Now that the LibLabCon agree on everything, and all are happy to let the bureaucrats in Brussels run our country anyway, Prime Ministers Questions has become a bit of a farce. So here on UKIP Daily we will be holding the real debate – every Wednesday at 12pm.
In our second debate, we look at UKIP’s messaging. Should we continue to focus on immigration, or is it time to widen our messaging to other policy areas?
Writing in favour is Dr Ann Vasilesco. Ann is the chairman for UKIP New Forest West and County Chairman for UKIP Hampshire. She has been a member of the party for seven years.
Writing against is Donna Edmunds. Donna is the founder and editor of UKIP Daily.
For – Ann Vasilesco
There is a contradiction within EU policy-making. On one hand, the free movement of labour – one of the EU’s fundamental principles or ‘freedoms’ – has contributed to mass unemployment in more affluent countries. On the other, we are assailed by EU Directives, Regulations, and rulings from the European Court of Justice, laying down the law on employment. But there is little point in having rights regarding working conditions, hours, and so forth if you haven’t got a job in the first place. The EU gives with one hand and takes back with the other.
The age group most badly affected by the EU’s free movement of labour policy are the young. While nationally the number of people out of work in the UK is 2½ million, youth unemployment in the 16 – 24 age group is getting on for half that at nearly a million. We read about the depression and feelings of worthlessness many young jobless people suffer from, and tragically even suicide. And yet the irony is that the highest support for Britain’s EU membership is among young people. Have we won the debate on immigration? Not among young people, we haven’t.
So, how do we reconcile the rejection of racism with an argument for the end of mass immigration? Firstly, our strategy should never target or demonise the low paid, poor, or unemployed of other nations such as Romania or Bulgaria. Heaven knows, these two countries have suffered enough in the last 50 years. Last year was like a relentless bombing campaign against those countries, especially Romania. It’s time to leave Romania alone. The target should always be the real culprit, the EU and unjust, unworkable principles. To target other nations merely feeds the racist ‘dragon’, lurking in the depths, by appealing to people’s worst instincts and the temptation of easy scapegoating.
Instead of the injustice of unworkable principles being imposed on us, I would like to suggest that policy on immigration should be underpinned by something more than practical economics: that it is guided in particular by one of the principles of social justice, namely this, that every person has the right to productive work, and to decent and fair wages. Behind this is the more general idea of the right to fulfil one’s potential in the society one lives in.
If aspects of a country’s economy and wealth creation have the effect of impoverishing some people and destroying their livelihood or worse, something is wrong and it must be rectified. It is in the interests of social justice, therefore, that mass immigration is brought under control if it is damaging people’s lives, and that Britain – and every country – has the freedom to make their country a good place to live.
Against – Donna Edmunds
Have we won the debate on immigration? The Conservatives have been making noises about limiting the rights of newly arrived immigrants to claim benefits, but only for the first three months – and even that measure is illegal under European law. We in UKIP know that Cameron can’t actually make a jot of difference to immigration from within the EU. While he continues to pretend that he can, we must keep on reminding the British public that he’s just not being honest.
Polling research shows that immigration is still almost the foremost concern that voters have, with 37% citing it in December, up 2% from November. Only the economy is of greater concern. But the debate around the economy is vague and nebulous. Many people find discussions of corporatism v’s capitalism, or what to do about fractional reserve banking, or the merits (or otherwise) or fiat money, plain confusing. These are complex arguments to make, leaving us open to misunderstandings and turning voters off.
We will make those arguments once we have a greater foothold in Westminster, but until then, we should concentrate on solidifying our support – and a straightforward discussion of immigration, which no other party has had the courage to discuss for the last four decades, does that. In it, people see a party that’s not afraid to stand up for the British people for a change, and they like what they see.
Bringing in more messages also risks diluting all our messaging. Just as no-one knew what Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ project really meant (including Cameron himself, it seems), try to convey the UKIP worldview or ideology and it quickly becomes unweildy. For example, are we libertarian or aren’t we? Do we support a welfare state, or do we think that benefits claimants are ‘scroungers’? The answers to these questions can be quite nuanced. Yes, we are libertarian, but we don’t agree that the state should mandate for gay marriage. Yes we believe in the welfare state, but we don’t want to leave people living on benefits. These are policy areas in which a lot of name-calling and noisy protest happens. The media are already out to paint us in a bad light, as Nigel’s comments about women in the city proved this week. That’s a fine example of a common sense message being misreported, portraying us in a bad light.
People know that, with UKIP, they get a party that opposes membership of the EU and wants to regain control of our borders. Thousands of people have joined us in the last year,and many more lent us their votes for precisely that reason. For now, let’s leave it at that.