UKIP and the European Elections:
(Unedited version of article published on VDare, 26th May 2014)
The votes have now been counted in the European elections, and even the BBC is admitting that the result is “an earthquake.” No one is now able, without lying, to claim there is a consensus in Europe for “ever closer union.”
These are the headline facts. However, I am writing largely for an American audience. So far as I can tell, the American media is both limited and selective in its foreign coverage. And most Americans show little interest in news from outside their own borders. Let me, then, explain something of the background to what has happened.
The European Union has 28 member states. It has four central institutions. There is the Commission, which is a permanent bureaucracy. There is the Council of Ministers, which is a variable committee of Ministers from each member state. There is the Court of Justice, which rules on the meaning of the European treaties. There is the Parliament, the 766 members of which are elected by the people every five years. I confess that I find the EU constitution somewhat opaque. This may be because, like Americans, we in Britain take little interest in the foreign news. More likely, it is opaque by design. I think it reasonable, though, to say that, of these four institutions, the Parliament has the least effective power. Its members are notorious for their idleness and pliability. Their working environment is one of pervasive corruption. If the Parliament were shut down, the EU would continue much as before. Shut down any of the other institutions – not that these are any more honest or competent – and the EU would stop functioning.
It is to this Parliament that the results have just been counted. The overall result is a big increase in numbers for parties which are hostile to the EU goal of “ever closer union,” and even to the existence of the EU in its present form or in any form at all. In Holland, the Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, came second. In France, the National Front, led by Marine le Pen, came first. The Danish People’s Party also came first, as did the Flemish separatist party in Belgium. In Hungary, the conservative party, Fidesz, came first, followed by Jobbik, which is describes as a national socialist party. In Greece, the leftists party Syriza (Euro-sceptic) came first, and the nationalist party Golden Dawn came third. In Finland and in Austria, Euro-sceptic parties did well, as they also did in Germany.
You will see that UKIP topped the poll, winning 27.5 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives, who are currently in government, came third – though this is largely because of a strong Labour performance in London, where natives are now a minority. Ironically, the Liberal Democrats, who are the most pro-European of the main parties, were almost wiped out, losing all but one of their seats in the European Parliament.
These are the facts. What of their meaning? The most obvious answer is that UKIP must now be regarded as one of the big parties. Its policies are to leave the European Union, to end mass-immigration, and to strip political correctness out of law and administration. For at least the past generation, the British political and media classes have treated dissent on these issues with contempt – where they have not simply ignored it. For the past year, UKIP has been treated to something like full spectrum denigration. Every untoward utterance or possibly improper action by its people has been given full and hostile coverage. The universal cry has gone up that UKIP is a party of racists, sexists and homophobes. This cry may have had some depressing effect on the UKIP vote – though I also suspect that it encouraged many people to vote UKIP in the hope that the charges were true. Whatever, the case, the campaign has failed. The people have spoken, and the ruling class and its various client groups must now take account of what was said.
The Roman Catholic Church, for example, ought to feel some embarrassment. Its hierarchy is solidly pro-European. It also believes in open borders and in an amnesty for illegal immigrants. In these elections, its advice to the faithful was not to vote UKIP. The Church of England has long believed in a united Europe, and is generally more interested in preaching political correctness than the Gospels. The BBC, which is supposed to report the news, tried all through the elections to influence their outcome. Jasmine Lawrence, one of its senior news executives, showed her contempt for Euro-scepticism in a Tweet, saying: “#WhyImVotingUkip – to stand up for white, middle class, middle aged men w sexist/racist views, totally under represented in politics today.” No doubt, all these people will continue thinking and speaking much as before. But the UKIP victory has taken away their main propaganda advantage. They can no longer claim that they are voicing the consensus. Instead of uttering pronouncements from on high, while looking round with a big hammer to squash anyone who dares dissent, they must argue the case for their war on England and its people.
All this being said, we should not be carried away by these election results. It is good fun to look at the shocked faces of all the usual suspects. They are plainly upset, and whatever upsets them cannot all be bad. But we need also to look at the wider truth. This is that the UKIP victory does not in itself mean a change of national direction. Consider these points:
First, UKIP did not win a majority of the vote. It got just over a quarter of the votes cast. Worse than this, only 36 per cent of the UK population voted. 27 per cent of 36 per cent is just under ten per cent – that is, more than 90 per cent of those eligible to vote did not vote for UKIP. To be sure, even fewer voted for the other parties. But positive support of ten percent is hardly a basis for revolution.
Second, as said, the European Parliament has little effective power. And UKIP has won 27 seats from a total of 766 – that is, UKIP controls three per cent of the seats in the European Parliament. Since the Euro-sceptic parties elsewhere in Europe did not do well enough to get an overall majority, and since UKIP refuses to have anything to do with the biggest Euro-sceptic parties, it will have very limited power in a very weak assembly.
Third, I predict that the UKIP success – such as it was – will not be repeated in the 2015 general election. I voted UKIP last Thursday. Next year, I shall probably vote Conservative. The workings of the British electoral system mean that the only choice many people have is between the party they hate and the party they fear. I hate the Conservatives, but fear Labour. That I like UKIP will only come into consideration if there is no doubt which of the two main parties will win. I do not think I am unusual in this. Certainly, minor parties have a long history in this country of doing well in minor elections, only to collapse at the general election. It may be different this time. But no one expects UKIP at best to get more than two or three Members of Parliament in 2015. I doubt if it will get any at all.
