Saturday, 14 March 2015

Ukip are using the oldest trick in the book: the scapegoating of 'other'

One of the tricks of the neoliberal 'free market' right has been to try and convince the millions who have no stake in the system - 'free market' capitalism - that they have something to gain from it. We were told in the 1980s that cutting taxes for the rich would result in a 'trickle down' of wealth to everyone in society, that their gain would be our gain. What they didn't say is that neoliberalism - then known as Reaganomics - is really about transferring wealth from the 99% to the 1% - its a one-way process. As the 1% gain from tax cuts, and lower wages for workers, social spending on health, education and housing is slashed to the detriment of the majority, and people have to go into debt to maintain a half decent standard of living. So they take away our wealth and then still make us pay by forcing us into debt-slavery. In the UK and USA one of the most potent examples of debt-slavery is student loans.

So far so good, for them, but what happens when the wheels come off the neoliberal casino capitalist bonanza, and the crash comes, as it did in 2008, and people can see their living standards falling before their very eyes? Who to blame for the crisis? Not the real culprits obviously - not the super-rich, the bankers and their tame politicians. Step forward the perennial scapegoat, someone who is 'other' and can easily be recognised as 'not one of us'. This is a trick which has long been used to great effect by the political right. In Nazi Germany it was the Jews who were singled out, and in today in 'Ukip Britain' its 'immigrants'. And for Farage and Ukip, the beauty of blaming immigrants is not just about deflecting attention from the people who are really responsible for unemployment, low pay and poor housing but also Europe bashing, because of the influx of EU citizens into the UK.

The natural supporters of Ukip are those who have been 'left behind', those whose pay has fallen or stagnated and who are trapped in poor housing and can't see much of a future for themselves. They are people with a grievance, often members of the white working class who once would have been natural working class Tories or Labour supporters. I've commented in this blog before about how New Labour have much to answer for in the rise of the far right in Britain. A few years ago it was the BNP who benefited from a protest vote by largely white working class people resulting in Nick Griffin being elected as an MEP. With the implosion of the BNP, Ukip have moved to fill that political space, promoted by the corporate media. Of course Farage's latest outburst, about the scrapping of equality legislation, and talk of Ukip being 'colour blind' is just another racist appeal to shore up Ukip support ahead of the election. What's wrong with employers giving jobs to 'English people' instead of 'foreigners'? Quite a lot actually - its called racial discrimination - that's why we have the legislation.

The solution? End austerity; allow councils to build social housing; make corporations and the rich pay their taxes; scrap student loans; bring in a living wage; use green QE to create meaningful jobs, get people back to work, and tackle climate change in the process. All pretty obvious stuff but apparently a step too for for the Labour Party. That's why Labour are failing in Scotland and aren't going to win the next election. Only one mainstream party has those values and policies and that is the Green Party. That's why they are now the third biggest Party in England and Wales.