You are viewing blog items for March 2013.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 26 March 2013, 07:52
As politicians battle it out to appear the thoughest on immigration and the access to benefits migrants are entitled to, HOPE not hate would like to hear from the people being targeted. We are looking to compile a series of short articles and comments from migrant workers, overseas students and newly arrived immigrants about what they feel when the read the British press and hear our politicians? We want to know whether they feel that they are being unfairly picked on and scapegoated or whether they believe that the politicians have a fair point?
We would like to know whether the current deluge of anti-migrant articles and speeches is altering how people treat them on the street and whether they think it will put future migrants off coming to the UK.
Either way, we want to hear what they think.
Please send your comment or short article to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 26 Mar 2013 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 24 March 2013, 19:51
Today’s newspapers made unpleasant reading for all HOPE not hate supporter. With the exception of The Observer, almost every newspaper carried a story attacking migrants or reporting on politicians attacking migrants.
News that David Cameron was going to prevent migrants from accessing social housing for several years made front page news on the Sunday Express and the Sunday Telegraph. The Sun ran it on page two and the Mail might have also put it on the front page if it hadn’t been for the awful weather. Even the Labour-leaning Sunday People got in on the act, with the second page headline ‘Purge on handouts’. Cameron’s intended speech tomorrow also made The Independent, which, on page eight, ran a story entitled ‘‘New migrants will not get free housing, warns Cameron’.
Not content with trying to blame migrants for the housing crisis in this country or portraying them – inaccurately – as benefit scroungers, the newspapers are targeting overseas students too. Following Nick Clegg’s declaration on Friday that he wanted to to bring in the Australian-style deposits of £1,000 or more for visitors from “high risk” countries, to be repaid when they leave the UK, the Sunday Telegraph ran a whole page investigation into students who stay on in the UK after they have finished their studies.
Only the Observer and the Daily Mirror really bucked the trend. In reporting on Cameron’s plans for a housing ban, the Mirror said that this had the hallmarks of their new election guru Lyton Crosby. The Observer, meanwhile, carried an interview with the Bishop of Dudley, David Walker, who attacked the way politicians are exaggerating the negative impact of immigration, which he says is ‘wholly disproportionate’ to the real threat. The Bishop of Dudley, David Walker: ‘Public fears around immigration are like fears around crime. They bear little relationship to the actual reality’.
The Bishop of Dudley has been a beacon of decency in the media today and gave an excellent interview to the BBC. But he was the exception.
This shrill and negative coverage of immigration is only going to get worse unless good people stand up against it. UKIP are in buoyant mood and know that hammering on about the threat of Eastern European immigration is a vote winner for themselves. If the other parties believe that by playing tough on immigration they will neutralise their threat, they are sadly mistaken. In fact, quite the reverse will happen. By following UKIP down the scapegoating line they only reinforce UKIP’s message and give then added legitimacy.
What's needed are politicians to stand up to this anti-immigrant rhetoric. They need to offer an alternative Britain from that offered by right wing politicians and give real answers to the lack of social housing and the economic hardship so many people are facing. Will they rise to this challenge or simply follow behind Pied Piper Farage and his anti-immigrant caravan? I guess time will tell.
Posted: 24 Mar 2013 | There are 4 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 March 2013, 11:15
We have had so many responses about whether or not to campaign against UKIP that I thought I would share a few more of your views. As well as nearly 1000 email replies we have received hundreds of Facebook and Twitter messages from activists and supporters all over the country. Here are just some examples that broadly sum up the different opinions you have sent in:
Joe: “I think it would be wrong for HNH to move from it's anti-fascist remit and start officially campaigning against UKIP. The party does have anti-immigration as one of their top policies but this is to be debated vigorously but not to be given the pariah status worthy of fascist parties.”
