Pandaemonium

AS I WAS SAYING ABOUT UKIP…

ukip poster

The debate abound UKIP swirls unabated after its success in winning the Clacton by-election from the Conervatives, and in almost winning Heywood and Middleton from Labour. There remains considerable confusion about the nature of the UKIP phenomenon (the clarifying work of academics such as Matthew Goodwin and Rob Ford has been useful here). There is even greater confusion over how to challenge it. I have been writing about UKIP and immigration for a while now. So I thought I would pull together the main themes of that writing, to set out the main arguments from my previous articles about UKIP and the challenge that it poses.


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1 Is UKIP a protest vote or a lasting challenge to the mainstream? Both and neither.

Some insist that UKIP garnered merely a temporary midterm protest vote. Others see Nigel Farage’s outfit as a lasting threat to which the main parties must respond by adopting more hardline policies, especially on Europe, immigration and welfare.

Both views are right. And both are wrong. UKIP does draw the protest vote. But the very character of the protest vote is changing.

The traditional party of protest in Britain was, of course, the Liberal Democrats (or the Liberals as they were before they got hitched to the SDP). Once a party of government, the failure of the Liberals to win power for most of the twentieth century made it an ideal vehicle for the protest vote – a safe, mainstream party to which to turn at relatively irrelevant elections as a means of temporarily expressing dissatisfaction with one of the main parties before returning to the fold; a way sending a message but not of upsetting the system.

Once the Liberal Democrats became part of the Coalition government after the 2010 election, they could no longer play this role. But something more fundamental has also changed.  The protest vote is no longer about teaching the main parties a lesson. It is about disenchantment with, and disengagement from, the whole political process. Voters are not saying ‘I am voting for another party at this election to make you listen to me’. Increasingly many are saying, ‘You will never listen to me, so there is no point in voting for you at all’.

From Reflections on UKIP – And on Reflections About UKIP, 9 May 2013.

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2 What the success of groups like UKIP expresses is a new faultline in Europe’s political map.

What groups such as UKIP and the FN express is a new faultline in Europe’s political map. The postwar political system, built around the divide between social democratic and conservative parties, is being dismantled. Not only has this created new space for the populists, it is also transforming the very character of political space. In this post-ideological age, as politics has become reduced largely to a question of technocratic management rather than of social transformation, as mainstream parties abandon both their ideological attachments and their traditional constituencies, so large sections of the public has become disengagement from the political process, widening the gap between voters and the elite, and fostering disenchantment with the very idea of politics. That is why so many of the populist and far-right groups position themselves as ‘anti-political’ parties.

The new political faultline in Europe is not between left and right, between social democracy and conservatism, but between those who feel at home in – or at least are willing to accommodate themselves to – the post-ideological, post-political world, and those who feel left out, dispossessed and voiceless. These kinds of divisions have always existed, of course. In the past, however, that sense of dispossession and voiceless could be expressed politically, particularly through the organizations of the left and of the labour movement. No longer. Economic crisis, the collapse of manufacturing industry, the atomisation of society, the neutering of trade unions, the cutting by social democratic parties of their ties with their old working class base, the scorn with which mainstream society today today of the idea of class-based politics – all have helped cut the bonds of solidarity and identity that once shaped working class communities, marginalized labour as a political voice, leaving many feeling voiceless and detached from the political process.

From Europe’s New Faultline, 18 May 2014.

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3 It is not simply through rightwing populist parties that such disenchentment with mainstream politics is being expressed.

For many Scottish nationalists, UKIP represents much of what they loathe about Britain, an expression of the suffocating conservatism from which they seek to break free. Yet many in England back UKIP for much the same reason that many in Scotland support independence: because they feel disengaged from mainstream politics, marginalized and voiceless.

Not just in Scotland, nor even just in Britain, but throughout Europe, there is a crisis of political representation, a growing sense of political institutions as remote and corrupt, of voters’ concerns being ignored. One manifestation of this has been rising support for populist parties. Scottish nationalism is another expression of this public mood. It is not that the Scottish National Party and UKIP have the same kinds of policies. What connects them is a disconnect between the public and the political class.

