Saturday 15 February 2014

UKIP are not an "Alternative"

Hardly a day goes by without some delusional person completely ignoring the subject of the item I've shared to enthuse that UKIP are an "alternative" to the corrupt political establishment.

In this article I'm going to explode the myth that UKIP are an "alternative" and conclude by providing a list of genuinely alternative political parties and organisations.

UKIP policies

A sensible place to start when conducting analysis of a political party would be the party manifesto, however, since UKIP leader Nigel Farage has now publicly disowned the 2010 UKIP manifesto as "drivel" it seems that they are intent on going into the 2014 European elections without an officially recognised public policy document. The Lib-Lab-Cons have an appalling track record of breaking their manifesto commitments (and introducing legislation that was not even mentioned before their election) however it seems that UKIP are going to bypass that problem by simply not bothering with the production of policy documents, so the public have absolutely nothing to hold them to account with.

The clear danger with UKIP is that their one core policy of withdrawal from the EU is actually quite sensible. The EU is a grotesquely anti-democratic institution which has clearly been infltrated and usurped by a bunch of neoliberals with absolute contempt for the concepts of democracy and accountability. The big problem with supporting UKIP because the EU is riddled with anti-democratic neoliberals is that UKIP are even more fanatical neoliberals than the technocrats that run the EU.

The rest of UKIPs policies demonstrate that they occupy the extreme-right fringe of the neoliberal orthodoxy. They support massive tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich, the privatisation agenda, the destruction of what remains of the social safety net, the protection of the idle rentier class, the deregulation of firearms, the militarisation of the police, the construction of dozens of new privately operated jails as part of the prison-industrial complex, open discrimination against homosexuals, the scrapping of our human rights, the indoctrination of children with nationalist propaganda, anti-environmentalism, the expansion of Iain Duncan Smith's Stalinist forced labour schemes, an energy policy built on heavily subsidised nuclear power plants and fracking, the pushing of "free trade" onto the third world and all pervaded by the stench of barely concealed xenophobia.

UKIP are right about the EU being an anti-democratic shambles, but the rest of their policies are madder than a box of frogs. The fact that they are right about the EU but completely wrong about almost everything else can be explained with the old saying that "even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day".

What is absolutely clear is that they are loyal adherents of the vile neoliberal ideology that was introduced to British politics in 1979 by Margaret Thatcher and has remained the political orthodoxy ever since. The only difference between UKIP and the Lib-Lab-Con establishment parties, is that UKIP leadership are even more fanatical about the destructive ideology of neoliberalism that the three parties that have spent the last 35 years enforcing it.

UKIP funding

If you want to know about the real agenda of a political party it is vital that you understand how the party is funded. If UKIP we're some kind of alternative, then surely they would have an alternative funding model, rather than relying on huge donations from super-wealthy individuals, just like the Tory party?

We'll the evidence speaks for itself,: UKIP are funded in exactly the same way as the Tory party, and were they ever to obtain any real measure of power, you can be absolutely sure that their financial backers will be looking for payback (in the form of favourable legislation, seats in the House of Lords, knighthoods, political appointments, subsidies and outsourcing contracts or even the chance to actually write government legislation for them) in exactly the same way major donors to the Tory party have been handed countless favours by the Tory led government.

Aside from being funded in exactly the same way as the Tories, there is another absolutely compelling piece of evidence that they are nothing like the "alternative" people are looking for, which is the fact that the majority of their political donations come from people that used to finance the Tory party!

UKIP's biggest donor is Paul Sykes, an ex-Tory donor, who has made his level of control over the party absolutely clear with statements like "Me and Nigel work well together. He's articulate and he's learned a lot ... but remember I binned Nigel once before in 2004".

Another major Tory party donor turned UKIP backer is Eton educated Stuart Wheeler, who has risen rapidly through the UKIP party ranks to become their treasurer. Before he defected to to UKIP Wheeler handed out over £625,000 to the Tory party.

Other major Tory donors that have taken to bankrolling UKIP include
James Hanson, £10,000; Robin Birley, £15,000; Michael Stone, £20,000; John Scott, £7,500; John Craven, £12,500; William MacDougall, £8,000; and David Caldow, £16,000.

Aside from the major Tory party donors turned UKIP backers, there are also the Tory wives. There's Yvonne Vinson, the wife of Tory bigwig Nigel Vinson, whose donation seems to be related to her husband's threat to defect to UKIP if David Cameron doesn't take a more Euroskeptic stance. Then there's a £100,000 donation from Clare Barbour, who is the wife of Tory donor Patrick Barbour.

Aside from the donations from people with clear and demonstrable links to the Tory party, there are also a number of donations from the classic Tory territory of the landed gentry. UKIP donors from the establishment upper-classes include James Charteris, Michael Cowdray, William Legge (more on him below) and David Stevens.

