Ukip: a party of the bosses, for the bosses

Becci Heagney

Channel 4 TV recently raised the prospect of a general election victory for Ukip in its ‘mockumentary’ – Ukip: The First 100 Days. An unlikely outcome this May, however, Ukip could win up to 16 MPs as the support for the traditional parties begins to crumble.

The majority of people do not trust the mainstream parties. Is that any wonder? The Con-Dem coalition has dealt a brutal blow to our living standards while the ‘opposition’ Labour Party has jumped at every opportunity to promise they will do the same.

All the mainstream parties are involved in scandals, with accusations ranging from covering up child sex abuse to MPs accepting ‘cash for access’. The establishment is rotten and it stinks.

Despite numerous examples of its representatives spouting outrageous racist, sexist and homophobic comments, Ukip has been offered up as an alternative – something to hit back against these corrupt, millionaire politicians who are ‘all the same’.

Rich backers

But Ukip leader Nigel Farage is far from being a ‘man of the people’. As a child he attended elite private school Dulwich College. His dad was a stockbroker and Nigel himself was a trader in the City.

This is not an anti-establishment party. In 2013, Ukip’s income was £2.5 million. Half of this was donations from hedge fund managers, ex-Tory donors and media moguls like Richard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers. It shares the same interests as the other big business parties.

Ukip is a right-wing populist party. Its 2010 manifesto, which called for a flat-rate of income tax and privatisation of the NHS, was quickly dropped as Ukip gained more support from working class people.

The new manifesto is a mash up of radical-sounding demands such as free education (for some students), scrapping the bedroom tax, and right-wing crazed demands of abolishing the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Human Rights Act.

In between there is the promise of more austerity with support for a harmful benefit cap and an exploitative ‘workfare’ labour scheme.

The dropping of some anti-working class demands from their manifesto reflects the fact that most Ukip voters actually support left-wing policies. For example, last year, a YouGov opinion poll indicated that over 70% supported renationalisation of the energy companies and railways. Neither of these policies are supported by Labour.

Ukip is not necessarily seen as part of the solution. A Daily Mirror poll in January showed that only 29% of Ukip voters trust the party on the NHS. Just 54% of its own supporters think Farage would make a good prime minister.

When in power, they act in the same way as the Tories. Douglas Carswell, since defecting to Ukip from the Tories, has voted in favour of Tory Chancellor Osborne’s Autumn Spending Review with its extra £30 billion of cuts in public services. Mark Reckless, the other Ukip MP, has been absent for most of his opportunities to vote in Parliament.

Some Ukip councillors have voted against cuts, but this has not been out of concern for workers’ living standards. Instead, it’s a cynical and opportunist attempt to attack the main political parties.

But this is not the norm for Ukip representatives in local government – even in opposition. In Gloucestershire, they joined with the Tories to vote in support of an environmentally unfriendly incinerator being built, despite big community protests.

In Basildon, Ukip supported a rise in rents for council tenants. In Portsmouth, – where they won six seats in the last election and call themselves ‘the real opposition’ – they have supported a cuts budget without so much as a murmur against it.

Ukip were the official opposition in 2013 on Lincolnshire County Council. They voted for the Tory/Lib Dem/Independent coalition cuts budget and refused to sign a declaration that people in Lincolnshire would be treated equally regardless of race.

After allegations of racism and personal feuds between councillors, some split and formed ‘An Independence from Europe’ group. Ukip councillors in Lincolnshire recently argued against an increase in their allowances but then ‘reluctantly’ voted for it.

Why are Ukip gaining votes, then? The YouGov website allows people to comment on why they support a particular party. The most popular answer is that Ukip is either “in touch with” or “stands up for” ordinary people. They are perceived, at least, as being separate to the Westminster clique with its snout in the trough.


Ukip also plays on some workers’ fears over immigration, falsely trying to blame immigrants for the problems workers face. It shouldn’t be a surprise this gets an echo given how much attention is given to the issue of immigration by the right-wing media and all of the political parties.

Ukip’s hysteria around thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians coming to the UK last year was clearly unfounded. However, the Tories and Labour both responded by promising to be even tougher on immigration. This helped elevate immigration as a major cause for concern among voters.

Government and councils’ underfunding and disastrous cut-backs have led many services to breaking point. Ukip offers no solution to these pressing issues. A massive increase in funding, an end to all privatisation and cuts, and a massive house-building programme, are needed – not anti-immigrant propaganda.

In some areas, migrant workers are being paid less than the minimum wage in sweatshop workplaces. All workers deserve to be paid enough to live financially stress free and enjoy dignity at work.

However, Ukip is a party that represents businesses who are seeking to maximise their profits by paying poverty wages. The solution is to unite all workers in a common struggle for a £10 an hour minimum wage, proper contracts and guaranteed hours – not further attacks on workers’ rights.

Out of desperation – because this united fightback is not being organised by the Labour Party and some right-wing trade union leaders – some workers are being drawn towards Ukip.

This doesn’t mean that Ukip-leaning workers have an unthinking belief that Ukip will solve their problems either but instead is seen as sending a clear message to the mainstream parties who think they are untouchable. That is why Farage is seen as a ‘fox among the chickens’ in Parliament.

We need a genuine shake up of politics. Working class people need to build their own mass political party that will fight on the issues that they are most concerned about – the NHS, welfare, jobs and housing. Imagine up to 16 left-wing MPs who stood for socialist policies rather than the dead-end and reactionary policies of Ukip – that would really scare the chickens!

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is a major step towards this. We must take the positive messages of TUSC to those who are frustrated with the same old parties and are tempted to support Ukip and instead fight for real change.

Farage seeks to legalise work discrimination

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has again stirred the racist pot. This time he suggested scrapping workplace laws against racial discrimination, ludicrously arguing that they are no longer needed.

Such a policy would give a green light for employers to ethnically veto job applicants, deepening divisions within the working class along racial lines.

Meanwhile, House of Commons library figures reveal a 50% increase in black, Asian and minority ethnic young people unemployed for a year since the Tory/Lib Dem coalition came to power. This increase has happened despite an officially recorded fall in the number of long-term unemployed 16 to 24 year olds.

‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’

Despite his party’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, Wales Ukip MEP and care company boss Nathan Gill is, it seems, quite happy to exploit migrant workers to benefit his business.

Gill is cited as charging workers from Poland and the Philippines £50 a week out of £200-£300 weekly wages for “bunkhouse” accommodation. He lamely defends this rip-off saying: “I wish I had that proportion of spending money left after paying my mortgage.” As an afterthought Gill said: “I can see how this could look bad”!