Why is the sector keeping quiet on Ukip?

I have been a paid-up member of the Labour Party for more than 30 years and for most of that time I’ve worked in the charity sector, mainly with Christian Aid in various roles including head of advocacy. But throughout that time, I’ve felt uncomfortable about making the following statement:

“If you’re concerned about global development, you must vote Labour”. 

That’s because, leaving charity and electoral law to one side, I’ve met many Liberal Democrats and Conservatives who are just as committed as I am to ending global poverty. So it simply did not feel a right or honest thing to say.

Something has changed though. The plates have shifted. It feels different.

In a word:  Ukip.

And as a consequence, liberal, tolerant, diverse Britain needs to wake up.

Since March of this year, I have been a full-time candidate for the European elections, knocking on doors, talking to voters, attending hustings, and debating the issues in the media. I have also been a candidate before, in both local and Westminster elections, so I know the ropes and know the warning signs.

Over the past few months of election campaigning, Ukip has driven a coach and horses through many of the consensus positions of British politics.

Three issues stand out which should really concern the third sector:

– Ukip’s stated intention of, at best, slashing the overseas aid budget or, at worst, ending it altogether;

– Ukip’s cavalier dismissal of the science of climate change, and;

– Ukip’s support for a flat tax, which would increase inequality – the main driver of poverty in the UK (although, since polling day, Nigel Farage has said this policy is to be reviewed).

As a consequence of these policies and others, I have no qualms, no hesitation, no intellectual doubt about standing up and saying loudly, publicly and clearly, “If you are concerned about poverty at home or abroad, if you are worried about global warming, then do not vote Ukip”.

Remember, I have met them at the hustings, I have seen the whites of their eyes, heard their unscripted replies to questions, and I must say Ukip are a breed apart. By their own boastful admission they are “the fox in the Westminster hen house”.

So I hope no one in the development sector thinks all they need to do is to take Nigel Farage on a trip to see a water project in Africa and he will change his party’s view on overseas aid. I hope no one campaigning for an end to poverty in the UK thinks Ukip’s review of its tax policy in the run up to the general election is going to see a volte-face in favour of a progressive tax system. I hope no one in the environment sector thinks Ukip will shortly acknowledge the weight of scientific evidence around climate change.

Which rather begs the question, “Why was the third sector so quiet while Ukip marched to a national election victory on 22 May 2014?”

Cowed by the lobbying act? Short of resources? Focusing on other priorities? Worried about being criticised by the Charity Commission and the Electoral Commission? Not convinced European elections are really all that important? These are all reasons I’ve been given.

Of course there is a wonderful irony if it is the lobbying act that is holding the sector back. It was introduced by the current Conservative-led coalition government. And it is the Tories who would have most to gain if the third sector, along with the churches and the trade unions, were to set about systematically exposing the downside to so many Ukip policies.

On the doorstep, it was clear to me most voters – including most Ukip voters – had no idea about the party’s policies other than leaving the EU and stopping immigration (alas, their big vote winner). As it currently stands, the Conservatives are set to lose a swath of seats across the country as a result of their supporters peeling off to vote Ukip. Someone should tell Conservative Central Office the third sector could help them stem a further hemorrhaging of support and win back some of their lost voters.

As for the Liberal Democrats, they have only themselves to blame for their role in politically neutralising the voluntary sector, if that is what has happened. They were very keen on the lobbying bill because they saw it as the way to stop the National Union of Students from exacting revenge on Clegg and co. via a decapitation strategy in the 2015 general election, as payback for reneging on their student tuition fees promise.

This may all come as reasonably good news to my own party who, incidentally, are committed to repealing the lobbying bill. But morally I remain worried. Why? It’s been skirting around in the back of my mind but now it seems ever clearer to me and so it should be to liberal, tolerant, diverse Britain:

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”

On the 22 May 2014, we were warned.

Paul Brannen is a Labour MEP-elect for the North East

  • Steve Cheney

    Honestly, I think that doing nothing is the best option.

    UKIP’s primary power – possibly their only power – is in making themselves look big, puffing themselves up so that other parties, who actually have MPs and majorities and things, will adopt their policies, thereby circumventing a democratic process that they know will never give them any power to do it themselves.

