Farage is cowardly – but aren’t ALL our party leaders? – Observer

David Cameron - the new Hitler? According to Nick Cohen, he hasn't got the b- ... that is to say, he's too much of a coward.

David Cameron – the new Hitler? According to Nick Cohen, he hasn’t got the b- … that is to say, he’s too much of a coward.

At Rochester, the main party leaders showed they are too frightened to take on Ukip’s rabble-rouser in chief, writes Nick Cohen in The Observer.

He continues: You cannot describe UKIP as a far-right party without running into trouble. Really? Vox Political does it all the time. UKIP is a far-right party, in UK terms. Respectable commentators tell you that, while individual members may be neo-fascists and that while UKIP had indeed allied with far-right parties in Europe, it does not come from fascist tradition. And I just about accept that. Why? It’s full of fascists and allied with them. “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” it’s clearly a UKIP fascist.

Hardly any commentator, respectable or otherwise, notices that Nigel Farage has created his own stab-in-the-back myth. The treacherous “Westminster elite” so despised the decent people of Britain that it flooded the land with foreigners who “took our country from us”. They also claim the treacherous social media so despise UKIP that we’ll make up anything so they’ll look bad – even if it’s factually accurate! This is the manure in which far-right movements have always grown.

But, once again, if anyone objects, I accept that Farage is not a führer or duce. Rather than arguing about labels, let us agree to allow the facts to speak for themselves. Farage is a rabble-rouser and a coward. He plays with racism the way Ian Paisley used to play with sectarianism: whips it up, then backs off just before he can be accused of inciting violence. Ah. So what Nick’s saying is that, while UKIP is a far-right organisation, its leader isn’t strong enough to be “a führer or duce”. Let’s see the evidence:

He does not attend the meetings of the European parliament to defend British interests but pockets the money of the “hardworking taxpayers” he affects to represent and skips away. Party of the people, anyone? He claims to be a patriot while defending Britain’s enemies in the Kremlin. A fan of despotism, then. He claims to be the friend of the working man, while slapping down his economics spokesman for proposing tax rises that would hurt his backers in the City. Are we sure he’s not at the far-right of the political spectrum?

As for the men and women he leads, UKIP candidates and donors have suggested they want to drive Lenny Henry out of Britain because he is black, bar women from the boardroom and stop gays from having sex because, as everyone knows, God punishes the sin of Sodom by flooding the Thames Valley.

If you cannot call UKIP a far-right party, you can at least say that it is an alliance of the septic that’s septic, not sceptic and the geriatric: a movement of the empty-headed led by the foul-minded.

So what about the Tories and Labour? It tells you everything about the absence of principle in the mainstream parties that they don’t even try to beat Farage. Political commentators could not have been more foolish when they believed David Cameron’s promise to “throw everything” he had at stopping UKIP winning in Rochester. And did you all see Michael Gove backtracking like his life depended on it, on Friday’s Newsnight?

Cameron may have thrown money and marketing strategies, but he did not throw punches. The Conservative attack on UKIP’s ideas never came. That’s worth repeating: The Conservative attack on UKIP’s ideas never came. Perhaps he agrees with them? Cameron, who once presented himself as a moderate, instead conceded acres of ground to the extremists, no more so than on the immigration question… He has abandoned the centre and veered to the right… The new Cameron wants to show UKIP voters that he is just as right-wing as Farage.

“Just as right-wing as Farage – so it’s admitted that the Conservatives are moving towards Fascism, too. And how humiliating for Cameron that he has allowed UKIP to do to the Tories what the Tories did to Labour in the 1990s.

Alex Massie of the Spectator brilliantly summarised Cameron’s strategy of never allowing Farage to outflank him on the right by saying that it came down to the slogan: “UKIP are right: don’t vote for them!” Except, of course, UKIP are wrong. Cameron is a neoliberal Conservative and therefore wrong by definition, therefore his opinions about the other parties are also wrong.

The funeral of Cameron’s gutless strategy came when a desperate prime minister appealed to the centrists among Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat supporters in Rochester to vote tactically to stop the extremist UKIP candidate winning. Reasonable people could not see the difference between the extremist Cameron and extremist Farage and ignored him.

Cameron’s capitulation carries a warning. He won’t fight UKIP not only because he is frightened of Farage but because he is a prisoner of his party’s right. If he wins the next election, we now know that he will keep capitulating because he is a leader without honour or inner strength, whose own cynicism defeats him. Vox Political made this point on Facebook the other day – a commenter said a strong government needs a strong opposition and VP had to point out that we don’t have a strong government. If it was strong, then we really would have full employment, with everybody working full-time for a living wage (if not more), and both the deficit and debt would be falling. Instead we have a gang of corporate puppets who have hollowed out the British political system to make it a mechanism allowing those same corporations to profit from the taxpayer and pay the Tories for the privilege.

