UKIP is the Teflon party in these European elections. However disorganised and anarchic they are, with no policies except a visceral hatred of the EU and immigrants, however vile the racist and sexist views of so many of its representatives, a significant section of the British electorate are quite prepared to ignore all that because they are not voting for UKIP but rather against the political Establishment which they perceive as having utterly failed them. Indeed the more the three main political parties gang up together in attacking UKIP, the more Farage revels in it as confirming his status as the anti-Establishment candidate. The way to destroy UKIP is for a political party to respond effectively and positively to the prevailing political mood sweeping Britain which, more than anything else, is anti-austerity. That is only reinforced by the fact that the elections in a week’s time highlight the perception of the EU under Merkel’s hegemony as burying the whole European region in austerity.
What the people of Britain, as well as of Europe, are crying out for is an alternative to endless austerity. With Osborne, Merkel and Valls now all committed to the same policies of carrying on with cuts to 2020 (and maybe well beyond), the one party that has the capacity to defenestrate UKIP is Labour, but only if it dramatically changes course from the widespread perception as peddling the same continuing cuts policy as the Tories. There is a perverse and preposterous view in some sections of the Labour leadership that what the British electorate wants is a Labour party that shows it can really take tough decisions, so so it should keep on turning the screw. That is nonsense. The truth is that the electorate is fed up with being endlessly squeezed by prolonged deprivation, especially when they are well aware that they are being made the fall-guy victims of the scandalous recklessness of the bankers, almost none of who have been punished.
The bankers caused the crash, and Osborne gratuitously extended the pain by a deliberate policy of austerity in order to shrink the State and squeeze the public sector out of existence as much as he could. This is a wide-open goal for Labour to exploit both to win the 2015 elections outright without coalition as well as to drain UKIP of what alone keeps it going – the scapegoating of others, the EU and immigration – when the fundamental fault really lies with ourselves and the destructive economic policies (an over-powerful financial sector, the hollowing out of our industrial base, the privatisation of everything and vilification of the State, and a grotesque rich-poor divide) which have brought Britain low. Is Labour up to kicking the ball through an open goal?