In the environment of UK politics, the cry of the common UKIP supporter is a familiar one. When confronted with the irrefutable facts that UKIP is an extreme-right party, stuffed full of people too right-wing even for the Tory party, and bankrolled by former Tory party donors, the response of the common UKIP supporter is to squawk "but I'm not right-wing" and "I only support UKIP to get us out of Europe".
Why do so many left-wing people vote for UKIP?
It seems hard to believe that so many people with left-wing or centre ground political beliefs would openly support a party on the extreme-right fringe, but the evidence shows that this is actually the case. In November 2013 a YouGov poll on renationalisation clearly demonstrated that the majority of UKIP supporters favour very explicitly socialist ideas. 78% of UKIP supporters responded that they supported outright renationalisation of the UK energy market, and 73% of them supported renationalisation of the rail network.
The idea that UKIP (a political structure composed of, headed by, and bankrolled by the extreme-right fringe of the Tory party) would ever renationalise anything is absolutely laughable, so it seems that the large majority of UKIP supporters are so desperate to get out of Europe that they will vote for a party that adheres to an opposite economic ideology to their own (the neoliberal orthodoxy).
The "I only support UKIP to get us out of Europe" is a particularly ludicrous stance because people that want to make clear their desire for a referendum on Europe have another option, which is to vote for the Green Party instead of voting for the Tory party on steroids.
Not only have the Green Party made commitment to holding a referendum on Europe, they also have manifesto commitments to the kind of left-wing/social democratic politics (such as rail renationalisation) that the majority of UKIP supporters actually favour. Meanwhile UKIP don't even have an official manifesto after Nigel Farage publicly disowned the contents of the 2010 UKIP manifesto, deriding it as "drivel".
Why would anyone that supports the left-wing idea of renationalisation vote for an extreme-right party on the grounds that they want out of Europe, when there is a left-wing party that offers a referendum on membership of the EU, without all the bonkers right-wing extremism, and a commitment to renationalise the railways into the bargain?
The Green Party stance on Europe
I realise that most people won't be aware of the Green party policy on Europe, because of the appalling paucity of mainstream media coverage on the Green's policy based approach to politics, in favour of covering the circus freak show that is UKIP*, so I'll outline the Green Party stance on the EU.
Firstly I'll give a basic interpretation of their stance, then I'll provide numerous quotes from the Green Party to substantiate what I've said.
The Green Party favours a referendum on the EU because they are opposed to the extremely undemocratic way the EU is currently structured, as well as the unsustainable neoclassical economic ideology that the EU actively promotes. The Green party would prefer to see the EU reformed from within to make it more democratic and more accountable. They would also like to ditch the ideological obsession with the neoclassical economic orthodoxy and the ridiculous single currency experiment.Here is a quote from the Green MP Caroline Lucas:
The Green party is committed to a referendum of the EU, but they have not decided which side of the debate they would side with. They want the referendum because they believe that the debate would trigger reform of the EU, however if major reforms are not forthcoming, it seems highly likely that the Greens would campaign for an EU exit, since the structures and objectives of the EU as currently constituted are fundamentally incompatible with the core Green values of democracy and sustainability.
"I support a referendum on our membership of the EU because I am pro-democracy."Here are some quotes from the Green party policy document on the EU which confirm that they have correctly identified the major problems with the way the EU is structured.
The current structure of the EU:
"The Green Party is opposed to the objectives, structure and policies of the EU as currently constituted."The anti-democratic European Commission:
" The Green Party believes that the excessive influence of the Commission and its associated bodies compared to the Council and Parliament is both undemocratic and unaccountable."The anti-democratic European Central Bank:
"[The Eurozone] is run by the European Central Bank (ECB), a collection of bankers appointed by Council subject to no effective democratic control, but able to override the democratic decisions made by member countries."The lack of democracy and citizen participation:
"A major weakness of the present European Union is the lack of mechanisms to ensure that the powers and structures of the EU have the consent of the citizens of member countries."The economically illiterate single currency experiment:
"The Green Party is opposed to EMU and the single currency. We believe it undermines local and regional economies."
"The Green Party is opposed to the UK joining the Eurozone. We are committed to a referendum on any such decision and will join the campaign for a 'No' vote in any such referendum."Just like UKIP, they participate in EU elections and try to change the EU from within:
"Whilst the Green Party is opposed to the objectives, structure and policies of the EU as currently constituted, as long as the U.K. remains a member of the EU the Green Party will stand in elections to the European Parliament and elected Green MEPs will work for fundamental reform of the EU from within."The election in May 2014
The next set of European elections occur in May 2014. These elections are an excellent opportunity for people to express dissent with the political system because they are conducted on a proportional basis, meaning there are no such things as "safe seats" nor "wasted votes", as with the archaic and unrepresentative Westminster voting system used in General Elections.
Recent opinion polls show that the fight to become biggest UK party in the European Parliament will in all probability be between Labour and UKIP. Meanwhile there is a very interesting battle for fourth place between the Liberal Democrats (currently projected 8%) and the Green Party (currently projected 6%).
In my view the election in May is an ideal opportunity for left-wing people to express their discontent with the political system by making sure that the Green Party leapfrog the Liberal Democrats into fourth place.
This isn't particularly unrealistic given the appallingly low turnouts at European elections (just 34% at the last election). If just a few hundred thousand people vote Green instead of voting UKIP, voting Labour or simply staying at home, the Lib Dems could easily be relegated to 5th place.
Unlike UKIP, the Green Party is an actual alternative to the neoliberal orthodoxy of privatisation, deregulation, tax cuts for the rich & austerity for the poor. Voting Green would would show support for an EU referendum, without endorsing the kind of right-wing economic fanaticism that is absolutely rife within UKIP.
If just few hundred thousand more people vote for the Green Party in May, we could all enjoy seeing the Lib-Dems relegated to 5th placed also-rans. If on the other hand, those extra few hundred thousand vote for UKIP, we'll just get one or two more UKIP MEPs, who may well end up either defecting to the Tories (Marta Andreasen) or getting thrown out of the party for spewing sexist bile (Godfrey Bloom).
NOTE: I have no affiliation with the Green party, and I haven't even decided whether I'll vote for them come May 22, or to chose a different non-neoliberal party (I certainly won't be voting for UKIP or the LibLabCons).
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* This bias is understandable given that stuff like UKIP councilors spouting anti-gay diatribes and Nigel Farage swilling pints is online "clickbait", whilst serious political analysis seems to be considered increasingly oldfashioned and unpopular.
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