    It is in danger of working. Almost immediately after the Euro elections, a senior Labour figure was rushing to say how sorry Labour was for ignoring the “concerns” of those who had voted UKIP, and how we must listen to the people and so on.

    But a cursory scan of really any stats pertaining to UKIP’s membership confirms pretty quickly that only a fraction of them are ex-Labour voters, and then the whole exercise resembles a parent running down the street begging a stroppy teenager not to run away from home, and promising to give them everything they want just to come back… which is bad enough, but they then have nine other children back at the house who aren’t going to get anything for no reason other than that they didn’t make a big show of running away.

    The fact is, Labour’s goals and aims are completely incompatible with UKIP’s, and UKIP’s goals and aims are completely incompatible with the goals and aims of a pretty substantial amount of their votership. The party has not picked up support because of its position on taxation and workers rights and climate change and so on. In the case of their protest voters, they have picked up their support in spite of those things; but I suspect that, for the most part, they’ve picked it up because people actually don’t KNOW that that’s what the party stands for.

    The best tactic against them is positive campaigning FOR the Labour party. Labour shouldn’t really *want* to win back voters that have gone to UKIP; if they left not knowing what the party was, they’ll be back either way, and if they were seduced by their ultra-right policies, they shouldn’t have been voting Labour in the first place! Labour has far more to gain by presenting itself as resolutely ANTI-UKIP, because there are far far more people who hate UKIP than there are people who are considering voting for them.

    All the polls indicate as much – UKIP’s support has largely plateau’d, but the people who don’t support them *really* hate them. They don’t necessarily love Labour, but it’s undeniable that if Labour is seen to be trying to poach UKIP voters, it will deter a lot of their prospective voters.

    On principle, democracy requires plurality, and there’s a feeling that the angry anti-EU brigade already have three parties promising them a referendum (which according to the polls they won’t win). Why should yet another party start begging these people for their vote while neglecting the majority for whom it is not the one and only electoral issue?

    In practice, most people I know who plan to vote Labour do so grudgingly; they see the party as their best option, they want to trust them to actually support some of the left-leaning policies that poll far better than any government has for decades among the electorate, and if it comes to it, they trust Labour *more* than they trust the other electable parties. But that puts them in a position where any sign that Labour is taking their vote for granted and trying to pursue the centre-right (again) is going to jeopardise any remaining loyalty to the party. There might have been a time when people voted Labour because it’s Labour, but that time has passed – we need to see principles on display. Policies are all well and good, but it’s something else to say “whatever else happened, we will never do x”. When I see Labour people worried about UKIP’s support, I worry that Labour sees their votes as far more important than its own.

    • ogga1

      Low grade crap.

    • $21182893

      UKIP support at a plateau?
      Almost won the EU elections in Wales and soaring general support in devolved Wales politics .
      Rising support in Scotland with an MEP.
      Almost 40000 members.
      4.25 million EU election votes and most MEP’ s.
      400 local councillors.
      Scything through Labour and Tory support in by elections.
      Targeted resources on very high support levels in England.
      Roll on May 7 2015 , more nails in the coffin of anti British , anti democratic Liblabcon extremism.

  • $21182893

    UKIP taxation policy will be stated in the 2015 election manifesto in September .
    Why should Britain add £60 billion every parliament to its national debt by giving money it does not have to be wasted on bureaucrats and third world crooks? UKIP policy is to provide overseas aid as part of internationally coordinated emergency humanitarian relief efforts , not waste it as soft international political power.
    As far a I can see the science of climate change shows there isn’t man made climate change requiring the pet alternative energy projects of zealots to be shoved down our throats creating blights on the landscape , energy poverty and strategic threats to energy supplies.
    As for UKIP supporters having no idea of UKIP policies you will find that UKIP policy is one of the main reasons people vote UKIP and would not touch the Liblabcon liberal left extremists with a barge pole.
    Support UKIP for a sovereign , democratic , common sense Britain and reject the extremism of the Labour Party, funded puppets of the Unions.

    • Alex

      I think you’ve just underlined Paul’s point!

