Posts Tagged ‘Nigel Farage’

Shunning the EU will damage the prospects for foreign investment in Britain

29/05/2014, 06:39:48 PM

by Callum Anderson

With the dust just beginning to settle on the European election, it has become clear that only Labour can effectively present the case for the UKs EU membership in the run up to the 2015 General Election and beyond.

For those of us, who believe that Britain can only be prosperous by engaging with our EU partners and not isolating ourselves, this only highlights what we have known for months. That is, those of us who are in the incamp – regardless of party affiliation, must begin to illustrate the benefits of Britains EU  membership.

As you may have noticed, I have tried to do my part, and, this time round, lets look at foreign investment.

In 2011, the UK had the second largest stock of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) – attracting $1.2 trillion of investment – in the world, behind only the United States, was recognised the most attractive location for investment in the EU in the 2013 Ernst and Young European Attractiveness Survey. For example, the UK has been successful in attracting Chinese investment; from the EU27, only France attracted more Chinese FDI between 2003 and 2011.

Whats more, over 1,500 investment projects were set up by foreign businesses in Britain during 2012, creating and protecting 170,000 jobs. Investors from America, France, Germany and India saw Britain as a stable and exciting place to invest. For instance, the Tata Group, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, created thousands of jobs in Britain last year, whilst a Malaysia-led consortium led the £8 billion redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, which is expected to provide 20,000 construction jobs and 13,000 permanent jobs.

Similarly, the UKhas been the second most attractive place in the world (behind the United States for FDI in the aerospace sector, with EADS, Bombardier and General Electric heavily investing in Britain, as well as Europes top location for investment in pharmaceutical and biotechnology research and development (R&D), which is the largest contributor to R&D in both the UK1000 and the G1000 in 2008.

So, how would a so-called Brexitaffect investment from our European neighbours. Would it, as many Eurosceptics claim, change nothing? After all, Britain has so many other advantages, both economic and social, that it wouldnt be in the interest of no one to cease investing in the UK. Its difficult
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The elections weren’t an earthquake but a confirmation of what we already knew

29/05/2014, 08:00:23 AM

by Jonathan Todd

It would, obviously, be wrong to wholly attribute to Nigel Farage responsibility for Nick Clegg’s political predicament. They are largely trading in different parts of the political market and the Oakeshott disaster is a wholly home-grown crisis for the Liberal Democrats.

Instead, Clegg’s low share price derives from decisions – in particular, betraying the platform on which he stood in 2010 – taken long before his debates with Farage.

Clegg isn’t fighting for his political life because of Farage. The blood on Farage’s hands is that of Nick Griffin’s. The real UKIP earthquake didn’t happen in Westminster but beneath the BNP, revealing part of UKIP’s appeal.

As well as taking support from the BNP, half of UKIP voters in the European elections voted Tory in the last general election. It would be a potentially decisive boost to David Cameron’s hopes of remaining in Downing Street to get these voters back. Hoping that this doesn’t happen, and that Lib Dem recovery is also avoided, is perilous for Labour.

There are other factors beyond Labour’s control that help Ed Miliband toward Number 10, such as the vagaries of our constituency boundaries and Cameron’s incomplete Tory decontamination project, which means that mistrust of his party remains more pervasive than it would otherwise be. Rather than speculate as to how low a ceiling this places on Tory support, and whether it is lowest among ethnic minorities, northerners or women, Labour should be seeking to complete the decontamination project that the last general election confirmed we require.

The trouble is that this project has barely begun. Miliband launched his bid for the party leadership talking about immigration. But it’s not clear that Labour are now any more convincing on this contentious topic than when we were ejected from office. Even more damagingly, we also left office with trust corroded in us as responsible custodian’s of public money. In austere times, we seem over keen on spending other people’s money, whether that of taxpayers or private businesses, and disinclined to make savings. While Miliband has spoken more frequently about welfare than fiscal discipline, this is another big negative exposed in 2010 that we’ve failed to recover.

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Europe has seen gains for the radical right, yes, but not for the simplistic reasons we think

28/05/2014, 09:10:32 AM

by Rob Marchant

“Earthquake”, screamed the headlines of even reputable news outlets on Monday. Witnessing them, it seems as if a large chunk of the Europe’s 400-odd million voters had got up one morning, and said to themselves in unison, “instead of supporting the mainstream parties I’ve voted for all my life, you know what, I now really like all the policies of the radical right. What the hell.”