Samuel: “We might not like some of UKIP's policies but they are not a fascist or far right party”
Subhashis: “I think you should stick to tackling racial and cultural hatred of specific groups, not towards groups that oppose mass immigration per se. The former is pure unadulterated hatred, the latter is a reasoned argument.”
Lucia: “If Hope not Hate wants to continue to celebrate our diverse society then opposing UKIP does come under it's remit.”
Michael: “Hope not Hate's sophisticated approach - recognising the reasons people respond to anti-immigration political messages - is badly needed to tackle the rise of a party with such populist appeal as UKIP.”
However, from the comments that I have managed to read so far it seems that the majority of responses are calling for HOPE not hate to campaign against any UKIP candidates who is found to be racist or extreme but not to target the whole party. A good example of this opinion came in from Kevni who said,
“I have indicated Yes but really wanted to put "yes but no" as I think the key is to campaign not against UKIP but against those policy statements/member speeches etc which are blatantly at odds with the aims of Hope not Hate.”
Another example is Aimee who replied saying,
“I think HnH should be opposing UKIP candidates who campaign on an anti-immigration platform but ignore those who are focussed on a referendum on the EU. In a democracy we have to allow for different viewpoints but there should be no room for racism or discrimination against migrant workers.”
There is still plenty of time for you send us your thoughts:
While there is some disagreement over this question one theme has come through loud and clear from all supporters which is well summed up by Bob who said,
“Any form of racism should be fought from whatever quarter it comes.”
Thanks so much for all your responses. It’s going to take us some time to read them all but we will get back to you soon!
Posted: 15 Mar 2013 | There are 24 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 14 March 2013, 15:32
John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw and Chair of the All Party Group Against Antisemitism writes for HOPE not hate about antisemitism and the political response:
Earlier this week, the news broke that Lord Ahmed had been suspended from the Labour Party over reported comments about a Jewish conspiracy. He is alleged to have blamed a shadowy, media controlling Jewish cabal for pressurising the courts to convict him for dangerous driving. If true, this sorry tale serves as a reminder that classic antisemitism remains as alive in political discourse as it does in wider civil society. However, the tale was somewhat bittersweet as it added to a narrative of increasingly bold political leadership when routing out Jew hatred.
As chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, I have been working with colleagues of all parties, trying to ensure that we take responsibility for misconduct under our own roof. There have been Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs who have taken action when individuals have employed a discourse of antisemitism. This is to their credit. Tom Brake and Mike Freer have both been outspoken when incidents occurred in their own parties.
For Labour, the message seems to be taking root. It is the right approach to take swift, decisive measures at the top. When Paul Flynn questioned the propriety of the UK having a Jewish ambassador to Israel, he was called in to see the party leadership and he later apologised. If anything can be salvaged from the mishandling of the David Ward incident, it is perhaps that the issue was tackled from the top with the appropriate level of seriousness.
There are two things we must do to ensure this continues. Firstly, support those taking action. The parties are starting to understand that antisemitic discourse must be treated robustly. I have written to Ed Miliband to express my support for his stance and I would encourage readers of this blog to support political leaders taking action against antisemitism.
Second, we must continue to educate about the history and evolving nature of antisemitism. We have been working with the CST on a party by party basis to educate MPs and Peers. In their blog, the CST noted that stories about “Zionist” media control often passes as legitimate comment within certain leftist and mainstream circles today. Classic antisemitism is easy to root out, modern antisemitism is more difficult. As politicians, we should be establishing the lines of acceptable discourse, leading by example, not setting a bad one.
I expect to see a speedy investigation into Lord Ahmed’s reported comments and appropriate punishment if the allegations are proven. I will continue to work towards a policy of zero tolerance for antisemitism in politics and will support those that are turning that policy into a reality.
Posted: 14 Mar 2013 | There are 7 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 14 March 2013, 14:38
The response to our call earlier today for your views on whether we should campaign against UKIP has been amazing. Here is another selection of the responses so far. (Don’t worry if you don’t see yours, we are reading every comment!)
