ran with a story about a celebrity love triangle on its front page the day after the results were declared.

The more serious newspapers reacted with alarm. The Guardian reported that Farage's agent had previously been an organiser for the now defunct fascist National Front, and that Alan Sked, the founder of Ukip, was adamant that Farage had told him he was not worried about the n-word vote because "the nig-nogs will never vote for us".

Despite this nobody paid much attention, and the Labour Party continued to ignore Ukip and concentrate its fire on what was left of the Liberal Democrats.

The next shock came in September 2014 when Scotland voted to become independent, with fears about what was happening south of the border fuelling a much stronger Yes vote than expected.

The Labour Party under its leader Ed Milliband had been struggling to make headway even before the Scottish vote, but it now faced climbing an electoral mountain.

Two elections

The May 2015 general election was much closer than many had expected. The Liberal Democrats were reduced to a rump of just 6 seats and were now back to where they had been in the 1950s, but by splitting the Conservative vote, Ukip emerged holding the balance of power with a contingent of 38 MPs.

The Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, was forced to resign after a revolt by hardline Eurosceptic MPs. Nigel Farage refused to go into coalition with the new minority Conservative administration headed by Douglas Carswell.

Ed Milliband resigned the party leadership immediately after the election and was succeeded by Ed Balls, who set out to win back working class Labour votes by taking a much tougher line on immigration and siding with the anti-European lobby.

Prime Minister Carswell promised an in-out referendum for May 2016, but before the campaign could get underway, Farage and his Ukip MPs joined Labour in a vote of no confidence, and a general election was called for March 2016.

Leading Tory Eurosceptics successfully negotiated a coupon arrangement with Ukip, and the result was a landslide for the right. Ukip emerged with 20 seats more than the Tories, and Labour was reduced to just 126.

Nigel Farage entered 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister on 18 March 2016, officially at the head of a coalition with the Conservatives, and announced that the new government was immediately suspending membership of the EU, pending a snap referendum to be held a month later.

In a televised address as Prime Minister a week later, Farage announced that the country would be charting an exciting new course. Unity and a common sense of purpose would be vital, and for that reason he would be seeking approval of a new Defence of the Realm and Emergency Powers Act (DOREPA) as part of the referendum on the EU.

He was also delighted to announce the formation of a new government of national unity. Ed Balls took the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer, while the new Tory leader, Boris Johnson, became Foreign Secretary. In a popular move Jeremy Clarkson became Minister for the Environment. The Sun was ecstatic.

Ed Balls crossed the floor with 30 MPs, leaving the opposition benches populated by rump Labour, a handful of Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru.

DOREPA and the Referendum

Parliament set about an ambitious legislative programme even before the referendum. The Human Rights Act was repealed; the Welsh Assembly was abolished and Health and Safety legislation was scrapped. A new 34% flat rate of income tax and national insurance was introduced. This was highly popular with higher rate tax payers, but meant that several million low-paid workers and pensioners found themselves paying tax on very low incomes.

The financial markets had been watching nervously, and the decision by voters to back immediate withdrawal from the EU caused a serious run on the pound and very heavy falls on the stock market.

The Bank of England was put under the control of Chancellor Balls who introduced exchange controls and a base rate of 7%. Inflation began to creep up.

As 2016 wore on the pound continued to drop, and Balls responded by raising interest rates until base rate reached 15%.

There was a sharp rise in mortgage repossessions, and in a popular move Farage invoked DOREPA for the first time to order the banks to convert mortgages into equity instead of repossession, with home owners paying rent instead of their mortgages.

This had unexpected consequences: the government was now finding it very hard to borrow on the international capital markets, and the credit ratings of the banks were revised sharply down to junk status.

Chancellor Balls responded by announcing that government spending would be slashed. Benefit payments were cut by 50% and plans for health insurance schemes were announced to replace the NHS. Crapita and other private sector service providers were awarded franchises to run hospitals and GP surgeries.

A long, hot summer

Investment by overseas companies dried up, and some major players announced that market conditions in rump UK and the imposition of tariffs by the EU were forcing them to relocate to mainland Europe, Ireland and Scotland.

Unemployment rose sharply, and by the end of 2016 it was nearly 3 million. Large numbers of British expats began to return from Europe because they could no longer get work or residence permits. Fortunately this influx was matched by an exodus of EU citizens, including many Scottish and Irish families.

Inflation was reported to be running at 30%, and nobody paid attention to Bank of England base rates any more. Foreign holidays were out of reach for most people, and even the well-off were finding it difficult thanks to exchange controls and a worthless pound.

Riots broke out in many English cities, and there was widespread looting and scores of deaths.