Indeed, it makes scant sense, if you choose to look at it as part of the normal ebb and flow of left-right politics. Yes, we haven’t had quite enough of austerity yet, so let’s move a bit further to the right, shall we? I don’t think that harsh medicine is really tough enough. Said no-one at all.

No, to understand it all, we must dig a little deeper. There was a rather good cartoon doing the rounds yesterday which explained the phenomenon in Europe’s three largest states: Hollande and Cameron were shown being eaten whole by large dogs, called “Front National” and “UKIP”. Angela Merkel was shown with a little dog called “NPD” (the German far right), snapping ineffectually at her ankles.

The comparison is accurate: for different reasons, governments in France and Britain have been beset by effective attacks from their right flanks, while Germany has not. The picture is, in fact, much more mixed than the headlines might suggest.

Hollande has been, sadly for us on the left, a pretty much unmitigated disaster as president. Almost as soon as they elected him, the French public regretted it. He promised things he was patently unable to deliver, and now the electorate are punishing him by voting Front National.

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The real lesson from the Euro-campaign is that taking on Ukip works

27/05/2014, 12:11:10 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Take a step back. From the Farage-mania, the pre-written headlines about Ukip surges and growing hysteria that is enveloping the main parties. Take a step back and look at the evidence. Of what actually happened during the European election campaign.

Ukip started this contest with a floor for their support of 23%. This was the total vote for anti-EU, populist parties of the fringe right at the last European election in 2009– 17% for Ukip and 6% for the BNP. Given the collapse of the BNP, Ukip were the sole heir for this populist right constituency.

By the end of April this year, Ukip’s momentum had carried them from their base of 23% to 31% according to YouGov. The highest they had ever registered in a European election poll with that pollster.

Up to this point, the direction of travel for Ukip’s poll European election rating had only been one way – up. There genuinely did seem to be a major electoral breakthrough in prospect.

But then something happened. The trend-line changed direction.

Euro elex pic

Ukip’s poll slide began when Farage’s comments about Romanians were first called out as racism. There was a lot of controversy at the time and a debate raged on the progressive side of the argument as to whether Ukip’s campaign should have been branded racist.

Setting aside the slightly ludicrous contention that racism should be allowed to simply pass without comment, the debate over whether confronting Ukip’s racism was electorally the right strategy can now be conclusively resolved.

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The story from the local elections isn’t that Ukip is popular. It’s that Labour is not.

23/05/2014, 11:11:18 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Last night Labour was busily managing expectations that 150 gains in the local elections would have constituted a good result. Naturally, the final haul is likely to significantly exceed that number, but it is quite extraordinary that a total as low as 150 gains was even vaguely plausible.

The last time most of these council seats were contested was on the same day as the general election, when Labour slumped to its second worst post-war result.

Inevitably the focus for much of the media has been Ukip but the obsession with Farage and his out-sized personality misses the most salient political point: Ukip only exist because Labour is not the vehicle for popular protest.

When Labour previously made the transition from opposition to government, it brought together a voter coalition that extended from the left all the way into parts of the centre right. The breadth of this coalition and its sheer reach wasn’t based on ideology or policy but emotion.

The feeling that voters who may not traditionally have been Labour supporters, could safely lend the party their votes, to teach the Tories a lesson. That even if they disagreed with some aspects of policy, they could confidently project their personal hopes and aspirations onto the party’s leaders and supporting Labour meant backing the winner.

The stardust of success is beguiling. It creates an aura of optimism that lowers voter reservations attracts support. Everyone loves a winner.

But this stardust is missing from today’s Labour party. And in the absence of a confident and successful opposition to challenge a tired and uninspiring government, fringe populism flourishes.

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Is the Labour leader’s office spinning for Nigel Farage?

21/05/2014, 09:19:01 AM

A strange story in the Guardian this morning: “Labour and Conservative attacks on Ukip backfire,” booms the headline. Mention is made in the first line of Labour and Conservative polling that shows “attacks claiming  Nigel Farage is a racist have backfired.”  The piece is neatly set up. But then something strange happens.