“Hope not Hates focus should be on the BNP not UKIP, keep your attentions where it should be!”
“Given that UKIP are a democratic, non-racist, non-fascist party then to oppose them is wrong. […] It is targeting a party for its politics and moving away from the core essence of Hope Not Hate - opposing racism and fascism wherever it is.”
“UKIP have a right to their views and to campaign. Hope not Hate have a right and responsibility to oppose them.”
Bit of both?
“I have voted yes with reservations. I do not think we should have a blanket opposition to UKIP. I think we should look at things on a case-by case basis. Where they advocate racist policies we should oppose them, otherwise we should leave them alone.”
“I think that the best way to negotiate this would be to not campaign against the party per se, but to be keeping a strong eye out for racist or otherwise offensive material coming from it or its members.”
“I think that we have to accept that UKIP are a developing democratic party and we must hold them to account for their views, challenging them where they are racist or accommodating racists in their number.”
“I don't think HNH should campaign against UKIP as a party but should campaign against any UKIP tendency to be racist, extremist or against multiculturalism. It's a fine line to tread.”
Lots of people have said yes and lots of people have said no. However, perhaps the largest trend so far is people saying that we should campaign against racists whatever party they are in. It seems that most people believe that we should target any racists we find in UKIP rather than a blanket view towards the whole party.
Do you agree? Let us know:
Posted: 14 Mar 2013 | There are 7 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 14 March 2013, 11:05
This morning we sent out an email to all our supporters asking whether or not the HOPE not hate campaign should target the UK Independence Party (UKIP). We have already had an amazing response with hundreds of replies. While we will read ever-single response we can’t put them all on the blog but here is a flavour of what has already been sent in:
Should we target UKIP?
“I am an Indian immigrant and have live in the UK for over 40 years. There is a genuine concern about immigration amongst even former immigrants, and you should listen to these. […] UKIP have a valid argument which many 'ordinary' people, including myself, feel must be debated and addressed.”
“You should not get distracted from your mission to oppose fascism and fascist parties.”
“I don't think they fall within the remit of HOPE's campaigning. As you said they are a democratic organisation, and haven't got the amount of violence behind them as BNP and EDL do. If HOPE starts campaigning against UKIP then it risks just being seen as a generic anti-right wing campaign group, as opposed to a group specifically focussed on anti-racism and anti-fascism.”
“Based you Hope Not Hate's own name and tagline, UKIP should be a target. They are still spreading hate and using fear (and misinformation) to gain political traction. No, they're not a fascist organisation, but they are just as dangerous to the fabric of British society.”
“Based on the evidence you have shown, I think you should oppose UKIP, racism is racism after all.”
Bit of Both?
As well as straight yes or no answers many people are calling for a more nuanced approach that only targets UKIP members who we perceive as too extreme. For example:
“The campaign must be more nuanced. We must campaign against those policies, actions or associations with other organisations, which fall, within our remit.”
Keep the replies coming in and we will be putting up more of your opinions throughout the day. This is an important issue and we want to know what you think!
You can let us know your view here:
Posted: 14 Mar 2013 | There are 11 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 14 March 2013, 10:07
UK Independence Party (UKIP) are surging. Following their strong second place in the recent Eastleigh by-election, UKIP are now riding high in the polls. According to Sunday's Observer they are now at 17%, more than double that of the Liberal Democrats and only 10 points behind the Conservatives.
And their support is only likely to grow. They could even top the polls in next year's European Elections.
So how should HOPE not hate respond? I want to hear your views
UKIP has not been on our radar. It is not a fascist party and it cannot even be considered a far right party. It might be right wing but it is embedded to the democratic system and largely been focused on the single issue of opposition to the European Union.
