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2014 European Election Results - No Left Turn at Albuquerque
May 25, 2014 9:46 PM   Subscribe

The results are in for the 2014 elections. While the EPP and S&D retain the lion's share of the seats, the shocking results have been in Britain, where the UKIP have scooped up a plurailty with 27.5% of the vote and in France, where the similarly veined far-right National Front came in first. The two combined would present a 48 seat anti-EU block within the European Parliament and when figured with the EFD's other gains (of which National Front are not currently a part of) a total of 61 eurosceptics will be seated in total.
posted by Talez (104 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
That last term gives sceptics a bad name.
posted by cthuljew at 9:54 PM on May 25 [11 favorites]


What the hell, guys?
posted by kafziel at 9:56 PM on May 25


the continued practice of neocons dismantling from the interior continues apace.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:58 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


That last term gives sceptics a bad name.
"Xenophobes" is probably the most polite term for them. I see little reason to be that polite, though.
posted by BinaryApe at 9:59 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


How far will the pendulum swing right this time? Looks like it's pretty far.
posted by codswallop at 10:05 PM on May 25


Dead-enders?
posted by notsnot at 10:05 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Fuck.
posted by jokeefe at 10:10 PM on May 25


Jesus. I was kind of hoping that at the very least, the lunatic right in the U.S. would at least serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of the world. Fuck, indeed.
posted by scody at 10:15 PM on May 25 [12 favorites]


I have to admit this American has never heard of UKIP until this post. Any Brits care to give me your take on them?
posted by zardoz at 10:15 PM on May 25


Here's Stewart Lee's take on them.
posted by vverse23 at 10:17 PM on May 25 [38 favorites]


Any Brits care to give me your take on them?

Well, about 27% of Britons at least kinda like them.
posted by codswallop at 10:25 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


This is deeply alarming -- but how significant are the Euro elections? What percentage of the people in every country vote in them? How much of an effect will this have on policy and law?

I am not taking the piss or trolling: I'm a Canadian who knows nothing about the importance of these elections.
posted by jrochest at 10:27 PM on May 25


27% of voters
posted by BinaryApe at 10:27 PM on May 25 [20 favorites]


Jesus. I was kind of hoping that at the very least, the lunatic right in the U.S. would at least serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of the world. Fuck, indeed.

Well the Thatcher years did nothing to prevent what's been happening in the States, and the rest of the world saw what happened with Thatch just as much as they've seen what's happening with the Tea Party. That sort of xenophobia in unfathomably popular. It's as if some people read Game of Thrones and wish the world was just like Westeros.
posted by juiceCake at 10:27 PM on May 25 [12 favorites]


The important thing to remember is that nobody expects MEPs to actually do any governing or deciding. Right or wrong, it's seen as an easy way to protest vote on a narrow set of issues.
posted by Thing at 10:29 PM on May 25 [13 favorites]


Well, about 27% of Britons at least kinda like them.

Not true; voting was not compulsory. It makes me laugh to so many people think the UK's problems lie with Europe; Cameron bloody sold them down the river on an austerity plan they didn't need and hasn't worked.

The fact that Labour have been unable to capitalise on these deeply unpopular cuts (look at Australia's current conservative government, which is getting shredded from a deeply unfair, but not really austere budget), speaks to how thoroughly they've been co-opted by the neoliberal framework.
posted by smoke at 10:30 PM on May 25 [16 favorites]


I dare to come out as a Dutchman in this thread only because our right wing party PVV lost at least 1 out of 5 seats in the European elections. Geert 'blond by choice' Wilders, overplayed his hand. While celebrating the results of the local elections, he asked the crowd if they wanted more or fewer moroccans in Holland. "Fewer! Fewer!" the crowd shouted, with a smiling Wilders answering: "We're going to organise that." This dominated the media for weeks and seriously hurt his popularity. There is some sense left in my fellow country men.

And, NO, the linked picture isn't a Photoshop parody of Wilders looking like a pirate. It was his moment to shine when he could be dressed up as his peronal hero, Admiraal de Ruyter.

Seriously folks, he screwed up this time, but I think it is entirely possible that he could win the national elections. It is for the first time in my life that I think having a monarchy isn't such a bad idea. Wilders ruling the country as an elected president, that's sending shivers down my spine.

Holland hasn't been that cool country for the last decade, no matter how many pro bicycle related links I read about on the blue.
posted by ouke at 10:32 PM on May 25 [26 favorites]


Populism + 2 deeply unpopular parties being shown as ineffectual stooges/active participants in the race to the bottom + dawning realization that those two parties have the game rigged + UKIP explicitly saying 'screw those guys' in almost monosyllabic tones + miserable economy = protest fascism vote.

At least I hope so.
posted by lalochezia at 10:37 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I think the patronizing and condescending attitude that Ukip and other populist movements like Tea Part and OWS in the US are just wrong is missing the point. The success of these parties indicates that existing parties are not meeting the needs of whoever is voting for them. It's part of a crisis, the nail in the coffin of postwar growth and the shift to a service economy with jobs for technocrats (IT and finance) and McJobs for everyone else. Also as I understand it the European Parliament elections serve as more of a protest vote; in the local UK elections didn't Labour increase its number of council seats, plus the number of councils it controls?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:39 PM on May 25 [7 favorites]


I'd guess that people feel like they're under threat for a host of good (the ongoing looting of the UK's public infrastructure, a crap economy, and all the knock on effects of sky-high housing prices) and bad (racism mostly, though I think workers, particularly trades and manual laborers have valid concerns about immigration and wages) reasons. The lunatic far right had a ready made story for these people about why things are bad, who's to blame, and how to set it right.

I think parties like UKIP are a symptom of a democratic system no longer meaningfully representing the population. People are so disengaged and turnout in elections is so low that a relatively small fraction of the electorate can have an outsized effect. There are enough people dissatisfied enough with the way things are that they're willing to essentially check a "Fuck 'em all" box on the ballet, for UKIP to exist.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:39 PM on May 25 [20 favorites]


It's hard to judge the outcome of this year's local elections because they coincided with the European elections where UKIP usually gets a stronger turnout. Even so, yes Labour won a number of seats and had a fairly decent outcome. When it comes to actually governing, people still want a party other than UKIP. They have 0% of national seats and something like 0.018% of local seats.
posted by Thing at 10:45 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I think parties like UKIP are a symptom of a democratic system no longer meaningfully representing the population.

I would go further, as this is a phenomenon is occurring across western democracies. I believe it is a crisis of legitimacy, as politics grows increasingly professionalised and alienated from broader society, the union bases that Labour parties all over the world represented are ever more atrophied, and "leftish" parties move progressively to the right in a neoliberal framework - aided by growing regulatory capture and sophisticated lobbying that blurs the line between MPs and advocacy.

In this context, when people can see how politics as it's practiced is so orthogonal to their lives, and is actually fucking them over when not building a straw house made of silly promises - anti-politics becomes incredibly popular. The lure of iconoclasts "outside" the system, beating politics by beating up on politics, is irresistible. Of course, the problem is that once outsiders move within the political system, it's revealed that they, too, are insiders; part of the problem, not part of the solution, and so voters dessert them in droves.