Fourth, UKIP is a party of dissent. It is obviously a very good party of dissent. But one of the luxuries of dissent is not having to think too hard about what to do in government. Suppose Nigel Farage were to become Prime Minister with a working majority in the House of Commons – what actually would he do? What are the details of the UKIP plan to leave the European Union? Yes, it would hold a referendum. Yes, if it did convincingly win a general election, it might be justified in skipping the referendum and going straight for repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 (as amended), which is the EU enabling statute in this country. But what then? There are thousands of pages of EU law that apply in this country? Would these all be repealed at the stroke of a pen? Or would they be retained for a scheduled repeal over time? If this latter, which laws would be kept and which repealed? What about those EU laws which simply enact decisions of other multi-national bodies like the Council of Europe or the World Trade Organisation?
Fifth, what about UKIP’s policy on immigration and political correctness? The mainstream debate in this country has not moved on since the 1960s. Then, it was a question of whether large numbers of aliens should be let into an overwhelmingly homogenous country. This is no longer the case. Even if no more immigrants were allowed in, those already here make up about a quarter of the population, and may become the majority within the next few generations. What does UKIP propose to do about this? The ruling class has a policy. This is to keep the peace with the police state that it has deliberately made necessary. The radical nationalists have a policy: this is ethnic cleansing – though they have not, so far as I can tell, explained how this could be made to work. I am glad that UKIP is against both solutions. The only alternative, then, is to find some compromise, or set of compromises, that will allow a Balkanised population to live in reasonable peace and freedom. Beyond a few platitudes about “integration,” UKIP has said nothing on this issue – an issue that may be much more important to us than whether or not we stay in the European Union.
Sixth, I am not sure if there is an effective majority in this country in favour of leaving the EU. The opinion polls swing both sides of fifty per cent. Bearing in mind the pro-European balance within the ruling class and media and big business, I would not like to see a referendum on our membership. Even if the opinion polls showed a settled three quarter majority for leaving, and even if there could be a referendum uncorrupted by money and propaganda, I would not risk one. I have been a prominent Euro-sceptic for twenty years, and I know the fatal weakness on my side. The pro-Europeans have a single message, which they put with little deviation and virtually no internal dissent. We Euro-sceptics are a set of mutually-hostile pressure groups. Indeed, we spend more time denouncing each other than the EU. How do we leave? Do we invoke the relevant part of the Lisbon Treaty for an agreed withdrawal? Or do we hold a referendum? Or do we leave by an act of our sovereign Parliament? What to do once we are out? NAFTA membership? A looser but continuing relationship with the EU? Unilateral free trade and gold money? A siege economy and competitive devaluation? Should we try to restore the Ancient Constitution? Or should we go for radical reforms that might include a republic? Without telling a single lie, the ruling class has a structural advantage in the debate over Europe. To win its case in an honest marketplace of ideas, it has only to lift the stone and point at how the bugs now sheltering beneath it are running about – and how absurd and perhaps unattractive many of them are.
In short, what Nigel Farage and UKIP have achieved is remarkable. They deserve the admiration and thanks of everyone who is not in love with the current order of things. But they have not won the battle for this country. What happened last night is at best a declaration of war.
Now, before ending, I ought to mention the state of the British National Party, which got just over one per cent of the votes cast and lost both its Members of the European Parliament. In England and America, many nationalists think well of the BNP and regard UKIP as a decidedly inferior substitute. Radix, for example, is scathing:
The formula for UKIP’s success is they actually believe the bulls**t they preach about wanting a normal liberal democracy with less immigrants living off welfare. That is not what we want and is incredibly foolish to demand that Identitarians stop promoting our own ideology and instead, advocate a non-racial political agenda that none of us actually believe in.
Though I do not share it, I can understand their disappointment. Nigel Farage is a Thatcherite. He would have fitted seamlessly into Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet c.1981. Nick Griffin is a white nationalist, and has some prominence within the American movement.
The problem with Mr Griffin and his colleagues is that they used to be national socialists. I am pretty tolerant of ideological shifts, and I have written at length about the folly of British involvement in both world wars. But even I see a discord between the BNP website – Union Flags, Spitfires, bulldogs, Churchillian rhetoric and the like – and the fact that the Party was founded by people who supported the other side in the Second World War. I accept that the Labour Party is filled at every level with people who used to be Soviet fellow travellers. The father of its current leader was a pro-Soviet Marxist. But these people control the discourse. They can step over the horrors of Communism. No one can rub their noses in the slime from the millions of corpses their idols piled up. Nick Griffin’s now abandoned national socialism remains an unpardonable sin. No repentance can be accepted, even if fuller and more undoubtedly genuine than it has so far been.
This being so, the BNP collapse was both inevitable and useful. Whatever some people may think of UKIP, it is our best hope for pulling down the current order of things. I with enthusiasm, others with reluctance, have a duty to unite behind it.
In conclusion, the UKIP victory is only a first step in the right direction. It may yet be a step easily reversed. But, so far as they bothered at all, the people have spoken, and the message is not welcome to our ruling class.