Clacton is a warning: unless Labour gives hope to all of Britain, the politics of fear will grow unchecked

by Ranjit Sidhu

Although Mr Carswell in victory this morning stated that UKIP must be “for all Britain and all Britons: first and second generation as much as every other,“ those who actually voted for Mr Carswell made it very clear their vote was not just a general protest vote; they voted UKIP because it had the “best policies on the particular issues they care about” and foremost amongst those was immigration.

“I like their policies of getting rid of all our immigrants. They’re coming over here and we’re keeping them,” says one

Mr Denham a supporter of the Mr Carswell and UKIP mentioned he moved to Clacton to get “out of the East End”, stating:

“There are lots of people like me here who moved to Clacton for that reason. I wouldn’t want to suggest we should eradicate everyone with brown skin, but this is our country.”

That the UKIP policy on migration control is centred around the “white” East European immigration shows that the UKIP rise is opening up a dormant, ugly wound in British society which many of us had hoped was ancient history.

“We’ve voted Labour before, then swayed towards the Tories, but immigration is becoming a problem in Clacton,” says Mr Slogget

In the 2011 census of the 85,359 who are residents of the Clacton constituency 97.4% (83,176) were white with 95.4% white and British (81,272), with 30 from Pakistani heritage and 35 from an Arabic  background.

The almost total homogenous nature of Clacton is even clearer when looking at the country of birth of the Clacton residents, with 95.7% born in the UK and 93.9% in England itself.  With 589, or 0.7 of one percent coming from the recently joined EU countries surely UKIP’s warning of unfettered immigration from these countries would seem like the least relevant policy for these residents?

So what is going on?

Matthew Parris, in The Times , stated that Clacton by-election should be forgotten by the Conservative’s as the future of Britain was elsewhere, this was backed up by the heavy punch of The Economist, who saw that success was where people were “trying” , making a “good fist of whichever other factors they have at their disposal” and we should turn our back on those dying areas “declining, in spirit”.

Jumping on Matthew Parris’ example, the Economist made the most of comparing Clacton to Cambridge, the town “90 minutes drive away” with the:

“fullest population (66%) with high-level qualifications of any major British city. It sports a GVA/job of £54,000 (40% higher than London), virtually full employment and, with every month, new laboratories, apartment blocks and business parks sprouting along its margins. Fully one in five of its residents were born abroad.”

This comparison is telling as it shows both the absurdity of the argument and how egocentric our understanding of what makes a place economically successful can be. To compare a city that not only historically was gifted generously by the wealthy, but has year upon year millions of yours and my money allocated in research funding grants and structural development to attract the brightest minds and wealthiest companies from around the world, to a town where almost 40% are over 60 and that has just been granted assisted area  status  is not only silly, but arrogant beyond belief- the writer of the Economist article happened to live in Cambridge.

It is an argument anyone who lived in a Welsh mining town or any inner city area in 1980s would be familiar with. This was when the government that Matthew Parris was an MP in derided areas for failing and  that they “should get on their bikes” to get jobs.

The UKIP rise has not accidentally coincided with the Great Recession and the misguided austerity agenda that followed, it is a product of it. In the 80s, as now, we know that if government turns away from a community, be it Clacton or Carmarthenshire, hope is first thing to die. In the 1980s it was strikes and inner city riots that were the response, today UKIP is the outlet. Immigration is a convenient bogeyman for Clacton, a distant irrational figure to blame for governmental failing to provide basic housing, healthcare and worthwhile jobs.

Indeed, scratch the surface below the immigration agenda and we see it is a lack of GPs that is one of the key real concerns for Clacton residents. That it has been beyond the wit of our main parties to translate this pressing issue into a positive tale for why immigration is a good for Britain is a dreadful indictment of modern politics.

Clacton’s election of the first UKIP MP is a warning that if we don’t create a positive agenda of hope, economic investment and renewal for all Britain the ugly politics of fear will grow unchecked in the communities that are missing out of which in Britain today there are many.