You are left with these bitterly partisan houses, with electorates that swing wildly and vehemently between parties - record wins followed by record losses. There are more swinging voters than ever before in Australia, and it's not surprising to me. When parties stop presenting any kind of consistent worldview or political ideology, you are left with hyperbolic election promises which vary from term to term.

It troubles me, both because I think it's in spirit deeply anti-democratic, and what it represent (a growing inequality, and a shrinking of meaningful democracy) but also because it promotes the absolute worst kind of public policy written on the run.
posted by smoke at 10:49 PM on May 25 [80 favorites]


That 27% Crazification Factor looks more and more prescient with every passing year.
posted by Neale at 10:51 PM on May 25 [9 favorites]


@jrochest: do not be alarmed, turnout was 43% in 2009 and likely lower this year.

Speaking of turnout: the chart you get when you sort countries by their turnout rates is really quite telling..
posted by 3mendo at 10:52 PM on May 25


[France's PM] pledged his government would pursue efforts to revive the euro zone's number two economy, which saw zero growth in the first quarter, by easing the tax burden on business.

First austerity, now business tax cuts as the path to prosperity.

The political right wing is benefitting from a populist backlash against EU-backed right wing economics.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 10:58 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


That 27% Crazification Factor looks more and more prescient with every passing year.

And the plural political systems that most European countries have really worsen the situation. With only two parties that crazy sector has to find a friend to win seats, which ends up tempering the views of the party which represents them both. If you can win a seat with 10% of the vote or less then you can appeal to the crazy straight out, if not even appeal to only a slice of the crazy.

There's an iron law of politics that there is no policy so extreme or absurd that somebody will not vote for it, nor so reasonable and obvious that somebody will not vote against it. By degrees, it takes only a little moderation to make policy that hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens will commend as the best course of action.
posted by Thing at 11:04 PM on May 25


Are people more likely to vote right on European elections but more liberal at home?
posted by PenDevil at 11:11 PM on May 25


At least the BNP lost their seat...
posted by minsies at 11:12 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Great, more ignorant, irrational racists in power. Just what the world needs.

On the upside, it will likely be a new golden age for European comedians. UKIP say some crazy, stupid things.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:16 PM on May 25


Criticise UKIP on Twitter? They'll call the coppers on you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:22 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


"[Nick] Griffin blamed Ukip for taking the BNP's vote. Asked whether the people of the north-west had rejected his party's racist and fascist policies, he said: 'They've voted for Ukip's racist policies instead.'" (Source.)
posted by minsies at 11:24 PM on May 25 [7 favorites]


"[Nick] Griffin blamed Ukip for taking the BNP's vote. Asked whether the people of the north-west had rejected his party's racist and fascist policies, he said: 'They've voted for Ukip's racist policies instead.'" (Source.)

Well, that's the pot calling the kettle a bigot.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:25 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


I don't think this represents a surge to the right in popular thinking. The EU has performed atrociously in recent years and desperately needed a kicking, but the orthodox parties simply refused to supply that, forcing the electorate to choose nutters as the only vehicle for their disgust (safe in the knowledge that euro elections are a Potemkin facade of democracy, another reason for protest).
posted by Segundus at 11:30 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


In other words, shitty pretend elections to a shitty failed economic union were unsurprisingly treated with indifference or hostility by large sections of the electorate.
posted by Segundus at 11:34 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Because in the end, that's what's been at the heart of all of this nonsense - the really histrionic, weepy section of the UK electorate demanding respect and affection in a great red-faced strop, stamping their little feet, shouting nursery cursewords and flinging their toys across the room.
The League Cup of UK politics.
I couldn't give a damn who wins the European elections and couldn't care less whether people are fleeing the main parties to join great clattering cavalcades of wowsers, jingoes and dimwits. If people want to be represented by a bunch of Jim Henson puppets who are plainly thicker than shitty jam, well frankly, fuck 'em - they deserve what they get.
Get the fuck out of my tent politics.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:48 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


So, basically, we have a ramshackle coalition of the grumpy. The biggest single group in it would like to vent intestinal gas, and wants its NHS and its BBC and its institutions in general. The second-biggest group either wants to sell all of those, or doesn’t care as long as they get to be an MEP. The smallest group is either obsessed by the EU, or else by Alan Clark diary fantasies, and has the most seniority in the party’s organisation, but also the least professionalism. UKIP is very different, in this sense, to something like the FN, which has a strong ideological and hierarchical armature under the plaster curves of Marianne.

Not two ukips, three ukips.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:53 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


27% of UK voters

Well, 27.5% of those who bothered to vote. Turnout was 34.19%, so it's only 9.4% of voters by my dodgy maths. Still far too high, obviously.
posted by ComfySofa at 12:00 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Anyway, don't draw conclusions from elections for an institute that matters little to most people's day to day lives, that has little power in the first place and that has traditionally been used as an opportunity for protest voting.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:03 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


Populism + 2 deeply unpopular parties being shown as ineffectual stooges/active participants in the race to the bottom + dawning realization that those two parties have the game rigged + UKIP explicitly saying 'screw those guys' in almost monosyllabic tones + miserable economy = protest fascism vote.

To get the situation in Poland, replace UKIP with Congress of the New Right. The fact that they got 28% of the young vote (18-28) is alarming.
posted by hat_eater at 12:13 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I think it really is as simple as fear. The economy is still in a very tough spot in Europe (not that the US is all sunshine and roses, but it's doing okay - at least we have some growth overall), and so it's very similar to the situation that the US faced in 2010.

With the economy still faltering despite the promises of a reasonably unpopular government, people are looking for someone to blame for their real fears for their future. Some blame the government directly - there's your "throw the bastards out" protest vote and the vitriol against certain political parties. Some look to their decreased slice of the pie, and blame those that are new for stealing their pie - the vilification of young and immigrants. Others blame a moral failing - less of an issue in Europe, where religion isn't as powerful as it is in the US, but there's still some of that rhetoric in there in the racist screeds that these parties trade in.

And furthermore, all that fear and need to blame someone means that people that are usually quite reasonable are very easily lead to conclusions they might not have otherwise believed in. That's a big part of how these parties tend to surge in popularity - all of a sudden there's a lot of scared and angry people looking for someone to blame for what's happening to them, and being told that "It's not your fault, it's the fault of these marginalized people/groups you don't like anyway" is a very, very seductive argument, particularly when you're young and it feels like your whole future has been stolen by Government/Big Business/Immigrants/Whatever.

In the US, the far-right conservative movement ("Tea Party" implies a degree of coherence that I think simply isn't present) was helped along by a Republican party looking for anything to put themselves back up over top of the Dems after two electoral shellackings in a row - in Europe, it's the direness of their economic situation. If you're not living in Germany (and even then, only in some parts of Germany), the odds are you're surrounded by the fallout from the ECB's desperate attempt to save the Eurozone that ended up being at the expense of the people that actually live in the Eurozone.

