Why UKIP is winning in England

Nigel Farage’s UKIP party won two by-elections last night in England and for once the British conservative press is asking the right questions. Why is UKIP winning?

Speaking of former Tory MPs and now UKIP supporters, Tim Stanley writes:

Somehow these posh, wide boys have managed to connect with an extraordinary coalition of angry middle-class and alienated working-class voters. How?

The answer must surely lie with collapsing faith in Westminster. The Credit Crunch, the expenses scandal, NHS horror stories, child abuse nightmares, even the dark hints of paedophile gangs at the heart of power – it all adds up to a sense that the establishment is irredeemably broken. And attempts by the mainstream parties to fix it are undone by their lack of cultural legitimacy. If there really is a class war going on, Labour has totally abandoned its position as the voice of the workers.

UKIP started the class war, and is winning it, says Stanley.

I am reminded of the Reform Party’s march to power in Canada. When we started in eastern Canada, we were just a bunch of middle aged guys with computers, deeply angry at the state of Canada under both Mulroney and especially Chretien. I mention computers because, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, computer literacy was just beginning. We were not the mouth-breathing bigots of legend.

We were crapped on by the CBC. Peter Gzowski was telling us our values were “un-Canadian”. Opinion coverage in the CBC would feature three left-wingers, Tory, Liberal and NDP, discussing why balanced budgets were wrong. Then as now, the Globe and Mail was a source of smug fatuity, condescending to explain to us the errors of our ways.

Those organs of opinion still exist, and the opinions represented by those organs still prevail in many parts of Canada. Yet for the main part, Canada has moved on. Geoffrey Simpson used to be the prophet; now he is chronicler of opinion among the Assistant Deputy Ministers and the kind of people who live in Ottawa’s The Glebe district.

So was it a “class war” we Reformers were waging? Perhaps you have to be a Brit to see it that way. I saw the Reform movement as an attempt to re-connect Canadian politics to Canadian values: the real ones. Since the fight between us Reformistas on the one hand and everyone else on the other was a cultural fight, it was fought over bitterly. The Laurentian hereditary Liberal upper class was being uprooted, and continues to be uprooted, from their accustomed seats of power. In so doing the Canadian nation has at long last been allowed to see itself in the mirror, and likes what it sees.

Will the same process continue in England? Will UKIP eventually unseat the Tories from their thrones of power? Read this:

To beat Ukip and retake command of the national political narrative, the mainstream parties have to reconnect with the people and to demonstrate that they share their concerns, are being honest about the problems ahead, and have faith in the common sense of ordinary people. Labour and the Tories have to remember that – to borrow an American phrase – the average man and the average woman is the king and queen of British politics. They are the masters and the successful politician is simply their servant.

The Tories in England will not be able to do this under Cameron;  they will only be able to do this under the leadership of Nigel Farage. Whether UKIP assimilates the Tory party, as Reform did to the wet Tories here, or whether he marches to power over the corpse of the Tory party, is the relevant question.

There as here, when the hereditary governing party starts to see the nation as alien to itself, and inferior, and in need of replacing, then the days of the hereditary governing party will not be long. Here it was the Liberals. There it remains the Tories. If Canada is a model, then Farage will win, because the British people want him to.

 

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Nicola Timmerman

Unfortunately Reform never took root in Quebec. I know, because I was a long-time campaigner there for the Reform Party and later the Conservative Party. In Quebec the elite still rules – they all go to the same schools and know one another well.

monkey

I don’t believe Reform ran many candidates in 1993 or 1997 in Quebec as well as with many of its MPs making anti-Quebec comments that probably played a role too. the ADQ in 2007 was very much a conservative party and did not too bad. Likewise the PLQ ran on an austerity plan unlike the OLP and the CAQ also is centre-right so Quebecers are not totally opposed to centre-right policies, rather you need a leader who can connect with Quebecers and neither Manning or Day could do this. To be fair some Red Tories like Joe Clark and Robert Stanfield faced the same problem too.

PO'ed in AB

I’d say that that Laurentian elite is firmly ensconsed in the Ontario legislature, after the last election. That bunch will unseat the Harper Tories in 2015, in cahoots with their pals east of the Ottawa, unless they up their game. Too many urban & provincial seats looking over the fence to their neighbours’ wealth to fund their day to day trivia. Provincial governments and some municipalities are undermining the Harper Tories’ efforts to turn this country around. I’d say that’s the HT’s own fault as they haven’t been more forceful in expounding on how they see the country’s future. They need to “paint” the target (to use a military term), light it up so to speak so that voters have a real consideration of what NOT voting Conservative will entail.

monkey

The UKIP may do well, but they may also follow the route the BC Conservatives did who were polling at similar numbers but did poorly in the general election. The thought of prime-minister Ed Millbrand will probably scare some back to the Tories as well as those going from Labour to UKIP, once their stances on taxes for the rich and NHS are exposed it might cause some to think twice. Many working class Brits want less immigration and withdrawal from the EU, but also support the NHS and Britain’s social welfare system. Also another key difference is Reform support was heavily concentrated in the West while quite weak in the East so they could turn those votes into seats. UKIP support tends to be spread more evenly much like the Old PCs who got as many votes as Reform but due to lack of concentration couldn’t translate them into seats.

As for the Laurentian Elites, Reform’s failure was more they were just too right wing for most Canadians. Most Canadians are close to the centre or tilt slightly leftwards and that has nothing to do with the elites or media, but rather our history as they say 80% of Canadians vote the way their parents do and as a country of immigrants Canada generally attracted those who favoured a more activist government since those who wanted a smaller one went south of the border. The biggest difference between the Conservatives today and the PCs is the Conservatives support many of Reform’s goals and welcome them in the tent unlike the PCs who were hostile to them but at the same time Harper has focused on what’s doable vs. not realizing swinging too right too quickly will just backfire so better to do it slowly over time.

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