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The threat of Ukip grows – but so does opposition to it

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Politicians turn on Ukip but pander to its key argument of scapegoating migrant workers, reports Judith Orr
Issue 2402

New polls put Ukip in the lead in the European elections, beating Labour by at least two points at 29 percent.  

The figures come two weeks after the launch of Ukip’s European election campaign. 

This included hundreds of racist billboard adverts that show immigrants as the problem facing those looking for jobs.

Many mainstream politicians have called Ukip racist recently. Anti-racist campaigners labelled it a populist, racist party from the start. Such campaigning has had an impact. 

The latest polls show that 29 percent of those asked believed that Ukip had “racist views” and “many racist members and supporters”. 

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has tried to escape the racist label. He claims he will reveal that Ukip has many ethnic minority candidates standing in the local elections. 

And he has distanced himself from those candidates whose outbursts have embarrassed the party.

Farage wants to continue to peddle anti-immigrant views under the veil of standing up for ordinary people against the establishment. 

But Farage is a millionaire ex banker whose policies are extreme Tory.


Far from being an alternative to the political elites that people rightly hate, he is a product of them. He will pursue their interests against the working class.

Mainstream politicians face a problem when confronting the rise of Ukip as an electoral challenge.

They may denounce it as racist but they don’t challenge Ukip’s anti-immigration position.

The Tories, alongside their coalition allies the Liberal Democrats, have openly pursued anti-immigrant propaganda and policies. 

In turn Labour has gone out of its way to say it should have been harder on immigration levels when it was in government. It was Gordon Brown who called for “British jobs for British workers”. 

So Labour and some of the left confine themselves to exposing Ukip’s anti-working class policies or most toxic candidates to avoid confronting its anti-immigrant bigotry.

But on its own this is not enough.

Scapegoating migrants has become the political consensus and Ukip is the main beneficiary. 

Some opposition is symbolic. Ukip had its Freepost address shut down after being sent everything from bricks to human shit at its own expense. But it will take a lot more to undercut Ukip’s appeal—and its long term plan.

The party hopes that an easy victory this May can pave the way for the harder task of breaking into Westminster next May. 

That’s why Farage won’t stand as an MP in the newly vacant seat of disgraced Tory Patrick Mercer. 

We urgently need to build protests against Ukip now. But we also have to build an anti-racist core in the working class and an alternative to Ukip’s scapegoating and anti-working class agenda. 

Anti-racists hound Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage is feeling the heat as he faces opposition wherever he goes. In Swansea a protest forced him to suspend a walkabout and escape back into his car last week.

After protests in Bath a landlord told Farage he and his “henchmen” were not welcome to do a husting in his pub.

Anti-Ukip protests in Sheffield and Portsmouth have also shown the possibility of building public opposition in the streets.

Ukip is not a fascist party so it is not a matter of trying to deny it a platform to speak. 

But campaigning everywhere Farage goes can help make him and his party toxic. 

That means protests when he tries to do walkabouts and rallies as well as leafleting in town centres where Ukip is standing. We need to oppose his racism and to explain what Ukip really stands for. 

Farage has so far managed to maintain the fiction that he is an anti-establishment outsider. That can seem like an alternative to people rightly sick of austerity imposed by well paid politicians.

The Stand Up to Ukip campaign has printed tens of thousands of leaflets to counter the lies. More protests are planned at Farage’s visits to London and Edinburgh this week—and a national day of action on Saturday of this week.

More bigoted supporters exposed

The more Ukip comes under scrutiny the more the reality of their support is exposed.

In only the latest example last week Ukip was forced to suspend council election candidate Harry Perry for his comments on Twitter.

Perry called David Cameron a “gay-loving nutcase”, Muslims “devil’s kids” and homosexuality “an abomination before God”.

Farage also had to admit there was a problem with comments made by Demetri Marchessini, Greek millionaire and Ukip donor.

Marchessini said that there is “no such thing” as rape within marriage and that gay relations are based on “lust, not love”.

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