Saturday 26 April 2014

The Resistible Rise of Nigel Farage

Elections to the European Parliament will be held on 22 May, and if you watch TV you may have noticed that, it being election time, the parties are given slots to make election broadcasts. Most people switch over or switch off at that point, but if you are interested in the way we are governed, some interesting conclusions can be drawn.

The Plaid Cymru broadcast featured shots of Jill Evans MEP among others, mentioned some of the party's policies including an ambitious apprenticeship scheme which could be part-funded by the EU, and drove home the message that Plaid is the only one of the parties to put Wales and Welsh interests at the heart of its campaign.

UKIP's latest broadcast featured a 30-something year old man called Andre Lampitt. No sooner had the broadcast been aired than it turned out that Lampitt, who was born in Zimbabwe, has political views which would have gone down a storm at party rallies in Nuremberg in the 1930s.

Africa should be left to the Africans so that they can kill themselves off. Ed Milliband is, Lampitt believes, not British but Polish. Muslims are animals. And much more of the same, all posted by Mr Lampitt in semi-literate English on social media websites.

An embarrassed Nigel Farage later suspended him from the party, but there are plenty more Lampitts in UKIP, and the party has been busy stoking the fires of xenophobia with a series of billboard posters with messages such as, "26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?" (a finger points out at you - yes, you).

The latest UKIP fiasco is another billboard poster depicting what purports to be an out of work "British" builder. "EU policy at work. British workers are hard hit by unlimited cheap labour". It turns out that the man in the picture is not a builder but an Irish actor.

For the record, Ed Milliband's father was born in Belgium in 1924 to parents originally from Poland. He came to Britain in 1940. A few million people in Britain would fail the UKIP poster boy's citizenship test on that score.

The Tories' broadcast, on the other hand, had an air of desperation about it as it tried to sell David Cameron's half-baked and doomed attempt to negotiate new terms of membership and a promise to hold a referendum.

A mad dog and a rabit caught in the headlights, perhaps, but at least both parties talked about Europe, what with these being European elections.

The Labour Party managed to pull off the trick of producing a broadcast which not once mentioned Europe, Brussels or UKIP. Instead it spent the first half talking about the cost of living, fuel prices and the cost of childcare before moving on to attack first the Tories and then the Liberal Democrats. Not one of the issues raised has anything to do with the EU.

Attacking the LibDems really is like flogging the proverbial dead horse, and they really need not have bothered.

UKIP, on the other hand, is the antithesis of everything Labour is supposed to stand for and the most dangerous development in British politics in living memory. And yet it is the elephant in Labour's room.

UKIP is likely to pick up more votes from disaffected Tories than anywhere else, but the latest poster campaign is clearly pitched at white working class voters, a group Labour has neglected before in parts of London and the north-west of England with the result that extreme right wing groups like the BNP picked up council seats.

The calculation that Labour's election strategists appear to be making is that their enemy's enemy should be allowed to get on with it. It's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui being played out for real.


Anonymous said...

UKIP are the proverbial loose cannon of Welsh and British politics. It's amystery to many why they have such support here but it's undoubtedly the case that they are going to take a seat at the expense of Plaid in the EU elections. This is the latest Poll on Roger scully's site:

"Finally, what about the European Parliament election in May? This was the level of support for the parties (with changes from the February Welsh Political Barometer again in brackets):

Labour: 39% (no change)

Conservative: 18% (+1)

LibDems: 7% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 11% (-1)

UKIP: 20% (+2)

Others: 6% (-1)

If these levels of support were repeated in next month’s election, Wales would elect two Labour MEPs, one UKIP representative and one Conservative, with Plaid Cymru’s Jill Evans losing her seat."

The support seems to come from Tory and Plaid voters rather than Labour and Libdems. I imagine it's the strong xenophobic strain of thought amongst the supporters of those two parties that attracts them to UKIP.

Anonymous said...

the sad thing is despite all the negative coverage, plaid will still lose their european seat. One election broadcast is not going to change anything. I look at scotland with envy with five scottish edition newspapers. We in Wales have none

Cneifiwr said...

I wouldn't write Jill Evans off just yet Anon@9.39, and I certainly would not describe Plaid supporters as xenophobic. Plaid's secret weapon is that its supporters can generally be relied upon to turn out and vote, and I haven't met a single Plaid supporter yet who has anything but contempt for Mr Farage. He is the polar opposite of what Plaid is about.

BlogMenai in its latest post points out that the Tories in Wales have suffered a series of catastrophic results in recent by-elections, so why the opinion polls appear to be showing Cameron's troops on course for a good result is a mystery.

Anonymous said...

There was a discussion on the Today Programme this morning about how criticism of UKIP is failing to dent its support. Most commentators and the metropolitan elite seem to regard the UKIP campaign as inherently racist but the majority of the public do not.

Like it or not the UKIP message is resonating with the public and I am certain that they will do well at the Euros with more normal voting patterns coming for next years general election.

Anonymous said...