But perhaps things are changing. UKIP is growing on the back of increasingly hostile rhetoric over immigration. Nationally, it is whipping up racist scare stories, such as the nonsense that four million Bulgarians, out of a population of just seven million, could head to the UK next year. Locally, some of its branches put out material far more extreme than most BNP material. It's London MEP Gerald Batten is heavily involved in the anti-Muslim 'Counter-Jihad' movement and the party is in an alliance with right wing extremists in the European Parliament.
So is it time that HOPE not hate opposes UKIP or should we just stick to fighting groups like the BNP? Please tell me what you think
I really don't know what we should do. As an anti-fascist, UKIP is outside my remit. As an anti-racist, UKIP spells real trouble and will undoubtably toxify the body politic even more.
Can we really celebrate BNP leader Nick Griffin losing his European seat next year if UKIP top the poll on an anti-immigrant platform and push the other mainstream parties to the right?
HOPE not hate is opening a discussion about what we should do about UKIP. We have created a mini-site on our website with various background notes and interesting articles to help the debate.
HOPE not has always been about building a grassroots movement to oppose extremism and now we want you to help shape our future direction. Please spare just a couple of minutes to tell us how you think we should respond to UKIP.
Posted: 14 Mar 2013 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 10 March 2013, 18:30
Hope not hate supporters were back out on the streets of Harold Hill today to campaign against the BNP in the up coming council elections. Last week BNP bullyboys unsuccessfully tried to intimidate activist, many of who were locals, with threatening and provocative behaviour. Their aim was to leave their message of hate and division unchallenged. Well, they didn’t manage to stop us last week and they didn’t again today.
Over 42,000 people have viewed the videos of the BNP’s disgusting behaviour and HOPE not hate has been inundated with messages of support all week. So many local people were determined to show that the BNP could not silence our message of hope with violence and intimidation. With a group out yesterday and several more today over 2300 leaflets have been delivered this weekend showing the BNP up for what they really are.
Today was a great example of the determination and bravery communities can show and despite the efforts of the BNP we once again showed that there are no no-go areas for HOPE not hate.
Posted: 10 Mar 2013 | There are 7 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 8 March 2013, 10:46
The new issue of HOPE not hate is now out. 48 pages of news, views and interviews.
You can buy your copy here:
Posted: 8 Mar 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 8 March 2013, 06:20
This has been quite a crazy week for the HOPE not hate team. What began as a routine leafleting session in east London turned into a major news and campaigning event. Over 42,000 people viewed the two videos of the BNP/EDL thuggery that we embedded into our two emails and for many it was a timely reminder of the nasty side of fascism.
Our messages have been retweeted to several million people.
Due to the widespread disgust at these bully boy tactics over 300 people have donated a total of £4,810 towards our campaign fund. This means that in addition to our tabloid newspapers, which will be distributed in our key areas and are sponsored by the National Union of Teachers, we will also be able to print the hundreds of thousands of leaflets we need to oppose the BNP and the fledging British Democratic Party, wherever they stand.
More importantly, we have been inundated with messages of support and offers of help. Most encouragingly have been the offers from people living in Havering and as a result we have already had leafleters back in the Gooshays ward.
The thuggery by the BNP and remnants of the EDL is reflective of their declining power. When they thought there was a parliamentary road to fascism they were suited and booted and attempted to look respectable. Now they are declining at the ballot box their true behaviour is publicly returning. Unfortunately, we are likely to see even more of this thuggery as a combination of successful anti-fascist campaigning, better political party response and UKIP further erode support. And while it is unpleasant to be on the receiving end of the abuse, threats and bullyboy tactics we are at least comforted by the knowledge that it is the act of losers.
So a big thank you to the hundreds of people who have contacted us this week, to the 300 who have donated and to the many new people who have promised to join our campaign activities over the few months.
Posted: 8 Mar 2013 | There are 4 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 7 March 2013, 12:10
The latest edition of HOPE not hate is now out. 48 pages of news, views and interviews.
