ON POLITICS RECENTLY AND THE MIGRATION OF PEOPLES


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A Remarkable Political Result

It’s perhaps hard to overstate the significance of the recent elections in England and Wales, and in the European Union (EU) of which of course the UK is a member.  For the first time in British history a political party, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), with no Members of Parliament, has won a national election.  It’s over 100 years since a political party other than the Conservatives or Labour has won a national election.  UKIP has won seats in every region of England, and in Wales and Scotland.  This is a remarkable political result.

The mainstream political parties across the UK would appear to have misjudged badly the national mood, or at least the mood of a very significant minority of the British population.  It’s testament to our democracy and our society generally that the people of the UK can set the cat amongst the political pigeons peaceably.  It’s also worth noting perhaps that in France, the National Front stormed to victory whilst in the UK the British National Party was, gratifyingly, wiped out.

UKIP, the Scottish National Party and Scotland’s Independence

UKIP’s not everyone’s cup of tea, far from it.  However, there’s no doubting that UKIP and the other disruptive political parties across Europe and, indeed, further afield are doing democracy a great favour these days.  Goodness knows where this will end up, but it’s likely to be a better place than a democracy-free European superstate.

In this context, it’s interesting too that the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) campaign for Scotland’s independence is, ironically, a campaign for dependence.  The SNP would wish to disengage Scotland from the democracy that patently exists within the UK, only immediately to place the nation firmly in to the lap of the autocracy – or at best the pseudo-democracy – that is the EU.  After all, the thousands of ‘directives’ and ‘regulations’ that rule so much of our lives these days emanate not from the European Parliament, but from the unelected, unaccountable European Commission (EC).

No amount of voting is ever going to remove the 23,000 EC bureaucrats who have so much power and influence over the nature and shape of our economy, society and culture here in the UK.  Indeed, it will only now be through the actions of anti-EU parties like UKIP over the coming months and years that we shall stand any chance at all of extracting ourselves from the yoke of the Lisbon Treaty.  Meantime, and ironically, the SNP cherishes the thought of lashing Scotland to what is, to all intents and purposes, a tyrants’ charter.

As one commentator observed this week, UKIP isn’t perfect; it’s rough around the edges; it requires, and will get, finesse.  However, UKIP is fundamentally democratic: it is of the people and for the people, and it is quintessentially and classically liberal, and British, in its character.  Compare this to the SNP’s sharp practice at Holyrood where the party of government massages (to put it politely) the committee system to pursue its own ends.

For example, take a look at ‘The European and External Relations Committee Report on the Scottish Government’s Proposals for an Independent Scotland: Membership of the European Union’.  Note how the SNP proposed a change supportive of Mr Salmond’s pro-EU stance; the opposition disagreed; the SNP used its majority to win the vote and alter the report, whilst stonewalling a move to reveal the original document.  So, the SNP used its committee majority to bolster Mr Salmond’s case for independence.

Holyrood’s committee system is supposed to hold the Scottish Government to account by scrutinising legislation. However, the SNP’s 2011 election victory handed it control of all Holyrood’s committees, meaning any criticism can be theoretically overruled.  It’s precisely this type of undermining and usurping of the democratic process that has so fuelled the rise of anti-Establishment parties like UKIP.

The politics of the UK and Europe have changed forever this week, and that’s no bad thing.  One can only hope that the established political parties understand what’s really going on here.  For if they don’t, an awful lot of mainstream party politicians could find themselves out of a job in the next few years.  Meantime, it’s a moot point whether voting ‘Yes’ to Scotland’s independence would in fact be a vote for independence at all.

En Route to a European Superstate

If UKIP achieves its objective of securing a foothold in Parliament, British politics – and with it our society – would be transformed in the subsequent years.  Perhaps above all else the UK would almost certainly leave the European Union and, as a result, revert to the natural, 1,000-year trend of our country’s history of sovereignty, common law, democracy, liberty, global trade and border security.  All these national characteristics are destined to be crushed should we remain signatories to the Lisbon Treaty.  The UK would become, ultimately and by design, a vassal community of a European superstate.  Nobody should be under any illusion that this is not the express intention of the European politico-bureaucratic elites.

