The way back from Rochester & Strood

Mark Reckless’ UKIP victory over the Tories serves notice on all the parties.   The Tories, having sworn to ‘throw the kitchen sink’ at retaining it in Cameron’s words he must now regret, see a near-10,000 Tory majority in 2010 turned into a 3,000 (7.3%) UKIP lead.   Labour, which never had a chance of winning, loses nearly half its vote.    The LibDems virtually disappear with less than 1% of the vote.   Of course by-elections are wholly different from general elections, but the result for UKIP in Rochester, 271st in their list of target seats, hardly suggests that the Farage phenomenon, based largely on sentiment rather than policy, has lost momentum.   But there are several important implications.

The likelihood of further defections of Tory MPs has apparently subsided for the moment, though with at least 5 Tory MPs having little or no chance of holding their seats next year unless they switch to UKIP, that could very well change in the next 6 months.   For the Tory party as a whole chasing UKIP to the Right is likely to be counter-productive since Farage will always be able to outflank them.   For Labour the odds on countering UKIP are more promising.   Research has shown that UKIP supporters believe big business takes advantage of ordinary people and they strongly agree there is one law for the rich and one for the poor.   They are largely working class voters, they want to renationalise rail and energy, they demand higher taxes for the rich and an increased minimum wage, and they even want income redistribution.   What this says is that though these policies are anathema to New Labour, they fit perfectly with traditional Labour policy.   So why has this new insurgency of Labour persuasion joined the hard Right?

Clearly because they don’t believe that Labour will deliver this transformation that they crave for.   It’s true that Labour has in fact promoted several proposals which would deliver many of these demands, but there has not been a forceful presentation of a single policy capable of decisively swinging public opinion in Labour’s favour.   The one that cries out to be proclaimed is that a Labour government, recognising the sense of abandonment, anger and hopelessness that has driven loss of security and identity, will steadily move away from austerity and endless spending cuts and instead go down the alternative route of public investment, growth, jobs and rising incomes, not only to escape the blind alley of Osborne’s destruction of the welfare state but because that is now the only way to pay down the deficit.   When austerity itself is causing the deficit to rise this year, sticking with Osborne’s policies is certifiable.   It’s also the only game-changer in town that’s likely to stop the SNP advance that’s threatening wipe-out for Labour in Scotland.   So what’s Labour waiting for?

4 thoughts on “The way back from Rochester & Strood

  1. As the two UKIP MPs both originally held the same seats as Tories, it has been pointed out that their constituents simply voted for “no change.” So unless other Tory MPs defect it’ll be a totally different matter.

    Certainly, if Labour distanced themselves from New Labour and returned to their traditional values then, provided people believed this had truly happened, Labour should attract votes from millions of people who are now suffering under the Tories.

    Some people equate Labour as being out of touch like the Tories, just because some Labour MPs do not come from working class backgrounds, so more should be done to dispel this idea. You yourself are a very good example, as I’m sure that being an MP for many decades in one of the poorest areas of the UK you are the last person who could be accused of being out of touch with ordinary people! (I also believe that you must really care, otherwise you wouldn’t be working so hard). Another good example is Clement Attlee who did more for the working class than any other PM ever.

    I believe that a Labour government will be a far better and fairer for the country as a whole, than the Tories are or ever will be. Hopefully others will be more convinced as the election approaches and firm policies emerge and are also very widely advertised. People are so sceptical of politicians nowadays (mostly with good reason) that the personal touch would be far more effective than any advertising campaign.

    I’d be very surprised if it’s only UKIP voters who believe “there is one law for the rich and one for the poor…..demand higher taxes for the rich and an increased minimum wage……and better income redistribution.” I’d expect at least 50-80% of the country to want this!! The NHS is also most important to much of the population.

    However, as for UKIP voters, I think their main priorities are:
    – getting out of the EU (or at the very least having a referendum on this)
    – halting immigration (and even expelling immigrants currently here)

    These are far right and even extremist views, which I wouldn’t expect Labour to pander to!

    I think Ed Miliband has come up with some ideas on lessening the impact of immigration, so these need to get through to the masses.

    I’ve seen various reports on whether we are better in or out of the EU. My gut feeling tells me that it’s best to stay in, but the EU must become far more efficient and cut much of the waste, which neither we nor the other EU countries can afford. When times are hard, waste should be the very first to go. (eg moving the whole shebang from Brussels to Strasbourg at enormous cost just to pander to the French and their ego, must be stopped)!

    Consequently, as Labour are not promising a referendum on the EU, they should at least reassure people that they will fight hard for the system to be greatly improved.

    I doubt this would satisfy the most extreme UKIP voters but it would give the bulk of decent working class people a far better option.

    I particularly like your closing paragraph and the phrase “…. sticking with Osborne’s policies is certifiable”!!!

  2. By Mike Sivier:
    “UKIP on course to form government in 3,392 years”
    Quote:”Congratulations to UKIP on winning its second seat in the House of Commons. At this rate, the party – formed in September 1993 – is on course to form its first UK government in the year 5406!”

  3. What Labour cannot see is people are so pissed off that it has forgotten it’s roots and left the poor and vulnerable to be sitting ducks for attacks from the Tories that they will even vote UKIP.

    Complaining about the bedroom tax is hypocritical (LHA) Atos and Lord Freud, both used by Labour, and then we have the closures of Remploy, Labour started those.

    Disabled people see no improvement in things (why didn’t Labour oppose the scrapping of DLA, the least defrauded benefit or allowance in the system) and are left to fight for themselves, putting added pressure and worry onto people that do not need it.

    More people will vote UKIP to give both parties a well deserved kick in the balls, moaning about them being Tory or not makes no difference, people are starting to rail against two parties that prefer to fight for the better off.

    And no, I won’t be voting UKIP

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