Yes I know jsut shouldn't be on the cards that UKIP gets support from Plaid voters but I recollect seeing a comment from a habitual Plaid voter on one of your other blogs. He was saying that he would switch to UKIP. And then there's this poll:-

Look at the cross tabulations on page 3. The party whose voters (constituency) are most likely to vote to leave surprise Tories. Second Plaid...34%

Voters who would switch to UKIP for EU surprise Tories 18%. Second most likely Plaid 17%.

On immigration, just look at the Right wing Nationalist blogs if you think Nationalism in Wales isn't xenophobic. Every other line bemoans the presence of non-Welsh born people in Wales.

Redhead said...

People are not voting FOR Ukip, they are voting AGAINST the mainstream parties that they feel have let them down. But voting for a mad drunkard who says "jobs for the British except for my German wife" and who has no policies except " keep immigrants except my wife out" is not the answer. He is a total loonie and could do as much damage to this country as Hitler did to Germany - and that is not just knee-jerking, I really mean it.

If you cannot bring yourself to vote for a mainstream party, stay at home - you will be doing your country a greater service than if you voted UKIP.

Anonymous said...

History tells us that political campaigns that blame "the foreigner" for all the country's ills will gain immense popular support, especially in times of economic hardship. It may be trite to say that Hitler gained his popular backing in this way, but simplistic slogans, backed by simplistic or even false arguments are going to be attractive to a lot of people, particularly those whose standards of living have fallen under this and the former Labour governments, and see no likelihood of improvement in the future. This will no doubt include many Plaid voters at a time when Plaid seems to have lost its way.
And personalities count. Nige looks like the sort of bloke you can have a laugh with down the pub, and there's few of his rivals you could say that about.

Blodwen said...

Totally agree Redhead. And if you don't want to stay at home then spoil your voting paper rather than risk letting in the madhouse that is UKIP.

sad & getting sadder said...

It good to see optimism, but for me Plaid Cymru are in for a tough 2 years starting with Jill Evans losing her seat next month, then add in the independence vote in Scotland with narrowing poll, and even if the Scots votes no the SNP will still be the next Scottish Government with a majority in sharp contrast to Plaid’s freefall,

Next up is the 2015 UK General Election which could see Plaid Cymru could lose an MP with Jonathan Edwards seat in under pressure and then you’ve go the Welsh Assembly elections which will see Plaid stand still but with UKIP’s rise will split the opposition vote in to 4 not 3 parties strengthening Labour’s hand and making them more untouchable and unaccountable.

I have never felt more pessimistic about Wales’s prospects than I do now, we are almost a fully assimilated region of England with opinion polls showing the majority of welsh opinion in line with UKIP little Englander syndrome fast becoming the norm of racist, right wing, prejudiced and intolerant of everything including foreigners and benefit claimants despite hundreds of thousands of welsh home relying on them.

Redhead said...

Er, make that utterly bonkers Little-Englander, an even more dangerous subspecies!

Anonymous said...

Yep sad and getting sadder...that's about the size of it.

Do you know what will be the collateral damage? Faith in devolution. I predict a drift towards resistance to further devolution with a strengthening of the abolitionist minority.

Anonymous said...

UKIP's flowering will be brief but only in Wales will they have electoral success...they will be part of the next Assembly. Who knows the character of those new AMs but it's certain that they will puncture the pleasant concensus down the Bay of Indolence.

We've got no one to blame but ourselves...we have contentedly stood by while the entire Assembly (not just the Labour government) drifted along...dozing and up-dating their Facebook pages on their laptops whilst Wales slouches towards abject failure.

Anonymous said...

Objective 1 money billions where has it gone?I don't know.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 22:44 - Into the LA's and Charities pockets for their pet projects which do nothing for the people or purpose intended.

Gwilym said...

Cneifiwr wrote "I haven't met a single Plaid supporter yet who has anything but contempt for Mr Farage. He is the polar opposite of what Plaid is about." I have. Indeed, while canvassing for the Labour Party in Aberconwy, I have met three traditional Plaid voters who are shifting to UKIP, one in Llandudno and two in Llanrwst. Incidentally, on the doorstep voters are telling me that they haven't seen anyone from the parties other than Labour.

Cneifiwr said...

Gwilym, when can we expect to hear Labour take on UKIP and expose the party for what it is? And how about some positive campaigning about Europe in the European elections?

Anonymous said...

Yes you are right anon 23 24.people having to use food
banks,if your hungry who cares what shape a banana is.
Money wasted on stupid projects.

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @9.52 the "shape of bananas" story is a myth which was put about by anti-EU newspapers.

The point which needs to be remembered about projects funded with EU money is that the EU hands over the money to the UK. The projects and the funds themselves are then in the hands of councils and other government bodies. If money has been wasted on daft projects (and some has), the blame lies with our own councils and other arms of government.

Incompetence and stupidity don't stop at the White Cliffs of Dover or the Severn Bridge.

Redhead said...

It will not only be in Wales that Ukip (I refuse to use all capitals, it makes them look too important) triumphs.

I have been to three local European Elections hustings in England. At all of them a snarling mob of Ukip supporters (mostly over 50) have dominated the audience. They refused to listen to anyone except their candidates and cheered them when they made the most inane comments.

