UKIP is not a racist party, but its economic policy is bunk
The notion that UKIP is a racist party is fallacious and deeply unfair. Detractors should instead focus on UKIP's real flaws, of which there are many
The notion that UKIP is a racist party (amongst an onslaught of other attacks) is fallacious and insulting to the sympathisers of UKIP who were already alienated by the mainstream political parties prior to the wild accusations of racism.
Rather than attempting to dismantle UKIP’s policies and highlight its flaws, political commentators and the mainstream media have instead focused on extreme members of the party. Ironically, these same people would be outraged if all immigrants, for example, were discriminated against due to the actions of a minority. In recent months, Dan Hodges has proclaimed that “UKIP is a racist party” and the BBC too has focused on stories of racism and homophobia.
UKIP’s stance on immigration is often berated for being at best xenophobic, or, indeed, in some cases racist. Barbara Roche, former Immigration Minister under Labour, claimed “UKIP's campaign needs to be exposed for what it is, a racist campaign... They are deploying the same language and tactics used by openly racist parties like the BNP, but instead of targeting migrants from Africa and Asia they are targeting migrants from within the EU."
Ironically, the rhetoric from her own party surrounding immigration has not been dissimilar from UKIP’s. In the words of Yvette Cooper, “immigration needs to be properly controlled and managed” and “stronger controls are needed”. Under the last Labour government, Gordon Brown promised “British jobs for British workers”; it almost sounds like Farage.
The Tories too have pledged to control immigration: Cameron aimed for a reduction in immigration to the “tens of thousands”, whilst 95 Conservative MPs supported an amendment which would repatriate control of Britain’s borders from Brussels.
Moreover, Ian Duncan Smith said in an interview with the Sunday Times that EU migrants should not have the right to claim benefits from the state for two years after their arrival. Even the Liberal Democrats are guilty of pandering to nationalists; Nick Clegg has gleefully claimed 90 percent of new jobs have gone to British workers.
In reality, it is our current immigration system (which is broadly supported by the Westminster elite) that is more race-based than the system advocated by UKIP. After abandoning support for a five-year freeze on immigration, UKIP has advocated both a work permit and Australian-style points system and is thus the least determined by race.
In fact, since EU immigrants are predominantly white, the current EU immigration system actually discriminates in favour of white immigrants. Conversely, UKIP‘s proposed system views all immigration candidates equally.
Since the Four Freedoms of the European Union were entrenched in UK law, the majority of politicians who have claimed they have cut immigration have done so through cutting non-EU migration. Immigration Minister James Brokenshire has said, “Our reforms have cut non-EU migration to its lowest level since 1998 and there are now 82,000 fewer people arriving annually from outside the EU than when this government came to power.” Meanwhile, Ed Miliband has also vowed to reduce non-EU immigration.
By contrast, it is likely UKIP’s system will actually increase the proportion of immigrants from ethnic minorities. A system based solely on skill and education would do little to stymie diversity and, instead, would check the wave of unskilled migrants currently arriving from the EU.
Rather than dismissively referring to UKIP as racist, commentators should perhaps focus on dismantling and critiquing its policies to highlight its many flaws.
UKIP’s spending plans make Labour look as fiscally prudent as Milton Friedman. UKIP believes “tax should be as low as possible” (with the abolition of inheritance tax and taking those on minimum wage out of income taxation completely) and pledges to "reduce tax and business costs to stimulate the economy", with a firm belief that "council taxes should go down, not up".
In terms of spending cuts, EU membership and foreign aid appear to be the only cuts forecast as necessary. Under a UKIP government, Farage et al pledge to avoid cuts to frontline policing (whilst doubling the amount of prison places), to create a new wave of new grammar schools, and to oppose cuts to frontline doctors, surgeons, dentists and nurses. Not to be forgotten, the party has also committed to improving road care and upgrading public transport".
Either UKIP has discovered the illusive money tree which Labour needed under Gordon Brown’s premiership, has found a way to finance huge tax cuts solely through the abolition of foreign aid and local government cuts, or its economic policies are not viable. It’s likely the latter.
If the Westminster elite wishes to detract from UKIP’s support, a comprehensive critique of its policies is necessary to highlight its inability to govern efficaciously. Given the importance of the economy around the time of General Elections, and the need to reduce the vast government debt, a disorganised economic policy that seems too good to be true will not appeal to voters.
But UKIP support remains strong and it is polling at unprecedented levels for a supposed single-issue party. Indeed, the prospect of UKIP having the most British MEPs after May 22nd is looking ever more likely.
Ironically, it is the Conservative Party’s insistence on a scrap, amongst other factors, which is helping UKIP to thrive as an anti-establishment party.
The Conservatives in particular, therefore, must focus on its recent economic successes – whether it’s the creation of over a million private sector jobs, the prediction of the strongest economic growth in the G7, or vast falls in unemployment – instead of deploying dour, negative tactics.
Joe Storey has written for Conservative Home and the Huffington Post
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