Aside from the fact that UKIP are clearly bankrolled by Tories, they were also caught up in a ludicrous financial scandal in 2007 when they broke the electoral rules by accepting £367,697 in donations from an individual not registered to vote in the UK and a company not registered in the UK under the Companies Act 1985.For a party that bangs on endlessly about British sovereignty, accepting donations from unregistered voters (ie foreigners) and foreign registered corporations is stunningly hypocritical.

UKIP politicians

It seems that a lot of UKIP voters are not familiar with the fact that the party is stuffed full of Tory politicians. Their leader Nigel Farage is the most high profile ex-Tory in UKIP having abandoned the Tory party in 1992. In 1993 he was a founding member of UKIP and has ruthlessly driven the party towards the typical right-wing authoritarian stance of the Tories ever since. Many of the other founding members have left fled UKIP due to the ever rightward shift of the party. Possibly the most notable departure was that of former leader Alan Sked, who stood as an anti-EU candidate in elections years before he founded UKIP. In 1997 Sked abandoned the party he had founded and led from its inception. He maintains that the party had been infected by the far-right and become a "magnet for bigots".

The most concerning thing about the current UKIP leader Nigel Farage is that he is a good orator and a much more talented spinner of implausible narratives than anyone on the Tory front bench. Perhaps the fact that he's always laughing, pulling silly faces and seeking photo ops with pints of beer in his hand disguises the the ludicrous, implausible and ill-concieved nonsense he tends to spout. Here's one example of Farage's ludicrous rhetoric.

"[The Lib-Lab-Cons] are virtually indistinguishable from each other on nearly all the main issues ... you can't put a cigarette paper between them and that is why there are nine million people who don't vote now in general elections that did back in 1992."
The thing that makes the three establishment parties virtually indistinguishable, and has dissuaded millions from political participation is the fact that they all adhere to the demonstrably bankrupt ideology of neoliberalism (which was commonly known as  "Thatcherism" / "Reagonomics" in the early years and is commonly recognised as "crony capitalism" now). Farage isn't an alternative to this, he's an even more fanatical adherent of Thatcherite neoliberalism than the leaders of the three establishment parties!

Farage isn't the only ex-Tory to have worked his way to the top of the UKIP hierarchy, others include William Legge (or the Earl of Dartmouth - to refer to him by his establishment title) who quit the Tory party in 2007 and got himself elected as an MEP for the South West region for UKIP in 2009, and Stuart Wheeler, who abandoned the Tories and soon became the UKIP party treasurer.

Another high profile defector from the Tories to UKIP is Roger Helmer, who was elected as a Tory MEP for the East Midlands region, but defected to UKIP in 2012. He has hit the headlines many times with his absurd views on the environment (climate change denial), the NHS (should be abolished and replaced with a US style system), homophobia (homophobia doesn't exist) and rape ("
the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations").

Other than Nigel Farage, probably the most high profile former Tory to make UKIP his new home is the disgraced former Tory MP Neil "cash for questions" Hamilton, who was welcomed into UKIP with open arms.
Hamilton is a morally and financially bankrupt specimen of everything that is rotten about British politics, and should never have been allowed back into political life, but UKIP threw him a lifeline because they thought they could cash in on his C list celebrity status.

Aside from the numerous high profile political defections, there have also been scores of local council defections from the Tories to UKIP, including David Silvester who defected in 2012 and hit the headlines in 2014 with his claims that the Somerset floods were God's revenge on the UK for introducing gay equality legislation!

The politicians don't just flow from the Tories to UKIP, there have been a number of high profile defections from UKIP to the Tories too. Some high profile examples include former UKIP leader Craig Mackinlay, who defected to the Tories in 2005;
MEP David Campbell Bannerman, who defected to the Tories in 2011; and MEP Marta Andreasen who defected to the Tories in 2013,

Aside from the revolving door between the Tory party and UKIP there are also a number of UKIP politicians that are just mad, including Boston Councillor Elizabeth Ransome who famously said "I no [sic] this is probably a stupid question, but is tuna a real fish like ones that swim in the sea?", Julia Gaspar who claimed that gay people have sex with animals and children,  and Godfrey Bloom who was eventually expelled from the party after referring to the 3rd World as "Bongo Bongo Land" and his female UKIP colleagues as "sluts".

Links with the fascist fringe

UKIP is part of the extreme-right European Parliament group called Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD). In fact, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage is is the Co-President of this rag-tag bunch of right-wing extremists which includes the Danish People’s Party, the True Finns Party, the Dutch SGP and the Italian Lega Nord.

Farage's fellow EFD Co-President is Lega Nord’s Francesco Speroni, who described the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik as someone whose "ideas are in defence of western civilisation". Mario Borghezio, another member of the EFD group, declared that Breivik had some "excellent ideas".

