THE BLOG

UKIP's Stance on the City Undermines Its Anti-Establishment Rhetoric

30/04/2014 15:34 BST | Updated 30/06/2014 10:59 BST

You'd struggle to find a better example of 'the establishment' than the businesses operating in the City of London. The firms, which range from banks to brokers, insurance to law firms, are diverse in their work but can often be found singing the same tune when it comes to the regulation of what they do. That is, the bosses in the City of London want to be left to operate with as little Government interference as possible.

For the last few decades, a political consensus has developed around the activities of the firms operating in the City of London. Both Labour and Coalition governments have gone out of their way to back the financial institutions in our capital. Blair and Brown consistently fulfilled City lobbyists dreams, with Brown's 2006 Mansion House speech seemingly particularly poignant given the crash which followed two years later:

"Many who advised me favoured a regulatory crackdown. I believe that we were right not to go down that road" said the former Prime Minister.

As expected, the Tories have made sure that their City donors are getting their money's worth as they try to halt curbs on bankers bonuses and scupper plans for a financial transaction tax. The Lib Dems, who entered the coalition with much promise of a Vince Cable-led clampdown in the City, have utterly failed to stand up to the finance giants.

But the latest political party to pay homage to the City of London might come as something of a surprise. UKIP, who tout their anti-establishment credentials wherever they go, have made it clear that their hatred of the status quo only extends to poor migrants and Brussels-based politicians. Their leader, Nigel Farage - who used to be a city trader himself- has today launched an incredible attack on the European Court after it threw out a case by our Government aiming to derail plans for a Robin Hood Tax on city transactions. The tax, which could raise billions of pounds to be spent on alleviating poverty or fighting climate change, is set to be implemented in eleven countries, but not the UK. Taking the Tory's side on the issue, Farage described the ruling as an 'attack' on 'the UK's biggest interest'.

For a party that says it's anti-establishment it's quite extraordinary to describe the City of London financial zone as 'Britain's biggest interest'. It's worth remembering that it is bankers, not migrants or even bureaucrats, who led us into a financial crisis for which we are all still paying the price. Indeed, surely no other aspect of British society is more 'establishment' than the small group of multinational banks in the centre of our capital city who have avoided tax, manipulated markets and paid out multimillion pound bonuses while the rest of the country faced wave after wave of austerity.

Farage is a lot of things. He's charismatic, he's funny on occasion and, undoubtedly, he's popular. But he certainly isn't anti-establishment. It's clear that neither UKIP, nor any of the other establishment parties, have any real plan to tackle the vested interests that blight Britain's political landscape. For real change in this country, we need to get tough on the spivs and speculators, and build an economy that works for everyone, not just the 1%.