We have met the enemy and he is us… – Paul Bernal’s blog

Vox Political is not the only website to have run a post-mortem on yesterday’s (October 9) by-elections – its the latest mass-media darling, as Paul Bernal makes clear in his latest article.

What makes his different is his conclusion as to why people voted UKIP in such large proportions in both elections. You should visit his site and read most of the article for yourself, but here’s the part that seems most relevant:

“The blame game is an easy one to play – which is part of the reason for the success of UKIP. They play it better than almost anyone, convincing us sometimes that the EU is to blame for everything, sometimes that immigrants are to blame for everything, sometimes both. Sometimes they blame ‘LibLabCon’. It’s easy to do. And yet it misses the point.

“In the end, the problem isn’t with ‘someone else’. It’s us.

“That’s the scariest thing about yesterday’s election. Not that it’s somehow unrepresentative of how we are, but that it might [not] be. The things that UKIP uses as dog whistles, the racism, the homophobia, the xenophobia, the desire to blame people weaker than ourselves, only function as dog whistles because there’s a lot of racism, homophobia and xenophobia about. It taps into something about us. Of course it’s only part of UKIP’s appeal, because the other call to arms, the one against the self-serving Westminster Elite, hits another critical nerve. The Westminster elite are self-serving, disconnected and deserving primarily of contempt. Farage is quite right about that – though he conveniently fails to mention that he’s one of them in almost every way. The trouble is, it is us that have let them get that way. And we continue to do so – even by voting UKIP.

“I don’t have any answers. I don’t think there really are any answers. When we’re fighting against ourselves, it’s hard to find them. We really are our own worst enemies.”

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9 thoughts on “We have met the enemy and he is us… – Paul Bernal’s blog

  1. bookmanwales

    Unfortunately it is not a case of racism or homophobia that fuels UKIP’s success but genuine concerns about immigration and Europe.
    To say immigration on the scale we have suffered over the last 10 years has no effect on peoples lives is both naive and somewhat condescending.
    There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions that have suffered wage freezes, redundancy, denial of housing and other problems due to the number of immigrants and their attitude to work.
    It is not the fact they are just taking jobs, this fact is undeniable, in catering and hospitality, in construction, in food processing, in seasonal work, but their willingness to work under conditions we fought for many years to abolish, long hours, no employment rights, unpaid overtime, weekeends and bank holidays on normal pay, and without regard to health and safety legislation.
    I’m not sure where the idea that this a totally false premise came from but to my personal knowledge in a small corner of Wales that few British have even heard of their are many foreign workers doing jobs that would have been done by locals.
    One house in my street contains between 5 and 7 Hungarians of whom only 1 speaks passable English (I have conversed with a couple of them, one via google translate) they all work in a hotel in Newport . As part of their contract they cannot have any weekends or Bank holidays off work and have to be available to attend work on their days off if called to do so.
    My brother and 4 of his mates were fired off a construction site in London as the contractor found 5 Poles who were willing to work for less money and live in a portacabin on site thereby providing security cover.
    Now I am just one person and I personally know that 12 jobs have been taken by foreign workers for less money and / or worse working conditions .Multiply this by the number of people who have similar knowledge and Labour’s refusal to believe any problem exists is nothing short of sticking their head in the sand.
    It is not racism to believe your own family and or friends should have priority in employment and housing but a desire to see ones own family given the chance to improve themselves.
    Your own views regarding immigration are well written but follow the Labour party line and you denigrate anyone who dares to oppose your view as in your paragraph above. UKIP did not come from nowhere and brainwash people to the view they hold, if the public were so gullible we would by now have many National Front / BNP / UKIP MP’s as they have been touting the race / immigration card for many years but have been seen for what they are by the public at large.
    It has only been since the recent waves of immigration happened and a vast number of people have experienced the effects of this immigration that UKIP. has flourished.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      If there are genuine concerns about immigration and Europe, I don’t think wage freezes is one of them; believe me, this country would have had wage freezes at this time, whether there was a large immigrant population or not. WE HAVE A CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT WITH AN EXCUSE TO DO IT. Why do you think benefits are being cut, year on year, in relation to inflation?
      Your comments on working conditions are fascinating. Yes, British people worked hard for many years to improve working conditions, but then working British people elected Margaret Thatcher and her raving neoliberals into government in 1979 and they, along with every government since (New Labour was neoliberal; don’t mix it up with a proper Labour Party) have worked just as hard to devolve our working conditions back to the Stone Age. People elected them in and voted in favour of those policies; it has so little to do with immigrants as to make them negligible.
      Your complaints about specific working conditions all relate to political policies that have nothing to do with immigrants.
      The public has been gulled – into voting for the very policies that have undermined them.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        I should add another point, which is that Margaret Thatcher’s government certainly intended to bring in migrant workforces in order to undermine job security for British people. It’s a documented point of historical record, as I understand it.

  2. Guy Ropes

    I went to a local Labour party meeting this week to hear 2 of Westminster’s best known left wing cheer leaders making the case for our Labour PPC. Unfortunately they were repeating – in the nicest possible way – what all the Labour party activists/voters hereabouts know already. And the loyal crowd that heard them let them know that what was coming down from the Labour hierarchy was not what they wanted to hear. But the leadership won’t listen or change because they believe absolutely and completely that what they are peddling is RIGHT for the Party and with a few months to go they ain’t goin’ to change it thank-you-very-much. AKA, like it or lump it. They are maintaining what is right for the current MPs – not their loyal supporters. What they sow, so shall they reap. The disillusionment in the hall was palpable. They want a message they can believe in and they are not getting it. Is there time for a re-write? I doubt it. And what is the nonsense being spouted here? “We are all guilty?” I want to swear. Good Lord, I thought that was a cop-out beloved of losers of the 1960s (when I first heard it). No. The problem is that Labour do not have the minds which are up to the challenges of the day. You want to win? Change the top layer. Did an MP called Mann make some statements today about immigration? Yep. But they won’t be acted upon because the ‘Rotherham’ syndrome – one of the most insidiously dangerous thought processes known to this country is still alive and well and – more frighteningly – flourishing.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      My impression of the article was that it was expressing concern about the general public’s happiness to vote UKIP. The enemy is “us” inasmuch as we are the ones voting for the ‘Nastier Party’ of the image. I didn’t think it had anything to do with Labour policies except in the most tangential way.

  3. david pearce

    Mike to quote my mother (who still lives in Clacton) ‘he’s a very nice man always helping out in the community’ . I did pass on various UKIP info which she fact checked and yes he is homophobic ,racist, disablist but she (and my step dad who used to be dyed in the wool Labour) still voted UKIP because he is a very nice man and was better than the other parties. Note HE was better than the other parties, not UKIP better than them.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes, that chimes with what I said in ‘UKIP wins in Clacton’ – that he won because people there like him.

  4. Thomas M

    I’m happy to see the three main parties beaten-but unhappy that it’s far-right UKIP that is beating them instead of TUSC or the Greens.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I’m happy to see UKIP beating only the Tories and Liberal Democrats, who deserve it after what they’ve done to our once-great nation – and happier to see UKIP beaten by Labour, even though that party’s leaders desperately need a wake-up call.

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