Wednesday, 23 April 2014

UKIP's Nationalism: When You Have A Hammer, Everything Problem is a Nail

UKIP are finding themselves yet again riding high in the polls and in public consciousness this April with a series of contentious adverts which have appeared in the national press in the run up to European Elections on 22 May. 

The £1.5 million pound campaign funded by ex Tory donor Paul Sykes, centers on attacking European workers, and incites hatred against them, in a bid to blame them for low working class and unskilled wages, and job shortages. 

Farage has denied acccusations of racism in a piece for the Independent, as you would expect him to. The founder of UKIP, Dr Alan Sked, who left the party some time ago, did however call Farage a "dim, racist alcoholic" in a recent news story. 

UKIP Councillor Victoria Ayling showing the Party's
True Colours
Some of the adverts even say that voters should "take back control of our country". The immediate target is the European Union, but given the history of race relations and nationalism in this country, the underlying implication is anyone not ethnically white and British. While this is a charge repeatedly denied by the leadership of UKIP, it's not hard to find comments of this kind regularly posted on social media.

So we have a dog whistle / "code" racism. The party says one thing, with a knowing wink, but their closet racist public, who are on the same wavelength, hear another. 

The thing that worries me about all of this the seductiveness of Farages' message. It sounds like a soothing panacea in this time of economic uncertainty.

If we blame Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians for the problems of our social housing problem, it will magically be solved. If we blame them for the NHS problems (as happens often, in places such as BBC's flagship "debate" show Question Time), then we will magically find funding for it. If we blame them for a shortage of school places, we will have more. You get the idea.

UKIP: Focus on the costs of the EU, never the opportunties
It is the for this reason that nationalism comes to represent a panacea for all problems. A medicine that cures all ills. If we can just hate and blame a minority enough, be it Jews (as the Mail did in the 30s), Muslims (as the Daily Mail regularly does now), Poles, or any other national or ethnic group, it will provide us with a solution to everything.

The problem is that the real world doesn't work like that. Firstly, immigration and our rights of Emigration under the EU treaty have multiple benefits. This is something that is absent from every single "debate" on immigration that presents itself on the front page of the Mail, Express, and, tragically, our "national" broadcaster, the BBC. 

For example, a recent study showed that EEA immigrants contributed 34% more in taxes than they took in benefits over the years 2000-2011.  

As for the current ad campaign, the 26 million unemployed figure (which misleadingly includes UK unemployed) neglects to point out that there are millions of vacancies across the EU, which UK Citizens can apply for - and some take that opportunity, without the need for a visa or complex, onerous restrictions, to work and live in another EU country.

The problem at root with UKIP and the BNP, as well as France's Front Nationale and others xenophobic parties is that they look at Europe and only wish to talk about the obligations of EU membership, but completely refuse to admit or mention rights or benefits. Their currency is inciting fear and hatred and offering a convenient, and simple solution.

Why do I care? To be honest, I do wonder why I even bother entering the field of debate on this issue, since I could simply avoid it all together. But let me tell you why I am bothering.

Firstly, I am a British Asian in a country where I have experienced direct racism and violence on many occasions throughout my life, including being punched in the face. A lot of that was a long time ago, but only last week, my mother was in a grocery store or a small Cheshire village when a man behind her loudly began talking about curry in a bid to remind her that she was an outsider.

Secondly, every single economist on this planet that is worth anything is predicting that we are due another stock market crash and recession at some point in the mid to near future. And this time, there really will be little or no money left with which to bail out the banks. 

It will cause a crash in the job market, and housing that will inevitably lead to a huge spike in hatred against immigrants and minorities. In that scenario, I can see something like 30s Germany unfolding. 

UKIP are currently going as far as the tide of public opinion will let them - and they are making headway. This current campaign is like a canary in the mines, testing the air, only going as far as it can without being snuffed out.

Farage is a cynical populist, choosing his words carefully, but god help us when the next recession hits, because I fear it is then that he will tell us what he really thinks, and at that point, the language of deportation, isolation and demonisation will really kick in.