And, on top of all of that, there's a shitload of social change blowing through the Western world. It's become a lot less acceptable to be prejudiced against women, racial groups, and queer individuals in the last decade or so, and there's a lot of people that are upset about what they consider to be "just the way things are" or "socially acceptable" suddenly getting them not just looked down upon, but actively attacked - for right or wrong (mostly right). The racism thing is hitting especially hard in Europe, I think, where racism is still practically a national pastime in many nations, and that kind of casual racism is suddenly Very Much Not Okay (see Top Gear UK's most recent go-rounds with racial insensitivity that's got the show quite possibly on the edge of cancellation). If people suddenly start calling you an asshole and a racist for saying things your society has implicitly or explicitly taught you were all right, it's a pretty easy reaction to say "No, you're the assholes" and push back. That's a big part of what Putin is leveraging in Russia right now - this fear of Western immoral actions, like tolerating gays and less important races. This anger and confusion engendered by society suddenly changing its mind about who it's okay to look down on and keep underfoot so we can stand up so tall feeds very nicely into the fear about the world at large - things were fine when we didn't have to respect them.

At it's core, I think Yoda had it right: Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side - which in this case is this sudden swing of socially regressive, politically belligerent political parties. The world has had a rough decade and change - and this is how all that fear over whether or not individuals will be okay is being expressed. When people fear for their own lives and livelihoods, they stop caring about others and start only asking "What about me" and telling those less well-off than they are - or at least those that they have been told are grasping upwards - to "fuck off, I've got mine". It's not, at its core, greed - it's fear that if they don't hoard every bit of power, money and rights for themselves, and keep all of the same away from the groups that are Not Us, then they won't have any at all come tomorrow.
posted by Punkey at 12:22 AM on May 26 [28 favorites]


This was reported last week: Nearly 75 Percent of French Jews Considering Emigration

The poll was a voluntary one, so it's pretty useless as a measurement of Jewish feeling, but reports from Jewish institutions in France have been getting worse and worse for years. Jewish institutions have multiple layers of security; Jews are advised not to wear identifying clothing (e.g., kippas) in public; I can think of several murders where the assailants simply set out to kill Jews.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:38 AM on May 26 [6 favorites]


It's become a lot less acceptable to be prejudiced against women, racial groups, and queer individuals in the last decade or so,

I really, really question if this is the case outside a few liberal areas on the internet, and I especially question it I regards to Europe - which has both shown a remarkable uptick in public expressions of racism (esp in regards to post wwii and post Berlin wall collapse lulls in serious racism), and generally is way more racist than Americans generally think in my opinion. Look at the racist monkey shit in Italian parliament, the gross misogyny that French mp copped, the rise of fascist parties etc.
posted by smoke at 12:55 AM on May 26 [6 favorites]


The worst part is, Joe, a lot of Muslim institutions in France are getting the same treatment. It's coming from both sides, sad stuff.
posted by smoke at 12:57 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I am so sad to say that abstention does not explain it, not even partially. Le Monde sums it up in this analysis:
En passant de 6,34 % à plus de 25 % entre 2009 et et 2014, avec une abstention assez similaire entre les deux scrutin (56,9 %, contre 59,37 % il y a cinq ans), le Front national réalise sans conteste un score record. Il est, pour la première fois de son histoire vieille de 30 ans, en tête d'une élection nationale [...]

Translation: Going from 6.34% [of the vote] to more than 25% [in the EU elections of] 2009 and 2014, with similar abstention rates between the two elections (56.9% this year versus 59.37% five years ago), the Front National easily made record results. For the first time in its 30-year history, it leads a national election [...]
In France it's a convergence of factors, not the least of which was Sarkozy's rule several years ago. The economy wasn't doing well then, but it was doing better than now, and it was paired with Sarkozy's overt xenophobia, which found a large echo chamber that has since remained. For whatever self-interested reason(s), president Hollande has been steadily lowering taxes on businesses, relaxing employment laws in favor of businesses, and raising taxes that affect lower- and middle-class people. No matter how much you support the socialist party, his platform has not been socialist and so people are all, "WTF, why the hell are we bothering with politicians who claim to be open and for the people when they're going behind our backs and fucking up our budgets while my employer gets more money and isn't spending it on any raises?" I've been searching for middle-class purchasing power data here, can't find any... but anecdotally, everyone I know, yes, everyone, has been stuck at the same gross income for ~5 years. With increased taxes, that means our net income has been going down, even though inflation hasn't stopped and companies are making profits. I see it on my own pay slips. It's maddening. You can't get around it. Especially not when there has been no visible upside. Healthcare's the same, public transportation's the same. You can't afford new clothes as often, have to stop eating out, hope taxes aren't raised again because it might mean worrying about the electricity or water bill next. Hope your employer will stop being emboldened by the measures; hope they won't start charging you for eyecare or dental (they can if they want to, depends on the employer). The middle class is getting squeezed.

Xenophobia is along for the ride... "why are we letting in foreigners when we can't afford our own lives!!" is word-for-word what I hear nowadays. Doesn't even matter if you're a citizen, so long as you have a foreign-sounding family name. This is exactly what the far right was hoping for. What horrible, awful news to wake up to. And totally predictable, and thus preventable, if Hollande had just listened to people rather than corporate interests. Been the socialist he claims to be, in short.
posted by fraula at 12:59 AM on May 26 [25 favorites]


Just because racism is becoming less acceptable doesn't mean it's not common. Racism is so taboo that no self-respecting racist would call themselves that in the US, but it doesn't stop people from saying racist things.
posted by Punkey at 1:04 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


And in addition, it's also a function of where you're looking. Some countries are more tolerant of bias against certain groups than others, and not everyone hates the same groups equally.

I, admittedly, don't have a lot of proof on hand to support the idea that racism is becoming less acceptable, especially not in Europe as a whole, but it would comport better with how racists are actually acting - cloaking their racist rhetoric in terms meant to hide their true intentions.
posted by Punkey at 1:08 AM on May 26


I have to admit this American has never heard of UKIP until this post. Any Brits care to give me your take on them?

I didn't vote for them, but I likely know some that did, being in the south-west region. Here is traditionally a mix of Conservative aka Tory heartland (the south) and the Liberal Democrats (southwest). In 2009, we returned 6 MEPs; 2 UKIP, 3 Tories, 1 Lib Dem. This time, it was 2 UKIP with a 10 point bigger share of the vote, topping the table, 2 Tories, 1 Labour, and 1 Green. Lib Dems were wiped with a massive drop in the vote, and it's not looking like much of a heartland any more - the lib dem was Mr Watson, who'd been an MEP for 20 years, and had previously lead the Liberal parliamentary grouping, a pretty big beast to fall.

A few caveats to bear in mind. These are European parliament elections. Turnout is always low (around 34% in the UK, 41% in Europe as a whole); many people don't care as they don't see it as important/relevant to them, and others don't vote in protest at politicians in general. Even more so than local council elections (which also happened in some areas at the same time), MEP elections are prone to protest votes, and due to proportional representation and low turnout, a few outliers usually get in; out of 78 MEPs UK wide, last time in 2009 we ended up with 2 British National Party MEPs. The BNP are outright racists, whose platform could best be summed up as 'send the darkies home'.

This time, both of them lost, thankfully, and the fringe party that's benefited the most nationally is the Green party (pro environment etc). And of course, UKIP, though given they topped the national poll, they're not really fringe any more!

The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) are not the BNP, despite having at least some racists in their mix. It's trendy to paint them as a small group of kooks and loons in the media, but they're basically a single-issue party - they want the UK out of Europe. They go on about three things mainly.