The Prime Minister invoked DOREPA again to impose drastic restrictions on news reporting in an attempt to prevent "copy cat" riots, or so the government said.

The board of the BBC was dismissed, and government commissioners sent in to ensure "balanced coverage" of news and current affairs. Newspapers were subjected to similar controls.

Vigilante groups appeared on the streets, armed and equipped with what appeared to be police and army-issue weapons and equipment. Pitched battles took place, and eye witnesses said they had seen many bodies.

Terrorism

The Prime Minister went on television to announce that terrorist elements were at work, and he blamed foreign extremists for the unrest. With immediate effect the government would use powers conferred by DOREPA to intern those responsible, partly for their own protection, prior to deporting them "back to where they came from".

Thousands of people were rounded up, and snatch squads began operating across the country to remove "terrorist and foreign elements" and hold them in camps run by Krapita, G-four-S and other private sector companies. When foreign journalists claimed that conditions in the camps were terrible, the Prime Minister commented that these were not holidays camps.

Capital punishment was reintroduced.

The collapse of the pound, soaring inflation and a desperate shortage of foreign exchange meant that shops ran out of many basic foodstuffs and commodities. If you wanted coffee or bananas the only way to get them was on the now thriving black market, where dealers would accept only Euros.

In fact, the Euro had become the de facto currency of rump UK, and if you wanted a plumber or electrician, you could expect to have to pay in cash, in Euros.

There were severe fuel shortages, and hundreds of thousands of public sector workers were laid off because of the desperate state of public finances. The government's attempts to pay the bills by printing money had only served to boost inflation further.

Exodus

By 2018 Britain had been expelled from the Commonwealth and had its membership of a host of other international organisations suspended. The Commonwealth's decision was mocked in a memorable party political broadcast by the Rt Hon Jeremy Clarkson.

On a begging trip to the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ed Balls, stunned the media when he announced that he would be seeking asylum.

Despite the government's best efforts to control the media, including bans on Facebook and Twitter, satellite TV and the internet meant that uncensored news was freely circulating.

Those suspected of spreading "false and malicious" rumours were likely to be picked up by the paramilitary League of St George and interned "for their own safety".

A combination of the government's new Repatriation Grant Scheme, open attacks on foreign-looking or sounding people in the streets (including a Welsh family from Caernarfon on a day trip to Birmingham), and the threat of internment resulted in a dramatic exodus from the country.

Nigel Farage went on television to announce that his government had solved the housing crisis, and that henceforth Parliament would meet on just one day a year to approve decrees issued under DOREPA. This would stop any further abuse of MPs' expenses, Farage declared.

On 30 January 2019 officially backed unionist paramilitaries mowed down hundreds of people in Belfast calling for reunification with the Republic.

The Sun, Daily Mail and Times marked the occasion with special souvenir editions to celebrate the birth of a second son to Wills and Kate.

The general election scheduled for March 2021 was cancelled on security grounds.

Footnote

This post has attracted several responses from people who claim that Plaid Cymru is xenophobic - some of them most likely from Labour's black propaganda department. So here for the record is what Leanne Wood has said about the party's principles:








24 comments:

william dolben said...

a nice romp, Cneifiwr It seems farcical but could come true. De Valera and Saunders Lewis would be laughing as the UK went the isolationist route

and the world looked on in bemusement as "Great Britain" turned in on itself and finally lost any vestige of power or influence on the world stage.

On a serious note, cities from Amsterdam through Paris, Berlin etc are preparing as we speak to cash in the UK exit dividend to the full as the multinationals relocate.......
Scotland in and UK out, back to the auld alliance but this time it will be profitable for France!

towy71 said...

The really sad thing is that this scenario is entirely believable!

Anonymous said...

An entertaining piece but the doomsday scenario just doesn't seem plausible.

You are assuming that the millions of people who quite legitimately voted for UKIp are racist when this is probably a long way from the truth.

I am certainly not a racist but I did vote UKIP. Admittedly it was a protest vote and no doubt I will return to the mainstream come election time.

I am 55 years of age and I have never given my consent to much of what the EU does. I object to not having been asked in a democracy and until now there has not been a way of expressing this.

If I were to be given a vote tomorrow I would probably vote to remain a member of the EU but this should not be taken for granted.

Please do not llabel people who want to deal with immigration as racist as you will be condemning many people in your own back yard.

Anonymous said...

Maybe some contributors should read reports that give an alternative view : -

http://www.dcbmep.org/images/The_Ultimate_Plan_B.pdf

http://www.brugesgroup.com/eu/the-benefits-of-eu-membership-are-self-evident-aren-they.htm?xp=comment

People need to look at all sides of the argument. I'll leave it to others to bring to the table.

