Newly-elected ukip MP Mark Reckless let the cat out of the bag last week when he revealed Ukip policy to repatriate migrants.
Reckless said if Britain left the European Union, European migrants could be thrown out.
He was quick to declare he didn’t like the idea. And party leader Nigel Farage claimed Reckless had got it “wrong”.
Yet for all Farage’s bluster, it’s clear that Ukip sees migrants as an enemy.
We must resist racism—from Ukip and the mainstream parties.
The problem facing ordinary people in Britain is austerity, not migrants.
Tory defector Mark Reckless became Ukip’s second MP last week—just days after letting slip the party’s policy to deport settled European migrants.
Reckless won over 42 percent of the vote in a by-election in Rochester and Strood, Kent, on Thursday of last week.
Support for the mainstream parties nosedived. The Tories came second with 35 percent and Labour won just 17 percent.
The Lib Dems achieved their lowest ever vote in a by-election with just 0.9 percent. The Greens pushed them into fourth place.
Steve Wilkins is secretary of Medway trades council and has been organising against Ukip in Rochester and Strood. He told Socialist Worker, “The main parties are deluding themselves about how they did in the by-election. But their performance was pretty poor.
“Labour’s candidate came across as a career politician. The Tory candidate pandered to the worst of Ukip’s racism.”
The Tories tried to console themselves with the thought that they hadn’t been completely smashed. But this was a major defeat for them.
The Tories threw everything at trying to win. David Cameron visited the constituency five times during the by-election campaign.
Yet Labour’s crisis dominated the headlines in the aftermath of the by-election (see below).
Douglas Carswell, who became Ukip’s first MP last month, denounced Labour for being “no longer in touch with working people”.
That’s true. But many workers are clear that Ukip doesn’t stand for them either.
Mick Bowman is a Unison union and Labour Party activist in Newcastle. He told Socialist Worker, “Ukip is a profoundly anti-working class party. You just have to scratch the surface to see that. All their leaders have been ex-Tories, business people who have gone to public schools.
“They believe in free market capitalism, neoliberalism and deregulation. They’ve got no interest in protecting the working class.”
The blame for the rise of Ukip lies with mainstream politicians.
Labour and the Tories are in competition over who can be the nastiest over immigration. They have made anti-migrant racism seem more acceptable—and Ukip has reaped the benefit.
Mick said hearing Labour demonise migrants made him “despair”.
“Labour has talked about making the immigration system more draconian such as restricting benefits for migrants,” he said. “It’s so stupid. It’s alienating Labour’s core supporters.”
Mick said trade unionists have a big role to play in combating Ukip—and Labour should expose Ukip rather than pander to it.
“They should expose Ukip’s lies,” he said. “But much more profoundly Labour should give people a real alternative to austerity.”
Last week started with Labour leader Ed Miliband having to defend the “mansion tax” to the celebrity Myleene Klass. It ended with him asserting the right of people to fly England flags.
Asked what he thought when he saw a white van outside a house with flags, Miliband responded, “What goes through my mind is respect. Respect is the basic rule of politics.”
This nonsense was brought about because Emily Thornberry resigned after tweeting a photo.
She claimed to have never before seen “anything like” the house bedecked with England flags, outside which was parked a white panel van.
Thornberry emerged from her town house—worth at least £3 million and therefore liable for the potential mansion tax—to say, “It appears that I got it wrong. I made a mistake.”
One helpful Labour source told the press, “This is an Emily Thornberry special. She’s known as a classic ‘suck up, kick down’ politician, and found she had no friends to defend her following her bizarre behaviour.”
Former social security minister Frank Field was predictably saying that the party needed to offer “something really dramatic on immigration”.
The spat was characterised as a clash between Labour’s “beer drinkers” and “wine drinkers”.
That in itself says a lot about how much of the Labour Party views the world.
In the odd world of current Labour thinking, the right wing of the party thinks it’s important to be pro-immigration because it is good for business.
The other side of the party thinks the way to get working class votes, or “re-engage with the grassroots” as they put it, means moving to the right on immigration.
So in Rochester they gave up on the campaign. Some because they wanted the Tories to lose to Ukip. Others because they don’t think they can convince anyone of anything.
Unfortunately, the main lesson Labour has again drawn is to compete with the racists of Ukip by being tougher on immigration.
So shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper promised 1,000 extra border guards. This was followed by an article for the Daily Mail by shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves, arguing for cutting migrants’ benefits.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage declared that the result in Rochester and Strood showed that Ukip could win anywhere.
“All bets are off,” he said, referring to next year’s general election. “The whole thing’s up in the air.”
Ukip made much of the fact that Rochester was 271 on its list of target seats.
Mark Reckless claimed that Ukip would secure many more MPs in the general election.
But opinion polls suggest otherwise.
One opinion poll by Lord Ashcroft asked people in Rochester and Strood 10 days before the by-election how they would vote in the general election.
Over a fifth of Ukip voters either said they didn’t know or that they would vote Tory.
Not everyone who voted Ukip in Rochester and Strood is a hardened racist.
Many people in the constituency said they were voting Ukip because they were sick of the mainstream parties.
But Ukip’s victory will have given a boost to racists across Britain.
The Stand up to Ukip campaign is organising opposition to Ukip. It was set to hold a national activists’ meeting in central London this Sunday. The meeting takes place from 2 until 5pm.
Jo Cardwell from Stand Up to Ukip said, “We have plans for national days of action where we will show Ukip as a party that panders to racism, sexism and homophobia.”
The campaign has also called a protest at Ukip’s Welsh conference in Port Talbot on Saturday 6 December. Unison Wales is backing the protest.
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