Sunday, October 26, 2014

Does UKIP reflect people's "real concerns" or more often try and create concerns in people who wouldn't otherwise have them?

If UKIP did reflect people's real concerns there would be merit in the argument that they perform a useful function. But of course it doesn't. What it does do is seed doubts in the minds of some of the electorate and imply that they should worry about things they mostly don't. This starts with the Europhobia. On the fringes of politics there are some otherwise sentient people who argue that Britain should be outside the EU. But the vast majority of politicians of all major parties, every business leader, every diplomat and most media commentators know that it is inconceivable. UKIP from the start has blamed the EU for every real and imagined ill of our society. It is gut stuff, intellectually bereft and would in normal times just be an irritant - the insect you flap away.

The same with their, linked, anti-immigration rants. Here we enter scapegoat territory with a vengeance. It isn't really about immigration at all. It's about multiculturalism. Our society is racially mixed, especially in some parts of our cities. UKIP doesn't like this. Some of our citizens don't like it either (though ironically it is often in the monocultural towns of the South that this feeling is strongest! The citizens of the Midlands and Northern cities affected have long since got on with making their multicultural areas work!). UKIP wants current immigration stopped or hugely reduced. But the extent of current immigration is very small compared with quantum of those already here and their descendants. There are 3m British South Asians (mainly originally from India and Pakistan) but only 50,000 immigrants of South Asian origins each year. "Doing something" about this level of immigration would have zero effect on the extent of our multicultural society. Only ethnic cleansing and forced repatriation would do this, and even UKIP isn't proposing this.

The objection to EU migrants is equally intellectually bereft. The two-way flow of people to and from Britain within the EU is, as every proper study shows, mutually beneficial. On the fringes there are those who come here to benefit from our Welfare State - but the numbers are insignificant. The vast majority of these immigrants add net value, just as the vast majority of working Britons add value when they move to another European country. UKIP can find stories of dysfunctional behaviour by Romanians or Poles if it digs enough. But as with their other positions they peddle prejudice not reason, lies not facts. 


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