UKIP : Nothing but the Same Old Story

The John McDonnell Column

The media are in a frenzy over the electoral rise of UKIP. But why are people surprised at all about the emergence and performance of UKIP?

JMcDIt falls to the left to help explain that the rise of UKIP is extremely predictable.

After weeks of canvassing you find that you need a simple doorstep response to those people who say they’re thinking of voting UKIP. We must put this explanation into readily understandable terms so people have a very straightforward narrative to support and repeat.

It goes like this.

In every period of recession opportunist politicians from the right have emerged to seize upon the hardships people face to exploit them for their own ends. They always have to find a scapegoat to distract people from the real causes of the recession.

In this recession it is UKIP. In the past it’s been Mosley’s fascists in the 1930s and the National Front in the 1980s. The scapegoats were the Jews and later blacks and Asians. UKIP are publicly seizing upon European migrants as the scapegoat and privately many of their spokespeople are targeting all migrants. The Tories are targeting people on welfare benefits, especially people with disabilities.

It’s the same old story. Our response is to address the hardships people are facing, explain the real causes and  offer real solutions.

The hardships UKIP has focused on are homes and jobs. The shortage of housing had been caused by successive governments not investing in council housing. House prices have soared because of the housing shortages and rents have increased massively because rent controls were scrapped. There are also 600,000 homes standing empty.

The solution is not rocket science. We should launch a large scale building programme, compulsorily purchase empty homes and sites for construction and introduce cheap mortgages with no deposit requirements and bring back rent controls.

The competition for jobs is caused by a still sluggish economy only slowly recovering from the recession caused by the bankers. The government is failing to invest in creating the jobs we need. The solution is a public investment programme not only in housing but in sectors like alternative energy and insulation, as set out in the Green New Deal, to provide one million new sustainable jobs.

The reason people feel so insecure at work is because this Coalition government is trying to introduce a new form of feudalism. Under the new feudal system the Lords at the top are replaced by super rich oligarchs and corporations. Their aim is that the rest of us become treated as the new serfs, working on zero-hours contracts, for as little as possible with no rights at work and no ability to fight back through our trade unions. Under the government’s workfare system people on benefits are forced to work for nothing or
face sanctions and destitution with complete loss of income. It’s the new modern form of slavery.

Of course employers will try to use migrants and the unemployed to cut wages and employment conditions. They always do. The enemy is not the migrant and unemployed person who is just desperate for work but the companies and bosses that try to divide and rule us. The answer as it has always been is to organise together to protect and improve wages and conditions. The best way of doing this is to join a union and fight back.

The migrants who have come here, like every other wave of migrants to this country, are making a major contribution to our society, and with an ageing population these young migrants are ensuring that we have an economy that can pay for the services needed by the elderly.

If we can explain the rise of UKIP in this straightforward way we also need to explain why the Labour Party has not been able to benefit from people’s discontent. The reasons are also straightforward. Labour was not only implicated in causing the economic crisis but also has failed to provide a simple message of how it would give people hope that their needs and concerns would be addressed by a Labour government.

Just a few simple policies of hope would do it. Under Labour everyone will have a home. Everyone will have a job, and a living wage in work or a citizen’s income out of work. Everyone will have free travel, healthcare, childcare, care for the elderly and education throughout life. We will have a programme of building council homes, cheap mortgages, rent controls, public investment in jobs, a fair tax system, public ownership of rail, ending privatisation in the NHS and scrapping tuition fees.

That should see off UKIP and the Coalition.

John McDonnell is MP for Hayes and Harlington and Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and of the Labour Representation Committee.

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25 Responses to UKIP : Nothing but the Same Old Story

  1. Duncan says:

    Unfortunately until Labour is filled with men like you, Dennis Skinner, Jeremey Corbyn, Frank Field and Ian Lavery who actually understand working class people, it remains part of the problem. Too many middle class Oxford types who speak in riddles, Ed Balls heading off to Bilderberg, and supporting ridiculous trade deals like TTIP, and won’t give us a referendum.

    Full credit to you and the few Labour MPs who represent the workers voice and are trying to change the party for the better though. I hope it succeeds and a true Labour voice comes out of it, because we need it more than ever now. I hope Ed delivers, I think his heart is in the right place.

    • Concatenation says:

      Duncan – I agree entirely with your post. We DO need more Labour MPs like Dennis et al., but where do they come from? Maybe, within the current cohort, there are some who would echo these views. I wish that they would come out of the closet and show their hand. Ed’s heart seems to be in the right place – he just needs to be more vocal and stand up for all of us.

      Of course, the criticism of all of the above policies is ‘we can’t afford them’. Much the same as that of the Greens who have similar policies. This is where the main arguments against Ukip/Tory/LibDem policy should be aimed. I’m not an economist so I have no answers, but Labour need to show to the electorate that they can have their cake AND eat it. If it could be done after WWII, then it can certainly be done now.

  2. caldermclaughlin says:

    yes, sadly too many in Labour seem to be indoctrinated with neoliberal ideology and are so far way from the left it leaves a very scary landscape indeed.

