Members of the Tory leadership are not known for their support of workers rights, and the same is true for UKIP’s leaders. On the issue of Tory attacks on the working-class take for example Next’s Chief Executive Lord Simon Wolfson, who recently claimed that the £6.70-an-hour they pay many of their staff was “enough to live on”. This comes from a man who spent his youth at Radley College, a boarding school which charges over £30,000 a year for fees. It is also noteworthy that Lord Simon Wolfson’s wife is George ‘austerity’ Osborne’s economic adviser, while his father, who founded Next, was Margaret Thatcher’s Chief of Staff from 1979 to 1985.
Given that UKIP’s economic ideas are very similar to those of the Tories, it is little surprise that their leadership remains to the right of the Tory party. Emblematic of this is that around 40% of its prospective parliamentary candidates for the general election have attended private schools, second only to the Tories. Once private school-boy himself Mr Farage said upon Thatcher’s death that he was the only politician “keeping Thatcherism alive” — something which like many of their key policies he later changed his mind on. Despite this change of heart, Farage’s ‘former’ love of Thatcher may have something to do with the proximity of his former school, Dulwich College (which has fees of £36,000 a year) to the Iron Lady’s last home, which is on the same road as Dulwich College.
Yet it seems that UKIP like to make a virtue out of changing their mind on everything, except that is immigration and their commitment to helping the super-rich. Recall that it was just last June that Paul Nuttall MEP, the vice-chair of UKIP made a bloop on his web site by calling for the privatisation of the NHS, writing: “I believe, as long as the NHS is the ‘sacred cow’ of British politics, the longer the British people will suffer with a second-rate health service.” He quickly retracted this comment, and now it seems that many of the former Tories in UKIP’s leadership are being forced to say (in public anyway) that they love the idea of a publicly owned NHS.
This is all related to UKIP’s desire to court working-class voters, which has seen Mr Farage attempting to lean left on a number of issues. In the same vein he dismissed the party’s 2010 election manifesto as “drivel” and “nonsense”. Such political flip-flopping should hardly inspire confidence in workers, moreover although UKIP have now ditched their ridiculous call for a ‘flat tax’ set at 31%, they are still committed to lowering the top rate of income tax for the super-rich (to just 40%).
One divisive policy which UKIP are unwavering in their support of is the need for strict immigration controls. UKIP present this as the monolithic policy solution to all worker’s problems, when all it serves to do is deflect workers’ attention away from the super-rich profiteers who are the root of the world’s problems. This is why it is vital that we lay the blame for the ongoing financial crisis where it belongs: with the billionaires, bankers and the capitalist system.
There is no doubting that immigration is a real concern for many people. This is precisely why socialists and members of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) explain “that the only way to stop big business using migrant workers – and young workers, agency workers and others – as a means to drive down the general level of wages is to fight for the rate for the job for all workers, and for union organisation, regardless of what corner of the world they originate from.” TUSC stands firmly for building working-class unity around policies that benefit workers in the face of UKIP’s policy of simply blaming immigrants for all of societies problems.