From Scotland, Clacton and the Politics of Disaffection, 26 September 2014.

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lowry our town

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4 The narrowing of the political sphere has meant that economic and social issues have come to be seen through a cultural lens.

The ‘left behind’ have suffered largely because of economic and political changes. But they have come to see their marginalization primarily as a cultural loss. In part, the same social and economic changes that have led to the marginalization of the ‘left behind’ have also made it far more difficult to view that marginalization in political terms. As the politics of ideology has given way to the politics of identity, so even the ‘working class’ has come to be seen primarily as a cultural category. The irony is that those who lost out in the breakdown of class-based and ideologically-driven politics now turn to the language of identity to express their discontent.

Because discontent is expressed in cultural, rather than, political terms, so it is often conveyed through hostility to immigration. As class identity has come to be seen as a cultural attribute, so those regarded as culturally different (the ‘Other’) have come to be perceived as threats. Immigration has become both a catch-all explanation for unacceptable social change and a symbol of the failure of the liberal elite to understand the views of voters. The EU, meanwhile, has become symbolic of the democratic deficit in many people’s lives, and of the distance (social, political and physical) between ordinary people and the political class.

From Europe’s New Faultline, 18 May 2014.

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5 Immigration is not responsible for the ‘left behind’ being left behind. But it has become the mirror through which many perceive their problems.

Consider, for instance, one of the key issues that [David] Goodhart raises, that of the ‘left behind’ white working class. The white working class, he argues, has lost its culture, its communities, its sense of identity, its bonds of solidarity, and its place in the national story. For many whites, Goodhart writes in The British Dream, ‘large-scale immigration has, indeed, been experienced as a loss, either directly because they lived in a neighbourhood that was rapidly changed by it or indirectly because their working class culture and institutions seemed to be pushed aside by the same market forces that then ushered in the newcomers’. [p257]

The transformation of working class life, the erosion of the sense of working class identity, the breaking of bonds of solidarity, the marginalization of labour as a political voice – all are real phenomena, but all have roots in economic and political changes. In the 1950s manual workers accounted for 70 per cent of the male workforce. Four out of ten workers were employed in manufacturing; a million worked in mining. 9.5 million people (40 per cent of employees) belonged to trade unions. All this incubated a sense of identity, rooted communities to a history and tradition, and bound them in a web of solidarity. The Labour Party still had strong links to the working class. The postwar consensus – the cross-party acceptance of Keynesianism, a ‘mixed economy’ and the welfare state – allowed trade union leaders to influence government policy.

All that is no more. The postwar consensus has been shattered, Britain’s manufacturing base has all but disappeared, trade unions have been neutered, the Labour party has largely cut its roots with its working class base, and the very idea of class-based politics derided. All this has helped cut the bonds of solidarity and identity that once shaped working class communities, leaving many feeling voiceless and detached from the political process…

Goodhart acknowledges much of this. ‘Social and economic change would have swept away the old working class ways even if there had been zero immigration’, he observes… So he accepts that immigration cannot be responsible for that [sense of] loss [felt my many within working class communities]. Rather immigration has come to be a means through which many perceive their loss. Immigrants have, in other words, become symbolic of that loss and of the change. The forces of globalization, or the internal wranglings of the Labour Party, are difficult to conceptualise. Your Bangladeshi or Jamaican neighbour is easy to see. Turning immigrants into symbols of change and loss has allowed people to transform the meaning of that transformation and the story of how it has come about.

From Immigration and Loss, 26 April 2013.

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Ukip poster campaign

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6 The panic in mainstream circles about UKIP and immigration has only helped further to fuel disenchantment about the mainstream.

