Voting UKIP – No Buyer’s Remorse Yet

 

Having made the immensely difficult decision to abandon the Conservative Party (which itself has largely abandoned its own conservatism in the successful hunt for centrist votes) and lend my vote to UKIP in the general election, I have been waiting expectantly for Ukipper buyer’s remorse syndrome to kick in with a vengeance.

Surely by now, in the cold light of day – and following a period of rather amateurish internal warfare over the party leadership – I should be consumed with confusion and shame at my actions? Well, two weeks on and I’m still waiting.

In some ways, this is only to be expected – UKIP actually declined in terms of Westminster representation, and to suffer buyer’s remorse one has to actually have gained something. And since a majority Conservative government was the least worst option of all the possible outcomes involving the major parties, again there is little cause for regret – we will finally have our EU referendum and a few more token efforts will be made to restrain the growth of the state.

But this isn’t why I have no regrets about my voting decision. I stand behind my choice because nearly every objection to UKIP’s policies – both in politics and the popular culture – is based on a two-dimensional cartoon villain caricature of what it is to be a small government eurosceptic, and because so very many of the people leading the anti-UKIP mockery are virtue-signalling simpletons who couldn’t construct a coherent political thought if one came packaged with IKEA-style self-assembly instructions.

Take this effort by Russell Howard, released just before the election, shown in the video above.

Howard begins by finding a video clip of a particularly ignorant young lady, a great product of the British education system, who opines:

I can’t get a job. If I paint myself black or talk in a foreign language I might get a job.

Cue Howard’s signature routine of facial contortions and “isn’t that crazy?” expressions. And yes, of course it’s crazy, not to mention stupid and offensive.

But is this really representative of mainstream UKIP thought, or the attitudes of the party’s committed supporters? There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that this is so – or at least, what little evidence there is of UKIP’s supposed racism also damns nearly half of the entire country.

And the worst is yet to come. Howard then goes on to say:

“Mind you, not everyone is affected by the fearmongering talk of immigration. Did you see the wonderful answer that this kid gave?”

Cut to a classroom and a group of schoolboys being interviewed about their political views on Sky News:

REPORTER: You’re fine with having a mate from Poland, Bulgaria…?

SCHOOL BOY: Yeah. It’s no problem with us.

REPORTER: No problem?

SCHOOL BOY: Mmhmm.

REPORTER: What do you say to a guy in Westminster, House of Commons, who says it is a problem?

SCHOOL BOY: I say they need to buck up.

Cut back to studio audience laughter, and an ecstatic Russell Howard, who exclaims:

“I salute you, you little legend!”

What complete and utter tosh. Obviously the Sky News reporter is at grievous fault for suggesting that there are some “guys in Westminster” – presumably talking about UKIP’s contingent of two MPs at the time, both very honourable men – who think that it is wrong to befriend people from other countries, or eastern Europeans in particular. Not only is this an incredibly leading question, it’s also a patently false statement.

Rabid EU enthusiasts and other saboteurs of the nation state may like to blur the distinction between opposition to unlimited immigration and hatred of individual immigrants as their primary modus operandi, but a national news broadcaster should know better than to toe the same unthinking line.

Russel Howard UKIP

But more than this, there is something deeply worrying – and almost immoral – seeing a child being gently steered toward a prescribed, misguided political view by an authoritative adult in this way, all captured on live television. By stripping away half of the facts and presenting the child with a bogus straw man argument, the child naturally chooses the only sane option. But this is then portrayed back to us (via Russell Howard) as evidence that the “enlightened” child is so much wiser and more tolerant than the Neanderthal adults who support UKIP.

Time and time again we see this distortion of UKIP (or generally right wing) thought. Usually the pro-Europeans and unlimited immigration fanatics do not stoop to involving a child in their propaganda – but regardless of who is involved, the false arguments, partial facts and contortions of logic are always the same.

If there really was a political party with seats in Westminster that openly spoke out against fraternising with people of different races or backgrounds, then this would be absolutely, viscerally abhorrent. It would be to the great shame of Britain, and the voters who elected such people to high office. But of course there is no such political party in Westminster.