Worse, rhe candidates picked the 4 or 5 local issues of the day and simply listed them on their leaflets. Nothing about what they would DO about these things (eg potholes) - just a list. And safe in the knowledge that, as a minority party, they will never be in a position where they have to solve problems: all they have to do is list them.

There was something really chilling about seeing this "mob mentality" from people who are usually the first to complain about "yobs" behaving like yobs themselves.

I fear for us all if these people are given a voice. All they want is power and the trappings of power with none of the responsibility. That the current parties are to blame for this is shameful for them and an indictment of their misuse of power in the first place. They got us into this mess.

We are swinging to the far right and few realise this, or if they do, they don't care. David Cameron and George Osborne will look like adorable puppies compared to this lot. The 1980s with its greed and everyone for himself will return and God help anyone who falls between the cracks: in this new world they will only have themselves to blame if they are ill or disabled and not rich enough to buy their way out of trouble.

Anonymous said...

Anon 22.44 & 23.24

A lot of the money has gone on 'jobs for the boys' creating unnecessary managerial posts.

Anonymous said...

O god I feel depressed now as I agree with a Lot of these comments and sadly see the drift of disenchanted people to the right as inevitable... being a Plaid supporter you cannot close your eyes to the fact that many Plaid voters will vote for UKIP - I know I've had conversations with them. so don't kid yourself Cneifiwr

Anonymous said...

Who hands the money to the EU in the first place,send it
straight down here and then make sure it is spent wisely.
Why have we got to fund the fat cats eg.the kinnock's
I don't know.I which the EU was all a myth.

Redhead said...

If Ukip really was about slimming down the EU and sorting out fat cats AND it had sensible things to say about the economy, the health service, education, the care of the elderly, etc sure I might be tempted.

But they haven't - all they want is fot THEM to be the fat cats. So not only am I not tempted I am disgusted with them.

Anonymous said...

Well who is going to sort out the fat cats then?

Anonymous said...

UKIP has nothing...except dissent but in Wales dissent is attractive since we are trapped in an eternal soporific concensus down in the Bay of Torpor.

Plaid supporters are anti immigration....UKIP is anti immigration. Plaid supporters are more anti-EU than you would imagine....UKIP is anti EU. Why would anyone believe that some Plaid supporters won't switch to UKIP?

Cneifiwr said...

I'm not sure who is behind all these comments suggesting that Plaid supporters are flocking to UKIP, but it's sadly pretty easy to hazard a guess.

Unscientific it may be, but my own experience out canvassing was how well informed Plaid supporters are.

Blog Menai in his latest post raises some interesting questions about how YouGov is collecting data for its polls. If you can't read Welsh, you can get the gist using Google Translate.

Redhead said...

Fat cats: let's get it straight. In EVERY organization someone, somewhere and often many someones almost everywhere, attempts to become a fat cat. This is human nature. You will never be able to stop all fat cats and the EU is no better or worse than any other organisation for that.

However, you CAN refuse to vote for someone who SAYS they are against fat cats - and that is one of only two policies they have (EU and immigration) - when it is patently obvious that they are wanting to become fat cats themselves and to take full advantage of the cream AND immigration only applies to people who are not your relatives.

Anonymous said...

Are U-KIPing I am staying Plaid awake!

Anonymous said...

Farage has been a fat cat for years built his own
business then sold it,not screwed the taxpayer.I will be
voting as many other I know because they are anti
windfarms because I hate them.When it comes to
fat cats the EU will take some beating.Well I have
seen what the other parties have done while in power,
let's see what UKIP does shall we.
Ymlaen y Blaid Annibyniaith yDU.

Anonymous said...

Cneifiwr, if it's any consolation it doesn't make any difference where Plaid voters are going according to posters here. The question is, as you infer, is Yougov about right?

If Labour is as strong as they suggest then everyone else is scrabbling for the fourth seat. Tories are steady and UKIP are on a roll because of all their (mostly bad) publicity.

You have to consider that there were 45,000 votes given to other minor right wing parties last time (BNP, No to EU) most of those votes will come to UKIP this time whilst many Plaid votes will go to Labour.(Labour was unpopular in 2009 and Plaid got protest votes)

Whichever way you look at it Plaid are in a grim situation....they always get their vote out but this year more publicity means more voters so a higher turnout than the 30.5% last time.

Anonymous said...

Sorry; slight error there, I included "No to EU" with the BNP. The communist party won't be very pleased with that juxtaposition!

Redhead said...

If your only reason to vote is that you hate windfarms there probably isn't a party for you: those which say that they will ban them will change their tune when Putin flicks the off switch ...

Anonymous said...

So UKIP have other policies then.?So when the Wind
stops we can all blow hot air over the blades to make
them turn.Sorry we can't show the World Cup final this
time no wind no power.Next part of the Cambrian
mountains to be wrecked likely to be in the pumlumon
LLangurig area 27 turbines 125m high.

Anonymous said...

Not to worry; when Jill gets out on the stump and tells people that she is the only candidate that is standing up for Wales and points to her impressive record on pet passports she is going to leap up in the polls.