What makes the mainstream assault on UKIP and the FN particularly ineffective is that at the same time as attacking them as racist, mainstream politicians have themselves assiduously fostered fears about immigration and adopted populist anti-immigration policies. All this has merely confirmed the belief that the populists were right all along. It has engorged cynicism about mainstream politicians. And since immigration has not been responsible for the left behind being left behind, it has done nothing to assuage the sense of marginalization and voicelessness that many feel. Indeed, by stoking new fears about immigration, it has merely deepened the sense of grievance.

From Europe’s New Faultline, 18 May 2014.

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7 Tackling UKIP requires us both to stop dismissing UKIP voters as racist and to challenge their ideas about immigration.

We need to stop being so obsessed by the politicians and the parties, and start dealing with the issues that lead many voters to support them. Yes, many of UKIP and FN policies are repellent, and many of their leaders hold obnoxiously racist, sexist and homophobic views. Many FN and UKIP supporters are hardcore racists. But many others are drawn to such parties for very different reasons – because these seem to be the only organizations that speak to their grievances and express their frustrations with mainstream politics. Given this, simply exposing UKIP or FN politicians as racists will change little, especially given that virtually all politicians are busy stoking fears about immigration. It is not that such exposés should not be done, but that they are futile if wielded as the principal tactic.

Engaging with the concerns of potential UKIP or FN voters, rather than simply dismissing them as racists, does not mean, however, caving into reactionary arguments or pandering to prejudices. It means, to the contrary, challenging them openly and robustly. Challenging the idea, for instance, that immigration is responsible for the lack of jobs and housing, or that lower immigration would mean a lower crime rate, or that Muslims constitute a social problem for the West. It means also challenging the rhetoric and policies not simply of UKIP or the FN but also of the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats, of the Parti Socialiste, the UMP and the Nouveau Centre. It is the anti-immigration rhetoric and policies of the mainstream parties that make people receptive to the anti-immigration rhetoric of the populists.

From Europe’s New Faultline, 18 May 2014.

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banksy clacton

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8 We will only be able to challenge popular ideas about immigration if we are able to reframe the debate.

Many, often on the left, accept that immigration is a good but worry that people are too irrational to understand. Hitting people with facts and figures, they suggest, will not help. We need to accept people’s emotional opposition to immigration. If we do not engage with people’s anxieties, they argue, the left’s project will get shouted down by rightwing and populist anti-immigration voices.

It is true that simply presenting facts and figures will change few minds. This is not, however, because people are irrational or because they are indifferent to facts, but because facts are always understood within a particular political, social or philosophical framework. Since the issue of immigration has been framed in such a way that both sides accept immigrants as a problem, so it is inevitable that people will understand facts and figures within that context.

If we want the facts and figures to have an impact we need first to reframe the immigration debate. There is not much point in showing that immigrants do not come to sponge off the welfare state, or that they benefit the economy, if we have already accepted that immigrants are a problem. We need rather to view immigration from an entirely different perspective. We need to acknowledge the movement of peoples as neither an aberration, nor as an evil to be tolerated, but as an inherent part of human life. We need to view the social changes that immigration brings not as a loss of something precious, but also as the gain of something valuable, the creation of a more open, vibrant, cosmopolitan society. We should regard the clashes and conflicts in ideas and values that immigration often creates not as something to be feared and minimised but as something to be prized, the basis of social engagement, the means by which we can break out of our narrow cultural boxes and create possibility of a common language of citizenship.

Adopting such an approach is difficult because it runs counter to so much of what is regarded as social wisdom. That is why it is all the more important to view immigration in this fashion. To do so requires, however, conviction and courage. And those are two virtues noticeable by their absence in contemporary politics.

From The Facts, the Myths and the Framing of Immigration, 30 March 2013.

