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UKIP and the Pervasive Politics of Contemptible Cowardice

October 10, 2014


Today I wake up and find out that the nation that issues me my passport now has an elected representative from UKIP.  I feel a bit dirty, I have to say.  Having a representative from UKIP sitting at Westminster makes Britain a weaker and more disgusting place that it was previously.

UKIP are of course wrong about everything.  If climate change denial were their only wrong policy – it would still be very wrong to ever vote for them.  But they are wrong about Europe, about immigration, about inequality, about public services.  They are wrong about power and responsibility.  They are, meanwhile, factophobes, too cowardly to respond to the evidence that would threaten their core prejudices.

UKIP construct and then exploit a wholly spurious “liberal consensus” which only they it seems are brave enough to challenge.  They present themselves as the only people brave enough to tell the truth about Europe and Immigration.  Nonsense.  There is no liberal consensus in British political  life.  Would that there were.

Political “Courage” does not consist of amplifying prevalent lies and fears.  Political “Courage” if it means anything, means stating and acting on certain facts even if those facts are deemed to be unpopular.  It means confronting truths.  Challenging popular misconceptions.  A party that ignore all data in favour of gut prejudice is by definition a cowardly party – a party of cowards for cowards.

Are they a racist party?  Or, as Farage says, a party that accidentally seems to just have a lot of racists in it.  The word on the streets of Clacton seems to suggest that immigration is a key issue.  Those polled who are most worried have the most inflated idea of the number of immigrants in Clacton or in Britain as a whole – citing vastly inflated numbers and percentages of immigrants flooding Britain and Clacton.  Voters have been reported as saying that London is “full” of immigrants.  Of course, such people do not “see” immigrants – they do not “see” the citizenship status of the people serving them in shops.  They see brown faces and hear odd voices.  Let’s me honest, anti-immigration anxiety is not the product of a careful mathematical survey of the available data.  Such data tells us that anti immigration needs to be assessed in the context of increased emigration, lower birth-rates, longer life-spans, and the fact that immigrants are more likely to be in work and off benefits than most indigenous Britons.

But such detailed data does not address people as they queue to pay for their groceries in Morrisons.  The Daily Mail does.  If Britain enjoyed a vertebrate political culture then elected representatives would consider it their duty to use their public platforms to challenge popular prejudices with careful facts.  The victory of the uber-cowardly UKIP in Clacton is a reflection of the cowardice of Britain’s main three parties.  The cowardice which hears from pollsters that “people are very concerned about immigration” and which then seeks to flatter rather than challenge prejudice.

UKIP, far from being an anti-establishment party – represent the establishment on steroids – they are the avant garde of “kickdownism” as the reigning rhetoric of British political discourse.  When I was a boy, and dim remnants of Judaeo-Christian morality still clung to political life, I was told that it was cowardly to pick on people who are weaker and more vulnerable than you are.  There’s now a broad consensus that when times are tough, it’s time to really pick on the weakest members of society.  If UKIP are the perfect example of populist kickdownism – scapegoating foreigners and immigrants while flattering Britain’s inherited wealth (abolishing inheritance tax remains their only consistent economic policy), then they have done so because others have failed to tackle kickdownism, have failed to suggest that courage consists in standing up to the powerful, not the powerless and marginalised.

Political leaders prefer to spout stuff about “protecting hard-working families” allowing them believe that such families are threatened by the not-hardworking families – a rising tide of feckless untermensch – rather than the fact that hard-working families are most threatened by corporate decisions made by people and institutions who have offshored their wealth and who have no concept of social or national solidarity.

UKIP have triumphed because they are loudest cowards in a culture of cowardice.  To challenge UKIP properly, you need a critical mass of political activists in possession not merely of a brain but a spine as well.  Preferably joined together.

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  1. Tim Frost permalink

    I dare say that immigration doesn’t effect you in your part of affluent north London (just a guess), but it is taking its toll. Tell us, should we just keep letting people in? At what point should we stop? Get yourself down to Barking, Dagenham or East Ham and see what things are really like; it ain’t pretty. Your diatribe reads like a 6th form essay – Daily Mail? Check. Racist? Check. Perhaps it’s time for you to emigrate if you don’t like it here. Wake up and smell the coffee you fool.

    And stop putting a double space after a full stop you annoying twat!

    • I’m sure someone as well informed as yourself has absorbed a great many statistical studies regarding the economic impact of net immigration, taking into account the emigration of Britons of working age, the aging of Britain’s own population and the relative tax contributions made by immigrants. You’ve probably already read this report and produced a calm and cogent refutation of it.

      I’m unclear what you mean by Barking, Dagenham or East Ham not looking pretty? Are you contending that there is something inherently ugly about seeing lots of people who look and sound different to you? But of course you can clarify that. A piece of rhetorical advice, since you were kind enough to offer me a stylistic pointer – the force of your argument is somewhat undermined by personal abuse and “if you don’t like it why don’t you emigrate” type suggestions. But I’m sure you’re a delightful person really, and any subsequent correspondence we may enjoy will be very courteous.

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  1. UKIP and the Pervasive Politics of Contemptible Cowardice | John D Turner
  2. UKIP and the Pervasive Politics of Contemptible Cowardice | conradbrunstrom | sdbast

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