We need to be bolder in pushing back against UKIP

by Helen Mirfin-Boukouris

As a Labour candidate currently campaigning in the OMOV process, the matter of UKIP and how we confront their performance in the polls and recent by-elections frequently comes up.  I expect all Labour candidates now wonder what magic bullet there might be to confront their current upsurge beyond simply hoping that they will burn themselves out as they grow, diverge and crumble under the weight of their own vanity and incoherence.

But that is not good enough is it?  How can I, who have been in a Labour family all my life not stand up especially now and challenge offensive politics?

On the door step campaigning, I know of people who will tell you they are voting UKIP.  They are cross and are protesting in the familiar tradition of giving established parties a poke in the eye for letting them down be it because of losing a job, losing weekly wheelie bin services, waiting longer in hospital. Watching people who look different to them taking advantage of the same services and feeling somehow that they are being taken for a ride. Nothing the parties say helps them see a better future while paying more again and again.

UKIP come along and say “enough! we shall speak for you.” And it does not really matter what the detail is that they espouse because it is working.  It is frustrating to admit too.  However, I did not spend the last twenty years in the Labour Party to let people get away with this and do nothing.

The UKIP message works because it is a personal message.  It is simple, there is blame and it is easy to remember. If you are outraged by politicians, and those seen as outsiders, getting the better of people who are losing their livelihoods and their futures, it works.

So, we need to make politics personal and show that Labour values matter, using language and facts that resonate with peoples’ daily lives.

In Sheffield, the city council has had to make horrendous cuts to jobs and services with a good deal more to come. My colleagues and I have had to make the best of a dire financial situation which is largely the result of the financial crisis, not from building schools and hospitals under the last Labour government.  We should be willing to say so and be clear about the vast sums it cost to save our economy from a run on our banks.

At a local level I, like other electoral candidates and party members, need to be more confident in what we know and speak up.

In Cleethorpes recently a Labour party councillor crossed over to UKIP a little under a year before standing in the next local elections.  I read her interview and what I see is fear of losing her seat rather than concern about dogma and a party whip.  All parts of the country are losing amenities like swimming pools, as was an example cited in this case.  Crossing the floor will not give Cleethorpes the money back from central government cuts.  Better to fight for the community and the values our party and she represented.

Apparently she has “studied” their policies and agrees with them.  Presumably, workers’ rights like maternity pay, (modest by most developed country standards) paternity leave and redundancy pay are no longer on the list of important items for her?

Put that way I think the case we have is stronger and more just and more important than ever to fight for.

Our case for being in Europe is about jobs, growth and a future for our country.  Fewer people than some would have us believe want a referendum on this side of the election at least.  What they want is a belief in leadership for a future for them, their families and their communities.  We can make a start by speaking about the charlatans who are making fools of people who are already hard done by, then by quantifying the value to Europe to what we have and then by fighting for the growth that the UK and Europe both need.

Cllr Helen Mirfin-Boukouris is a shortlisted Labour European election candidate for the Yorkshire & Humber Region

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5 Responses to “We need to be bolder in pushing back against UKIP”

  1. Ex-labour says:

    Like most Labour politicians, including Miliband, you fail to understand why UKIP are on the rise and why their policies resonate with ordinary people. You also fail, yet again, to acknowledge the part Labour played in the economy. Whilst it started with US banks being pressurised by politicians to solve a political problem, it ended up highlighting profligate governments worldwide who have spent beyond their means. There are some very informative books on the subject which you should take time to read before offering simplistic sound bites.

    But returning to UKIP, they are basically pushing a message which is in accord with the everyday lives of ordinary people. We are ruled by Europe and Labour have consistently handed over powers to the EU as Conservatives have also. You would be amazed just how much our daily lives are influenced by EU laws and regulations, how we can not deport terrorists and criminals and how we can not control our borders.

    Immigration is a huge issue, particularly for the lower paid workers who have seen their livelihoods taken away by being undercut in the Labour market by Eastern Europeans. They see it everyday in their doctors surgeries, their local schools, hospitals etc.

    Then we have benefits which spiralled out of control under Labour who show no real sign of engaging with the public on this issue where all the opinion polls show falling support for Labours position.

    I honestly believe that Labour politicians walk around with their fingers in their ears just not listening to the people. I don’t support UKIP but I understand why people are turning to them. Yes they may well burn out and fade away but don’t just criticise them, listen to the reasons voters are turning to them.

  2. Julian Ruck says:

    To Helen Mirfin-Boukouris,

    Offensive to you, but to the voters?

    As you know better than I, political power is a game of slippery give and take.

    An accommodation of ideological sorts perhaps?


  3. bob says:

    Helen Mirfin-Boukouris: read what Ex Labour has written and inwardly digest. None of the main parties are LISTENING to what the electorate are saying to them. I live in an area in Liverpool which has to my knowledge never returned a labour councilor, unfortunately we have the Lib Dems but because we have a mixed population structure of affluent against poor as a constituency we have a Labour MP. The Lib Dems are good constituency councillors but we have never heard in years from the Labour party at many elections. We were written off many years ago by Derek Hatton as ‘f####ng Tories’.

    Leaving Europe may just be the best thing ever to happen to the UK, Europe will not want to stop exporting to us, as recent figures show they export more to us than we do to them. The argument that it is the other way around is spurious as goods exported through Rotterdam etc are counted as an EU export not to the end user. Do you really believe that we need a supra national government and criminal system, I do not, I believe we are grown enough to look after ourselves and not have a corrupt system. ( Not had accounts signed off for many years, Santer commission sacked for corruption to name but a few.)

    Listen, as you are trying to climb onto the ‘gravy train’ hopefully the electors will wake up and make sure you don’t even get to the station.

    Ex Labour, I salute you for your post.

  4. John Reid says:

    What Julian ruck says

  5. Mike Homfray says:

    There are some things where clearly UKIP and :Labour just have different views.

    If voters want the UK to leave the EU or stop all immigration – then clearly Labour won’t be able to meet their requirements

    We can’t change our view simply to suit those with a different view.

    Its called ‘principles’

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