1) the cost of payments to the EU; as a net contributor, they bang on about the money. I don't recall the amount off hand.

2) the european institutions are run by a largely unaccountable elite, by the wealthy, for the wealthy, and don't represent or care about the average working person.

3) the biggie, immigration. As a result of free movement in europe, there has been quite a lot of net migration to the biggest, wealthiest countries in europe; Germany takes the most I think, with UK the second, and France a close third. A lot of it is legal migration, a big chunk isn't. Their argument against this immigration is twofold;

a) they're coming in and taking your jobs. This resonates particularly with working class poor in rural and depressed areas, as they are seeing examples of eastern european labour coming in and working 'under the table' for less than minimum wage.

b) even if they're net payers (i.e. paying more on average in taxes than they claim in direct benefits) that is stuff like VAT if they're low paid and exempt from income tax - even so, the cost of providing social housing, NHS requirements, school places, police etc etc is higher than they pay in, so the 'squeezed middle' are having to pay for net immigration; which was around 210k last year I think.

So it's simplistic to say they are a neo-con rightwing racist party. I'm not saying I agree with them, because I don't, but blaming our woes, including austerity and cost of living crisis on
a) Europe
and
b) the current government for kowtowing to Europe
has gained a LOT of traction across the country, particularly in this European election.

Even the National Front in France, a traditional racist anti-arab party has softened their message under Marine Le Pen, and is much more explicitly anti-Europe now. The greeks saw a massive swing to a hard left anti EU party, and there has been a wide swing to anti-EU parties across many countries, of various different stripes.

The majority centrist parties really should take note, that the current European project of ever greater political and financial union is proving very unpopular.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:34 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Also of note: The German NDP will probably get one MEP and Golden Dawn in Greece will probably get two.

It's not made explicit in the FPP, but the National Front's votes will actually translate into one-third of France's MEPs.
posted by dhens at 1:38 AM on May 26


It's coming from both sides, sad stuff.

And you're in a position where you cannot attack "either side" without looking like a raging anti-semite/islamophobe, there's always the Roma (used efficiently by xenophobes in UK and Sweden, among others).
posted by effbot at 1:53 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The really annoying thing is that, from my perspective, all of the things UKIP bang on about are just symptoms of a neoliberal economic system that a large number of these voters voted for in the past.

I don't think most UKIP voters particularly care about Europe - they care that they're struggling to get a job, they care that their local hospital has been closed, they care that their local schools are rubbish - but they've been convinced by UKIP, the Tories, and the media that the problem lies in our relationship with Europe.

It's a massive failure of the left that they haven't gained from this discontent. Possibly because the left in Britain that actually get media coverage or visibility are all either soulless wonks (best known for implementing centre-right policy) or those who call each other comrade and have deep debates about 1930s Soviet agricultural policy.

Depressing.
posted by knapah at 1:54 AM on May 26 [11 favorites]


I'm sure there was a poll by Lord Ashcroft that found that only 5 or 6% of likely UKIP voters placed the relationship with the EU as their number one priority, instead it was jobs and the economy (obviously).
posted by knapah at 1:55 AM on May 26


While on one hand, I find it depressing that Dansk Folkeparti (a Danish populist party somewhat right leaning) became the largest Danish party in this election, on the other hand, I'm happy that we had such a large turnout (56.4% vs. last time's 59.54%, which was skewed anyway because it was tied with a referendum to ensure royal succession to the eldest child of the Monarch rather than the eldest prince). For once we actually managed to have a campaign about EU that engaged the populace.

While the overall result is not exactly heartening, it does not have to matter policy-wise—I doubt the various euroskeptics will be able to collaborate, and even if they did, they do not hold enough votes in the parliament. We shall see what results they can show their electorate next time.
posted by bouvin at 2:24 AM on May 26


Re: only 27% turnout - so what percentage turnout did the USA see in the presidential elections, and what percentage voted for Obama? I'll bet less than 50% turnout, and less than 30% voted for Obama as toatal of electorate, yet you consider this acceptable in the US but not in Europe?

This is a protest vote from the whole of Europe, people are sick of the elite and their lapdog politicians lies, we can see how much worse things are for us - and the arguments that they are doing these things (e.g. EU, immigration, cuts to benefits, workfare, that french company they hired to asses the sick (ATOS) etc etc) to benefit the poor is laughable when you look at the things they have done that have negatively impacted the lives of the poor (or disabled who have been hit hardest of all by lib/con) - for e.g. how many tens of billions of $s of PFI are we saddled with paying for the next 30 years? The cuts to benefits and welfare, lack of affordable housing, smashing up of the NHS, inflation rampant and pay stagnant. Hilariously, the winners in this, as always, are the corporations and the rich, and the losers are the poorer people. I have made FPPs which clearly demonstrate this is the case
posted by marienbad at 2:26 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


They don't have to coordinate to cause chaos, bouvin. Not to be a downer, but the GOP couldn't coordinate where to get lunch but they still do a great job jamming up the works in Congress. They can't agree on much, but if they can agree on making life hard for everyone else, then that's what will happen.
posted by Punkey at 2:27 AM on May 26


This was covered on Danish radio this morning. Apparently, the parliamentary system is constructed so that unless they have significantly more votes, they cannot obstruct policy. Whether it is safe to completely ignore them is another matter entirely.
posted by bouvin at 2:31 AM on May 26


only 5 or 6% of likely UKIP voters placed the relationship with the EU as their number one priority

This one? The UKIP threat is not about Europe ?

87% of UKIP voters says UKIP will force the established parties to deal with Europe and immigration, 80% want to take the UK back to how things were before, 80% agrees with UKIP on immigration, 77% wants to leave the EU.

Looks like the only way to make this not be about UK's place in the part of the world where it happens to be is to ask people to pick just one issue...
posted by effbot at 2:33 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Hello from a small and miserable grey island. I do look forward to emigrating to the socialist USA shortly, but in the meantime here's who votes for UKIP:

1. Elder people who always vote Conservative, but aren't happy that Dave Cameron et al have passed pro-gay marriage legislation. Many will go back to voting Conservative at the next generation election to, quote, "keep the socialists out of Westminster".

2. Protest votes. Ditto not voting for UKIP in the next general election.

3. Casual racists, and people looking for something or someone to blame their life situation on.

4. People with this bizarre nation of making Britain great again as it somehow was when Britain had an empire. People like Darren (listen to the end). There are a lot of people who think like Darren.

5. Those who read the papers and watch TV, as the media have done a full-on Nigel Farage obsessive this last month in attempts to present narratives (false or true) rather than, y'know, news and stuff. So it's become a weird, media-driven, self-fulfilling prophecy. Kudos to the Greens for getting 8% despite pretty much zero media exposure or coverage.
posted by Wordshore at 2:33 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


The "how things were before" is a fun one, btw; from the summary:

"In fact, in the mix of things that attract voters to UKIP, policies are secondary. It is much more to do with outlook. Certainly, those who are attracted to UKIP are more preoccupied than most with immigration, and will occasionally complain about Britain’s contribution to the EU or the international aid budget. But these are often part of a greater dissatisfaction with the way they see things going in Britain: schools, they say, can’t hold nativity plays or harvest festivals any more; you can’t fly a flag of St George any more; you can’t call Christmas Christmas any more; you won’t be promoted in the police force unless you’re from a minority; you can’t wear an England shirt on the bus; you won’t get social housing unless you’re an immigrant; you can’t speak up about these things because you’ll be called a racist; you can’t even smack your children."
posted by effbot at 2:39 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


The "how things were before" is a fun one, btw

Basically, "I don't like the reaction I get these days when I tell people my favourite comedian is Roy Chubby Brown"
posted by knapah at 2:41 AM on May 26


People are quite to point out that this isn't 27% of the UK backing UKIP, it is 27% of those who voted. But please remember that the expectation of a large UKIP vote actually brought additional voters into the election (both for them and for other parties).

