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Politics as usual?

photoThe UKIP rained on the parade of all the other Welsh political parties last Thursday. The anti-Europe anti immigrant party achieved success throughout Wales.  This extreme right wing party seemed have struck a chord with many voters.

How can such a xenophobic party win over enough Welsh voters to head the list in some Welsh counties and come a close second to Labour in Wales over all?

At the start of the European campaign Labour had high hopes of returning two Labour MEPs. What went wrong?

Well, it’s too easy to blame the campaign itself. Yes, there were mistakes, that political broadcast targeting Clegg, the sending out of campaign literature after the postal votes had been sent and in many cases returned. Undoubtedly things could have been handled better. But such things do not win or lose elections.

Labour lost ground because many traditional working class voters no longer see it as ‘their’  party. In order to win elections the party has had to appeal to the aspiring voters in the marginal seats. In other words they’ve appealed to middle England and ignored those in ‘safe’ Labour seats.

Many of those living in these areas have battled against poverty, job insecurity and benefit cuts. Little wonder that they feel insecure and are attracted to the simplistic solutions offered by UKIP.

They reject politics as usual and see UKIP as different. A party led by a politician that seems vaguely human and speaks in their language. Forget the fact he’s a rich, public school boy, he’s seen as normal, sipping away on his pint.

The media have helped foster this image by always showing him pint in hand. Forget what he says, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Blair is right. Now that’s a sentence I’ve not written in a while. When he warns  Labour  to  not resort to immigration bashing. The party will never out extreme the extremists.

So forget immigration caps, or making undeliverable promises like Gordon Brown “British jobs for British workers.”

Labour should stop being mealy mouthed and cautious. They need to show that they’re on the side of the ordinary voter. They should be about growth not cuts.

Plaid Cymru will have been shocked by the vote. They’ve always seen themselves as the alternative to Labour in the valleys. No longer so. Last Thursday changed that. The anti-Labour vote headed UKIP’s way, the danger for Plaid is that it stays that way. Leanne Wood must certainly be relieved that she can  opt for the regional list as well as  the constituency of Rhondda for the Assembly elections. But every cloud, as they say, Plaid kept their European seat and with the slide in the Liberal Democrat vote they might even win back Ceredigion and have an outside chance in Ynys Mon.

Liberal Democrat’s were the big losers they came sixth, behind the Greens. They could vanish as a force in Welsh elected politics completely unless their fortunes change dramatically.

This leaves the Tories. They succeeded in keeping their one European seat and they were mightily relieved with the results. They thought UKIP would hurt them more.  But such was the UKIP surge that there are many Welsh Conservative MPs who will look at last Thursday and wonder about their futures.

UKIPs success had little to do with voter dissatisfaction over Europe but a lot to do with their dissatisfaction with national politics. Unless this is addressed, the Europe vote will be just the start of some very unpleasant politics in our land.

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3 Responses to “Politics as usual?”

  1. The Earthshaker says:

    It funny to see so many commentators and politicians bemused that the working class in Labour ‘heartlands’ aren’t full of socialists and they do vote for someone other than Labour occasionally.

    The working class has always had anti immigration, anti EU elements within it and seeing the welsh political elite trying to dismiss the collapse in votes as simply as disaffection shows they’ve learnt nothing about how UKIP got traction in the first place – deny immigration hasn’t always has a positive impact in parts of Wales.

    You stated that Plaid Cymru might not get the Valleys voters back, who’s to say Labour will either, their vote in a is a lot softer than many realise. Any while objective observers agree Leanne Wood leadership is a problem for Plaid Cymru, Carwyn Jones for Labour isn’t much better; did he even campaign during the Euro Elections? He Labour’s main man in Wales and First Minister and he’s invisible to most voters.

    I guess for the General Election Labour are counting on the distant threat of of UKIP winning seats being enough to frighten people and get them to polling booths, hardly a positive case to vote and certainly not a long term strategy.

  2. Robert says:

    To much talk about hard working people, it’s OK to tell people about hard work so long as you have done a bit your self.

    Labour has lost it’s way it sound and speak like a Tory Lite party new labour is not dead it just waiting for the next election before it takes over again.

    Hard working today Miliband said labour has always spoken for the working people, not working class but working people well yes it also spoke for the people who were badly hurt in wars, today it sends them to ATOS to ensure they do not have secret second sets of legs or minds.

    New Labour a Tory Lite party, Miliband labour a Tory lite party

  3. Anna says:

    Totally agree with this excellent post, it’s not just about Welsh politics but our precious futures. As for immigration, each time I come back to the
    UK from where I legitimately live in Europe I’ m counted in with a passport swipe but never out on leaving a few days later, what does that imply about the figures banded about ?
    We have to look for real half full positive policies in all the other alternatives to the right wing parties because we care.

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