The Left are finally taking Ukip seriously because we are taking their votes.
We have seen a recent spate of bad news stories directed at Ukip. Ukip's founder, Alan Sked is setting up and alternative 'left wing Ukip' and Miliband advisor, Stewart Wood, let slip that Labour will probably sign up to a referendum before the next election.
Take the bad news stories - if all they can only find is Nigel Farage's empty offshore fund and one or two loons who post silly comments on Facebook or Twitter after a couple of glasses of sherry too many, then they have done their worst. The hard left are trying to discredit us. The Unite Against Facism bigots who gave a platform to drummer Lee Rigby's killer, Michael Adebolajo, who try to disrupt Ukip meetings, are just alienating Labour voters who are saying 'not in my name'.
In a piece in The Guardian's Comment is Free, Ukip's founder Alan Sked, an academic from the LSE, sounds a little peeved that Ukip is doing so well in the polls and in elections, a party he left in 1997. So he berates us as people who prefer a vision of a Britain from the 1950s, who hate gays, lesbians (I always thought lesbians were gay, not just lesbian?), black people and Muslims.
Well, it's certainly not a party that I recognise or indeed would belong to. The former divide of the electorate into right/left/centre is not something that the voters recognise any longer. There was a time when people would vote according to family tradition or whether you belonged to a trade union. No longer. Whilst the three old parties cling to some of their former ideologies, all three of them have moved to a centre ground, arguing over one million votes in target seats, the voters who decide the next election.
The Tories, desperate to win the centre left/Blairite vote have shifted onto ground their members do not like. To shore up their vote the Home Secretary wants to impose a £3k visa bond on those with brown faces, from the former colonies. Yet, there is no talk about imposing a visa bond on former white colonies such as Australia, US and New Zealand. There's a whiff of racism about it whilst the electorate know it is the coming tsunami of Romanians and Bulgarians that will be the problem and the existing eastern Europeans migrants who are undercutting our own unemployed workforce. And for saying this they call us xenophobes. Hardly, I would love the brightest and best from China and India.
The Tories talk up doing trade with the emerging economies with our embassies becoming trade centres instead of visa processing centres. Does William Hague speak to Theresa May? Do we want to alienate or trade with India? Do we want their brightest and best? Well, it's a funny way of going about it. Instead of trading and collaborating we discriminate.
Labour have retained most of the Blair changes of their 13 years in power. The Lib Dems, heaven knows what they stand for, other than to be the whipping boys of the Tory party, are now flexing their muscles because we are closer to a general election. The public see through all of this. At no time in my living memory have we had such a backlash against elected politicians. And that's why Ukip is on the rise in popularity. As Nigel says, you can't put a cigarette paper between them.
The public, unless they are political ideologues, see Nigel Farage as someone who is prepared to take on the status quo, challenge the two main parties on their broken promises, their track record in government and telling them how it is.
Nigel calls the three main leaders 'college kids'. I watched the Daily Politics Show last Friday when Andrew Neil interviewed two other college kids, Andy Burnham and Grant Shapps. It was like watching Punch and Judy, a couple of school kids having a spat, 'no I didn't, yes, you did'. If Burnham and Shapps had put up their fists and skirted around each other to have a pretend fight I wouldn't have been surprised. Ukip's Gerard Batten looked on in bemusement and tried to have a sensible conversation with them but it was impossible. This is what the public sees.
Sked is right about one thing in his article, he wonders what happened to left wing opposition to the EU and his analysis is spot on. He says, "On the left .... there has been no response to events in Europe. The Labour party seems intellectually paralysed in face of both the economic and political crises in Europe." Quite, Miliband and co have signed up lock, stock and political barrel to the EU and that's why they're haemorrhaging votes to Ukip. That's why in today's HuffPo, Miliband's advisor, Stewart Wood, is almost saying that there will be a manifesto commitment to an EU referendum before their voters go to the polls in 2015. Cynical stuff.
But then Sked goes a bit skewed. He helpfully outlines a mini manifesto that he thinks will appeal to Labour voters :
1. Direct and transparent democracy - Ukip policy
2. Liberal values without prejudice to race, religion, gender, etc - Ukip policy
3. A welfare policy to provide decent pensions, care, and housing - Ukip policy
4. A foreign policy that protects Britain's interests - Ukip policy
5. He talks about a federal government, there are some in Ukip that would like this with abolition of the House of Lords. But where he loses the plot is when he proposes: "... an independent Britain could negotiate a confederation of the British Isles with the Irish Republic to help solve Ireland's problems." I wonder what Sinn Fein would think of that? Or does he mean that we would bail out Ireland's banks?
Ukip's policies are a mixture of right, left and centre. I have written our welfare proposals. Some recommendations could be perceived as right wing, some left wing, particularly on the 'Bedroom Tax', or is it just commonsense to oppose people getting kicked out of their homes? It's great to have political thinkers, but let's leave it there Alan.