The turnout would have been far lower without them on the ballot. Probably sub 30%. UKIP are the most popular party but they are also the most hated (of the actual contenders, BNP are more hated but never likely to win many seats).

Amongst my friends there were a LOT of people that don't normally vote in euro elections who did so this time specifically to vote against UKIP. I've never known my wife be as interested in any election as this one, she was surprised to find council elections at the same polling station because she was so entirely preoccupied by UKIP's European campaign (she was "anti" their positions for what its worth) that she'd forgotten they were happening on the same day.

Getting overshadowed in all this UKIP coverage is the fact that the Liberal Democrats have wielded coallition power in a way so staggeringly unpopular with their voters that they've been almost entirely wiped out. The won a single seat, a result so staggeringly bad that it could cost the UK's Deputy Prime Minister his job.

This is the first time a national UK election has not been won by the Conservatives or Labour in 100 years and I suspect this might be the first time ever that the Conservative party have not been in the top two.

Personally I'd give UKIP a batshitinsane tag, but from a politics point-of-view this result is absolutely extraordinary.
posted by samworm at 2:41 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Democracy, as it is implemented now, is a farce. Politicians are just playing with the system to stay in power. Said power is then used to benefit themselves, their family/friends/favorite lobby/whatever ecnonomic power, all of this while they feed bullshit to the people through the media. What they say and promise has nothing to do with their agenda.

In times like this (financial crisis and austerity policies) the most demagogue wins the most of votes, and there is nothing to be surprised of.

Actually, nothing of the current political system should surprise us, it is a show run for the benefit of the population, just to show the apparent existence of democracy, while everything that is decied benefits only the rich and powerful.

So, it has been going like this for a few decades, how much of this stupidity will it take to understand that this is not a viable way? In other words, how many times should we hit the wall with our faces before stopping and thinking a little more before trying to traverse the wall another time?

Who really believes that at the core politicians of different parties are _really_ different and will implement policies based on real issues? When I look at them, I only see people that seeks power.

The basic issue here is that the population is too much confortable in just voting once every 4/5 years, and then pass the rest of the time complaining about the decisions that are made. I think that this is childish and immature, and the first step to fix democracy in a way that it start meaning something is that we as population accept to be more engaged in the decision system and not be content anymore with just delegating once every five years to the least-worst.

Also, can we throw away all the left/right conservative/libertarian crap? It's just words that they use to polarize (aka divide and conquer) opinions and popularity. And we should be aware of what ideologies entail.
posted by yann at 2:46 AM on May 26


I don't know enough of the details of the different parties in the different EU countries, but I can say for relatively certain that there's a pretty big difference between political parties on the US side of the Atlantic, and I somewhat doubt that they're all the same over in Europe.
posted by Punkey at 2:50 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Some of my liberal colleagues on Twitter seem in shock, and how-has-this-happened-despite-all-our-tweeting-to-each-other, this morning. One of the positives is that a few of them may realize that the twitter-liberal echo chamber is not representative of the UK. Tweeting and retweeting all day, every day, about how bad UKIP and its politicians are does not, and has not, changed anything.
posted by Wordshore at 2:55 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


Danish People's Party is more than just a "somewhat right leaning" party. A big part of the problem is that many Danes actually believe it's just "somewhat right leaning". It belongs to the same EU Parliament fraction as UKIP. The rise of DPP was a big part of my decision to leave Denmark - the casual racism, pervasive xenophobia and parochial nationalism was hard to stomach on a daily basis. This form of discourse has infiltrated the media, the way people speak to one another and I've heard awful, awful jokes about "inbred Muslim terrorists" being bandied about by people who really ought to know better. What it means to be Danish has become a very, very narrow definition and I don't want any part of it.

Now the DPP has secured around 30% of all the votes cast in Denmark. I do not regret my decision to leave.

Good luck, Denmark.
posted by kariebookish at 3:02 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Leaving aside the 34% turnout in the UK, look at the changes in vote share from 2009 - the second column - in these results at the BBC:
Vote 2014 Europe: Great Britain

Party 	Votes   Change 	MEPs    Change
UKIP 	27.50 	+10.99 	23 	+10
Labour 	25.40 	+9.67 	18 	+7
Con 	23.94 	-3.80 	18 	-7
Green 	7.87 	-0.75 	3 	+1
LibDem 	6.87 	-6.88 	1 	-9
Plaid  	0.71 	-0.13 	1 	0
SNP 	2.44    +0.34 	0 	0
BNP 	1.14 	-5.10 	0 	-2
Over half of UKIP's gain in voting share has come from the BNP, the English Democrats, the Christian People's Alliance and NO2EU, not from the major parties; those four parties between them lost 8.29% of the total share. The remaining 2.7% will have come from the Tories, most likely. UKIP have consolidated the angry xenophobic vote that was always there, but which previously was distributed among UKIP, the Conservatives and several fringe right-wing/euroskeptic parties.

Labour has increased its share of the vote substantially, at the expense of the Lib Dems and marginally the Greens. In 2009 (before the 2010 General Election) the Lib Dems were considered a centre-left party. Nobody who thought of them that way will vote for them again.

On the basis of these results, and on Labour's domination of the English Council elections held simultaneously on Thursday, it looks like a Labour victory in the 2015 General election is a good bet, unless the Tories agree to a Faustian pact with UKIP, which both parties deny they will do. In 2010 the Lib Dems had grown strong enough to split the vote on the left and produce a hung parliament. Their centre-left votes will now go to Labour, while on the right UKIP will eat into the Tory vote. Under first-past-the-post, that makes Labour victories in individual seats far more likely than in 2010. Ed Miliband could be in Number 10 this time next year.
posted by rory at 3:03 AM on May 26 [13 favorites]


Eh, I'll stand by my assertion that Dansk Folkeparti is a populist party first and foremost. I don't think that they have any sort of consistent ideology that could solidly place them on a right/left-scale. They'll say whatever their electorate wants to hear, and they'll collaborate with whomsoever needs their votes. Annoyingly, they are pretty good at that.
posted by bouvin at 3:14 AM on May 26


"Europe is painfully discovering that the abstract principal of individual citizenship is directly challenged by the multiculturalism of an increasingly multi-ethnic continent. The more Europe integrates new nations and that more it globalizes its labor force, the more ethnicity becomes a major component of social dynamics and power struggles. Paradoxically, for most people in this global Information Age, who they are matters more than what they do." Manuel Castells -- The Power of Identity
posted by bakery at 3:50 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


I'm a Canadian working in the Netherlands and I've been surprised by the amount of hostility I get from the Dutch. I prefer to think of this as a cultural thing with a hint of nationalism rather than examine the underlying possibility that I might be kind of a dick.
posted by dobie at 4:07 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


As a Briton living in France, this makes me so uneasy.

also shameless plug for my AskMe
posted by ellieBOA at 4:11 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Also, in response to the question "What does the typical UKIP activist look like?", possibly something like this.
posted by Wordshore at 4:24 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


On further reflection, I'm even more heartened by those voting figures. Because UKIP's share of the vote has grown largely by absorbing votes that formerly went to the BNP and the like, they now make a much clearer target for anti-fascists - it's now that much harder for UKIP to paint themselves as some sort of reasonable middle. The Tories are also painted into a corner: they can't form an electoral pact with UKIP, because to do so would be to embrace their inner "swivel-eyed loon". Any attempt to make overtures to the far right would alienate them from voters on the centre-right, while gaining them little, because most of UKIP's new votes in the EU election weren't Tory defectors.

