Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Saturday 17 May 2014

The Farage Effect

I set the cat among the pigeons on FaceBook the other day. I opened a can, and in no time flat there were worms everywhere.

I wrote this status update:

How is it the Americans think that mainstream politics in Britain are socialist, and the British believe there are no socialists left in mainstream politics in Britain?

I was expecting a conversation about semantics, and what I got was politics... all over the place. 

I have friends on FaceBook from both sides of the pond, and from all the way along the political spectrum. It got pretty heated. I kept out of it.

Politics gets people going. Politics gets ME going.

In my experience, perfectly wonderful people whom I agree with in any number of areas, whom I love and trust, and whom I often admire, disagree with me fundamentally when it comes to national and/or global politics. I am often baffled by this.

I’m not going to discuss my own politics today. It would take too long, and probably be utterly boring for most of you. On the whole, though, I’m a big fan of personal responsibility, because, without it I don’t believe there’s the slightest opportunity for a properly liberal, inclusive approach to broader political issues. Here’s my thing, and it’s pretty simple:

when your neighbour’s house is on fire, you don’t negotiate the price of your garden hose or your bucket, you simply hand it over, trusting that someone would do the same for you. 

Of course, it’s pretty easy to feel that way when you have a hose or a bucket. When you have neither, you long for the day when you do, and you’re damned if you’re ever going to give them up.

Nigel Farage on LBC 16-05-2014
Interviewed by James O'Brien
UKIP is a thing now. Nigel Farage is some sort of force in British politics. He must be, because we’re all talking about him and he’s getting very real air time and column inches. What’s more, UKIP now has major party status, so we’ll be seeing as many party political broadcasts from it as from everyone else.

Nigel Farage and UKIP are beginning to scare quite a lot of moderate, liberal people: People like us... ‘Right-thinking’ people.

UKIP stands for UK Independence Party, and that is their entire political platform. As far as they’re concerned Brussels is the enemy and they want out. They want us to leave the European Union and go it alone on the World stage. They’re not very keen on the unencumbered movement of the population through Europe. They want immigration control so that ‘foreigners’ don’t take our jobs. They are, essentially racists.

UKIP is not, however, the BNP. Nigel Farage has got a full head of hair and he wears a suit and tie. OK, to be fair, so does Nick Griffin, but you take my point. UKIP is targeting voters who would traditionally have voted Tory. The party is looking for votes among disaffected working families across the spectrum, and it’s doing it by attacking a political idealogy. It makes perfect sense. The European Union isn’t, ostensibly, about race. UKIP isn’t talking about people of different skin colours or religions, because ethnic Europeans are essentially white and christian. They’re talking about politics and economics. They’re attacking the European Union, which is a political construct.

There has been a global recession. It has affected us all. The housing market has been in trouble, employment figures haven’t been great, credit has been limited and cut off from a broad spectrum of people, fuel is increasingly expensive, and on it goes. Note that I said ‘global recession’. Political choices on a national level do very little to alter the fate of individuals, even over extended periods of time, when it comes to what is happening in economic terms on a global scale. The recession will be over when it’s over.

In the UK, a large portion of the electorate is disaffected for one reason or another. For many, financial hardship is certainly part of that. Many are disaffected with politics and politicians. Cameron and Clegg haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory over the past four years. Nor has Miliband. 

Nigel Farage was interviewed on LBC yesterday, and was utterly skewered by James O’Brien’s questions. Most of the commenters whose stuff I read afterwards found it heartening or hilarious. Some thought that it would increase sympathy for Farage. The consensus seemed to be that he would lose followers for himself and his party, because he came across as a racist.

My reaction is that Nigel Farage did a pretty good job of recruiting racists to UKIP with that interview, and that, unfortunately, the country isn’t short of them. My reaction is that the portion of the electorate Farage and UKIP are aiming to recruit probably won’t vote for him anyway, but that we would be fools to underestimate the sheer weight of numbers of morons who just might.

Just so we’re clear, here are some basics on UKIP policies (OK my source is Wiki, so feel free to question it. Nevertheless it’s pretty staggering stuff):

1 Lowering corporation and inheritance taxes
2 Making NHS spending accountable to the public at a local level
3 Leaving the EU
4 Repealing the Human Rights Act
5 Restoring public oaths of allegiance to the Monarchy
6 Transferring the Crown Estates back into the private ownership of the Monarchy
7 Reduction in immigration
8 Opposition to same sex marriage
9 Ban the use of public money for measures against climate change
10 Increase defence spending by 40%

Need I comment further? No I didn't think so.


  1. Cogent as always, David. Thank you.

  2. Speaking to the original point, I think it's part of the need to define oneself by what one is not. The UK is "socialist" to Americans despite the UK itself thinking that there are no socialists in power because to accept that right-wing capitalist parties could do something like the NHS (way better than what we have in Ireland with the HSE, and infinitely better than the USA's "don't get sick" public healthcare...) means that their two main parties kind of look like the same party with a different hat to us Communist Europeans.

    Here in Ireland we get to chose between one centre-right party named Fianna Fáil and another centre-right party named Fine Gael. They're basically pronounced the same way... but I'd still put them a smidge left of the Tories, and a bit right of your Labour party (because we have a Labour party that does what Fine Gael tells it, in a similar situation to the Lib Dems).

    The only good thing to come from the 2008 Eurozone banking crisis austerity mess here is a grassroots leftist movement resulting in a handful of mostly single-issue parties and the perennial joke Socialist Worker's Party being able to get a few votes and possibly, with some luck, have a chance of getting a bit of balance into our government.

  3. You're lucky in a way, at least you can see clear differences in the parties you have on offer. As Arquinsiel said, here in Ireland we have a much of a muchness a few different shades of grey not quite 50 shades mind you, but it's pretty bed. The one point where I'd differ from Arquinsiel is this, the fact that the leftist parties are gaining ground doesn't necessarily mean we're getting a better alternative. Too often we find that the ranks of the independents and small parties to consist of gombeen men and women. This clip sums up the state of affairs