Where normally there would be evidence, some figures from the aforementioned polling, maybe some quotes from a focus group, there is nothing. Just a lacuna at the heart of the story. The only hard numbers referenced in the piece are from the published polls, which tell quite a different story. One where Ukip’s ratings have clearly slid backwards over the past fortnight.

So how to explain such a story? Certainly, the way its written would seem to treat Joseph Pulitzer’s three rules of journalism – accuracy, accuracy, accuracy – as merely the vaguest of guidelines.

But there’s a clue. A big fat fingerprint. It’s a quote from the ubiquitous “source,” which pops up in the third paragraph: “Calling people names does not work. It confirms the old politics.”

Given the story refers to private Labour and Conservative polling, it’s clear the quote is from someone in one of the two main parties.

And in the absence of any actual evidence to stand up the assertion in the headline, the person giving the quote would need to carry some political heft. No major news outlet could run such a big story, without any facts, on the word of a normal MP or adviser. This would have to come from the top.

Which prompts the obvious question, cui bono: Number 10 or Ed Miliband’s office? In whose interest is a piece saying that attacking Nigel Farage as a racist doesn’t work? And who would frame it as confirming, “the old politics.”

The culprit becomes clearer.

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Well done Yvette Cooper. Well done David Lammy. Shame on you Ed Miliband

19/05/2014, 02:32:47 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Another day, another shambolic intervention from Labour’s leader. This time it was about Nigel Farage and racism.

When asked the inevitable question on the Today programme, Ed Miliband said,

“I believe what Nigel Farage said a couple of days ago was deeply offensive. I said it was a ‘racial slur’. I think, though, our politics is disagreeable enough without political leaders saying about other political leaders ‘They’re a racist’.”

It’s excruciating. Ed Miliband might have been dragged kicking and screaming to acknowledge that Farage’s comments were a “racial slur,” but his refusal to follow through on his own logic and say that Farage was being racist is ludicrous.

The implication of Ed Miliband’s interview is that Nigel Farage can say whatever he likes, no matter how prejudiced or bigoted, and it still won’t be enough for the Labour leader to call him a racist.

It’s almost as if the Labour leader finds the act of calling someone a racist more disagreeable than the racism itself.

Contrast this with two interventions this lunchtime.

First, David Lammy on the Daily Politics. Same question, different answer.

“What Nigel Farage said over the weekend was racist. So I’m clear, he’s a racist.”

And then there was Yvette Cooper on ITV News,

It’s not racist to be worried about immigration or to want stronger controls, but it is racist to some how stir up fears about Romanians living next door. So Ukip should say they were wrong on that.”

Both Yvette Cooper and David Lammy are absolutely clear on condemning Nigel Farage’s racism. No caveats, attempts to soften the criticism or shy away from the ‘R’ word.

On the central issue in the European election campaign, Ukip’s racism, the Labour leader is now hopelessly isolated. Senior backbenchers like David Lammy, and senior frontbenchers like Yvette Cooper are both taking a very different line from him. His authority and judgement are in question on this, and a raft of other issues, as never before.

If Ukip beat Labour on Thursday in the European election, expect much of the dissent currently rumbling just beneath the surface across both the right and left of the PLP, to explode into public view.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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UKIP are nothing but useful idiots for capitalism’s ugliest forces

01/05/2014, 01:15:21 PM

by Jon Bounds

It’s easy to laugh at the racists and fruitcakes that make up the UK Independence Party roster of election candidates and councillors. Like clichéd children they do say the funniest things. But like kids they don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. UKIP exists for no other reason than to pull the country’s political discourse dangerously to the right and that’s so worrying because voters, members and even candidates and MEPs don’t realise.

UKIP members can’t be striving to take power to carry out their manifesto, because there is no coherent UKIP policy on anything to get behind. Poster boy Nigel Farage doesn’t know, care, or agree with the manifesto. He dismissed the plans with a comment about how he’d, “never read that. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” And that’s seemingly okay in a media environment that berates Labour for not having detailed spending plans years in advance.

Treasurer Stuart Wheeler has given the party £514, 957 since 2001 and he doesn’t know what their policies are either. Interviewed at a lunch for Eddie Mair’s PM he blustered, called for more wine, and had very little idea what was going on.

