Nigel Farage’s UKIP party won a significant breakthrough in the Warwickshire area at the recent European elections, and its success is poisoning the political environment, says Owen Jones, an organiser with the HOPE not hate campaign.
UKIP secured 31.5% of the votes in the region, enough to take three of seven available seats representing the West Midlands in the European Parliament. On the plus side, the British National Party, a fascist group, won just 1.5%, down from 7.1% in 2009. On the downside, all the main political parties have in the aftermath of the result rushed to pander to the fears UKIP have exploited, hardening their stances on the EU and immigration, rather than seek to challenge the basis for them.
UKIP is different from other political groups that HOPE not hate has previously campaigned against. It is not a fascist party, nor is it avowedly racist like the BNP, but it is xenophobic and has campaigned to exploit fears over immigration. What is concerning is UKIP’s tactics. They have increasingly focused on immigration, and have campaigned on little else. They have scaremongered over the arrival of Bulgarians and Romanians, with some of their leaflets claiming that 29 million people could arrive in Britain – which is a figure greater than the combined populations of both countries. A recent YouGov poll discovered that 87% of UKIP voters believe “all further immigration to the UK should be halted” and 51% do not believe that Britain has benefited from immigration. All this flies in the face of facts that are well-known by informed people – economists generally agree that immigration is good for the British economy, and are not a drain on, say, local services and the welfare state – but not by UKIP supporters, misinformed by scaremongering in the popular press.
HOPE not hate led a massive campaign during the European elections to push back against this tide and stand up for modern multicultural Britain. We’ll need your support in the run up to the next general election if we’re to halt the rise of UKIP.