“It’s the economy, stupid” is attributed to James Carville who coined the phrase as campaign strategist of Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign against the sitting President George H. W. Bush.
However, read much of UKIP’s literature and webpage output and you would think that the European Union is the voter’s main concern. Go to any UKIP meeting, and soon enough someone will start talking about the EU, bemoaning the problems it causes. However, go down the same line with the voters and often their eyes will glaze over and they will rapidly lose interest.
Because, to them, the main problem is the economy, more specifically their personal economy. You’ve heard the story about “Basildon Man” (as whichever way the old Basildon constituency went, the nation would go) who, in the years 1979 to 1992, in going into the polling booth, put his hand on his heart and wanted to vote Labour, but then moved it over to his wallet and decided to vote Conservative.
On top of this, the November IPSOS/Mori opinion poll of “Issues Facing Britain” clearly shows the Economy (40%) and Immigration (35%) as the top two concerns, with Unemployment (33%) a close third.
A picture says a thousand words, and my simple diagram tries to portray the message we must verbalise.
We know the EU is a major root cause of economic problems, but the voter doesn’t. OK, there’s the £53 million a day in cash we pay to Brussels, and the Tim Congdon estimate of the total cost to Britain of 11% of GDP that all the fraud, waste, corruption, misuse, misallocation and regulation causes. But what the voter sees is their net disposable income going down after paying taxes and essential expenses. Asda can see this clearly, recording that disposable income was at its lowest since 2008, and people became 4.2% poorer during Financial Year 2011/12.
Then there is immigration. Even the BBC have to admit there has been a rise. 176,000 immigrants arrived in the year September 2012 to August 2013 compared to 153,000 the previous year. And we know the likelihood of what will happen after 1 January 2014, when we fear hordes of Romanians and Bulgarians will arrive. And the immigrants affect the economy – they are mostly low-skill low-paid workers who are not net taxpayers: many receive benefits, pay little tax and consume government services such as health that we pay for. The immigrants also displace British workers onto the dole, which is the third major concern, in itself hitting the economy as well.
As we know, David Cameron, whatever sound-bites he utters, cannot stop the flow against the rules of the EU behemoth.
So, the EU causes much of the economic, unemployment and immigration problems this country suffers. All roads lead to the economy, but all the issues depart from the EU, either overloading the economy directly or via immigration and unemployment.
How do we explain in a few words in our leaflets, on the doorstep? Here’s my attempt at it.
- Immigration is excessive, overloading our services, and costing us all more.
- Unemployment is high, Britons lose their jobs to immigrants. Benefit spending rises.
- The economy isn’t improving, we all feel poorer, paying higher taxes and prices.
- We cannot stop immigrants, and the EU costs us 11% of Domestic Product overall.
- Out of the EU we can control immigration, stop EU waste & fix the economy to feel wealthier.
I hope this article provokes discussion on how we best express this message.