Ranjit Sidhu is Director and Founder of SiD, Statistics into Decisions ( and blogs on tumblr here

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11 Responses to “Clacton is a warning: unless Labour gives hope to all of Britain, the politics of fear will grow unchecked”

  1. Michael Taylor says:

    Here’s a suggestion: why not stop labelling everything you don’t like as ‘ugly’. Quite often, it’s a case of simply not listening to a word people are saying.

    Let’s just take today’s example: Farage’s comments about HIV-positive immigration applicants. The universal public reaction from the Left has been to throw up its hands in horror at the sheer nastiness of it. It never seems to occur to these people that a) it’s reasonable not to want to over-burden the NHS unnecessarily; and b) there is nothing compassionate about overburdening the NHS if it means that the person who’s being paying NI for all their working life find the budget has run out by the time it comes to them. Looking after your neighbour in this case probably includes a willingness to be disparaged for having ‘ugly’ views by the public Left. A little self-examination wouldn’t go amiss.

    Or more widely: how many times does it have to be said that fears about uncontrolled immigration is not to be conflated with racism. How many times will the public Left simply insult people by willfully conflating the two.

    In short, it might help the Left think if they stopped insulting people and started listening to what they actually say, rather than what the Left projects on them.

  2. Dave Roberts. says:

    Ranjit. I must say I have never heard of you or your think tank but all you are doing is stating the obvious. But yes, Matthew Paris is an idiot.

  3. Average Voter says:

    Clacton is not the problem, Heywood and Middleton is the problem and people seem determined to ignore it. Lets be honest, while the Clacton result is a slap in the face for the conservative party, and no doubt a hard one, all that really happened is that a MP of 9 years retained his seat, albeit weaing a different rosette. In Heywood and middleton the entire non labour vote gravitated towards UKIP and if a few more Tories had decided to vote tactically UKIP would’ve won a seat which has been Labour for 40 years.

    With the predicted losses in Scotland and UKIP breathing down everybodies neck in England the 35% strategy is looking increasingly precarious. Both Labour and the Tories have potential bloody noses coming with Rochester and Strood and the South Yorks PCC byelection, and Ed et al better start taking things seriously. The General Election campaign has begun, time to get out of the blocks.

  4. Tafia says:

    This is typical metropolitan middle-class drivel and is actually the reason this situation has come about. Until you accept that metropolitan middle-class is not what most of the country want and is actually damaging Labour, then UKIP will continue to grow. It’s you that is wrong – not UKIP and not the voters. It’s not that your message isn’t getting across – it is, all too clearly and it’s not wanted.

    Take immigration – you argue about GPs. Professional skilled people will not be controlled by UKIP as under a points system and a job to go to they will be allowed in – what will be heavily controlled are the unskilled/low skilled immigrants and that is what the people want controlling.

    You even miss the boat by writing about Clacton. That wasn’t the groundbreaker – Heywood & Middleton was and if that election had gone ahead next week as originally planned then Labour would probably have lost it. Remember, H & M is supposed to be a safe Labour seat – a Labour that is in opposition during the last year of a deeply unpopular government. Labour should have won that without even getting out of bed.

    There is only one way to sink UKIP – an immediate in/out referendum on the EU straight after the GE and win it convincingly. A promise of that – made now by all the parties, along with a date and ratified in Parliament before it breaks for the GE is the only way to take the wind out of their sails.

    I used to have a pub in Heywood (my first one. The Crown on Bury St for those who know the area) and know the area well – Labour only held the seat because they held it;s share of the middle class and gained the Lib Dems (again mostly middle class)– it’s blue collar working class core deserted it in droves and traditional working class areas such as Darnhill and Back O’ The Moss were awash with UKIP posters. I know active Trades Unionists and lifelong Labour Party members from there who voted UKIP quite openly and have no intention of ever voting Labour again.