There is, however, one political party in Westminster that dares to speak out (however inartfully it may sometimes be) against the general pro-European consensus among the British political establishment. There is one party that recognises that the risk and disruption-minimising instincts of big business are not always aligned with the interests of the British people and their need for accountable democracy, and so speaks out in favour of strengthening the nation state rather than undermining it through remote and undemocratic pan-national institutions.

And there is one party which has made the unpopular case that while managed immigration brings many benefits to Britain, any benefits from unmanaged immigration are not usually felt by the low-skilled workers who face stiffer competition in the job market and greater strain on the public services on which they disproportionately rely.

You can disagree with everything that UKIP stands for and do so with honour. You can support the eventual ending of the nation state and the move toward international government structures because you genuinely believe this to be a good thing. You can support unlimited, unchecked immigration while believing that concerns about community cohesion, strains on infrastructure and the effect on the job market are overblown. All of this can be done in good faith and with good spirits.

On the other hand, you can be like Russell Howard, someone who finds it much easier to see the world in black and white while using opposing political views as fodder for his second-rate comedy act.

But it’s not really about Russell Howard. The real problem is that the level of opposition to UKIP and eurosceptic ideas in Westminster and the media is of the same low calibre. Questioning the unevenly distributed benefits of mass immigration is dismissed as “fearmongering” by too many politicians and pundits, people who find it easier to bury their heads in the sand rather than face the possibility that something which works so well for them and their own social circles may be having quite a different impact on other, less privileged Britons.

Today sees yet another exercise in reality denial by the Conservative Party, who are announcing their latest plans to curb immigration – now stated as an “ambition” to reduce net migration below 100,000 rather than the cast iron guarantee of 2010. Now, as then, everyone knows deep down that the plans are unworkable, even as they report on them.

Buoyed by their outright election victory, the Tories are also eager to bring forward the promised EU referendum to 2016 in the hope of a quick renegotiation and a quick win, much as they did with the AV referendum in 2011. But of course one year is hardly enough time to achieve agreement on the kind of deep rooted reform required to win over any but the most superficial of eurosceptics.

Only one party recognises this fact and remains sceptical of the motivations behind the Tories’ accelerated manoeuvring. And behind all of this lies the key fact that, backbench rebels aside, both of Britain’s two main political parties are desperate for us to remain in the European Union, no matter the cost.

As Brendan O’Neill argued so magnificently just before the general election, we need proper political choice back on the table in Britainan end to the centrist dystopia of the post-Thatcher years. And that means a Labour Party that once again stands up for people who work (rather than the moralising, middle class clericy who have hijacked the party) and a Conservative Party that really believes in smaller government, greater freedom and moving beyond the tired dogmas of the post-war consensus.

Such ideas may not yet enjoy majority support in Britain, but I believe their time will come again. And I will certainly not be cowed into recanting my views by mockery from second-rate comics such as Russell Howard, nor by opportunistic politicians who only ever engage with the rhetoric, not the substance, of the debate.

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7 thoughts on “Voting UKIP – No Buyer’s Remorse Yet

  1. Warren Whitmore May 21, 2015 / 6:57 PM

    Whoosh! That’s the sound of all Semi-partisan Sam’s well-constructed arguments whizzing past your empty little head, Caitlin. I don’t blame you personally for lack of comprehension, but rather our dumbed-down education system, which has left you bereft of the tools necessary to understand, let alone challenge, Sam’s points.

