How UKIP broke a rational political system

UKIP

Although UKIP will disappear their baleful influence will live on for decades

So the foul UKIP is no more. Less seats contested than even the Greens and a microscopic level of support in the opinion polls shows that when their MEPs disappear so will UKIP as a whole. But as Nigel Farage says, “Job Done!”

I wasn’t surprised that there are no candidates in the Liverpool area. Who would want to be a kamikaze pilot for UKIP round here after the way that Nuttall ‘misremembered’ his Hillsborough involvement for what appear to be political purposes. The person who described himself as a ‘bad Bootle Meff’ has disappeared to parts east where he will sink to the ignominy of a lost deposit.

Never has a rout been so complete. Defending about 140+ seats (having already lost about 30 of their 2013 gains to defections and by-elections they defended not 1 council seat in the whole of the UK. They did, however, gain a seat in Pendle which had previously been held by the BNP!

But it is not only the seminal role that UKIP played in the EU referendum last year that will affect our policies and politics for many years but the way in which fear of UKIP moved the Labour Party and Tory Party into places where they would not otherwise have been.

Let’s take Labour first. It was clearly fear of what UKIP might do to the white Labour working class vote in the North that led them to forget their internationalist principles and do minimal campaigning during the referendum and then do even less in Parliament to stop the triggering of Article 50. The vast majority of Labour MPs voted for Corbyn’s whip and against their Party’s principles to trigger Article 50.

On the other side of the Chamber the fact that there was a UKIP threat and fear amongst the right of the Tory Party led Cameron to have the referendum in the first place. He thought he had bought UKIP and his right wing off with a referendum that he could win. He was clearly wrong.

The Liberal Democrats, by contrast, did not tack to the headwinds of UKIP storms. Our position is clear, principled rational and sustained. We know that the UK depends on international trade and international educational and tourist and scientific links. Almost everything that this Country does for the next 20 years will be affected adversely by the Referendum vote and the consequent negotiations with the EU.

In another world in another Universe there is a different agenda being played. In that World the Labour and Tory Parties would have stuck to their principles alongside the Liberal Democrats. The three main strands of contemporary political thought would have combined to beat off the extreme right as they have done in places like Austria, Germany, Holland and France.

Instead we hobble into a negotiation with the EU with the vain idea that the size of the majority gained by the Government will impress those dreadful foreigners. It will make no impression at all. Whether the Government has a majority of 1 or 101 makes no difference in negotiations. What will make the difference is the UK Government having a clear view of what is required and a clear view of what the UK needs to get out of the negotiations.

It seems unlikely that our Government will have that clarity when there is:

  • Clear misunderstanding of the processes involved in negotiating an exit
  • Clear misunderstanding of the rules by which the EU will rightly defend the remaining 27 nations
  • A view of the World which is already seen to be totally unrealistic.

If we just look at two of the things that will cause difficulties:

  1. A hard border with Northern Ireland. We were continually told during the referendum that there would eb no difference to the ‘soft’ border between Eire and N Ireland. That was never true and has now been shown to be untrue. The EU rules say that there must a hard customs border between an EU Country and any other. Even if the EU were to sympathise with the soft border idea it would involve the change of a complex set of regulations and principles which would need to be discussed between all 27 Countries. Folks, it isn’t going to happen.

 

  1. That Countries would be desperate to sign new trade agreements with an independent UK. The first foreign visitor to meet President Trump was Theresa May. Her reward was to be told that the UK would have to take second place to discussions taking place with the EU! The Commonwealth has not responded in the way that it was supposed. The Asian Countries have also made clear that a renegotiation with the UK is not as important to them as continued trade with the EUY. The idea that the colonies would flock back to support a freed Mother Country was always complete tosh!

 

So the UK limps on. Bereft of political principles; lacking in knowledge of the way that the World works and totally lacking negotiation skills we are set for a hard Brexit that will damage our Country for the foreseeable future. Liberal Democrats ask for 3 things:

  1. We must stay in the Single Market on which so much of our exports and services depend.
  2. There must be free movement of labour on which our companies, institutions, and universities depend.
  3. Having established a will to leave in the advisory referendum last year the British people must have the final say in a second referendum.

The reason we do things is in our name. Liberal means tolerant and international in nature. Democrat means involving people to the maximum in the work of governance. If only Labour and Tory Parties had such principles and stuck to them!

 

 

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. UK representative on UCLG Finance Committee, Executive Bureau and World Council. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperon on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and three grandchildren.
This entry was posted in General Election 2017 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How UKIP broke a rational political system

  1. Amalric says:

    With Blair as leader of the Labour Party the “rational political system” was already breaking down. If a party moves to the centre then those on the extreme will have nowhere to go. However in the referendum they found somewhere to go and we are leaving the EU.

    Only if the Labour Party had made full employment is number one economic aim could the problem of those left behind been solved. Tax Credits was the answer to low wages, with full employment there would have been no low wages. Blair should have changed the EU to break the German economic model, to increase payments into the EU to ensure that once the transitional arrangements for new EU members were over there were no great economic pull factors on labour and so stopped the huge migration of workers across the EU and especially to the UK. There should have been financial incentives to get unemployed people and long term ill and disabled people back into work instead of allowing companies to just import less problematic workers.

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