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The paintings as LS Lowry’s ‘Our Town’ and Banksy’s immigration mural in Clacton, which was soon painted over by the local council

28 comments

  1. niknak

    Your conclusions remind me of modern personnel management doctrine, in which the workforce is apparently empathised with and encouraged to express their feelings … but the redundancies or increased workloads are pushed through as before. You are simply advocating more sophisticated techniques for overcoming widespread public disenchantment with immigration policy. What is unchanged is your cast-iron assurance that you are right and the ‘left-behinds’ are wrong and in that respect you are at one with the mainstream of the political and opinion-broadcasting classes. This is a disappointing discovery.

    • What strange logic. You wonder why I think I am right and those opposed to immigration wrong. Perhaps because, as I have shown in my articles, immigration is not responsible for economic decline, the decimation of manufacturing industry, austerity policies, the lack of house building, the attack on the welfare state, the erosion of the power of working class organizations, or the transformation of the Labour Party – and hence for the economic and political marginalization of the ‘left behind’? If anyone is like your putative personnel manager, it is surely those, presumably like yourself (and, as it happens, virtually every member of ‘the mainstream of the political and opinion-broadcasting classes’), who pretend that immigration is responsible for these problems, and hence ensure that those problems will never be properly tackled.

      • niknak

        No, mainstream elite opinion rarely deviates from the line that immigration is an intrinsically good thing. For every jeremiad like Melanie Phillips there’s a dozen Ian Birrells eager to tell the rest of us to shut up and adapt. If this was not the case, how come immigration has been at such consistently high levels since the late 1990s, in the face of widespread public opposition?

        • It’s a myth assiduously promoted by the jeremiads. Immigration has always been framed as a problem. Even in the noughties, as I point out in my review of David Goodhart’s book, The British Dream, ‘as the Treasury pushed the idea of greater immigration as an economic good, the Home Office continued to project the image of immigration as a social problem requiring tighter control. Asylum seekers in particular became the target of mean-spirited and demeaning policy.’ In reality, ‘what is rarely questioned’, as I suggest in my essay ‘In Defence of Diversity’, ‘is not immigration but the idea that immigration is responsible for Europe’s social ills’.

  2. nobody

    I would like Cameron, Miliband, Clegg etc to go on the telly and say:

    “You can massively increase the ratio of young males to young females in an area without consequence”

    because that’s what they’ve been doing for the last 16 years.

    • Unwittingly you show what is wrong with the anti-immigration argument. When women first entered the British workforce in large numbers after the Second World War, many made precisely this argument – that the influx of women would throw men out of work, depress wages and spell doom and disaster. It was an argument as economically and socially illiterate then as the anti-immigration argument is now.

    • One further point is worth making here. Immigration has clearly brought major changes, in the physical character of British cities, in the rhythm of social life and in the sense of what it is to be British. But immigration is not alone in driving social changes, nor is it even the most important driver of social change. Had not a single immigrant come to Britain, Britons today would still be living in a vastly different nation from that of half a century ago. Feminism, consumerism, increased social mobility, the growth of youth culture, the explosion of mass culture, the acceptance of free market economic policies, the destruction of trade unions, the decimation of manufacturing industries, the rise of the finance and service sectors, greater individual freedom, the atomisation of society, the decline of traditional institutions such as the Church – all have helped transform Britain, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. But it is immigrants who primarily have become symbolic of change, and of change for the worse. Why? Because of the way that the immigration debate has been framed. From the beginning, immigration has been viewed as a problem, even as a threat. Inevitably, therefore, immigration has come to be seen at best with suspicion, at worst with hostility.

      • Tony Buck

        Not even UKIP regard immigration per se as a problem.

        But most people regard the high levels of immigration this last fifteen years as a problem.

        And since large numbers are always a problem, people (i.e. the general public, of all races) are correct. Especially as there is no strategy whatever for coping with the inevitable costs and painful side-effects of mass-immigration.

        Instead, Capitalism has simply been given its (ugly) head, making the UK a much more right-wing country; in fact, if not always in sentiment – more ruthless, more devil-take-the-hindmost, more sink or swim. And this can’t all be blamed on the Right – the middle-class Left has been very eager in practice to benefit from a Capitalist world, even while denouncing Capitalism over their cocktail glasses.