    • Concatenation says:

      They aren’t really Labour then are they? It is so sad that the party has been hijacked by the neoliberals. If Ed M could get the courage to lead Labour, and not be scared of alienating the right of his party, he could get a whole load of us on board. I think that he could do it, instead of trying to please everyone and losing most of them. The left lives, but has no one to represent them, apart from a few minor parties – including those with a single issue agenda – who have no chance of representing the majority of disaffected voters.

      • Ian Duncan says:

        You say the neo-liberals aren’t really Labour, I get your point but unfortunately they are the ones in the House of Commons calling themselves Labour. In effect. they are the Labour Party we have to deal with, they are the ones voting for workfare and being tough on benefits ‘scroungers’ and being pretty much as right wing as the Conservative scum. Labour is something else entirely now, we haven’t abandoned Labour, Labour have abandoned us, in parliament at least.

        We either reclaim Labour ar start all over again, hopefully with union backing. We certainly can’t keep pretending Miliband, Balls, Cooper and all the other careerist, neo-lib no-marks have anything worthwhile to say or any useful contribution to make.

  3. l8in says:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

  4. Rob Atkinson says:

    Reblogged this on La Vita, Leeds United, l'Universo e Tutto and commented:
    A message of defiance and anger, but also of hope. That last thing has echoes of Clement Attlee in 1945 – still our greatest Prime Minister.

  5. Ann Ryan says:

    well i just read the biggest load of rubbish it was labor who crashed our country labor sold off our gold reserve it was labor who got rid of our Remploy factories for the disabled it was labor who stopped my Autistic son from having his proper schooling and his disability money and labor who told me i had to get back to work and leave my autistic son at home all alone. and it is my labor council who are trying to deprive our 3 years olds education and our Welsh Crown Court just stopped then.
    And it was a labor primeminister who called an old lady a biggot,The word migrants have never left a UKIPS mouth the word is immigration and until labor recognises British people live in fear of losing our country UKIP will always win seats.
    Oh yes and when lloyds defrauded me out of my home it was labor who refused to help me BUT UKIP DID NOT

    • michael says:

      What did UKIP physically do for you?

    • Sylvia says:

      You are justified Ann Ryan to reject the party that treated you so badly, the party that took us to war when we clearly were against it, the party of Blair and Brown that carried forward the neo-liberal policies of Thatcher and that are even more stringently adhered to by UKIP. UKIP are the right wing of the conservative party that will no more help your autistic son or support Remploy or council housing than any other Tories would. Hitler cleverly appealed to the working class of Germany by calling his party the National Socialist Party of Germany, Socialist it most certainly was not. Farage appeals to the working class by being that chummy chap in the pub. He couldn’t care tuppence for disabled people, homeless people, needy people, poor people, he and the rest in UKIP are just like the rest of the Tories, only some are worse, closer to the BNP. What John McDonnell is calling for is quite different, it is for the ideals that Labour were born with and the reason our parents voted Labour, the ideas thrown out by Tory Blair. Ideas that need to be embraced again by the Labour Party today..

      • Mark Audette says:

        Couldn’t agree more with you,my Country of birth has been ruined by years of Tory and labour mismanagement.Ed Milliband is quite frankly clueless.Give people what they want a straight in or out referendum on membership of an undemocratic EEC that has done absolutely nothing for the UK,taken control of our borders,takes a ludicrous payment off us which outstrips any benefit the UK gets back(approx. 228 billion since 1979 and would have been more if wasn’t for Thatcher.)

        All that money paid out,and for what….

        The NHS could have been saved several times over.Time people opened their eyes and realised how much space is being wasted by our present bunch of politicians.

    • john says:

      I think you are right, on many points, tho’ I would never vote for a far right party…as a gay man their policies are a bit scary.. I’d love to be able to vote labour, but I see from the above labour “Manifesto suggestion”…rousing tho’ it is, they still are not addressing the real issues. I live in Sheffield, how can I vote for a labour council who oversees what must be the worst rd conditions in the country, where at 76, I cant get a doctors appointment for three weeks because the surgery is full of foreign faces…they have big families, so its not just mum and dad…they bring their kids with them.. Housing, , schools ,these are really big issues for the population and all we get is talk, stirring tho the above article is…its all pie in the sky.

  6. Stuart Moore says:

    All very laudable, however….
    By building more homes all you’re doing is treating the symptoms not the cause, which is mass immigration, 2 million foreigners = 2 million less homes for British people
    Mass unemployment, same thing 2 million foreigners = 2 million less jobs for British people, although I agree with you regards the exploitation of working people by a capitalist elite.
    Mass immigration (like it or not) is just not popular across the political spectrum and Labour are seen as the party of mass immigration, even though it was the Tory party who started and continued mass immigration as a means of driving down wages and working conditions.
    Regards a skilled work force, schools should be teaching our children the relevant skills as should the employer, who should train staff rather than employ cheap imported labour.
    And finally Labour will not win an election all the while Ed MIlliband is leader

    • PaulLynch says:

      The cause of the housing crisis is not immigration, it’s the failure of successive governments to build enough homes to replace those sold off under Thatcher’s Right-To-Buy scheme.

