Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Time for the left to take on Ukip

Ukip won't go away. Nigel Farage in the wake of the Godfrey Bloom "women are sluts" furore is making Ukip toe the party line. For the past few years Labour have watched from the sidelines, delighted that Ukip are taking voters away from the Tories, thus splitting the Tory vote open.

But watching from the sidelines has to stop. Step into the street and never has a party with a perceived 1 policy only - immigration control- been so popular among working class traditional Labour voters. This can't happen think the Labour hierarchy. How can working class socialists turn full circle and vote in the opposite right wing direction? Well I could tell Ed Miliband why in a heartbeat. Labour are ignoring their traditional core working class voters at their peril. Sidestepping thorny issues on social security in order to woo the middle class vote has made us working class people feel cast to one side. Labour are directing many policies towards the middle class such as increasing childcare to 25 hours a week for 3 and 4 year olds and providing wraparound 8am-6pm primary school care. While this is to be lauded, it should not come at the expense of ignoring issues that matter to the working class.

On the issue of immigration and integration, Labour cannot pretend some things are not happening. Step foot into some factories as a young 18-25 year old, working class British male employed by an agency. My son works in one. Last year he was sent to a factory that was dominated by one Eastern European race from managers to staff. The British workers were in a minority. The hostility shown to my son over the course of a few days was intense. Only due to the fact the factory kept asking him to turn up daily then telling him there was no work available, meant he left entirely and found a better factory job elsewhere. Ukip, using their one policy mantra are appealing to young workers like my son by simply saying they will stop immigration or send foreign workers back to their homelands. Labour should be looking at the entire concept going on in these factories: zero hours contracts, agency staff, working conditions, racial integration. That little package is why some factories are powder kegs that could ignite at anytime. Young working class men and women aren't bothered what other policies Ukip stand for in these circumstances,as long as Ukip keep repeating they will stop immigrants "taking British jobs". Likewise older workers who have been lifelong Labour voters think Nigel Farage and his "blokeiness" image of  being down the pub with a fag and a pint appeals to them. This is simply because they are unable to recognise a Labour Party and cabinet full of middle class suits, posh voices and lives not remotely connected to the workers on the factory floor.

Sure the working class hear the occasional bit of policy like the scrapping of the Bedroom Tax coming from Labour: but these are the "scraps from the table" and the odd exception. Not a backbone raft of policies that will appeal directly to the working class and make us feel proud to be Labour voters.

What is needed by Labour is a full headlong attack on Ukip. Point out Ukips policy on the very rights trades unions have spent a hundred years fighting for! For example Ukip want to see the public sector jobs dissolve entirely and be privatised completely. The result being thousands will lose their jobs and hard fought for rights, to be replaced by some private company to pay low wages and make maximum profits for themselves. And women how will we fare under Ukip? Well forget maternity pay for a start! Ukip think businesses should not have to pay for pregnant women while they take time off to have a baby. A leading Ukip campaigner Alexandra Swann has resigned from the party recently after not being able to take the party's rhetoric on immigration and anti-gay marriage. She was concerned Ukip were not campaigning on immigration due to an immigrants skill level, but campaigning against immigration generally. Marta Andreason the Ukip MEP threatened to leave the party as Farage thinks "women should be in the kitchen or the bedroom".

Ukip want to repeal the human rights act, take the UK out of Europe (losing in the process thousands of UK jobs as we will have no trading partners) slash the NHS budget, slash the public sector by £77billion, increase defence spending by a staggering 40%, ban any showing of global warming films in schools and scrap renewable energy, abolish inheritance tax for the rich and cut coporation tax for the big companies. I would be literally shoving these policies under the noses of working class people like myself so we appreciate exactly what Ukip stand for. Let's break Ukips one policy on immigration mantra and look in depth at their bigger picture should they gain political representation in Parliament. This is what needs to be told to the electorate, not the slick TV news items, the calm laddish Farage on BBC Question time. The real truth of what will happen if a Ukip government ever get elected, or if in 2015 they should gain enough MPs to form a coalition for 5 years with the Tories
should be laid bare in front of the electorate and particularly working class people.

Unite the Union are busy currently preparing working class people on their Future Candidate programme, to seek to gain selection in their Labour CLP, and so to win elections as MPs. This will provide more working class voices to speak out on issues within the Labour Party which affect ordinary people and is very much needed. These candidates have their ears close to the issues which matter to us working classes and will speak out on our behalf.

Many trade unionists, workers old and young will be reading this and feeling alienated from a Labour Party they think has lost touch with the working class and are desparately seeking an alternative party to vote for. This is entirely understandable. But look at those Ukip policies and realise Nigel Farage's image of a nice bloke is a facade,a front to get him elected. Underneath he is a far right annoyed, angry Tory. A vote for Ukip in 2015 could well put Cameron and the posh boys back in power for another 5 years and which of us wants that?