  • politikalme

    Nigel Farage has made it clear every time he talks about foreign aid, that his intention is not to stop the aid which is demonstrably used to ease the plight of those less fortunate.

    UKIP’s criticism of foreign aid is directed solely at the practice of effective bribery, which sees vast sums of taxpayer cash being sent to despots and regimes in countries with horrific human rights records, and for which there is no audit trail to justify such a transfer of resources, when our own people are relying on foodbanks and suffering from lack of funding in such cases as the flooding scandal earlier this year.

    for an election candidate, you are either shamefully uninformed, or you are deliberately seeking to deceive. which is it?

  • RodPolisher

    Only 20% of the foreign aid budget is spent properly on things like emergencies and disasters e.g. Philippines earthquake etc. The rest is wasted on vanity projects or given to countries who don’t need it. There appears to be very little or no control on where this money goes or how it gets spent. How much have 3rd world dictators like Mugarbage pocketed over the years?

    • jacks

      well it seems to me that the uk are quite happy giving away our cash without asking where its going or accounting for it, my lord look at the eu FOR INSTANCE WE HAVE BEEN GIVING THEM AT LEAST 50 MILLION A DAY FOR GOD KNOWS HOW LONG AND THEY HAVE NEVER PRODUCED THEIR ACCOUNTS….!!!!!!!!!! nearly 20 years now and not one government body except for nigel has questioned this, the clip is on utube if anyone wishes to see him confront tony blair himself at the EU assembly about this and that was in 2005 …..still no one pushed on finding out why the EU have not been able to produce accounts. thats pretty awesome of labour really isnt it, firstly the man is a war criminal responsible for countless deaths , then justifies us giving so much to the EU and being part of the EU to stop war in europe (unless you have oil i.e. iraq well that come back to bite you on the bum !) which im sorry you have to laugh your head off at ,as the only country hell bent on war in europe was germany, i think that labour needs to realize they have lost alot of votes yes alot because of tony blairs sell out of the people and greed for power, and millibands attempts to show he knows our cost of living crisis is a total joke , promising a price freeze on fuel seriously ? no savings have been passed onto us the customers for years, the energy companies thanks to EU law dont have to do anything our government tells them to, again full of lies from a guy with no idea just how hard its become for the working class, something labour USED represent.

  • Paul, your sentiments are heartfelt I`m sure………..but people just don`t care enough anymore about climate change & foriegn aid. They percieve that our own country is beset with enough problems & can no longer see why we should send money oversees to the likes of India & they do not like wind farm subsidies for rich land owners, putting up energy prices. That`s the trouble you see regarding aid – If we were not giving aid to rich countries no one would have minded, but as usual the politicians go too far. They have tested the nations patience with mass immigratioin. once again, nobody minds a sensible ammount of immigration – but over 4 million since 1997 is frankly taking the `biscuit`! Rationale & tolerant people, like myself, are turning to UKIP in droves because they do not see enough accountability in british politics. They do not feel they are represented or even listened to by the three parties. For instance, all three parties want HS2…….so who do you vote for if you don`t agree? UKIP! Gay marriage was forced through without being in a manifesto. I`m not against gay marriage per say, I`m only against any person of faith potentially conducting services against their will. Who do you vote for if you do not believe in the EU – UKIP! It is only UKIP keeping the other parties `honest`, as it were! i have now become a member & if you would like to watch this short ITV Soiuthern News item, you will see what I wear to promote UKIP:


  • sadtranz

    From what I see world poverty is at a record high so obviously the present world aid is not working, think UKIPS approach is more sensible aid through trade, just feeding people with handouts make charities look good but does not solve the problem, feed a million this year and next year there will be 2 million

  • Lesley

    UKIPs cavalier dismissal of the Science of Climate change…..Solar-modulated cosmic ray processes successfully explain the recent global warming episode. It would be prudent for the political leadership in the UK. and the rest of the world to look more closely at Svensmark’s theory of cosmoclimatology for an explanation of global warming before restructuring our entire economic system to eliminate carbon dioxide.

  • Guest

    “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing” all I can say is Rotherham. Labour has failed the working class and precious girls. Labour has not got the moral high ground, in fact it is utterly shameful. I was a Labour supporter, I will never ever vote for them again.!!