      PS – You ignore emigration.

  7. I agree with all that except this except

    “introduce cheap mortgages with no deposit requirements”

    this will just feed the housing bubble. In fact doing the opposite might be beneficial, to bring down house prices so they are more affordable and owners won’t be subject to substantial negative equity in the event of a crash.

    • PaulLynch says:

      Building new homes will reduce demand and therefore bring down house prices to more affordable levels for those wanting a first time mortgage. It’s the shortage of housing which has increased demand, artificially pushing up rents and house prices, that has fed the housing bubble – and not the other way round..

  8. Sam Tharby says:

    i voted green for first time , i think a green and labour pact might work , is great idea to nationalise the rail but cost lot maybe scraping HS2 and spend money on education free tuition fees so we have a progressive education system and a place where the educated want to live .Why if we build HS2 and find theres no one on the trains half the time but we ripped up half the English country side ,i think in future less people be using trains to get to London and be working from home , do we really need to spend so much money , Scrap Trident i voted labour 1983?4 when they were up for unilateral disarmament sadly it wasnt a vote winner ,never get my head round why not .The cost of maintenance on Trident is 1.5 Billion£ a year this would refurbish every school in the country , How manny working class people are these hidious wepons defending ? if we dont have decent housing ,hospitals ,schools collafes and univercitys whats the point of having 560 independantly targetable warheads each 100x more powerfull that Hiroshima , Great Brittain is a diddly squat little island run by some exstremly rich meaga RICH people who quite frankly dont give a shit about ordinary people . cost of the new replacement of TRIDENT is 30 BILLON ££££££ which we all have to pay for by 2024 thats 1500 £ each for what ?somthing that will never ever be used somthing that only protects the Rich LET THEM PAY FOR IT ,work out how much the top half million arseholes in the country divide the cost up see how soon they get there Iranian Visas , also the ongoing cost of the new system will be 2.3 -2.5 BILLION pounds annualy . ITS WHAT YOU WANT ,the public gets what the public wants

  9. steve g says:

    I think most people, are looking for their lives to change, working for min wage, just to make ends meet, food banks on the increase, repossession of houses, NHS waiting lists longer, fuel poverty, the list is so depressing. people want radical change, and i think they are getting to a point were, because they feel there is no positive future for them, they just want someone to take the action. Thats what ukip is offering, and the people dont care of the consequences, just the fact that something will change……………….i do hope its for the best.

  10. kittysjones says:

    Very very well said John,

  11. kittysjones says:

    UKIP has an extremist appeal that is based entirely on fear-mongering, and attempts to shape and perpetuate hatreds, social group phobias and deliberate attempts at further undermining social cohesion. UKIP try to make this extremely divisive approach somehow “respectable”, (by the frequent use of phrases such as “we say what many think”, “we speak our minds” and “it’s not racist to be worried about too many people coming here” are used to attempt to normalise and justify what are actually very objectionable, prejudice-laden opinions, for example) whilst offering nothing at all that might improve our living conditions and quality of life.

    UKIP is also manipulating an anti-politics, anti-establishment public mood. This is not just about gaining electoral success but in shifting the terms of debate. Farage admits that UKIP’s effect on the Tories is “psychological not numerical”. His success in this encourages the further right Tory backbenchers, encourages the populist strategies of Lynton Crosby, as it forces political and media focus on right wing concerns, like welfare and immigration. Boundaries are being pushed.

    UKIP utilises, amplifies and perpetuates an increasingly poisonous climate of distrust and cynicism. UKIP manipulate public views and in particular, they perpetuate a myth that politicians of all colours are an out of touch elite that is far removed from, and largely unconcerned with, the everyday struggles of “ordinary people.”

    UKIP make the mistake of portraying the entire political class as pampered elitists,which is grossly inaccurate. Whilst it’s true that the Conservative party most certainly can claim aristocratic membership, the same isn’t true of the Labour party. Furthermore, Farage, an ex-Tory public school boy (and Miliband attended a comprehensive school), an ex-stockbroker, with offshore tax havens and an inclination for far right policy is hardly likely to be “in touch” with the man on the Clapham omnibus.

  12. kittysjones says:

    And also, it’s about time we saw the “mess labour left” lie absolutely challenged, because in 2010 we we not in recession. Gordon Brown had also managed to shield us from the worst of what was, after all, a global crash. Labour did not borrow excessively, and money was invested in our public services/infrastructure.

    Let’s not forget that it was they that lost the Moody’s Investors Service triple A grade, despite pledges to keep it secure. Moody’s credit ratings represent a rank-ordering of creditworthiness, or expected loss.

    The Fitch credit rating was also downgraded due to increased borrowing by the Tories, who have borrowed more in 4 years than labour did in 13.

    Here’s a list of lies that the government have told that have earned them official rebukes –

  13. kittysjones says:

    Sorry, To clarify, it was the Tories that lost the Moody’s Investors Service triple A grade, despite pledges to keep it secure. Moody’s credit ratings represent a rank-ordering of creditworthiness, or expected loss, and they are also repsonisble for the Fitch credit rating – also downgraded

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