Not that Ed Miliband is any better. Cameron has tried and failed to pull the political insiders’ “triangulation” trick, practised by Bill Clinton: get close to your opponent (Ukip in this case), steal his votes and victory is yours. Miliband has tried to follow the “core vote” trick of George W Bush and Barack Obama: get out Labour’s “core” – about 30% of the electorate – throw in old Lib Dems, who cannot forgive the Tory alliance, that’s another 5%, and, eureka!, our strange electoral system will deliver victory. Like a child building a house out of Lego bricks, Miliband thought he could pick up the handfuls of voters he needed for victory and forget about the rest. This seems likely – but is it? Isn’t it more accurate to say that Labour is practising ‘the art of the possible’? Under unrelenting pressure from the Tory media, Miliband has had to come up with costed policies that would show it was not planning to increase borrowing and make our debts worse. Notice that the Tories are under no such constraints and can promise unfunded tax cuts to their hearts’ content. UKIP has come under no such scrutiny; its tax policies are the same as those of the Conservatives – isn’t that a hint in itself? – and it isn’t going to form part of any government anyway.

A friend should have told him that astounding condescension lay at the heart of his “35% strategy”. Labour assumed that its “core” supporters would not listen to anyone else; that, even at a time of economic distress and political disintegration, Labour “owned” them. Many of those “core” supporters are defecting to the Greens, it seems – making a future Conservative victory almost a certainty unless Labour brings them back with a clear message and genuinely crowd-pleasing policies.

Mr Cohen presents an unhappy prediction for life after May 2015: With Labour’s “core” voters offering their votes to the Green Party – a futile gesture – and UKIP pulling the Tories towards fascism, you can expect David Cameron – coward though he is – to start wearing black uniforms and demanding that everybody salute him thereafter.

Only 70 years after we defeated Hitler’s Germany in World War II, we will have become the enemy we opposed.

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  1. chopale November 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Does this apply for the Media out let and edited paper rags?.

    • Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      Does what apply? I must be slow today as some of the comments aren’t making sense to me.

  2. Jeff Scarisbrick-Wright November 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Speaking as one of the people making “a futile gesture”:

    I would be delighted if Labour were the party that they claim to be. If they had a bold socialist vision for the country. I’d be full of admiration for Ed Milliband if he was to do what I suspect he wants to do and throw off the suffocating shackles of the devotees of Blair and Brown. But it’s all too timid. Their brand of toryism-lite (improved from Blair’s day no doubt) combines the worst of both policies. Expensive programs propping up business profits and poorly regulated privatisations in order to make the country affordable for the working classes they represent. This is sticking plaster for the symptom. Not a radical operation to correct the root causes.

    To suggest that a left wing vote for anyone but Labour is a futile gesture is to perpetuate the establishment narrative of a tribal view of politics (with a veneer of yearning for two party american electoral certainty). It’s what gave us Blair and his neo-liberalism with a smile. Labour changed but the tribe kept going.

    Labour CAN reform. I really believe it. But they never, never will if we will vote for them no matter what just to keep the tories out. If we do this we have to see ourselves with the same contempt that we see UKIP voters (who we learn this week disagree with their parties policies to the tune of 81% opposed (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/commentisfree/2014/nov/21/rochester-byelection-beliefs-of-ukip-voters)) who follow the beat of a drum with no more thought than is required to say “yeah, me too”.

    If Labour won’t give us the radical change that we believe the country needs then we must vote for someone who will. The inevitability of a “big” parties existance is now in flux (Lib Dem are proving that in spades). If Labour will not occupy the left of centre then they must be replaced. That is democracy in action.

    I also believe that it will give those working from the grass roots of the Labour movement – still sensible Kinnock-era style socialists – to work with the leadership to purge the last of Thatcher’s children New Labour from their ranks and give us the party we deserve. Anything less is just asking for tactical voting and I won’t do it.

    Futile? I think now.

    • Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      Sorry – what are these “expensive programmes propping up business profits” and “poorly-regulated privatisations” of which you write? Could you point them out in current Labour Party plans?
      If you want to vote Green and make a difference, rather than make it a futile gesture, you can do it in two ways. The first is to be a voter in a constituency held by the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats (or UKIP), making sure that the Green Party campaign there focuses heavily on the failings of the incumbent parties. The second – if you want to send a message to the Labour Party – is to vote Green at a time when Labour is in government.
      Otherwise you just hand the country back to the Conservatives on a silver platter.
      So I agree with your last sentence. Is a Green vote futile? I think it is now, as well.

