Magazine article The Spectator

Rod Liddle: Ukip Is a Party for People Who Hate London. That's Why Labour Should Be Scared

Magazine article The Spectator

Rod Liddle: Ukip Is a Party for People Who Hate London. That's Why Labour Should Be Scared

Article excerpt

It is interesting that neither Scotland nor Wales have been much bitten by the Ukip bug. The supposedly sensible view is that both of these countries are more kindly disposed towards the European Union than are the English -- and that Ukip's contempt for the European Parliament and its politicians is seen as another example of that rather too familiar English jingoism and xenophobia, commodities which are not terribly popular either north of Berwick or west of Monmouth. It is also sometimes mentioned that immigration is far less of an issue in Wales and Scotland -- unless we are talking about English immigration, which does indeed tend to make the Jocks and the Taffs reach for their tins of paraffin from time to time. Well, sure. There's probably a modicum of truth in both of these arguments -- but it's the deciding factor only if you see Ukip's rise primarily as a consequence of its opposition to the EU and its tough line on immigration. I do not, entirely.

I think the question of EU membership scarcely impinges upon most of the voters who -- in Clacton and Heywood and (as we shall see) Rochester -- decided to clamber aboard Nigel Farage's somewhat ramshackle and undoubtedly gas-guzzling bandwagon. Indeed, a recent opinion poll suggested that the public was slightly more favourably inclined towards the EU at the moment than it has been for several years. Christ alone knows why this should be. But there we are.

Immigration is undoubtedly a critical issue, and especially so among former Labour party voters; blue-collar workers of a certain age. But I suspect that the real pull of Ukip in England is that the party, and Mr Farage particularly, are seen as a corrective to the vapid, flaccid, spineless, politically correct and wholly London-centric mitherings of what, until May next year, we must call the main three parties. That is also why Ukip does not do terribly well in London itself -- despite its leader's long immersion in the Square Mile, making sacks of wonga, Ukip has become the anti-London party. Its views on such stuff as immigration, wind farms and to an extent smoking, gay marriage, Islam and so on, are not so much 'right-wing' as simply 'not London'. I have long held that the split between the capital and the rest of the nation has widened to the extent that we are now effectively two separate countries: an insulated, affluent and achingly liberal city-state on the one hand, and on the other, the rest of England -- from Truro to Carlisle, but especially north of the Wash. It is the London establishment, and its fatuous and self-serving shibboleths, which is loathed throughout the rest of the country, in a way which has not quite been seen before, even if there was always a certain divide. The London of Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, and the BBC and Channel 4 and the quangos and extremely well-fed and gobby third sector institutions, and the lawyers and the bankers; the establishment. …

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