Countering UKIP’s myths with fact

Photo: Craig Maclean

by Colin Fox, SSP national co-spokesperson The Scottish Socialist Party’s new booklet on ‘UKIP, Europe and Immigration’ offers a timely warning to socialists everywhere about the potency of unchecked right wing ideas. It examines the rise in support for UKIP in order to equip SSP supporters with the arguments needed to counter them. Dismissed by David Cameron as a party of ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’ in 2012 UKIP now has 40,000 members and hundreds of elected representatives. The ‘secret of their success’ has been to blame the decline in living standards on immigrants and claimants thus concealing the real culprits in the City of London.

Many mistakenly describe UKIP as ‘fascists’. They are not. Fascism evokes the primacy of the state, argues for protectionism and intervention by the state in all aspects of society. That is anathema to the unfettered ‘free market capitalism’ of Nigel Farage.

He is a right-wing conservative, a xenophobic ‘Little Englander’ who wants Britain to leave the EU because he sees it evolving into a centralist ‘European Super state’ he calls ‘the EUSSR’.

The need to completely reform the European Union was again emphasised this week when the new Greek Government tried to renegotiate its crippling debts. The talks showed how the EU is ultimately run in the interests of its bankers.

If it is ever to be run in the interests of the peoples of Europe, all 500million of us, then a democratic, socially just pan-European plan needs to be set out and implemented. The SSP is committed to working in a pan-European alliance to achieve a socialist federation of democratic European nations.

Working class people are being fed an illusion by UKIP [and others] that leaving the EU will make things better. It will not. Leaving the EU puts the British working class at the mercy of those right-wingers behind Farage who will feel emboldened by their success.

There can be few other issues as incendiary as immigration in Britain today and UKIP exploits fears that surround it. This pamphlet provides a wealth of information to undermine UKIP’s myths. A report for example published in November 2014 by University College London revealed ‘Immigrants contributed far more to the UK Treasury than they took out since 2004, in the case of EU Immigrants £5billion more. And when fixed costs such as defence are taken out of the equation the figure reaches £10.5billion.’

Professor Christian Dustman—co-author of the report—found ‘Immigrants are 43 per cent less likely than UK citizens to receive state benefits such as tax credits and 7 per cent less likely to live in social housing.’

It made nonsense of UKIP’s claim that workers moved to Britain for our ‘generous welfare benefits’. They came here for work. Half of UK businesses now employ migrant workers [British Chamber of Commerce Nov 2014]. They tend to be younger, more qualified and desperate.

But of course UKIP has nothing to say about employers who exploit migrant and indigenous labour.Yet such behaviour is widespread. One case reported on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme [19/12/14] exposed employers in Wisbech in Cambridgeshire caught paying Lithuanian migrant workers a £1/week to pick leeks which were then supplied to all the country’s leading supermarkets.

If there is one country that should know about emigration and immigration it is surely Scotland. People have been leaving our shores for centuries in search of a better life. The brutality of the Highland Clearances forced many thousands of Scots families to emigrate in the 19th century and Thatcher’s ‘industrial clearances’ of the 1980s forced thousands more to follow suit. Whilst many have left others have arrived here in search of a better life.

My grandpa Mackin—himself the son of Irish immigrants—reflecting a widespread sympathy for immigrants would often say to me ‘The poor souls. It must be bad where they were if they have come to Motherwell for a better life!’

The SSP welcomes migrant workers for they make this country economically, socially and culturally richer by coming here. They made a brave decision to leave their homeland to try and improve their lives often at great personal sacrifice.

Yet in return they often face employers who exploit them and hostile politicians who seek to scapegoat them for society’s ills.

The Scottish Socialist Party is determined to stop UKIP and others from victimising working class people whether they are immigrants or not. After all it wasn’t Romanians who caused the worst recession in 80 years or Bulgarians who bankrupted the economy. It wasn’t immigrants who embezzled £100 billion by avoiding their tax obligations since 2008.

It wasn’t immigrants who introduced the bedroom tax or sold off the Royal Mail. It wasn’t immigrants who forced one million households in Scotland into fuel poverty. It wasn’t immigrants caught red handed stealing hundreds of millions of pounds in the LIBOR scandal or insider trading on currencies. It was the bankers, spivs and speculators who caused the crash and we insist they pay for their misdeeds.

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