The United Kingdom is due for a general election on 7 May, 2015, and there are signs that the British political landscape may be transformed by the UK Independence Party (UKIP) at this election:
That in turn will mean a strong impetus to take Britain out of the EU in the coming years.
A lot of people on the British Left seem to think taking Britain out of the EU would be a bad idea, but they are mostly deluded Leftists who have an unrealistic, utopian and even quasi-religious faith in the European Union. In reality, the Eurozone and European Union are in an existential crisis today, because they really are failed states.
The Eurozone and EU were constructed on the bankrupt ideas that (1) you can have a monetary union without a fiscal union, (2) you can run a successful economy on the fraud of New Consensus neoclassical economics and harsh neoliberalism, and (3) national democracy doesn’t really matter anymore.
This is why the Eurozone is the train wreck it is today. Peripheral nations have had depressions (e.g., Ireland and Greece) or severe recessions (e.g., Italy and Spain). Eurozone unemployment stands at about 11.2%. That is depression-level unemployment. And if you think this is bad, just look at Eurozone youth unemployment: it stands at about 22.9%. This is a catastrophe and outrage. It is sheer destruction of future generations.
Moreover, large numbers of Europeans – both on the Left and Right – are coming to hate the Eurozone and are increasingly skeptical about the European Union as well, because the EU is rightly perceived as being extremely anti-democratic and taking away the sovereignty of member states, even those states that do not use the Euro.
The rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is largely a symptom of the collapse in public confidence in the Eurozone and EU.
A large part of UKIP’s new base of supporters seems to come from disaffected Conservative party voters. We can get a feel for why this is happening in the video interview below of Neil Hamilton, Deputy Chairman of UKIP.
It is obvious that opposition to the EU, its anti-democratic nature and mass immigration from the EU to Britain are major issues for the Conservative base of UKIP.
UKIP inspires an irrational hysteria from the British Left, and usually it is accompanied by cries of racism. No doubt there are some UKIP voters who are racist or xenophobic, but frankly I think the Left overestimates the numbers and influence of such people in UKIP. The British Left’s response to UKIP is often infantile.
Even UKIP’s hostility to immigration – at least by the leadership and in its party platform – is almost completely about open door, mass immigration from the EU nations, and how this poses economic and social problems for Britain. Those concerns do not prove everyone or most people in UKIP are racists or xenophobes, even though nobody denies that some such vocal and ugly people really do vote for the party. In reality, UKIP’s proposed reforms on immigration, as described on its party website here, would make the UK have an immigration policy rather like that of Canada or New Zealand. The last time I checked these nations were tolerant liberal democracies – not racist, fascist states. The fact is that the truly sinister far-right party in the coming election in the UK is the British National Party (BNP), not UKIP. I have little doubt that a UKIP government would be ugly, mainly because of its free market and Thatcherite bent, but things need to be kept in perspective.
The two issues that seem to concern most UKIP votes – the failed Eurozone and EU and its anti-democratic nature – should be of extreme concern to people on the Left.
For the fact is that UKIP’s rise is a sign of the utter bankruptcy of the British New Labour party as well – not just the Conservative party.
Everyone knows New Labour sold out and became a neoliberal party a long time ago (apart from a brief flash of sanity from about 2008–2010 when the party rediscovered some of its Keynesian heritage). But it is clear that New Labour supports the failed EU with a utopian passion too, and this will probably start hurting it politically in a serious way in the coming years.
Why, you ask? What should sound alarm bells is that Labour voters in significant numbers are abandoning the party and are now willing to vote for UKIP, as we can see here, here, here, here, and here.
A brief summary of this phenomenon can be seen in the video below with respect to the (1) Clacton and (2) Heywood and Middleton by-elections on 9 October, 2014 last year.
The Labour party needs radical reform. It needs to utterly abandon neoliberalism and rediscover Keynesian economics and social democracy. It needs to commit to creating full employment again. It also needs – at the very least – to support a fair referendum on Britain’s EU membership and most probably move to opposing the EU and accept that a majority of people in Britain probably want out of the EU completely. It needs to stand up for national economic and political sovereignty – not failed, anti-democratic, neoliberal utopian experiments like the EU.
If the Labour party does not change, it will become totally worthless, and a new left-wing party will have to rise to replace it. But there is no sign whatsoever of this happening.
More likely, the Left in Britain is doomed if New Labour continues down its path of neoliberalism and pro-EU fantasies.
The future of politics in Britain may well be a UKIP and anti-EU Conservative coalition, which will be ugly indeed since UKIP is likely to be Thatcherite on economics and will have a crazy libertarian wing.