She also expressed her worry that the UKIP phenomena in the UK was part of the rise of the extreme right throughout Europe.
Simultaneously the Guardian newspaper was reporting that the Westminster political parties were getting together to condemn Nigel Farage’s party as “racist.”
Their response follows opinion polls showing UKIP coming first in England in the European elections later this month.
According to Barbara Roche, the former Labour immigration minister, Ukip need to be exposed as conducting a racist campaign. She said “The party is practising what is in effect a form of ‘Euracism’. They are deploying the same language and tactics used by openly racist parties like the BNP, but instead of targeting migrants from Africa and Asia they are targeting migrants from within the EU.”
In Wales Labour (39%) are way ahead of UKIP(20%) this is not so in England. were one poll showed UKIP ahead of all other parties and another one showing Labour and UKIP running neck and neck.
The Welsh poll shows Plaid Cymru losing its only European seat hence the concern of Leanne Wood about UKIP. If what the polls are predicting comes to pass Wales would elect two Labour MEPs, one UKIP representative and one Conservative, with Plaid Cymru’s Jill Evans losing her seat.
Despite two prominent UKIP members, making racist statements and been condemned and exposed in the press. It doesn’t seem to bother Farage. Their remarks are shrugged off by him and clearly its not denting the popularity of the party he leads. The question is why?
Whilst membership of the European Union might be the reason why UKIP mops up the Conservative voter. The signs are that the party are now harvesting Labour votes as well.
According to two academics Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin in their book “Revolt on the Right” the party has a particular appeal to what they describe as “left behind” working class voters.
In Britain governments are formed by a few seats changing hands. The main parties aim to win over the marginal seats that win them elections. How is this done? By appealing to the aspirational swing middle class voters. Both parties frame their policies with these groups in mind.
However traditional working class voters feel that both parties have turned their back on them. They are forgotten and their concerns and insecurities are not part of political discourse.
Gordon Brown’s gaffe in the 2010 election underlined the gap between the culture of the political class and the views of ordinary working class supporters. He described a Labour supporting woman voter as a “bigot’ because of her view on immigration.
It’s at these frustrated and insecure potential and actual Labour voters that UKIP’s poster campaign seems to be successfully targeting. Targeting the deep-seated unease about immigration and the large and growing distrust of the political class.
In Wales, the Labour party has had to keep its working class base happy, hence Rhodri Morgan’s clear red water speech. When the voters have a downer with Welsh Labour they have tended to move their vote to Plaid Cymru.
The worry for Plaid Cymru now is that UKIP will replace them as the alternative to Labour in the valleys. Clearly Plaid Cymru strategists are aware of the danger, hence Wood’s attack on UKIP in her conference speech.
UKIP’s main appeal is in England indeed it would be more accurate to describe it as the English independence party, but polls do indicate it is also likely to have a limited appeal in Wales.
The polling shows UKIP’s with 29% support in England, in Scotland 10%, and in Wales, 20%.
Should the votes in the European election reflect the poll then England will have a large number of MEPs that want out of Europe. The Scots clearly don’t see it this way.
How ironic then that the “United Kingdom” Independence Party success might just be enough to push more in Scotland into the ‘yes’ camp and break up the UK.