Friday, 23 May 2014

Done up by 'Kippers - and the missing Miliband

Despite the BBC's seeming embrace of everything Farage, the "breakthrough" by UKIP is only one of the key results of the English local elections.  Before the European results are counted, it may be pertinent to observe that the main show in town has been the seeming desire to get easy headlines from Nigel and his nasty bunch of proto-nationalists, who object to being called out on racism and fascism and neatly wish to deny freedom of speech to those who do.  Therefore the European election will have artificially inflated support for UKIP without having any real transferability into the nasty campaign we are about to embark upon.

UKIP's rise is linked closely to the rather more measured disconnection with London politics that is gaining momentum for the regionalist parties in Scotland and Wales.  Indeed, the funniest moment of the entire process to date was on the radio this morning where one of the kipper family explained away her party's dismal showing in the capital on the basis that the population there was more diverse and better-educated.  A party based around the support of thick white racists is an alarming prospect, but this is a much more deep-rooted malaise which has yet to be addressed through the democratic process.

England, as an entity, is incoherent and not culturally or socially aligned.  The increasing bubble economy of the South-East and the continued emphasis on austerity in areas where the pips have squeaked their last is one of the reasons why the Coalition parties have been hammered - and the dominance of London in the media and in the minds of politicians is now being punished.  Scotland and Wales have developed their own political constructs and therefore are immune to the bogus charms of Farage.  The fact that there have been well-educated, and presumably therefore well-informed, people in London who have endorsed Johnson does somewhat undermine this argument, but he is a London celebrity in a culture of vacuum and ideological flux.

What has been much more interesting is the silence of Miliband during both the local and European campaigns.  Whereas Clegg at least gambled on the pro-EU position, Miliband's lack of engagement has been stunning.  Labour's tactics appear to have been to let the Coalition parties take the strain while not making any clear riposte to the lies and humbug being peddled by the Kippers.  This has severely dented Labour claims to be a party that stands up for principle - or indeed for a positive engagement.  The only reason to vote Labour, in many places, would be to stitch up the Tories, but Miliband should be in a position by now to define some form of programme for government that might enthuse the electorate.

Instead, he has retreated into the New Labour fastness of policy advisers, interns and the chattering classes.  Rather than making it clear that there are alternatives to the crony capitalism and unfettered greed that the Tories and their fellow-travellers promote at all costs, he has tried a kinder, gentler tyranny on the same basis that Blair removed Major.  Yet if anything can be drawn from UKIP it is that people are genuinely fed up with the inadequacies of the current system - and in the absence of a party like the SNP this is expressed through a truculent, incoherent snarl.  Farage's success would not stand up to close scrutiny of his politics or programme, which is why the party resorted to threats and intimidation against blogger and anti-fascist campaigners.  Yet Miliband is silent, even on occasion pandering to the fear and the myths that have suddenly achieved the impossible, and degraded politics to the extent where all we have to look forward to is both Labour and the Tories slavishly pandering to a perceived lowest common denominator of ignorance, fear, lies and greed.

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