Labour and Miliband should refuse any demands on the basis of this supposed "earthquake" to agree to an in-out EU referendum after the next general election, because they have absolutely nothing to gain by it. Indeed, that's about the only thing I can imagine them doing that would drive (some) voters back to the Lib Dems, who would then be the only unambiguously pro-EU voice among the major parties.

As for there now being more UKIP MEPs than before, at least they won't do much damage in the European Parliament, given how infrequently they bother to turn up to vote.

William Hill are currently giving 2/1 odds of a Labour majority after the next General Election, 11/10 for No Overall Majority (a hung parliament) and 5/2 for a Conservative majority. If I were a betting man with some spare cash I'd take those odds on Labour.
posted by rory at 4:26 AM on May 26 [6 favorites]


kariebookish: "The rise of DPP was a big part of my decision to leave Denmark - the casual racism, pervasive xenophobia and parochial nationalism was hard to stomach on a daily basis. "
Same here, and not regretting it. Mrs Brokkr and I voted in the German EU election yesterday instead of the Danish one. When we're in Denmark and watch the news it's sad to see how myopically nationalistic the issues under discussion are - there's hardly any foreign reporting.
posted by brokkr at 4:46 AM on May 26


I think it's important to point out once again that at least in terms of the UK, this is not a right wing shift in the way Americans read terms like neocon, conservative and right wing. The Conservative party is still more left than the Democrats.

Though it would wound me, I would like to be able to say the same of UKIP but I can't -- nor can anyone else since all of their policies aside from exiting the EU are under review.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:55 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Rory - that's exactly what I have taken from these set of results, but you're the only other person I've seen saying it.
posted by Summer at 5:09 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The Conservative party is still more left than the Democrats.

I think they average out around the same.
posted by knapah at 6:07 AM on May 26


The Tories are also painted into a corner: they can't form an electoral pact with UKIP, because to do so would be to embrace their inner "swivel-eyed loon". Any attempt to make overtures to the far right would alienate them from voters on the centre-right, while gaining them little, because most of UKIP's new votes in the EU election weren't Tory defectors.

Optimistic. It used to be said that there was always centripetal pressure because there were votes to be won in the centre and nothing to lose on the right - right-wingers had nowhere else to go. UKIP has changed that; the pressure now will be rightwards. I suppose the Tories have finally become a party of the centre, but not the way they wanted.

In a way this is Thatcher's dead hand; the people who voted UKIP are the people who would have been giving her another victory if she was still leading the Tories. The Left has got to find a way of engaging with these people.
posted by Segundus at 6:38 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


> The Left has got to find a way of engaging with these people.

Because in the end, that's what's been at the heart of all of this nonsense - the really histrionic, weepy section of the UK electorate demanding respect and affection in a great red-faced strop, stamping their little feet, shouting nursery cursewords and flinging their toys across the room.

Would that be it?
posted by jfuller at 7:14 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


The interesting thing is that there isn't too much difference (in terms of who votes for them) between traditional "Left" parties and more contemporary populist/right-wing parties.

For example, in Canada, particularly in British Columbia, electoral ridings that vote NDP (socialist) provincially will vote Conservative (taken over by a Ukip-like upstart called Reform about a decade ago) federally.

In Toronto, Rob and Doug Ford have basically a populist Ukip message, and Olivia Chow, the left-wing Rob Ford challenger for the mayor's seat, is using a populist strategy for the upcoming election. In Ontario, NDP candidate Horwath has also shifted to a populist message.

In post-industrial societies, the Left's base is fundamentally conservative, wanting to preserve old working conditions (benefits, pensions, good wages), so there is quite a lot of overlap.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:45 AM on May 26


...a populist party first and foremost.

Of course, "populism" is often short for "cater to a group of voters that consider themselves the only group that should matter, and who doesn't care about or are directly hostile to anyone who isn't a member of that group." Which is a pretty crappy way to run a country.
posted by effbot at 8:32 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


The Left has got to find a way of engaging with these people.

With people who've switched their votes from the BNP to UKIP? Or from the Conservatives to UKIP? The Left doesn't have to find a way to engage with these people, the Tories have to without alienating their more moderate voters. I just don't see any evidence that the mythical "2010 Labour voter who is now voting UKIP" exists in any significant numbers. The voter who feels today that the UK has too many immigrants and should get out of Europe would hardly have been voting for pro-immigration, pro-EU Labour a mere four years ago.

Why should an 11% swing to UKIP from far-right fringe parties and the Tories be a problem for Labour at the next general election when the council elections held on the same day saw a 5% swing against UKIP and a 2% swing to Labour? If any major party was being punished by voters on Thursday, it wasn't Labour, it was the Lib Dems. And the punishing being done wasn't about immigration and the EU, it was about being in coalition with the Tories.

Yes, I am actually optimistic now, and paradoxically it's because my preferred voting system was rejected in the 2011 referendum. If the UK electorate had voted for AV, the Tories would have had a strong chance of winning the next general election outright, because UKIP preferences would have flowed to them. But they didn't. Next year will be the first time ever that I'll be grateful to be voting under first-past-the-post.
posted by rory at 9:23 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Of course, "populism" is often short for "cater to a group of voters that consider themselves the only group that should matter, and who doesn't care about or are directly hostile to anyone who isn't a member of that group." Which is a pretty crappy way to run a country.

I think populist politics is a way to engage a disengaged electorate. By oversimplifying issues and also stating the issues in outrageous terms, it's a way to motivate a few more people to make it out to the polling booth.

For example, Canada's Conservative Party depends on this rump; the CPC as a base of about 30% of voters that will come out and vote no matter what. To get "first past the post" the CPC has to mobilize that extra 10-15 percentage points, and every policy the CPC does as a government is aimed at this rump, just the dumbest, most wrong-headed policies available.

But low voter turnouts mean that there are few other strategies. The question is, why are voters disengaged in so-called "advanced democracies"? The UK has the same problem as Canada. The US has the same problem.

Japan has the same problem - all the right-wing bullshit you hear from PM Abe is aimed at a rump of about 5% of the electorate. Japan also had its own TP/OWS movement that saw populist, grassroots parties take control of several large municipal governments.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:55 AM on May 26


As a French voter, this is both depressing and entirely non surprising.