We lead on UKIP and ask the question whether it is time that HOPE not hate campaigns against this populist right wing party. While UKIP is not a fascist or even traditional far right party, it is increasingly an anti-immigration party and as we saw so vividly in recent weeks is whipping up racist scaremongering in order to win votes. Some of the material its local groups distribute are actually more extreme than that put out by the BNP.
Anyway, this latest issue begins a conversation we intend to have with our supporters over the next few weeks.
Other highlights in the magazine are inside accounts of the launch of the British Democratic Party and the recent BNP Organisers' meeting.
We have an excellent article by Peter Kreko on the rise of Jobbik in Hungary; a brief summary of the link up between HOPE not hate and the Digital Methods Initiative at Amsterdam University to study the 'Counter-Jihad' movement and a really interesting article by Raffaello Pantucci, of the Royal United Services Institute, on the implications of the recent terrorist convictions of three men from Birmingham.
Dave Porter investigates the appalling conditions many migrant and undocumented people are forced to live in and Owen Jones gives an update on the Forgotten Estates campaign in Leciester.
The recent Carlos Saavedra tour is covered in detail and there is a profile of Sajda Mughal, the only known Muslim survivor of the 7/7 bombings, who gave up her job in the city to work to bring communities together.
You can get a copy here:
Posted: 7 Mar 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 7 March 2013, 09:15
Yesterday Ed Miliband made another step in reframing Labour’s position on immigration. Admitting Labour got it wrong in allowing too many unskilled migrants into the UK during its time in office, he also sought to focus on unscrupulous employers and lax and unenforced laws. In this, he was trying to walk a very thin tightrope between being seen to be tough on immigration while protecting the vulnerable.
I understand what Ed was trying to do, just as I understand the difficult position he finds himself in. There are a lot of people in Britain who are nervous about immigration, the impact on their economic well-being and the changing face of the country. Some of these people are clearly racist and will object to any non-white immigration at all. Others are not racist and their concerns have to be understood.
In 2011, HOPE not hate conducted a survey of attitudes to race, immigration and identity. With more then 5,000 people asked over 90 questions, the Fear and HOPE report was one of the largest survey’s on this issue. It found that 23% of the population were bitterly opposed to immigration and multiculturalism. It found an even bigger number, 28%, were more relaxed about immigration and multiculturalism but concerned over future immigration for economic reasons.
We called this group 'Identity Ambivalents' and it consisted of mainly Labour voters, public sector workers and the majority of Britain’s BME population.
My concern about Ed’s new video is not that he is talking about immigration or even trying to address people’s concerns, but rather that he is answering the wrong questions.
Labour now admits that too many unskilled migrants entered the country over the last ten years but could a Labour Government really limit the numbers? Most of the unskilled migrants come from A8 countries so there is actually nothing Labour could have done about this. They could have possibly blocked their arrival for another year or two but given our membership of the EU this would only have been a temporary measure.
Ed quite rightly talks about enforcing the minimum wage and improving the rights of workers and it is one of the huge failings of Labour in Government that they created such a flexible and unregulated labour market that people – migrants and non-migrants alike – could be exploited so easily.
But by linking improvements in working conditions so obviously to reducing immigration it both frames the debate as immigrants are a problem and undermines a wider, and much more positive, case for better conditions for all.
Our Fear and HOPE report found that economic pessimism was the key driver for fear. The less people saw a future for themselves and their children the more they resented newcomers.
This economic pessimism, reinforced with the sense that they are losers in this globalised world, quickly develops a cultural narrative and racist scapegoating emerges. It is no coincidence that the bulk of areas that saw strong BNP votes were those one-industry towns and communities which were on the decline. Barking and Dagenham, based around a once dominant car plant, the former mining communities of South and West Yorkshire, the east Midlands and the North East and the east Lancashire old mill towns. Towns which were declining economically and where there was little hope in the future.
