DIVIDE AND RULE: UKIP’S DAMAGE TO THE WORKING CLASS

by Katherine Lucas

Since its formation in 1993, UKIP has prided itself on its anti-system rhetoric.

Under Nigel Farage’s wisdom, UKIP has latched onto fears about immigration, and in doing so, has done enormous damage to the working classes. Put simply, inciting racial tension is in no way beneficial to a social group that includes people who come from all over the world.

Perhaps it should be of little surprise that a party run by a former inner-city London stock broker do not have the interests of the working classes at heart, but that is certainly not in line with his promises. Through exercising ‘divide and rule’, Farage has injected tension among those who previously stood a better chance of securing change through collective action.

Despite claims of a new era of politics, there appears to be little more to UKIP than Farage’s buffoonery. It renders the party an elaborate con trick, lacking in substance and struggling to hold on to its place in ‘protest voting’. Key policies, including an immediate departure from the EU, could obviously have a disastrous effect on working people across the UK, millions of whom benefit from its trade benefits. To some extent, this is irrelevant so long as UKIP is not actually in power; however, that does not mean that is campaign is innocuous.

(© unite)

Farage has injected tension among those who previously stood a better chance of securing change through collective action.

UKIP has not been the only factor in bringing an unnecessarily sharp focus on immigration to the forefront of British politics, but it has been an important one. As a consequence, the various nationalities that make up the working class are polarised, for little reason other than UKIP’s alarmist approach.

In the past, the slogan, ‘Black and White Unite’ was used as a reminder that in order for the working classes to be heard, ethnic tensions would need to be put aside. Hence, the British National Party (BNP) has essentially admitted defeat in its battle for the working class vote, because politics along ethnic lines is simply not feasible in this country, in the way that it is in some parts of the world, such as Bosnia and Hercegovina.

(© 10and5.)

politics along ethnic lines is simply not feasible in this country

Immigration levels are a genuine concern for Britain’s working class, which UKIP had an opportunity to tap into; yet, the party’s over-stated, ill-informed scaremongering has prevented them from relating to this key part of the electorate. More importantly, it is a sector which could achieve drastic change were it to be united, but UKIP’s role in placing immigration at the centre of the election campaign has stopped that from happening.

Arthur Scargill was the trigger needed for the 1984-85 miners’ strike, but such direct action is unlikely in 2015. What is possible, on the other hand, is for the upcoming General Election to be used as a statement of intent.

miners strike 1984-5

(Miners’ wives try to prevent a coach leaving Garth Colliery during the 1984-85 © walesonline)

UKIP is therefore a barrier to working class progress. It is a question fundamentally about identity. The kind of rhetoric employed by Farage encourages only an ethnic identity, rather than a class one. This leaves pockets of alienated communities, which could have formed as one body, but have been left fractioned and disillusioned; in other words, we are left with what is effectively an ideal situation for a Conservative government afraid of change or class equality.

UKIP is therefore a barrier to working class progress.

Admittedly, all this would be less of an issue had David Cameron’s record been less about austerity and more about progress. In reality, Cameron’s coalition has been characterised by welfare cuts. As it stands, therefore, the working class is not in a position to ignore mainstream politics – regardless of Russell Brand’s opinions.

More than ever, this election is about class. It is a war pitting different economic brackets against each other, and it is vital that the outcome of this is not left as a foregone conclusion.

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