    Labour were only prepared to fight on the NHS (possibly because that is McInnes’s background and so she probably only felt comfortable with that) and that wasn’t what the people wanted to talk about on the doorstep – doorstep was EU and immigration.

    The agenda for GE2015 has just been set – it’s the EU & immigration (both EU and non-EU) whther that’s what Labour and the Tories want it to be about or not.. Coupled with that is the latest opinion polls for Scotland which show a massive swing to SNP with Labour on course to lose half it’s seats to them up there and actually probably make the SNP the third largest party in Westminster – and the SNPs position is clear, they will not enter into coalition with any party in Westminster unless independence is back on the table – a weak Westminster suits them just fine. In fact a Wsetminster crisis would be mannah from heaven for them. (LibDems will not enter into Coalition unless Labour drop Miliband first, Plaid want massively increased devolutionary powers including control of taxation and UKIP want an immediate EU referendum and swithcing to AV/PR and a devolved English Assembly – cobble that into a coalition LOL)

    Looking at the vote in both by-elections at first glance it’s easy to assume Labour’s vote held up – it didn’t. Labour gained from Lib Dems and that hid the loss to UKIP. In short they gained middle class voters at the expense of core blue-collar working class voters. Although they held Heywood and percentage -wise marginally increased their vote a smidgen by 0.8% on a low turnout, that masks that underneath there was a massive 18% swing from Labour to UKIP.

    An interesting footnote – If you combine the votes of both seats, UKIPs vote was bigger than Tory, Labour, Lib Dem & Green combined.

  5. Tafia says:

    Owen Jones hits the nail right on the head.

  6. Landless Peasant says:

    Hope is dead alright, and the mainstream parties are a disaster, Labour have sold-out and abandoned the poor, but UKIP is for the gullible, the uneducated, and the bigots. As a Socialist I’ll be voting Green.

  7. Delta says:

    Nice idea generically, but skewed and therefore inaccurate conclusion, Hodges is wrong too on his solution which was ironic because he was tantalizingly close historically when he attempted to work out a remedy.

    Nice try I’ll give you all a D+ and that means more decline as your particular group of regressive are off-target along with the lefties 🙂

  8. Mike Stallard says:

    It is simply not good enough to dismiss Ukip as racist.

    If you actually use the NHS, then very quickly you come to see that if more and more people flood into this tiny area round London and Leeds, then it will be simply overwhelmed. The centre of my town has become like the Baltic.
    Both of those observations are simply true. As is the fact that, to get a factory job, you need to speak Lithuanian fluently. School leavers find it much easier to join the dole queue.

    And the EU is dangerous now. The club Med countries are (including France) getting a lot poorer by the day. If we care about the working class, then they are our brothers and sisters. The Ukraine is breaking up and the EU has been a big part of the trouble. Baroness Ashton visited Kiev quite a few times and made encouraging noises. Then they were abandoned. Mr Putin was not impressed. Luckily we backed down just in the nick of time.

    I could go on. On both the above, Labour politics are a bit vague, don’t you think? Ukip does at least attempt an answer.

  9. John Reid says:

    Landless peasant,isn’t it w bit rich of you to call for the Labour Party to expel, those go call themselves blue lqbour, thn say you’re not even voting labour

    I like me saying Expel those from the greens who criticised the bin m. Ho went on strike, do t think nuclear power is more efficient that coal, or prop up Tory councils, yet, I’ll still be voting labour

  10. swatantra says:

    There are always lies damned lies and statistics. But Ranjit speaks the truth the data shows up the problem and we can’t ignore it. But gthe solution is to look positively and grow the economy and get the out of work into good jobs, and securer jobs, and get an all round feeling of well being. UKIPs answer are all negative. Cracking down draconianly on immigration is not actually get the lazy Brits into jobs; they;’ll still find a way toi avoid work, which means the economy will grind to a halt, and we’re back to square one, recruting foreigners to keep the wheels on industry turning.

  11. Latanya says:

    What a information off un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious experience
    concerning unexpected feelings.

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