Doubtless there will be reports that give a contrary narrative.

Cneifiwr said...

Anon@17.23 - I am sure you are not a racist, and I'm sure many of the people who voted for Ukip aren't, just as very many Germans who gave their support to Hitler weren't.

Like you I was too young to vote in the 1975 referendum, but I have a problem with calls for another referendum.

If, as is quite possible, a majority vote again to stay in, there will no doubt be calls for another referendum after that to give the next generation a chance to have their say. Where does it stop?

Have we had referenda on UK membership of Nato, on the UK nuclear "deterrent", on the Commonwealth, the monarchy, the House of Lords, etc., etc?

I saw Swiss democracy at close quarters, and it was deeply disappointing. Turnouts were always low and people were often asked to vote on things they could not possibly have read or understood - such as complex tax treaties.

In some parts of Switzerland there were local referenda to approve applications for Swiss citizenship. Applicants with Turkish and other foreign sounding names were habitually rejected by voters until the shameful process was stopped.

We elect politicians to take decisions for us, and if we don't like their decisions, we vote for someone else.

Anonymous said...

The trouble with that argument is that the organisations that you mention do not touch peoples everyday lives as does the EU.

The Labour Party were offering to do away with nuclear arms a few years ago by Mr Foot and could have been voted into government but they weren't. WE did have a choice though.

The transformation of a trading block into a political union is fundamental to my life and I should have given my consent to it.

I wouldn't agree either with the Swiss model however I see nothing wrong with every generation or so, a fresh mandate being obtained on such a fundamental change to our democracy.

I repeat that not everybody who wants to control immigration is a racist and I think a very large proportion of patriotic welsh people will have voted UKIP for the reasons outlined.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. It seems that Cneifiwr is burying his head in the sand; Wales voted for UKIP in very large numbers because what UKIP was saying was attractive to many people. You only have to look athe the British Social attitudes survey to see why Wales was such fertile territory for UKIP....Attitudes to Immigration:-

Percentage saying Immigration should be reduced:
Scotland 69%, England 78%, Wales 86%.
Percentage saying Immigration is bad for the economy:
Scotland 44%, England 46%, Wales 65%.
Percentage that saw immigration as undermining indigenous culture:
Scotland 40%, England 44% Wales 68%

Wales doesn't like people coming to live here, even though we have very low levels of immigration...and no one panders to anti-immigrant feeling more than Plaid so let's cut the Hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

This probably explains a lot:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-27609767

Wavell said...

As you say Cneifiwr "We elect politicians to take decisions for us, and if we don't like their decisions, we vote for someone else."
And that is why UKIP were so successful.
I also feel that the European Parliament are slowly but surely trying to recreate a new USSR.

Cneifiwr said...

Anon@19.56 One of the areas where Ukip topped the polls was Powys - very low levels of immigration and Plaid with only a minor presence.

The EU is not perfect - nobody says it is - but it is a million miles from what Murdoch and the Daily Mail have been feeding their readers for decades.

100 years on from WW1 Europe is a much better place thanks to the EU.

Anonymous said...

Where I live is crawling with immigrants, from England, mostly

Or doesn't that count?

Anonymous said...

Anon 06.21 says it all really; look at the conscious imagery deploid repeatedly by Plaid supporters "Crawling with immigrants, from ENGLAND, mostly".

But Nationalists cannot hide behind the fig leaf of "we don't hate all immigrants only those crawling English". It defies logic. Plaid is a desperately xenophobic party...desperate to prevent its heartlands changing from mostly Welsh speaking Plaid voters to non-Welsh speaking non Plaid voters.

Anonymous said...

So, it's all right to rant and rave about immigrants from over the Channel but not against those from over Offa's Dyke.

Why

ecopoliticstoday said...

If we factor in peak fossil energy and climate change, we can expect a great many states to embark on wars of acquisition (Iraq on an even bigger scale) and to apply martial law to try and control the discontented masses (us). Except for the free-moving global 'elite', immigration is a symptom of worsening conditions elsewhere, people attracted by our tradition of providing welfare payments. I think we have to live differently, with much lower levels of consumption and with economies that are primarily local, so money recirculates within the community. Selling the idea of 'less' is hard because most of us like promises of jam. Ecological economics could help us develop a new type of economy, and students are beginning to demand that ecological economics is put on the curriculum. As yet the academic top brass are not listening.

shambo said...

A nice piece of escapism to avoid thinking about the probability that Plaid will be stuffed at the next general election.

Royston Jones said...

