By Ian Bell-The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has surged in support, most recently in the 28 February Eastleigh by-election where it won 11,571 votes — 27.8%, an increase of 24%, and enough to beat the Tories into third place.
Last year, in the Croydon North by-election, UKIP polled 1,400 votes, an increase of 4%. In Rotherham, it won 4,648 votes (21.67%), coming second.
In Middlesbrough, it also finished second with 1,990 votes (11.8%).
Some polls now put UKIP as high as 17%.
Many predict that UKIP will win 500 plus seats at the County Council elections on May 2.
If this trend continues UKIP stands a good chance of gaining the most votes of any party at next year’s European Parliament elections.
But will it?
For a Party gaining so much support it is very odd that few people seem to know much (beyond opposition to the EU) about what they actually stand for.
Many people I have spoken with were shocked by the Third Way article on UKIP and Zionism (which drew press coverage).
They simply did not know how slavishly pro-Israel they are or how keen they are on a conflict with Iran involving the risky use of UK armed forces which doesn’t serve our national interests.
Similarly, when Solidarity published a leaflet attacking UKIP for their employment policies and support for stealth privatisation of our NHS the reaction of most was: “I didn’t know they stood for that”.
People simply had no idea that they wanted to turn the clock back to the days before people had employment rights. When people are informed that UKIP want to victimise workers by scrapping legislation protecting working hours, holidays, overtime, redundancy and sick pay the reaction is often one of shock.
Women in particular are horrified when it is pointed out that UKIP want to scrap their discrimination protection and plunge women back to facing sexual harassment and discrimination on jobs and pay.
Following the death of Margaret Thatcher more people have become aware that UKIP are essentially right-wing Tories – selfish, callous Thatcherites who don’t give a damn about ordinary folk.
That’s why it is so sad that UKIP’s “core supporters” are “a poorer, more working-class, and more deeply discontented group who closely resemble supporters of the BNP and European radical right parties”.
UKIP have nothing in common with the BNP which has spoken out against cuts in public services, the austerity agenda and privatisation.
UKIP wants compulsory “workfare” schemes for anyone on benefits, greater privatisation in education, and a part-privatised “national health insurance” model to replace the NHS.
Nick Griffin, attacks Labour for betraying the British worker whilst, in contrast, Nigel Farage attacks the Conservatives for not being Conservative enough.
The Tories failed in Eastleigh, Farage said, because “traditional Tory voters look at Cameron and ask themselves: is he a Conservative? And they conclude, no, he is not.”
The Daily Mail‘s Peter Hitchens described UKIP as “the Thatcherite Tory Party in exile”.
Small wonder then that Farage, writing in the Times, said that the need for UKIP would have “never arisen” if Baroness Thatcher had remained in power.
He revealed his true leanings and strategy further in an exclusive interview with the Sun:
He said: “Coverage of her death has reminded people what a real Conservative leader used to be like, and they contrast it with this current lot. I believe it is likely to drive more people towards UKIP, I really do.
Mrs Thatcher was able to get working-class people voting Conservative — the C2s, as they are famously called. That is UKIP’s key target support area.”
On one level this attempt to cash in politically on the death of Margaret Thatcher might seem like the smart move for Farage and UKIP.
But will this opportunism ultimately win or lose support?
The problem for Farage is that, as the debate surrounding her funeral indicated, Thatcher was a deeply divisive figure.
Do UKIP supporters really believe in his and her selfish, callous views on welfare and public spending?
Figures in the Independent show that more than 40% of UKIP supporters oppose the Tories’ cap on tax credits and benefits, 43% want increased spending on public services, and more UKIP supporters than Lib Dem supporters believe that “the government is cutting too deeply”.
As the Spectator pointed out many UKIP supporters don’t even see themselves as “right wing“:
“Ukip voters are not as right-wing as you might expect (or at least they don’t see themselves that way).
Just 46 per cent describe themselves as right-wing or right-of-centre, compared to 60 per cent of Tory voters. 23 per cent place themselves in the centre and 13 per cent on the left.”
There is a contradiction between UKIP’s extreme Tory policies and the instincts of a lot of its working-class supporters.
The more the ultra-Tory policies of UKIP are promoted by that Party, debated in the media and publicised by political opponents the greater the number of UKIP supporters will be who question if they are backing the right horse.
Even some officials and candidates might worry about the extreme Tory agenda being promoted by UKIP. Ken Bell was due to be standing for Pendle Central but a row has broken out over the reasons why a UKIP candidate has decided to step down from next month’s county council elections.
He had to withdraw his nomination due to the lack of support he would receive if he were to continue to run. Earlier in the month he was suspended by UKIP’s North-West organiser Dr Fred McGlade.
Mr Bell said: “I went into UKIP thinking it was a party about the EU.I didn’t realise it was a Margaret Thatcher fan club. I tweeted my sympathies to the devil on the day that Margaret Thatcher died, and all hell broke loose.”
Ken Bell learned the hard way that UKIP are Thatcherite Tories. Like Thatcher UKIP are playing the immigration card to draw working class people (rightly concerned about the impact on services and jobs) to vote for them. It is a sham.
Thatcher spoke of her understanding people who feared that we were being “swamped”, once elected she let in the Boat people! UKIP speak of EU migrants (the ones you can criticise because they are white!) but say little of immigrants from elsewhere. When their candidates step out of line on immigration they are quickly de-selected.
Just look at the case of Phil Collins who said the wrong things to VICE magazine about Islam and immigration. In the Bristol Evening Post a UKIP’s spokesman said: “Phil Collins is no longer chairman of our Bristol branch, and following the comments reported in the press about immigration will not be standing for UKIP in the forthcoming council elections”.
It’s up to us to get people asking that question. UKIP should not be ignored by Nationalists and they certainly should not be given any support. UKIP should be confronted.
The fact that the EDL Leader Tommy Robinson urged support for UKIP at the polls indicates only his lack of political understanding and maturity.
The UKIP constitution forbids membership to supporters who have ever belonged to the BNP, the National Front, the EDL or other nationalist organisations..
They are not interested in being “polluted” or “infected” by Nationalists or Nationalist ideas!
A UKIP spokesman told the Independent: “We find the EDL not just abhorrent, but stupid because it looks at people as groups rather than individuals. We don’t share their aims or ambitions.
I think (EDL leader) Tommy Robinson has a rather inflated view of his importance.” A very one-sided love affair!
Real nationalists care about the people and have a sense of pride in the mutual obligations we feel to one another and assistance we offer in time of need.
We don’t want to wreck the NHS or take benefits away from those that need them. Real Nationalists want radical change to spread direct ownership and give a real stake in the economy to individuals and families up and down this land.
Sure, we want to improve the way our public services and systems function but we don’t want to undermine them or lose them. We must hammer home the message that UKIP are not an alternative, they are an establishment safety-valve.
They are dangerous because they aim to fool working people into voting for Thatcherite policies which are against their interests. People should be made aware of the true reactionary nature of UKIP. We must burst the media bubble that is the UKIP vote by patiently pointing out their true policies.
Policies which worship the market above all other values. If there is no genuine Nationalist candidate in an election then the only true protest is to abstain or spoil the ballot paper.
A vote for UKIP is not a protest but a vote for more of the same – only worse!
Reprinted with permission from the Third Way think-tank web site www.thirdway.eu