Socialist Worker

What lies behind UKIP’s success?

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2155

The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) polled over 17 percent nationally in last week’s European elections, coming second to the Tories.

The vote for UKIP rose by just 0.5 percent since the last European elections in 2004, and it gained one more seat.

This brought its total to 13 seats in the European parliament.

It now holds two more seats than Labour and is hoping to poll similarly in a general election.

But the chances of these hopes becoming a reality are slim to none.

Although Labour has been trounced in the polls, UKIP have a niche message for the European elections -pushing for Britain to leave the European Union.

It has cashed in on the disillusionment with Labour and the low turnout in the elections, as well as the

anti-establishment feeling fuelled by the MPs’ expenses scandal.

While many people who voted for UKIP want to give the main parties a shock, it can never be a progressive force for ordinary people.

While it claims to be a “libertarian, non-racist Eurosceptic party”, UKIP feeds off the right wing campaigns pumped out by the tabloids over Europe, asylum, law and order, and taxation.

Its politics are right wing and its position on immigration is racist to the core.

While UKIP is not a Nazi party like the BNP it is not “barrier” to fascism.

Much of its vote came from people lashing out at the mainstream parties rather than a firm commitment to hard right policies.

Many ordinary people do feel that Europe is bureaucratic and undemocratic.

It is the failure of an anti-establishment left alternative to emerge that has essentially led to UKIP’s popularity.

Regardless of the strength UKIP does or doesn’t have on the ground, one thing is clear- its presence in second place in the polls will make Gordon Brown’s bad week all the worse.

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