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Why UKIP is a party of extremists

It's not often one agrees with a Tory, or worse still, freely and publicly admit to it. But on this occasion I've made an exception because Matthew Parris has largely articulated what I think of the Great British public's latest political squeeze:

"The spirit of Ukippery is paranoid. It distorts and simplifies the world, perceiving a range of different ills and difficulties as all proceeding from two sources: foreigners abroad, and in Britain a ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ (typically thought to be in league with foreigners). None of the problems it identifies (with immigration, with EU bureaucracy, with the cost of the EU, with the ambitions of some Europeanists, with political correctness, with health-and-safety, with human rights legislation etc) are anything less than real; but to the un-extremist mind they need to be tackled ad hoc, one by one, rather than seen as the hydra-headed expression of a single monster.

Very well, you ask, if immigration/foreigners/Brussels are not the overwhelming cause of the problems of modern Britain, what is? I would reply that there is no overwhelming cause, but many: some insoluble. I’d number among these a general decadence arising from nearly 70 years of peace, security and rising incomes. The uncompetitiveness that renders us easy prey for the manufactories of, not Europe, but China and the developing world; the levels of welfare provision that rob indigenous Britons of hunger to work (not the poor immigrants who then take the work)… but this analysis lays many of our problems at the door of many of the voters attracted to Ukip, and is of less interest to the party.

It is the single-cause, single-prism, single-root-explanation way of interpreting the world and its sorrows (a way of thinking and seeing that has its attraction to all human beings) that leads to (or is the fount of) extremism: it is one of the reasons religion, with its forces-of-evil focus, has so often led people that way."

You can read the rest of the article here. To me, UKIP is the acceptable face of xenophobia. And because it's the first such party to shake up mainstream politics, in a way that the far-right could only dream of, it's attracted many of their supporters. Those of us who do not identify with such politics should be worried, because UKIP is led by an ambitious, able and articulate leader, Nigel Farage. To outward appearances, he seems a perfectly reasonable English gentleman. Only some of that is true. He's certainly English and he's probably a gentleman, but he's definitely not reasonable. He may not be preaching to the lowest common denominator, but it's awfully close to it. It's still demagoguery and it appeals to our worst instincts.

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I have no love for UKIP, and I agree with much of what Parris says, but really, this:

the levels of welfare provision that rob indigenous Britons of hunger to work

is just as bad as the sort of thing Farage spouts. The idea that Britain has a generous welfare system for the unemployed is ludicrous. Parris is bordering on "scrounger" language there.
I knew you'd pick him up on that, because it touched a raw nerve with me as well! I did think of leaving that bit out, or noting my opposition to it. In the end I went with the words "largely articulated". But you're dead right about the "scrounger" language. Then again, he is a Tory, and even among their moderate, or dare I say it, enlightened members, evidence of their nasty party tag eventually rears its ugly head. I suppose in his defence, the way to deal with a given problem is by viewing it as part of a whole raft of issues in society for which there is no silver bullet. You and I may disagree with what he believes, but that is where where (or how) his brand of conservatism differs from that of UKIP.

Edited at 2013-09-03 11:12 pm (UTC)