On the Migration of Peoples

It’s worth bearing in mind that UKIP is not only a party resolved to extracting the UK from the EU, it’s also a political party that dares to raise the subject of immigration.  On this particular matter Migration Watch’s paper ‘A Summary History of Immigration to Britain’ (link below) is worth reading.  Its concluding paragraph states, “Britain has experienced many relatively small episodes of immigration over the centuries.  For nearly a thousand years migration was on a very small scale compared to the size of the population.  In the decades between the Second World War and the late 1990s, foreign immigration grew steadily at a relatively modest rate before declining in the late 1960s and becoming fairly stable between 1971 and 1981.  The massive increase in the level of migration since the late 1990s is utterly unprecedented in the country’s history, dwarfing the scale of anything that went before.”

So what?  Well, for me the issue is not one of racism or xenophobia, as you would expect.  I’m concerned that the extraordinary levels of immigration to the UK over the past 10 – 20 years have been acts of political collusion and deceit and, by definition, undemocratic.  It’s the principle – or the breach of it – that irritates me.  The consequences for our economy have been deteriorating wealth (measured in GDP per capita).  The consequences for our society have been to place unprecedented pressures on public services: education, health, social, policing, military, as we struggle to fund a society that, in reality, we can’t afford … and that’s before we grow artificially our society every decade at the rate of 10 cities the size of Southampton – to no economic advantage.

Goodbye or Good Riddance to the European Union?

Finally, we can do absolutely nothing about this state of affairs for as long as the UK remains a signatory to the Lisbon Treaty, that is for as long as we retain our membership of the EU.  Much as I love my neighbours – within and outwith these shores – of all genders, sexual orientation and ethnic origin, both common sense and hard socio-economic evidence suggest that we can’t really go on like this.  Or can we?  And if so, how does it work in practice?

As far as the 3 main political parties are concerned (if the Liberals can still be considered a “main political party”), even to desire a discussion of this profoundly significant issue is, by and large, considered to be a racist or xenophobic distraction … usually inciting ad hominem attacks on those who raise the subject.  I’m not sure if this approach to public discourse is in the best interests of our society.

Economically, socially and, of late, politically we live in truly interesting times – and very pleasing it is too if, like me, for the past two decades you’ve felt disenfranchised.  Nigel Farage and others of that ilk have much to be proud of lately, to the chagrin of the mainstream political class.  Small wonder Nick Clegg is looking out of sorts.

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A Summary History of Immigration to Britain: http://tinyurl.com/nd4kaws

14 comments

  1. Can I suggest you read “The New Few”, by Ferdinand Mount? A great analysis.

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    1. moraymint · ·

      Will do; thanks for the recommendation. Indeed, such is technology these days, the book now resides on my iPad …

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  2. Hi MM – good piece, as usual. There was a further boost for UKIP this morning when Tony Bliar called the party “pretty nasty and unpleasant” – a good sewlf-description, methinks.

    You and I agree on most things, I believe, but let me play devil’s advocate to this extent:

    – Would you really describe the UK as “democratic”?

    – How does 23,000 bureaucrats in the EU compare with, what, 450,000 in Britain?

    – If the UK left the EU, how long would it take Whitehall to reintroduce almost every EU regulation under national auspices?

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    1. moraymint · ·

      Yes, Tim, I was aware of your thinking on this matter from your writings and comments elsewhere in the ether. I tend to agree that the UK is probably no more or less bureaucratic than any other complex, developed state or other political institution. Indeed, I have spent the past 6 years here in Moray grappling with the local government bureaucracy regarding a breach of planning/building regulations which has had a detrimental effect on my amenity and reasonable enjoyment of my property. It is staggering the extent to which unelected “officials” can both skewer taxpaying citizens and pretty much ignore the expectations and exhortations, formal and informal, of elected members of government. There are times when I think that our lives are governed primarily by bureaucrats. Perhaps ’twas ever thus? But, yes, I accept your point that if the UK did extract itself completely from the EU, we probably would not see an overnight reduction in bureaucracy, if at all, ever!

      PS I have read various studies the consensus of which suggest that there are in fact as many as 40,000 – 50,000 bureaucrats on the EC/EU payroll and perhaps up to a further quarter-million people employed at national level throughout the EU with the remit of implementing EU policies. One could argue that in the great scheme of employment generally – public and private – across Europe, this is not a huge number of people, relatively speaking. However, it still makes me shudder to think that we “need” this many state (ie taxpayer-funded) employees to turn and oil the wheels of the European Union machine. Instinctively, I reel back from anything that smacks of Big Government …

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      1. Thanks. My view on this – and it’s backed up by a lot that I read – is that Britain has been in retreat from democracy for a long time now.