        But since genuine Capitalism (not the yuppie, champagne, financial centre type) is only a side-effect of Protestant theology and wholly dependent on the distinctively Protestant virtues (work ethic, thrift, deferred gratification, sobriety, clean living, moderation, optimism etc) which – in the West at least – no longer exist, Capitalism is a dead man walking.

        And when it collapses, we’ll see how a tolerant, liberal, vibrant, cosmopolitan society and world manage to cope – because, barring miracles, they won’t.

  3. niknak

    Reframing the issue sounds like what a PR company would do on behalf of a logging company. Why not find out what kind of immigration policy a majority of the population would support and go from there?

    • Why not find out what kind of immigration policy a majority of the population would support and go from there?

      That is precisely my starting point. But ‘going from there’ can mean simply accepting the popular view or it could mean challenging it. I am doing the latter. You seem unable to distinguish between PR and political debate.

      • niknak

        There is a WordPress limit to depth of recursion for replies to replies to replies, so in response to your point about the Home Office being vindictive towards asylum seekers, how would you square that with David Blunkett’s statement in 2003 while Home Secretary that there should be ‘no obvious limit’ on migration? He was further quoted on the BBC website (13 November 2003) as saying:

        “No modern, successful country can afford to adopt an anti-immigration position… It is in all our interests to harness the innovation, skills and productivity that new migrants can bring.”

        This isn’t an example of immigration being framed as a problem. But it is consistent both with the high level of immigration that was allowed in practice and with Andrew Neather’s claims, made in 2009 when he shot his mouth off in the Evening Standard, that the Labour government was keen to accelerate immigration for political reasons.

        I am aware that at least some on the Left view those running the centres of power in the government, the judiciary, the civil service and industry as forming a kind of hydra sprouting the heads of Mary Whitehouse, Enoch Powell and Judge Jeffries.

        But the evidence suggests they’re not really like that. You might even find their company more congenial than the Friday night crowd at the Clacton Wetherspoons.

        • For David Blunkett on asylum policy, see for instance this or this or this or this.

          Or Sarah Spencer’s analysis of New Labour’s asylum strategy:

          The evolving strategy was threefold: to raise the barriers to asylum-seekers reaching the UK; to restrict access to work, benefits and health-care as a deterrent; and to increase the through-put of cases at IND while limiting access to appeals.’

          ‘Convinced that the public would only be reassured by tough messages and action on asylum’, Spencer observes, ‘Blair gave it an extraordinary amount of his personal attention. In the period 2001–2004, a senior adviser says he attended more than fifty meetings Blair held on asylum, some lasting three to four hours, and doubts there was any single issue other than Iraq on which he had as many meetings.’

          ‘Blair and successive Home Secretaries’, Spencer adds, ‘were convinced that maintaining a high profile for the tough measures they were taking was the way to reassure the public that they were bringing migration under control.’ The public were not convinced, though, partly because ‘the rhetoric of new measures to tackle asylum, emphasising abuse of the system, reinforced the perception of asylum- seekers as a threat, not people in need of protection.’ As Home Office Minister of the time Fiona Mactaggart puts it, Labour’s anti-asylum rhetoric ‘created a belief that claiming asylum was an abusive act, against the community. The rhetoric told them that they had something to worry about.’

      • rosanet@caribe.net

        Asking the population about immigration makes the most sense, I agree. The success of China’s one child policy shows that it is possible to encourage or discourage demographic shifts by state policy. Given the enormous gravity of the problem constituted by the 2030’s demographic pyramid inversion, a debate ought to have taken place that put two options on the table: immigration vs. helping women balance family and work, enabling them to have two children without having to curtail their dreams so that society might benefit. The debate never took place. Immigration was chosen by default.

