With the rise of UKIP, more ideologically, with the help of the media, than statistically – given that UKIP’s projected national vote share figure of 17% is lower than the 23% it got in council elections last year and they actually still do not control a local council in the UK – there is an intensification of hate speech and a growing anti-immigration agenda. This ignores the very low numbers of people actually voting – over 60% of people in the UK did not vote in the European elections for instance, hardly a mass panic to flock to the polls to state their anger through UKIP. More dangerous disillusionment and apathy. Also a limited sense of voting being a hard fought for right and something many people have sadly begun to take for granted.
Nevertheless, coupled with this periodic, corresponding to economic cycles, rise of hate is often the increasing throwing around of terms such as ‘Islamification’ wrongly categorising a group of people and the idea that the British way of life – whatever that is – is being some how ‘taken over’ by ‘alien’ invasions. These fears are nothing new, and the lack of evidence to back such fears is also nothing new. But the media love fear, as do the hate based parties such as UKIP, and they love using such fear to whip up moral panics about so-called problems that don’t exist – like when most uncritically reported, in tune with UKIP and the Tories, that there would be a rapid influx of Romanians and Bulgarians into the UK when visa restrictions were lifted in January; there was actually a reduction by 4,000 compared to the last three months of 2013 when visas were required.
However, despite such hyperbolic, unsubstantiated claims there is sadly a very uncomfortable fascist right-wing, more tolerated sentiment bubbling in England – less so in areas of the UK such as Scotland, so even more reason you can’t blame them for wanting to leave the confines of UK Parliament, but they do now have a UKIP MEP sadly – and across the EU, even if it is dramatised by the media. This relates to the increasing neoliberal institutionalisation that has happened in the Eurozone countries as a result of measures such as the Stability and Growth Pact.
For instance, when you consider France and Hollande’s despairing performance in the European elections, France have been trying desperately to meet the 3% EU deficit Stability & Growth target – under Germany’s command – and the National Front has partly capitalised on the effects and discontent caused by this. Ironically, Merkel’s CDU has done okay (but not fantastic, judged historically), when she is key to enforcing these measures on other countries. Despite Germany being so adamant to reaffirm these commitments given the crisis, Germany breached Stability & Growth pact deficit & debt conditions in 1998–99, 2002–05 and 2008–10. There’s irony for you.
Another irony is that there is one cultural, economic and political imposition we need to be concerned about, that has impeded our lives, our living standards and our well-being and it is rarely talked about and when it is talked about it is taken as a given, an ‘inevitable’ force of economic nature or as a positive influence on our society and way of life and we have to embrace the ideology and measures associated with it to compete and win in what this government likes to term the ‘global race’. I am talking about Americanisation and the neoliberal, but corporate welfare, agenda that has impeded social democratic policies and progress. This isn’t a natural force, it’s a political programme that has been institutionalised through US led bodies such as the IMF or non-US led institutions such as Europe sadly forgetting their socially democratic routes. If such institutional imposition fails, there is always force and the US are leaders in making sure their foreign policy and economic agenda are aligned.
By Americanisation I am referring to the economic, political and social relations so prevalent in the US that emphasises limited state (well, except if you are in need of corporate welfare), ‘free’ markets, individualism, consumption, debt, greed, environmental destruction, survival of the fittest, limited workers’ rights and a dangerous divide between those that have stuff and those that don’t.
This really set in after the Nixon Shock and the de-linking of gold reserves to the value of money – this saw money increasingly become worthless with it being created out of complex mechanisms such as collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps that even the people issuing such complex bonds and tools didn’t understand. This is something the UK, well the City of London, copied and was encouraged to through post-Big Bang deregulation and privatisation and “Greed Is Good” rhetoric.
This imposition on a way of life that after the Second World War lead to a post war consensus based around compassion, fairness, security, health and well-being is ignored and not talked about. Or if it is, it’s seen as an inevitable takeover with the social, political and economic ‘laws’ kicking in.
This increasing erosion relates to the the NHS (through privatisation, especially given now all services can pretty much be privatised under Section 75), the welfare state (with the intensification of the deserving and undeserving poor discourse and policies, as everyone is assumed a benefit cheat despite an incredibly low rate of benefit fraud at only £1.2 billion whilst people have to choose between heating their home or eating at a food bank that the government says is only popular because it has been better advertised), the housing sector (with Thatcher’s right to buy selling off cheap affordable houses in the public sector, with this government intensifying this whilst capping benefits and introducing the bedroom tax to drive up homelessness and rent arrears and then blaming the households for ‘bringing it on’ themselves).
But ideology has changed so much – with Thatcher deserving credit for promoting an Ayn Rand discourse – that this is seen by so many people, encouraged by the mass media, as ‘inevitable’. We need to cut jobs, benefits, the health service, council resources, wages, libraries, education resources, prison resources and everything else this government is intent on destroying because, well, we just have.
The Americanisation, neoliberal politics and economics encouraged especially since the 1980s has created an excessively unsustainable and leveraged financial economy, where people gambled with money across the world that didn’t exist, wasn’t based on credible or even real assets and still people have no idea what toxicity they may have on their balance sheets. Rather than reforming a system that doesn’t work, that is inherently flawed, these very people are saved, become richer and also tell everyone else that for their own good – and because the system ‘needs’ it – we have to cut benefits, jobs, resources and services. Such increasing inequality is then, through the media especially and also parties such as UKIP, pinned on marginalised groups. This is where you get the racism, anti-immigration and divide and rule politics going on.
You see places like Rotherham electing 10 UKIP councillors when they wouldn’t touch a Tory after what they did to their community but Farage has claimed that UKIP are “the true inheritors of Thatcher” and that Thatcher would join them if she was alive. Many people that really need this system to change either vote for the problem or don’t vote reinforcing the problem. Apathy is the biggest problem as these hate parties benefit from hate towards the system. But don’t be fooled, Farage is a public schooled, former stockbroker elite. He isn’t one of the people.