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  2. caitlin May 21, 2015 / 5:03 PM

    my main issue with UKIP is that they put far too much blame on foreigners. they target foreign people with HIV and even blame them for traffic jams!! yes i agree, in some places immigration is too high, but WE have to take a lot of the responsibility. it’s easier for people (germans) we fought against in the war to come into this country than it is for people who fought WITH us who are members of the commonwealth to enter. and a massive issue is that when immigrants are mentioned, it’s often immigrants who don’t come from white or culturally similar places such as germany, australia, france, or new zealand that get the blame. i don’t mind germans, australians or french or new zealanders coming into our country, of course i don’t. my issue is that if you look in detention centres, the majority of people there aren’t white. it’s that those migrants wouldn’t have been left to drown if they were white, i can guarantee it. people who come from eastern europe (who yes, are white, but on the whole aren’t culturally similar) and non-white countries are targeted much more on the whole by anti-immigration groups. and while UKIP may claim not to be a racist party, they need to ask themselves why they do attract racist groups such as the EDL and britain first. they can’t just dismiss it, they need to wonder what it is about the way that they present themselves that draws racists to their party.

    furthermore, the reason why immigrants travel to this country in the first place is because we in the past have invaded their countries, supplied weaponry to their unstable dictators, and taken their resources from them. it’s only natural for them to want to come to this country because it’s wealthy, safer than theirs, and they might get to use the resources we took. the answer isn’t an australian based points system, we should definitely not want to follow in the steps of a country that has massive race issues to this day. also, the chances are we’d have much less immigration if australia took in their fair share of migrants.

    the fact is, while i agree many people in UKIP aren’t racists, one of their main focuses aside from leaving europe is immigration, and if you don’t think they focus on it too much you really need to get your head out of the sand. the discussion behind immigration is unfortunately laced with racism, despite people trying their best to avoid it. an australian points system is not the answer, neither is scapegoating. and i’m sorry if all you thought while reading this was that i was a “lefty loony”, but i’m entitled to express an opinion too. i respect your opinion and understand where you’re coming from but i have to say i agree with a lot of what russell howard has said about UKIP. the only thing i credit them for really is UKIP seem to actually care a little more for the working class than the conservatives do.

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    • Samuel Hooper May 21, 2015 / 11:00 PM

      Many thanks Caitlin for a detailed and considered response to my piece, I appreciate you taking the time. I agree with you to the extent that too much of UKIP’s rhetoric (Farage’s comments about Romanians and the off-the-cuff remarks about immigration and traffic jams, for example), while not being racist, has “played to the gallery” in an unappealing way. And, as you suggest, a small proportion of the people in that gallery do hold genuinely racist and prejudicial views.

      And yet immigration is a real and genuine concern, and the levels of immigration that Britain has experienced since the new accession countries joined the EU have had an undeniable effect on the community cohesion and employment conditions of the poorer, less educated half of the country. That’s just a fact. Many (not all) of those on the left like to parade their humanitarian credentials and think that supporting unlimited EU immigration is part of this – but in fact all they are really doing is helping to depress wages and working conditions.

      I don’t believe in protectionism and I support managed immigration, but Labour’s great sin was to open Britain’s borders to unlimited immigration while doing nothing to equip the British population with the skills and education to successfully compete for skilled, well-paying jobs. For a party that purports to represent the interests of the working people, this is nothing less than a betrayal – made worse by the fact that there has never been a shred of an apology.

      I could take the puritanical stance and refuse to give any time or credence to UKIP because some of their rhetoric is overblown and their focus detracts from the core issue of getting Britain out of the EU. But when all of the other political parties belong to a stale, cliquey pro-European consensus, there is little other choice available. Therefore I chose in this election to *lend* my vote to UKIP to advance my key interest of Brexit, while speaking out forcefully whenever I feel that the party goes too far in pursuing the “wrong” kind of votes. That seems to be the best, most moral option available to me at present.

      I can’t get on board with your remarks about the reason for people choosing to travel to this country. Those immigrants who hail from eastern Europe are decent people in search of better opportunities, and the reason that these opportunities are not available back home is because their formerly communist countries were under the jackboot of the Soviet Union for so long, until the Berlin Wall fell. Britain played a crucial role in bringing about the end of that Evil Empire in the Cold War – an episode of our national history for which we should feel immense pride, not lingering shame.

      Thanks again for stopping by my blog – please keep reading and sharing your thoughts, it’s always good to debate.

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