Warning signs as Ukip's neo-nasties cash in
The massive vote for Ukip in the English local elections alongside its second place in the South Shields by-election is confirmation, if any was needed, that the political system is dying on its feet. We have now entered a period of the known unknowns.
As defeated Conservative councillor Alexis McEvoy remarked: "For UKIP to come from nowhere like this, you have to ask, what is going on?”
Political uncertainty and instability is the last thing the ruling economic and financial elites want. But that’s what they’re getting across Europe as disgruntled voters – for a variety of reasons – turn away from mainstream parties or simply stay at home.
South Shields was retained by Labour but on a 39% turnout which saw Ukip reducing its majority while the Lib Dems polled just a few hundred votes and lost their deposit. That is the price they paid for propping up the Tory government.
With Ukip picking up more than 26% of the votes in the council elections, the shockwaves are making themselves felt right across Westminster. John Curtice, the elections expert, said Ukip achieved "an astounding performance of a historic scale" and had a chance to "reshape the structure of English party politics".
No party is safe from the rampaging Ukip, with its right-wing brand of populism which is founded on blatant anti-foreigner, anti-European Union, nationalist prejudices. Ukip has so few policies that internal emails revealed they are thinking of buying ready-made policy packages from right-wing think tanks.
But that did not stop the disaffected from registering their disgust at the mainstream parties in a protest vote which if repeated in 2015 would almost certainly produce another coalition government.
If Labour had hoped to benefit from the hatred of the ConDems, they were sorely disappointed. In fact, their accommodation to the crisis with austerity-lite policies is responsible, in part at least, for the rise of Ukip. Further shifts to the right are to be expected. Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman indicated as much when she said Ukip’s rise was a "wake-up call" to other parties. "We should listen very seriously if people are feeling disaffected and disenchanted.”
All petit-bourgeois populists take aim at the ruling political and social elites and Nigel Farage, Ukip’s leader, is no exception. He told the BBC that "the people who vote for us are rejecting the establishment and quite right too". He added: “Three parties, three fronts benches who look the same and sound the same and made up of people who basically have never had a job in the real world.”
That much is indisputable. The logic of Farage’s politics is, however, to replace the Milibands and Camerons with a group of neo-nasties who would make the present incumbents look positively pleasant.
The local election results are in line with a recent poll that showed that voters have lost faith in the state’s ability to restore living standards to pre-recession levels. Peter Kellner, president of YouGov which carried out the poll for the Resolution Foundation, said: "The larger truth is that pessimism abounds. The dominant mood is that things will continue to get worse… I cannot recall a time when so many voters had so little faith in the ability of politicians to secure prosperity."
So there you have it. The economic crisis of capitalism has in turn generated a profound crisis in the political system. All the danger signs are there with the growth of Ukip. The mainstream parties have no answers because they are beholden to markets, corporations and the banks.
Far from defending our partial democracy, the ConDems and New Labour before them, sold it to the highest bidder. Opposing Ukip therefore involves fighting for a real democratic transformation, a revolutionary change that leads to a progressive society, a future without capitalism.
3 May 2013