The vote (and non vote) was strongly on local matters - nobody seemed to care about the EP, neither from the major parties (who didn't even bother to nominate actual MPs, and instead went with figureheads who are unlikely to ever attend sessions) nor from voters.

In my region, they were 31 lists to choose from. None was remotely attractive. I still voted, but I can understand why most reasonable people couldn't be bothered, and only extremists & supporters of the National Front turned up. For various reasons, the two major parties are in various states of dismay, and most other "serious" parties have no idea how to make a campaign and reach out to voters outside of their members. This creates a vacuum where the only party actually "working" to win elections, well, comes out first because they bothered to show up, campaign, and make sure their supporters went out and voted.

Part of me hopes that the National Front is at it's peak, and will now have to struggle with governing - and I'm hoping they'll crash hard. But they might not, and this makes me seriously ponder wether to stay or not in France...
posted by motdiem2 at 10:26 AM on May 26


Why are leftist parties so bad at being populist. Why is the side that is ostensibly about empowering the people so out of touch with them.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:10 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


The best thing is that Die Partei got a mandate in Germany. "Ja zu Europa, Nein zu Europa"!
posted by dhoe at 11:14 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


motdiem2's comments make the EP elections seem more like undergrad student union elections.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:26 AM on May 26


KokuRyu, that's quite an accurate way of describing it actually.
posted by motdiem2 at 11:30 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


The best thing is that Die Partei got a mandate in Germany.

Unfortunately, that doesn't quite balance out the fact that the neo-Nazis also got a mandate in Germany.
posted by effbot at 11:46 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


On the plus, one of the candidates from the Feminist Initiative in Sweden was elected last night.
posted by Wordshore at 12:19 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Fascism: Always descending on America and somehow landing in Europe.
posted by ocschwar at 12:35 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Apocryphon: "Why are leftist parties so bad at being populist. Why is the side that is ostensibly about empowering the people so out of touch with them."
Because a lot of people feel that they're empowering far too many people and not just the people that deserve to be empowered.

So they vote for the people whose friends are going to fuck them over, instead.
posted by brokkr at 1:05 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


One significant aspect is that the traditional left/right choice has been leading to the same set of policies for the last 15 years or so and the aftermath of the economic crisis during the last 5 years made this lack of meaningful alternatives clear as day. Some people ask why the Left can't engage with these people, but people who voted for socialdemocratic parties in national elections (e.g. in France, Spain, Greece and Hungary) ended up with the same policies enforced by different parties.

Fun fact: I got a leaflet with my (very non-British) name on it from a certain party that would like to control immigration, but apparently wouldn't mind my vote either.
posted by ersatz at 1:37 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


The Guardian interviews Alan Sked, who founded UKIP and was then manoevred out by Nigel Farage. He ... isn't too fond of the current UKIP leader (contains strong racism).
posted by Wordshore at 1:38 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


One thing that people are missing here is that there were local elections on the same day. And the UKIP share of the vote there was about half what it was for Europe (and almost no urban areas vote for UKIP at a local level). People also have a pretty good idea of what UKIP MEPs do in practice. Almost nothing.
posted by Francis at 2:16 PM on May 26


"Pretty sure the European election results are a deleted cutscene from the new Wolfenstein game." – Charlie Brooker

I laughed because it hurt to much to cry.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:36 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Inferring anything about the UK voting pattern in next year's general election from the EU results is particularly unwise this year in view of the referendum on Scottish independence later this year. A strong" no" vote will likely result in a boost for Cameron's Tories as statesman-like and a steady hand; a "yes" vote - well frankly, I don't think anyone has a clue what it will do, except in the long term deliver an unassailable conservative majority in England. But for the next parliament: Will Scottish MPs sit in Westminster after 2015? Will this counter the impression that Cameron has destroyed Britain?

That said, at the moment as was said up thread the bookies are handing it to Labour, as is electoralcalculus.co.uk - but talk of an informal agreement between UKIP and the Tories not to oppose in Cons-Lab marginals could utterly reshape the board.
posted by cromagnon at 4:21 PM on May 26


ArkhanJG explains the UKIP message thusly:

3) the biggie, immigration. As a result of free movement in europe, there has been quite a lot of net migration (1) to the biggest, wealthiest countries in europe; Germany takes the most I think, with UK the second, and France a close third. A lot of it is legal migration, a big chunk isn't. Their argument against this immigration is twofold;

a) they're coming in and taking your jobs. This resonates particularly with working class poor in rural and depressed areas, as they are seeing examples of eastern european labour coming in and working 'under the table' for less than minimum wage.

b) even if they're net payers (i.e. paying more on average in taxes than they claim in direct benefits) that is stuff like VAT if they're low paid and exempt from income tax - even so, the cost of providing social housing, NHS requirements, school places, police etc etc is higher than they pay in (2) , so the 'squeezed middle' are having to pay for net immigration; which was around 210k last year I think.

So just in case these sound like reasonable arguments from UKIP, some facts:

(1)
2013's rise in net migration, up 35,000 on the previous year to reach 212,000, is not surprising - it's no change whatsoever from the figures for the previous quarter.

Although it is certainly more than last year, the Office for National Statistics does not see it as a "statistically significant rise". In other words, this means that the changes are not pronounced enough to "reflect real changes in migration patterns"
(2)
Recent immigrants – those who arrived after 1999 – have provided a consistently positive and astonishingly strong contribution to the UK’s fiscal health. Between 2001 and 2011, immigrants from the European Economic Area (EEA – the EU plus three small neighbours) contributed 34 per cent more than they took out, with a net contribution of about £22.1 billion.

At the same time, recent immigrants from non-EEA countries made a net contribution of £2.9 billion, thus paying into the system about 2 per cent more than they took out. Overall, immigration to the UK between 2001 and 2011 therefore provided a positive net contribution of about £25 billion. And don’t forget that this occurred over a period in which the UK had run an overall budget deficit.
The NHS -
Around 30 per cent of doctors and 40 per cent of nurses in today’s NHS were born outside the UK. [snip] So the NHS, suggests Stephanie Snow, revered as a “symbol of national life” in Britain, has in fact been one of the great institutions of immigration and integration too. ‘International Health Service’ might be a more appropriate name. And the politicians have always had to steer a difficult line – between addressing public angst about immigrants taking ‘British jobs’ and overburdening ‘British services’ while knowing that the most extensive and valued of those services, the NHS, would have struggled without the work of those who have come from abroad.
Employment -
Duncan Smith and May cite "evidence from the Migration Advisory Committee" in their article to suggest that immigration negatively affects British workers in the Labour market.

However a report from Jonathan Wadsworth, member of the Migration Advisory Committee, shows that "there is little evidence of overall adverse effects of immigration on wages and employment for people born in the UK."

He adds that it is "hard to find evidence of much displacement of UK workers or lower wages... they certainly do not receive preferential access to housing."