        The first-past-the-post (FPTP) system worked when parties were weak and an MP’s first loyalties were to his constituents. In the 1950s, parties had memberships running into the millions; party conferences decided issues (especially in the Labour party); and constituency parties were the foundations of the national parties. Local members chose their candidates, and conference had a huge bearing both on policy and on leadership selection. MPs tended to be people of substance, with career experience, be it in business, the armed forces, medicine, teaching or the union movement.

        Nowadays, few people join parties because there is little or no point. Candidates are the nominees of the central machine, parachuted in from London, or (at best) must be chosen from an approved list. Conferences are little more than PR events.

        As a result, local parties are withering on the vine. MPs come from within the machine, with little or no real experience outside party internships, PR or the law. Powers have be drained away from local authorities, too, which increasingly have become implementation agencies for the centre. Accountability is minimal (how many heads rolled over Stafford, GCHQ surveillance, the breakdown of border controls or the disastrous invasion of Iraq? And why were the bankers rescued as well as the banks?)

        In this context, FPTP is harmful. If UKIP scores, say, 15% in the general election, it may gain no MPs at all. By contrast, Labour can win a majority with 33% of votes cast, whereas the Conservatives would need about 38%.

        This ties in with the economy, because we have moved ever further away from a capitalist, free market model towards corporatism.

        Individuals have become ever less empowered. We are seen as consumers and wage-labourers whose political opinions don’t really matter. We also have to subscribe to a state-imposed secular morality. If we were to find a historical parallel with all this, it would be the Cromwellian period, and specifically the self-perpetuating Long Parliament, when dissent was banned along with theatres, inns and even dancing around the may-pole.

        Where I value UKIP’s success is in its role as an anti-politics party. The established parties will, of course, circle the wagons. Wait for the dirty tricks. It is interesting that the major Westminster parties, together with big business, think they can frighten Scots into voting ‘no’ to independence.

        EU membership is a case in point. Free trade is for the big corporates. If an individual tries to take advantage of the single market by buying, say, petrol, alcohol or tobacco from the cheapest European market, he/she will soon find that it isn’t a free market for individuals, only for the big battalions.

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        1. moraymint · ·

          Interesting, indeed, thank you. I enjoyed Douglas Carswell’s book, ‘The End of Politics …’ in which he charts the change in (demise of?) democracy similar to how you’ve described the situation above. Whether we’re now at the leading edge of improvements to our democratic arrangements in this country remains to be seen; that’s probably too large a leap of the imagination. It’s hard to argue against Peter Oborne’s thesis in ‘The Triumph of the Political Class’ in the sense that so many of our political institutions and processes are now wedded to serving the political class rather than voters themselves … whom the politicians should be serving, of course.

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  3. david C · ·

    A Remarkable Political Result

    I agree it is a remarkable political result, but it is sad that even with the amount of disenfranchisement in the country the turn out at the polls was not as good as it should have been.
    All the parties need to take on board the mood of the electorate and stop serving up a menu of what they want us to have, rather than what we want.

    UKIP, the Scottish National Party and Scotland’s Independence

    UKIP is not my cup of tea. Full of rhetoric, but I don’t sense they have clear policies yet that would inspire voters to trust them with the keys to No 10.

    As an Englishman I have no opinion as to the merits of Scottish independence, but I trust all the people of Scotland to make a decision that is in their long term best interests. In or out of the United Kingdom I will still go to Scotland on holiday and still keep in touch with my friends.

    If UKIP is to enter Parliament next year they must up their game and set out workable policies for the country. In the meantime they should actually engage in Europe and do the job they are paid to do. UKIP does have the worst attendance in the EU parliament.

    What I do want is an English parliament. Simple and we should have a referendum on this.

    En Route to a European Superstate

    In or out of Europe no party is really telling us how it would work in a post non EU world. I hear a lot of assumptions, but there is a lack of meaningful policy to guide us as to the value of coming out or staying in.

    If there is to be a debate it needs to be an informed debate.

    On the Migration of Peoples

    Immigration, per se, is not a bad thing. It brings a range of cultures, academics, business etc. to the UK shores. It even got MM from Bristol to Scotland! And for 1000 years the people of Britain have travelled the world trading, living, teaching, and conquering (not so much conquering of late). Around 3 million British citizens live and work abroad, many in the EU states.

    The principle UK immigration tool is a National quota or visa system which only applies to non EU citizens. As a “first tool” of immigration control is does work, but it could do with refining like limiting it to certain areas for 5 years (like the Australians do)?