        The particular implementation of immigration has to be discussed too. What type of immigrant is it best to bring in? Immigration was supposed to provide enough cash flows into the public health & pension systems to prevent bankruptcy of the welfare state by the 2030’s. But, are the immigrants chosen by the current immigration policy contributing to the system more than than they are withdrawing? Are the retirement/pension systems being shored up or is the opposite happening? I imagine you have numbers that show that the retirement/pensions systems are being shored up, since that was the main reason for the immigration policy in the first place, but the fact is that, as you note, the public does not know this. I do not know it either, I must confess, and I fear what I do not know.

        An issue related to a particular type of immigration implementation are the costs associated with prevention of terrorism, which are not just huge in monetary terms, but are costing us liberties. The appropriateness of profiling to filter who is crossing the border (as the French are now considering) temporarily or permanently needs to be debated without fear of accusations of racism.

  4. It is not a WordPress limitation. It is Malik limitation. As is the closing of comments after short 14 days. There are good reasons for making these choices. There are also bad reasons amongst which is closing down what Malik, without the slightest sense of irony, refers to as “debate”.

      • Malik:

        Next I am telling you that “.… allowing people to make inane comments ….” (your judgement not mine) is absolutely no proof that you have any commitment at all to debate. This blog provides quite enough evidence to the contrary.

        niknak:

        “His blog, his rules” – yes. But that also applies to every bigot, whether they come from the reactionaries, or the so-called progressives.

        One of my rules for my comments. (my comments, my rules)
        In ways I deem appropriate, amongst other factors, I shall point out fallacies in arguments, especially those which will ruin the lives of individuals. That includes refusing to accept that propaganda counts as debate. And if you can’t see that is what is happening here, I would just ask you to look more carefully at the way Malik expresses himself. Take, as your starting point, for example, his response to you containing “… I am right and those opposed to immigration wrong …”. But you could choose almost any other part of this blog and indeed many of his other blogs.

        niknak, One final thought for your consideration. Be extremely wary of external references. They often do not give the support to the argument claimed. Even, when they are carefully analysed, they can contradict that very argument. But they have the extremely useful side-effect for the blogger of distracting the reader’s time and attention from analysing the poor quality of the argument itself.

    • niknak

      His blog, his rules. He has responded to most of my points with links and references. He has not addressed Neather’s claim of immigration as deliberate gerrymandering, Blunkett’s paeans to immigration and so on. Nor have I properly acknowledged the harsh, Daily Mail-pleasing rhetoric on asylum seekers or measures such as vouchers, dispersal etc.

      • @niknak: Thanks for your generous comment. I have not, by the way, avoided answering ‘Neather’s claim of immigration as deliberate gerrymandering’. Even most critics of immigration don’t take seriously such conspiracy-theory arguments about New Labour’s immigration policy, and it doesn’t, to my mind, help the debate to suggest, on the basis of an off-hand remark in one interview with a former speechwriter, that there was such a conspiracy.

        As for Blunkett, my point, which is also one that Sarah Spencer expressed well in the paper to which I linked, is that even as Labour viewed the inflow of large numbers of East European migrants as necessary to help sustain an economic boom, it was also still promoting the idea of immigrants as a problem, at this time primarily through policies targeting asylum seekers. Labour saw such policies as necessary to appear ‘tough on immigration’. The consequence of a combination of relatively high levels of immigration (and the insistence that ‘No modern, successful country can afford to adopt an anti-immigration position’ – an insistence, incidentally, that even most critics of immigration would accept) with continued targeting of asylum seekers as a threat and as ‘something to worry about’, was, as more thoughtful ministers and advisors later admitted, to ensure even greater public hostility towards all immigrants.

        @sewashearedkilo: I’m still scratching my head as to what your beef is, or indeed what your argument is. You’ve so far made three comments on this post and not one of them has addressed the questions of UKIP or of immigration. The closest you’ve come to is the single-line comment: ‘I have heard more rigorous arguments from a brush’. I’m afraid I cannot take seriously anyone who thinks that ‘I have heard more rigorous arguments from a brush’ is a considered response, but believes that in providing links to external articles and papers (otherwise known as evidence) I am merely ‘distracting the reader’s time and attention’, or imagines that the level of comment recursion allowed on this blog, or the fact that you have to comment within two weeks, is evidence of ‘closing down debate’.