Labour is never going to win an immigration debate by focusing solely on immigration and talk of numbers. Firstly, after record numbers of immigrants during thirteen years in office they are not going to be believed. Secondly, they end up making unachievable promises and so this will only reinforces distrust in them. Thirdly, talking up the problem of immigration will alienate many of their own voters, including the more progressive Liberal Democrats who have switched party allegiance since 2010 and who Labour need if it is to win the next election.
Finally, and most importantly, they risk answering the wrong question. If economic pessimism is the key driver, intertwined as it is with cultural anxieties of a changing world, then the answer is convincing the electorate that Labour can offer a better tomorrow for all the people of Britain, especially those who feel they are losing out from globalisation and deindustrialisation.
The immigration debate is going to become even more toxic over the next eighteen months. With UKIP surging in the polls and likely to come first in next year’s European elections, and the media already beginning their racist attacks on Bulgarians and Romanians, Labour has a choice. Do they follow the Conservatives in drifting to the right in the hope of choking off UKIP support or do they offer a positive, more progressive alternative that deals with concerns over immigration but in a much wider context than they are doing currently? A wider context that involves a better economic future, restoring faith and trust in politicians and making democracy work for and involve people.
People in Guilford don’t vote BNP. The people in communities where hope is lost did.
Posted: 7 Mar 2013 | There are 6 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 5 March 2013, 21:00
We have been inundated with messages of support since we put up the two videos of the fascist bully boy antics in Harold Hill on Sunday. People have been particularly shocked by the disgusting abuse directed at two of our activists.
I, like everyone else who has watched the video, felt sick at the bullying of this couple. Fifteen onto two sums up these cowards.
Today we called on our supporters to channel their anger by getting even. We asked them to help us raise £3,000 to pay for 200,000 leaflets so we could oppose the BNP in every ward they will be standing in May.
I'm delighted to say that we have already raised £2,465. We need just another £535 to reach our target. It would be great if we could reach that tomorrow.
You can donate here:
Tomorrow we will also be encouraging our supporters to complain to the police to ensure that they take action, but more of that then. In the meantime, please do help us raise the £535 we need.
Posted: 5 Mar 2013 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 4 March 2013, 16:58
I would like to pass on my gratitude to the hundreds of people who have sent messages of support to us since we released the footage of the BNP/EDL thuggery directed against us yesterday. Some have been quite personal and touching; all have been outraged at the intimidation and threats issued against us.
That we carried on campaigning despite this intimidation has also been commended.
The more I have thought about yesterday the angrier I have become. How can supporters of a political party act in such a way? How can they try to silence opposition in an election?
Fortunately many of the people who confronted us aren't very clever. By posting up their own videos of the intimidation, posing for a group photo and so publicly issuing threats they have given us all the evidence we needed to take this further.
And this is now what we are going to do.
We have collated all the evidence available. We have identified all the people responsible. We have listed the intimidation and threats of violence. We have even collected all the libellous and illegal leaflets they have issued. And now we are going to pass it all over to the police and election returning officer and demand they take action.
We live in a democracy and we have the right to campaign in elections freely without fear of intimidation, violence and slander.
What is worse is that BNP leader Nick Griffin has today applauded the thuggish activities of his supporters on twitter. My blood is boiling.
The fascist thugs of the BNP and the EDL splinter group, the South East Alliance, thought they were clever by threatening us yesterday. They thought they were even funnier by posting the clips on YouTube. Well, we are determined to have the last laugh.
Posted: 4 Mar 2013 | There are 16 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 3 March 2013, 22:19
Earlier today HOPE not hate held a leafleting session in Gooshays ward in Havering. We were met at Harold Wood station by a gang of 15 BNP and former EDL thugs, led by Paul Pitt.They threatened our bullied people arriving and told us all to leave the area. We ignored their threats and carried on with our leafleting regardless. HOPE won over hate again. Here's a video we made of today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qj9HXtpR74
Posted: 3 Mar 2013 | There are 9 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 1 March 2013, 09:26
UKIP’s second place in the Eastleigh by-election is sending shockwaves through the British political establishment. Their 27% of the vote follows on from the 22% they polled in Rotherham and the 14.3% they received in Corby. In opinion polls they are battling for third place with the Liberal Democrats, with their popularity fluctuating between 9-12%.