  3. Ian Duncan November 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    “Mr Cohen presents an unhappy prediction for life after May 2015: With Labour’s “core” voters offering their votes to the Green Party – a futile gesture […]”

    It isn’t futile if it’s the only way to get the message across that Ed M is too right wing or in’t the right man for the job.

    From your piece on Ed Balls’ policy announcements the other day, maybe Labour are finally getting the ‘too right wing’ message (though it still has me beat as to why right wingers would join Labour in the first place) from the people but that doesn’t address the Miliband issue. Nothing he does or says looks or sounds right, like he’s a 99% accurate robot replica of a human; he fumbles the ball with Myleene Klass (one thing Miliband should be good at is debate, especially against her likes). Then there was the whole white van/Ingerlund/respect hoo-haa… He even looked a bit of a spod just eating a sammidge, for crying out loud. Irony is, he seems like a genuinely nice bloke and by some distance the cleverest of the party leaders. Maybe that’s partly the issue? He’s that kid at school who always got A grades but didn’t fit in anywhere.

    I’ll be looking at local polls carefully next year and looking for decent Labour policies re the DWP/benefits/workfare etc. If UKIP or the scum look like taking a run at the sitting Labour MP then I will, against my better judgement and only because it’s an emergency, vote Labour.

    Then I hope he can find a way of neutering the press bias against Labour. Cameron and Gidiot could be found out as the child murdering MPs and the Mail (and the BBC) wouldn’t even mention it, focusing instead on MIliband stumbling slightly on a bit loose carpet.

    • Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      Right-wingers would join Labour to undermine the party from within. It has worked rather well, don’t you think? Public distrust of Labour, even when it announces excellent policies, is running high.

  4. jaypot2012 November 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    And we the people have let it get this far – if people got out of their chairs and went to vote then we wouldn’t have has this coalition or be looking at another one between Con/Ukip.
    We deserve all we get for letting the 1% run roughshod over the 99%!

  5. Damien Willey November 23, 2014 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Changing your mind from Labour to Green is not a futile gesture if it gains momentum – the longer Labour remains tory-lite in its policies, the more of its socialist core vote will desert it. In England we don’t have an SNP, or a Plaid Cymru to vote for, so the only socialist option left is the greens – and look how they’re growing….

    • Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      Who says Labour are Tory-lite? The right-wing mass media and Labour’s political opponents. And you’re supposed to believe them. Interesting, that, isn’t it?
      As I mentioned to Jeff Scarisbrook-Wright, the time for disillusioned Labour supporters to vote Green is when there’s already a Labour government, not when you’ve had five years of Tories and are in danger of having five more. You need to destroy the Tory threat before undermining their only serious opposition. By all means, vote Green if you’re in a Tory or Lib Dem heartland. But don’t do anything stupid and let the Conservatives back in.
      Would you want to take responsibility for all the deaths that would follow?

  6. Michelle November 23, 2014 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    The pulling towards fascism comes in many guises – the excessive coverage for Ukippers which artificially frames debate while ignoring the sensible discussion of policies is such a concern, as well as the fear the other party leaders seem to demonstrate for UKIP confrontation. Thanks to you for this post.

  7. Nick November 23, 2014 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Cameron only wonts power for powers sake like they all do the trouble is they cant make a case for genuine decent politics as they have no experiences of how others live much less so those from overseas

    until someone like myself who has a wide worldwide understanding of others gets into running this country then uk politics will just larch further to the right with the world going full tilt downhill

    there are decent people out there like myself as i know of many but they would have never ever given politics a thought

    what i would like to say through this blog is if that your decent and honest then you owe it to mankind to rid the world of the likes of Cameron and co forget about working overseas in the charity arena as wonderful as that it we need someone back here leading as failure to do so could end up killing us all in the long term

  8. Nick November 23, 2014 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    mike can you remove the confirm follow as i tick the box subscribe on this blog and then get an email to confirm which is a pain

    • Mike Sivier November 23, 2014 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      Not sure I can, I’m afraid – it’s an automated process.

  9. Jim Round November 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    I have said before that I am unsure if people would vote for a socialist government, I know that from reading the comments on HYS far too many are of the belief that Labour caused the recession and they caused the increase in the national debt.
    There is a biased MSM, run by those who see anything as a threat to neoliberalism and their business model as an easy thing to attack.
    A strong leader is needed to stand up to Murdoch, Dacre etc…no matter what the consequences.

  10. Michelle November 24, 2014 at 9:57 am - Reply

    FYI on a related note – at a UN plenary vote last week the UK abstained on combating the glorification of Nazism and other practices that fuel racism: http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/69/docs/voting_sheets/L56.Rev1.pdf

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