In April 2013 the English Defence League openly endorsed UKIP with a statement that "All nationalist parties should stand aside in areas that Ukip have a good chance of winning ... Let’s not split their vote." Perhaps the EDL see their role in a future UKIP government as equivalent to the Sturmabteilung brownshirt Nazi party enforcers that eventually gave rise to the Waffen S.S.? Who knows?

Whatever the case, an endorsement from the EDL is hardly the kind of thing that helps a party that is trying to bury its reputation as a bunch of knuckle dragging extremists bankrolled by the Tory establishment.

UKIP supporters

The majority of UKIP supporters seem to be too stupid/ill informed to realise that UKIP is a party for  right-wing extremists that are too dodgy (Neil Hamilton) or too right-wing for the Tory party (most of their donors and MEPs).

Anyone that has deluded themselves into believing that UKIP is an alternative to the Lib-Lab-Con establishment order is probably way beyond reasoning with (I doubt many will have read this far without quitting because they can't tolerate reading stuff that clashes with own their confirmation bias).

The amazing thing about UKIP supporters is that so many of them are left-wing, yet they support a party that is significantly more right-wing than the Tories. A recent YouGov poll showed that the average UKIP supporter is significantly more left-wing than the average Lib-Dem or Tory voter and almost as left-wing as the average Labour supporter.

It's bad enough that so many people with left-wing views continue to support New Labour, despite the fact the party has been run by a bunch of neoliberals for the last 20 years, but the fact that three quarters of the people that support a party that is way to the right of the Tories have distinctly socialist views on public ownership is absolutely incredible.
The majority of UKIP supporters believe in the renationalisation of the rail network and the energy companies, so given the extremely right-wing stance of the party leadership , UKIP is clearly not the party you they be supporting.

More of the same, not an alternative

UKIP is a party run by Tories and bankrolled by Tories. UKIP adheres to the Tory ideology of neoliberalism (the ideology that the Lib-Lab-Cons all adhere to as well). The idea that UKIP represents any kind of "alternative" is dependent upon ignorance and political illiteracy.

UKIP are not an alternative to the neoliberal orthodoxy of the three establishment parties, in fact they offer nothing but an even more fanatical version of the same warped ideology. As a conclusion I'll list some of the political parties and organisations that do offer a genuine alternative to the neoliberal consensus of the Lib-Lab-Cons and UKIP.

A list of genuine alternatives movements

Political parties

The Green Party: If you're a libertarian and you want to support a party that explicitly oppose neoliberalism and state authoritarianism and have a commitment to holding a referendum on membership of the EU, then the Green Party are certainly worth a look. Their single MP Caroline Lucas has put in a legendary performance since her election to parliament in 2010, consistently fighting against neoliberalism and in favour of justice, freedom and democracy. [Website]

The National Health Action Party: If you oppose the ideological destruction of the NHS, the NHA party is possibly the party for you.The fact that the majority of them are health care professionals reluctantly entering politics to fight for something they believe in, rather than power hungry career politicians, is something that really counts in their favour
. [Website]

The Socialist Party:The corporate press has done a spectacular job of turning "socialism" into a dirty word, so it is extraordinarily unlikely that The Socialist Party will ever have any kind of electoral success, however they are undeniably an alternative to the neoliberal orthodoxy of the Lib-Lab-Cons and UKIP
. [Website]
The Pirate Party:
The Pirate Party's core policies are to bring about reform to Copyright and Patent laws, support privacy and reduce surveillance from government and businesses, and guarantee genuine freedom of speech for everyone. [Website]
The Libertarian Party:These guys are far too right-wing for my liking, but if you're a right-wing libertarian, these guys are far more closely aligned with your views than the Tory style right-wing authoritarianism of UKIP
. [Website]
Left Unity: Left Unity is an attempt to build a broad left wing party, it is comparatively small and they are not immune from making mistakes, however they are intent on trying to offer an alternative to the neoliberal orthodoxy.
Plaid Cymru: If you live in Wales you probably know more about Plaid than I do. If you don't, you can't vote for them. They occupy the centre-left of the politicl spectrum and their politicians have consistently voted against the most egregious and draconian coalition policies (secret courts, retroactive law, the gagging law, the NHS privatisation by stealth bill).

Scottish National Party: The SNP occupy the social democratic political centre ground and they have a reasonably good track record of keeping to their electoral commitments (the independence referendum, free prescriptions, free university education ...). [Website]

Campaigning organisations

Positive Money: Positive Money are doing a great service in educating the public about the gaping flaws in the financial system. [Website]

Robin Hood Tax
: A campaign for a tax on financial transactions to raise funds to protect public services, tackle poverty and climate change. [Website]

The People's Assembly: A broad coalition against ideological austerity.
38 Degrees
: 38 Degrees is an independent UK based protest and petition website designed to help people bring about political change.

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