What makes the Eastleigh result even more troubling for the Conservative Party is that they ran a right wing campaign, with tough messages on Europe and immigration, precisely to try to limit the UKIP vote. As Tim Montgomery outlined on Conservative Home yesterday:
“So much of the Tory campaign [in Eastleigh] has been about stopping UKIP. Our literature in the campaign has been very old school. It's focused on Europe, immigration, welfare and opposition to new housing developments. Our popular local candidate, Maria Hutchings, is almost a UKIP candidate with, for example, her support for leaving the EU and her opposition to gay marriage. She is certainly something of a test case for the idea that you beat UKIP with a more Ukippy message and more Ukippy candidates. I wish her luck today. She'd make a good MP for local people. Conservative HQ have been using the campaign to research anti-UKIP messages.”
So where will the Conservatives go now? Will they decide that this strategy to undermine UKIP does not work so they should stick to focusing on the centre ground of British politics or will they lurch even more to the Right? With the European Elections fast approaching, and UKIP in with a great chance of coming first, my guess is that they will move rightwards.
And this will certainly be the desire of many of their MPs and members.
And what about Labour? Despite their concerns over how voters view them on immigration there have been encouraging signs that Ed Miliband has been resisting lurching to the right. Certainly, his speech on immigration and integration last December was substantially more progressive than his earlier speech last June. Britain is changing fast and it appeared that Labour was positioning itself to be the progressive party.
However, Labour’s poor vote is already unnerving some in the party. John Denham, Ed Miliband's parliamentary private secretary and the man charged with getting Labour into a position to win seats in the south of England, has been quoted in today’s Guardian as saying that UkIP’s success showed that immigration was a "serious issue for many voters".
"People were concerned about migration. We've got to continue to talk about how we tackle those issues. At the moment not all voters are hearing what we're saying.”
And with the political discourse over immigration and migration becoming increasingly toxic over the next eighteen months it is hard to believe that Labour will feel pressurised into also shifting to the right.
UKIP’s growing support is also a disaster for the BNP and the plethora of other miniscule groups on the British far right. While they violently squabble amongst themselves they are becoming increasingly irrelevant, at least in the short-term. But as the electoral path closes we are likely to see them focus more on street activity and provocative actions to divide communities and whip up hatred.
The one winner from UKIP’s surge might just be the Liberal Democrats. They are unlikely to shift to the right on immigration and migration and while they have lost a lot of their more progressive support because of their involvement in the Coalition they might just win some of this back if they alone stand firm and reject a lurch to the right, especially if Labour start talking tough on immigration.
UKIP are here to stay and we all need to start getting used to that and prepare accordingly. While they are best identified with their opposition to membership of the European Union, they are now also Britain’s main anti-immigration party and tap into the growing disillusionment with mainstream party politics.
The European Elections, coming just six months after Romanians and Bulgarians are given the right to work in the UK, will offer UKIP a chance to top the poll and, coming just 11 months before a general election will send shockwaves through the Conservative Party. Before then they are likely to make a serious impact on May’s county council elections, with party leader Nigel Farage already boasting of standing 2,000 candidates. While UKIP will probably struggle to make gains in the 2015 General Elections, when our electoral system and the focus on who runs the Government makes it a two-horse race, their success between now and then is likely to shift the centre of political gravity to the right.
The question is how the political parties create? Tougher messages on immigration and migration will please many voters but it will also put off others. This is as much a challenge for Labour as it is the Conservatives and it could just provide an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to win back some of their more progressive supporters.
Posted: 1 Mar 2013 | There are 11 comments | make a comment/view comments