A number of the anti-Plaid / anti-Welsh comments here - which could of course all come from one busy individual - argue a) that discussing immigration is legitimate . . . but the English moving into Wales is entirely different; b) that the 'Welsh' voted Ukip; c) argue that Plaid Cymru is a "deeply xenophobic party".

Discussing immigration is fine, and it should be done in the open; but what's happening in Wales is not immigration, it's colonisation,

In rural areas - Powys comes to mind - the greater part of the Ukip vote will have come from white flighters who could no longer live among 'darkies', and bring their intolerant anglosupremacist attitudes to Wales.

Anyone who knows Plaid Cymru will know that it is the least xenophobic party. It's weakness on the colonisation issue is the reason that many people - myself included - no longer vote for Plaid.

Finally, the Welsh are not more racist than the English, or the Scots. Many of the Welsh who responded to that survey, especially when answering the question on identity loss, were thinking of English colonisation in Wales, not Romanians or any other bogeymen promoted by Ukip.

Which would make them not racist but objectors to colonialism and colonisation, which has righly been lauded and applauded in recent decades . . . except of course by colonialists and colonists. Which probably explain the comments I've referred to.

Anonymous said...

Cneifiwr- a frightening prospect and if you had written that in 1933, people in Germany would have said "its never going to happen , we are a civilised country the home of culture " We however know what happened next

Anonymous said...

"So, it's all right to rant and rave about immigrants from over the Channel but not against those from over Offa's Dyke."

You may not have noticed that Offa's dyke is within the UK and therefore English people or Scots people are not "Immigrants" when they come to Wales any more than Welsh people are immigrants to England.

Ranting and Raving is not OK but people in Wales voted in large numbers for UKIP and small numbers for Plaid. Since it is Plaid that is concerned about English people coming here and UKIP that is concerned about other nationalities coming here I think we can see who most closely reflects the feelings of Welsh people.

If voting UKIP is Un-Welsh as Leanne claims then there are an awful lot of Un-Welsh people living in the South Wales Valleys...the very place with the highest Welsh National Identity.

Cneifiwr said...

To the person who left a highly inflammatory post attacking Cymdeithas yr Iaith and others, why not get your own blog? You may want to call it Gogwatch Revived.

Anonymous said...

Prof Roger Scully has posted an interesting piece on the election; he reproduces figures from Ian Clarke:-

"Ian has also run a couple of correlations for UKIP vote share by LA. One is with the percentage of the population of each LA born in England. Interestingly, the correlation here is fairly weak but also negative: on average UKIP scored a lower vote share where the English-born population was higher."

Oddly enough the LA with the highest percentage of support for UKIP was the county with the lowest percentage of people "Born in Wales"; Merthyr.

Anonymous said...

Sorry; the above should read

"Oddly enough the LA with the highest percentage of support for UKIP was the county with the lowest percentage of people "Born in ENGLAND"; Merthyr.

Mogs said...

Royston Jones said...
"A number of the anti-Plaid / anti-Welsh comments here - which could of course all come from one busy individual - argue a) that discussing immigration is legitimate . . . but the English moving into Wales is entirely different; b) that the 'Welsh' voted Ukip; c) argue that Plaid Cymru is a "deeply xenophobic party". "

Having a Welsh Father and an English Mother, I lived in Wales until I wasd 18 months old. I have now returned to Wales after an absence of more than 40 years and have an English accent. I speak limited Welsh and would like to improve quicker than I am.

I am Welsh, I am deeply patriotic and get offended when people tell me I am English.

I am sorry to say that many - though not all - from Plaid Cymru, are xenophobic. That said Leanne Wood is hardly a very Welsh name and of course, she too speaks limited Welsh.

Cneifiwr said...

Mogs - If you have any evidence of Plaid Cymru xenophobia, please get in touch.

Several of Plaid's candidates for Westminster and Welsh Assembly seats are English incomers - selected by party members (in Plaid every member gets to vote in a secret ballot on who is to stand in elections). That doesn't sound very xenophobic to me.

Leanne Wood was also elected by ordinary party members, and the fact that she is not from a Welsh speaking background did not count against her.

Her Welsh has come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, and I hope yours does too.

Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg.

I'm sure that if you wanted to go along to a Plaid meeting, you would be made very welcome, no matter what your accent.

Anonymous said...

For goodness sake cneifiwr let's be realistic; of course Plaid politicians can't appear to be xenophobic and, indeed, I'd be surprised if they were in fact. They are trying hard to appear inclusive and not too Welsh speaking but their supporters are a different thing. For your average Plaid punter hatred of all things English is meat and drink...just wait until the World cup and see all the foreign flags and shirts that Welsh nationalists come up with...anyone but England. Childish, pathetic and racist.