    EU citizens, you, me and any other EU citizen has the right to move freely around the EU to live, work, study, retire etc. In all EU countries there are no barriers to EU immigration, but there are controls like registering at the town hall so they know how many people they are providing services for. Like the number and ages of children so that school places exist and are funded when the child starts school.

    In the UK there is no controls of EU migration and as such it it the lack of control that impacts on economy and society and places unprecedented pressures on public services: education, health, social, policing, military. Is this the fault of the EU citizen, or of successive UK governments not to have a “second” level of control?

    With proper controls this local authorities would know absolutely who they are providing services for and would enable those authorities to obtain the correct funding from government for public services: education, health, social, policing, military etc. It should be that local authorities should receive adequate funding for the services they provide to the citizens that live there. But if you don’t know how many live there, how can you get the funding for the services correct?

    The “they take our jobs” argument is tired and incorrect. Most EU citizens living and working in the UK work hard and pay taxes and contribute positively to our economy and society. That said we do have an employment issue. We have a skills gap in the UK a large pool of unskilled people looking for jobs that are not there. The challenge is to both create jobs, but also to provide the skills training. Not on the cheap, but serious and sustained skills training.

    We should pay people to learn, not stay at home watching TV.

    Goodbye or Good Riddance to the European Union?

    I disagree that we can’t bring about change from within the European Union. It just takes a will to change and, frankly, the political expertise to bring it about. I fear our current state of disenchantment with Europe lies with our politicians who have not engaged as well or as boldly as they should have over the years. After all, it is the Council of Ministers that is the powerhouse at setting the EU Agenda and it is the EU Commissioners that turns the agenda into policy and each EU member state enacts the policy to suite their national interests.

    The last time I checked all UK Prime Ministers are members of the Council of Minsters and the UK has appointed a number of EU Commissioners in each EU Parliament Session; the likes of Kinnock et al. Finally all EU Directives are implemented by the UK Government.

    Economically, socially and, of late, politically we live in truly interesting times, but leaving the EU won’t change how our country currently works. Only we can change how our country works, better immigration policy and controls. Better education and skills training for long term unemployed and a better tax system so that Amazon and Starbucks pay the more tax, not less.

    We will never change our “UK first” mindset and we shouldn’t. We will never really like the EU, but before you think about pulling out, shouldn’t we make sure what we have works as well as it can?

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    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks very much DC, some good stuff there.

      Would you be willing to prepare a stand-alone post for this blog, airing your thoughts on the future of the EU etc, as well as your experiences as a European citizen, so to speak? Others have done so. I put up guest posts unedited. Let me know.

      Trust you’re well …

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  4. craig · ·

    What a well written piece! Not a lot I can add except to say, I agree. Let’s hope common sense will finally prevail and we can free ourselves from the shackles of Brussels. Kind regards

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    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Craig and all the best …

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  5. Bickers · ·

    Excellent piece MM. After last week’s results for UKIP the establishment & MSM will find it increasingly difficult & self defeating to deploy the racist card.

    What’s your take on UKIP gaining an MEP in Scotland?

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    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks Bickers. I’m pleased that we have a UKIP MEP (with others, of course) representing Scotland. However, to be honest the UKIP organisation generally – not least in Scotland – is pretty shambolic and I think the party would be the first to admit this. If I was to become more directly involved in the workings of UKIP, I should like to think I could offer some “back-office” skills and knowledge to support the appearance and performance of the “front of house” guys.

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  6. hjosbourne · ·

    An excellent post, Moraymint.

    Many thanks for sharing your germane and succinct thoughts.

    Kind regards

    Harry Osbourne

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    1. moraymint · ·

      Thank you Harry. It’s refreshing to be a part of this nascent turnaround in British politics which I certainly hope can be sustained. For too long now we, ordinary citizens, have been taken for the mother-of-all rides by the 3 main political parties. The Liberal, Labour and Conservative parties have coalesced into an homogenous, self-serving, Fabian, Big State, focus-group-led, Europhile mush which Peter Oborne coined as ‘The Triumph of the Political Class’ (see his synonymous book). At last, it looks like UKIP offers at least a means to an end, where the end is the establishment or re-establishment of a richer political tapestry in the UK. I hope I’m not being idealist when I say that. I’m prepared to contribute to the change as far as I’m reasonably able, partly by being active in the debate and partly by getting involved directly with UKIP (as I have done this past year or two).

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