“We’ll launch it [the manifesto] after the European elections,” Farage says. After the election. And you thought only the Lib Dems could make up policy so much on the fly.

Essentially though, it doesn’t matter what UKIP’s policies are —they have an almost zero chance of getting into any sort of power, which is one thing for which we might have to thank the failure of the electoral reform referendum to bring in PR. That means that can say absolutely anything: from “repainting all trains in traditional colours” to “sending the buggers back” if it will keep them in the media’s eye. There’s been more coverage of Farage not standing in a by-election than then has been of the Green Party’s whole European election campaign—making simple ideas like not condemning us all to climate chaos seem more ‘out there’ than a flat 30% tax rate.

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Farage fears UKIP can’t win a ground war

30/04/2014, 03:23:09 PM

by Kevin Meagher

So Nigel Farage has decided to act strategically rather than tactically by not putting himself forward for the Newark by-election.

He knows two things only too well. The first and most obvious is that because he’s so publicly the face of UKIP, he cannot damage his own brand – and by extension the party’s – by standing and losing.

Second, he knows his party’s organisation isn’t yet strong enough to take on the other parties polished by-election operations in a tough fight.

Announcing his decision on Radio Four’s Today programme this morning to accusations he was “frit”, Farage described himself as “a fighter and a warrior but I am determined to pick my battles”.

To continue the military analogies, Farage knows that he’s successful at hit-and-run tactical opportunism and runs a good air war, using his media profile to good effect to rain down rhetorical bombs on the Tories’ crumbling fortifications.

But when it comes to the ground war – where elections are won and lost – Farage’s troops are still raw recruits, while his boots are more used to treading the manicured lawn of College Green than Newark High Street.

UKIP seemed genuinely put out at Labour’s postal vote operation in the Wythenshawe by-election in February, with Farage claiming: “I have been on benders for longer than the opening of the nominations and the start of the postal ballots. This has been a farce.”

If he doesn’t understand how the postal vote system works in elections, then he really isn’t ready for close electoral combat.

But UKIP is learning.  Building membership and organisation, getting tough with errant candidates, learning political tradecraft and raising enough cash to keep the show on the road is the boring bit of politics. But without it, UKIP has no chance of making a breakthrough.

Farage knows this. He is biding his time, hoping that he turns his barmy army into crack shots in time for next year’s general election.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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From Margate to Montrose, it’s time for Labour to raise our game

29/04/2014, 08:00:52 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Tony Stockwell, the psychic medium, performs at Margate Winter Gardens on 11 September. Perhaps he’ll reveal whether Nigel Farage, rumoured to be considering standing for parliament locally, will become South Thanet’s MP. Tracey Emin, a renowned daughter of Planet Thanet, “won’t let that happen,” retorted my wife.

Emin, like Johnny Depp, is older than Farage. She is, though, a hipper figure. This didn’t stop her, like South Thanet, voting Tory in 2010. But she thinks Margaret Thatcher “should be tried for crimes against humanity”.

The north of England and Scotland might agree with her about this. This continues to frustrate Tory recovery in the north, where more people agree with the Tories than vote for them. Due to the negative perceptions that Thatcher created and which persist.

As they do in Scotland, where swathes of the population have convinced themselves that UK government can offer only Thatcherism or Thatcherism lite. Labour for Independence “consists of members, voters, supporters, former voters who felt the party left them not the other way around”. Only in an independent Scotland, they contend, can they recover their party.

The voters of South Thanet also feel they’ve lost something. “They may not be able to pinpoint what it is,” Laura Sandys, the incumbent MP, recently told The New Statesman. “But they don’t think they’re getting it back.”

Whatever Farage may promise to recover for these people, he’ll do so on the basis of an affinity with Thatcher. Jonathan Aitken, her unofficial biographer, “cannot believe that a young Margaret Thatcher leaving Oxford today would join the Conservative Party led by David Cameron. I think she’d come and get involved in UKIP.”

While, to many Scots, Cameron personifies what they see as the perpetual Thatcherism of the UK, he’s a pale shadow of the 1980s prime minister, according to her greatest admirers. Another paradox is that Farage is supposedly the keeper of Thatcher’s flame and a challenger to Labour in the north, where she remains a drag on Tory support.

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