It may make political sense for ministers to blame rising unemployment on immigration from the EU, however the economic evidence does not necessarily back that up.
UKIP are benefiting from the past 15 years of immigration blaming press and government. People have their prejudices reinforced and coddled. There are real feelings of disillusionment with the mainstream political parties, who turn that into ' we have listened to the public's concerns about immigration' as they are not going to deal with the elephant in the room. People are genuinely upset with the effects of globalised capitalism, somehow they believe that this is something a far right party would do something about.
Imagine what kind of turnout the Green party would be getting if there had been a 15 year sympathetic press campaign to highlight green issues and a huge advertising budget for the European elections in the UK. I pass a UKIP advertising hoarding where ever I drive, but nothing from any other party.
posted by asok at 2:30 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


Also of interest is the fate of 1m British expats who live in Spain. What happens to them if the UK leaves the EU? Ironically (as IME it is Daily Mail Island out there) they may find they have to vote against the little England party to keep their way of life!
posted by asok at 2:39 AM on May 27


Inferring anything about the UK voting pattern in next year's general election from the EU results is particularly unwise this year in view of the referendum on Scottish independence later this year. A strong" no" vote will likely result in a boost for Cameron's Tories as statesman-like and a steady hand; a "yes" vote - well frankly, I don't think anyone has a clue what it will do, except in the long term deliver an unassailable conservative majority in England.

Well, yes, clearly if the next general election is for a new United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland then all current bets are off. The fact that I'm contemplating a 2015 general election for the UK as it now exists reflects my own sense of how the Scottish referendum will go, but sure: if Scotland votes Yes, consider all 2015 predictions null and void.

If Scotland votes for the status quo, though, I wouldn't expect any electoral bounce for Cameron. Few on this (Scottish) side of the border would see him as some sort of hero saving the union; it's Salmond's battle, and really a much older and bigger battle than even him. As for south of the border, polls seem to show greater English support for Scottish independence than Scottish support, with no sense that a break would affect their daily lives much, so I would expect a No vote to be greeted by England with a combination of bemusement ("I thought you wanted independence!?") and indifference. Staunch Tories might give Cameron some credit, but they would have been voting Tory anyway.

When predicting how the next general election will go compared to the last one, what matters is which of the two main parties has consolidated support from their side of the left-right spectrum to give them the largest single vote in the majority of individual electorates. The European and council results indicate two revealing things: the only consolidation of voters to the right of the Tories is happening in UKIP's favour, not the Tories', and the consolidation to the left of the Tories is happening in Labour's favour.

Even if they pick up one or two seats next year, UKIP are a sideshow. Since 2010, the key question has been where the Lib Dem vote would go. We only have to remind ourselves why the Lib Dems got so many votes in 2010 in the first place: former Labour voters couldn't bring themselves to vote for a tired Labour government who had gone into Iraq and helped cause the credit crunch, but weren't ever going to vote for the Tories. As soon as the Lib Dems formed a coalition with the Tories, they alienated most of those voters. In the four years since, they've lost any who might have given them the benefit of the doubt as an ameliorating force in coalition, by agreeing to (or being unable to prevent) austerity, the bedroom tax, university fee hikes, and the privatisation by stealth of the NHS, to name a few of the Coalition's greatest hits. The Coalition agenda has been dominated by the Tories, and any voters who actually wanted all that stuff will have voted Tory last time anyway; nobody in 2010 supposed that it was part of the Lib Dems' agenda. So it should really be no surprise that most Lib Dem votes are now going to Labour.

Cameron is in deep trouble, and if he has any sense he knows it. His only hope now is to absorb UKIP's vote and hope that it makes the Conservatives the largest single party in the majority of individual electoral battles; but he's run out of time and room to manoeuvre. Staunch UKIP supporters will now be feeling that the political momentum is on their side, which will make them more rather than less likely to vote UKIP next year. Any bone that Cameron throws them will be insufficient: what former-BNP-but-now-UKIP voter would be satisfied with a Tory promise to limit immigration to 100,000 a year? Why vote for the promise of a referendum on the EU when you can vote for a party that promises to take Britain out regardless? But Cameron can't go that far without alienating pro-EU Tory voters and losing them to Labour or (if they can't bring themselves to vote Labour) to the Lib Dems. Either way, the vote on the right has been split.

There won't be any pact between the Tories and UKIP. Which seats would the Tories concede to UKIP beforehand? A handful at most. Does anyone think that would satisfy UKIP - that they would stand down from contesting hundreds of seats for the guarantee of a few? Not likely.

You might call this wishful thinking, but I think it indicates how important it is for Labour not to panic at this stage. There is nothing for Labour to gain by trying to win over UKIP voters. All it would do is drive some of its own supporters to any remaining pro-EU/pro-immigration parties, splitting the vote on the left and increasing the Tories' chances of victory. Ed Miliband may have problems with how he presents himself to voters, but I don't think he's a fool.

The wise course for the left is to recognise UKIP as a threat to parties on the right, not the left, and to stay on message. Anything else is media hype for the sake of current affairs ratings.
posted by rory at 3:02 AM on May 27 [7 favorites]


Meet the new faces ready to sweep into the European parliament
posted by ellieBOA at 3:07 AM on May 27


Meet the new faces ready to sweep into the European parliament

The Sun did a similar list yesterday that included the usual crop of fascists and ex-criminals, plus the representative for the feminist party mentioned above (who happens to be Romani). British press, classy as always.
posted by effbot at 3:54 AM on May 27


British press, classy as always.

Please don't slander the press by lumping The Sun or The Daily Mail in with the rest of the dailies.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:23 AM on May 27


I hope you're right, rory, I really do - and I agree with everything you say, except this:

There won't be any pact between the Tories and UKIP. Which seats would the Tories concede to UKIP beforehand? A handful at most. Does anyone think that would satisfy UKIP - that they would stand down from contesting hundreds of seats for the guarantee of a few? Not likely.

What I'm concerned about is not a formal pact - as you say, what could the Tories offer to cede? and how much political capital in core votes for doing so? - but an informal, constituency-by-constituency recognition that in some marginals the split on the right delivers a majority to the left. The margin for error in a Labour win is pretty thin - pre all the UKIP publicity, EC's weighted poll-of-polls is still suggesting a 40-seat majority. Getting an informal consensus for UKIP to stand down in 20 marginals - which they will not win anyway - would go a long way to putting the whole process in the lap of the turnout gods.

And that's before the months of dirty tricks and Milliband-is-weird black magic we've got to look forward to next year. I'm certainly not betting heavily against a Tory government in 2015 right now.
posted by cromagnon at 12:16 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


The challenge the Tories face there is that they're chasing a moving target - for every marginal they secure in that way, another could appear elsewhere, as the UKIP vote bubbles randomly across the farting mudpool of far-right opinion. They don't have very long to reach any such agreements, either, assuming they'll want them in place a few months ahead of the election. UKIP hubris may well prevent it from happening in time, too; look at how they're crowing today.

My optimistic predictions depend on Labour and Miliband holding their nerve, though. If they start chasing the anti-EU/anti-immigrant vote, I'll quickly turn pessimistic, because I watched what happened last year when the Australian Labor Party did something similar. Labour need to hear and believe that victory is possible in order for it to be possible, if you see what I mean. If they try in a panic to turn themselves into Lefty UKIP Lite, I don't care whether my predictions fail, because I won't be voting for them myself, first-past-the-post or no first-past-the-post.
posted by rory at 1:57 PM on May 27


The Result of Austerity and Neo-Liberalism is the Rise of the Neo-Fascist Right
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:06 AM on May 28


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