30 Oct 2014

The economic state of mind driving people towards Ukip

Now this month’s Clacton by-election gave the UK Independence Party its first seat in parliament and, come next May, Ukip will be hoping the east of England could be the source of further political riches. Several of its most prominent target seats are clustered along the coast.

I‚Äč have¬†travelled up from Conservative-held Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, through Boston, in Lincolnshire and on up to Grimsby – a Labour town since 1945 – to try to understand the economic issues propelling people towards the party.

7 reader comments

  1. Bob Watts says:

    I think people are completely disillusioned with the old parties and just want a change.

  2. Boffy says:

    Its a powerful meme. Nationalism is much older than socialism. Ignorance breeds fear and bigotry in a wide variety of forms. In some primitive societies women were forced to isolate themselves from everyone else when they were menstruating, for example. Its what leads to primitive peoples making human sacrifices to the gods, because they couldn’t understand why their crops were failing etc.

    Those who believe that problems of unemployment, low wages, shortage of housing, inadequate public services and so on, are some how due to immigration, or the EU clearly have not engaged in any serious thought on any of these matters, and for no fault of their own they probably have not been provided with the intellectual tools to do so. They certainly have not been provided with a framework within which to do so. That is why a meme that it is all the fault of foreigners, of “the other” is so powerful.

    When for years, large sections of the press have devoted considerable effort to building these fallacies, with ridiculous stories about immigrants getting free luxury houses, being provided with free cars and so on, with the BBC acting in recent years like Farage’s private publicity machine, who would be prepared to actually put effort into thinking through the issues for themselves, how would you do that, when you rely on these organisations to provide you with “the facts”, and framework within which to make decisions?

    Given that the main political parties long ago gave up the idea that they should be based on a set of principles to be developed, and argued for, in favour of simply being organisations that were no different than a soap powder seller, who just tries to adapt their advertising to whatever they think will sell the most soap powder, and so have themselves reinforced these ignorant ideas, what alternative framework would anyone have to make decisions on these issues?

    The powerful thing about memes is that a central aspect of human psychology is a desire to fit in, to follow the herd. UKIP, just like the BNP and other racists and extreme nationalists, present themselves as providing an alternative to the establishment, but in fact what they rely on is precisely this herd instinct. By taking these excuses for the failures of capitalism put out by the establishment – for example, the establishment suggest that unemployment is the fault of their being too many people, rather than that capitalists refuse to invest unless they make large profits out of employing people, and at the moment can make more profits by speculating on the stock market rather than investing in production, they suggest that the shortage of housing is due to too many foreigners, rather than a failure of capitalist builders to build houses, unless they make large profits, and gain by holding on to land that has been rising rapidly in price, they suggest that pressure on public services is due to an influx of people, rather than the austerity measures introduced by the Liberal-Tory government, and so on – populist organisations like UKIP, simply take those ideas to a rational, and extreme conclusion.

    Some years ago, an experiment was done based on Skinner’s ideas about conditioning. It looked at why it was that people allowed themselves to go along with all of the cruelty of the Nazis. It found that ordinary people were extremely malleable in their desire to fit in, and were prepared to even administer what they had been told were lethal electrical shocks, on the basis that they had been told by people in authority who told them it was alright to do so.

    The idea of the Emperor’s new clothes goes back a long way, as an indication of the extent to which this desire to fit in, leads people to suspend reality, and accept all sorts of nonsense. The media, now desperate to retain their own customer base, are themselves not immune from that desire, and simply reinforce the meme, by simply reporting on the success of populists like UKIP, rather than devoting their efforts to showing just why that meme is so ridiculous.

  3. Philip Edwards says:

    “…state of mind driving people towards UKIP”?

    So that “state of mind” has nothing to do with how you people in mainstream media pump up the “issue” pumped up by UKIP and neocons for their own disgusting purposes?

    If it wasn’t so par for the course I’d say it was odd. But of course it isn’t odd at all. Propaganda never is. As usual, most of you hacks simply quote the Nuremburg defence – “I was only following orders.”

    I have yet to see ANY OF YOU in mainstream media examine the role played by journalists in this. Which is why your cowardly “profession” is so roundly detested by free thinking citizens.

  4. popet says:

    If nothing else it is refreshing to see non politicians trying to be, well… politicians.
    They are really bad at it!…. Good.

    The UKIP narrative runs deeper than immigration, it is there but but it has not been articulated yet.

    I guess they need afew more defections from the established political class.

    It is a fascinating and very healthy looking changing political landscape to addin a bit of genuine outside creative political tension into the mix.

  5. Alan says:

    Interesting that proportionately, it’s still only the corporate media that would have us believe voting is some form of choice?

  6. Adam says:

    Paul Never mind UKIP, I have just seen something much more important – the Northern Soul documentary that you made in 2013. It is, as you probably know, on youtube and it is absolutely brilliant on so many levels. The best piece of reportage that I have ever seen. Made me smile, made me cry, made me listen (and I wasn’t even there). Thanks. Adam

  7. BobRocket says:

    “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”


    are you aware of the wholescale destruction that the BBC seems to be doing to your Blog history ?

    It is nearly impossible to find your earliest blog entries and the comments from ordinary people on the BBC (the commentariat is possibly the most important historical record)

    I sincerely hope that you have copies of this stuff archived somewhere (likewise Peston, Flanders etc.).

    There is no excuse in these days of cheap storage for the loss of historical records like it was when someone needed a tape so they recorded over Hancock.

    Deliberately deleting history in order to rewrite it should be a criminal offence (it is most certainly a crime against humanity)

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