        • niknak

          Neather’s 2009 Evening Standard article (it’s not an interview) contains one important which is only known on his say-so: That Labour intended to ‘rub the Right’s face in diversity’. His other claims about the contents of the immigration policy document were confirmed when MigrationWatch obtained an unedited precis through FoI.

          This is hardly 9/11 truther stuff.

          There is a clear disjunct between Labour’s general enthusiasm for very high immigration and what they said and did about asylum seekers. They strike me as being treated as sacrificial victims to appease the press.

          Also, asylum seekers could be typified as East Europeans, hence white, and so they could be attacked with less risk of being called racist. East Europeans formed only a minority of the immigration surge but it was convenient to make them emblematic of it. Even Richard Desmond’s newspapers went along with this line most of the time.

        • “Beef”? – as if we were having a dispute over who first saw the parking space.
          “Argument”? – I have made no argument. What I have done is to express my contempt for your perversion of language, truth and logic. (and scattered a few hints along the way to highlight that)
          If that were all, I would have ignored this perversion, just as I would ignore the ramblings of a lunatic who believed s/he were Napoleon.
          But that is not all. Your perverted arguments serve only to support and promote tyranny. And NOT, as you seem to wish the world to believe, to support human progress.

        • @niknak, My apologies for not responding earlier – I’ve been busy with other stuff. You are right that Andrew Neather’s phrase came in an article, not an interview. But the point is that everyone jumped on a phrase about diversity and the right (a phrase that came not from a document but described a ‘sense’ that Neather had after some discussions with colleagues) and turned it into a New Labour plot. Melanie Phillips, for instance, claimed that Labour policy ‘was done to destroy for ever what it means to be culturally British’. Neather himself subsequently wrote:

          Somehow this has become distorted by excitable Right-wing newspaper columnists into being a ‘plot’ to make Britain multicultural. There was no plot. I’ve worked closely with Ms Roche and Jack Straw… both were robust on immigration when they needed to be’.

          This may not be ‘9/11 truther stuff’ but such overheated, distorted conspiracy claims do little to enable sane discussions about immigration.

          Finally, it is not that there is ‘a clear disjunct between Labour’s general enthusiasm for very high immigration and what they said and did about asylum seekers’. It is that for a short period at the end of the 90s/beginning of the Noughties, the economic boom persuaded Labour to welcome high levels of immigration from EU accession countries. Labour, like most mainstream parties, has generally looked upon immigration as often necessary but also as a problem to be dealt with.

  5. Tony Buck

    Immigration is necessarily a problem in that it increases the population of (already crowded) countries like the UK, reducing their food and energy security and worsening the housing crisis. Such fears haven’t been fostered by mainstream politicians, who long behaved like ostriches, engaged moreover in a conspiracy of silence, but who now been forced by well-founded public anxiety (and thus by electoral concerns) to engage in the debate.

    The Left can’t help because they have nothing to offer except truly laughable woffle about vibrant, tolerant, cosmopolitan societies, blah blah – which helps no one. On what matters – how to arrange national and world economies – they have precisely zilch to offer except pious and hopeful sentiments.

  6. Tony Buck

    Fact – the West is Going South. Because of globalisation, which the politicians cannot deal with, principally because they signed up to it.

    The politicians thus appear (and are) impotent clowns, unable to grapple with the very real problems caused by globalisation. No wonder the public is disaffected.

    And when protestors cry out “Where is the Left ?”, the Left is nowhere to be seen, because on the important issues, the Left is merely a hole in the air.

    Why ? The Left’s obsession with the past, its reluctance to live in the real world (as it is, not as it should be), its lack of original economic thinking, its hatred of traditional religion – and above all, its disdain for ordinary people, never more evident than when it is pretending not to be disdainful.

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