Ukip on a roll – thanks to Rotherham Children’s Services

November 29, 2012 at 7:33 am (elections, Jim D, labour party, political groups, politics, populism, Racism)


Fruit-cakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly.” I don’t often agree with David Cameron, but his 2006 description of Ukip pretty well hit the nail on the head. It’s a vile, reactionary outfit led by a posturing demagogue. Unfortunately, it’s presently on something of a roll, due to the unpopularity of the government, the continuing ineffectiveness of Labour and its crude appeal to the worst prejudices of its chosen constituency (the white lumpenproletariat and disaffected petty bourgeoise).

But if, as seems likely, Ukip does well in  Rotherham today it will be for one reason above all others: the incredibly stupid, inept, arrogant and bureaucratic decision of Rotherham council’s Children’s Services to remove three children from their foster parents simply because of the couple’s membership of Ukip.

Ukip is a reactionary organisation, but it’s not the BNP or the EDL. It is possible to be a member of an organisation with racist policies without being personally racist. By all accounts the couple are decent, caring people and experienced foster parents. They have been  approved as suitable people under the (rightly) rigorous tests imposed on everyone wishing to foster children. But Rotherham Children’s Services took the children away and more or less called the couple racists because of their membership of Ukip.  What a coup for that loudmouthed opportunist Farage: it seemed to confirm everything he says about bureaucratic elites obsessed by ‘political correctness’ and petty regulations, and the fact that even he can’t blame Europe for this balls-up is neither here nor there as far as public perceptions go.

The dreadful, but all too predictable, combination of arrogance and incoherence demonstrated in radio interviews by Joyce Thacker, head of Rotherham’s Children and Young People’s Services, has only served to make matters worse.

There are three byelections taking place today (Croydon North and Middlesborough as well as Rotherham), and in all of them reactionary fringe parties led by demagogues seem poised to do well.  Indeed, in Rotherham at least, Ukip and Galloway’s Respect have formed a de facto alliance against Labour.

Serious socialists in all three constituencies should vote Labour today (despite the presence of  left wing candidates in Rotherham and Middlesborough) and by rights, Labour should romp home in all three. But there are worrying signs that the populist right in the form of Ukip – or even Respect – may spring some nasty surprises when the votes are counted.


  1. Matt said,

    The thing is Jim, we don’t actually know why the children were removed from the foster parents beyond what they themselves and the right-wing press is claiming. I haven’t heard the interview with the council official but unlike UKIP she’s constrained as to what she can say because of her duty to protect the children.

    • stefi said,

      Yes we do. Joyce Thacker has said it was specifically because the couple were members of UKIP and UKIP’s view on multiculturalism, which she perceives as at odds with the children’s ethnic and cultural needs (part of the child welfare checklist). This wasn’t reasonable, children were removed from a foster placement because of the parents’ membership of a mainstream political party. If local authorities can remove children from foster parents because of political affiliations, they can remove or deny the return of children to their natural parents on the same basis. What is bizarre that Joyce hasn’t been suspended or fired.

  2. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    a) Why the lower case? – AFAICS they use UKIP throughout and we don’t have the Swp or Awl.

    b) Having seen UKIP members mainly at election counts (when they are supposed to be on their best behaviour) it was noticeable that many of them seemed to be care in the community cases – at the last count I was at however the UKIP contingent all seemed perfectly sane and it may well be that they are getting an influx of new members.

    c) I’ve done a bit of analysis of UKIP results locally and they only seem to do well in seats where Tory voters can vote with their prejudices without losing a seat.

    So down here in darkest Sussex they did best in the very safest rural Tory seats and virtually disappear in ultra-marginals like Brighton.

    They also did very well in the police elections for the same reasons.

  3. Nick Long said,

    My local community party, Lewisham People Before Profit gave some consideration to standing in Croydon North but we thought TUSC were intending on standing and we were recovering from a local council by-election in Whitefoot ward. We gained almost 11% but UKIP got 100 votes and less than 5%. In each of these By-elections there are good socialist candidates to vote for – why waste a vote on Labour!

  4. Jim Denham said,

    Yes, Roger: I wasn’t sure about the lower case, but that’s how the Graun write it. Hardly conclusive proof that it’s the correct way, I agree…

    PS: I’ve just checked the Morning Star, and guess what? They write it as “Ukip” as well. But, again, hardly conclusive…

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      As far as I can tell behind the paywall the Times has UKIP (as has the Daily Mail, Sun and Mirror and crucially to my mind the BBC) but Independent and Telegraph are also Ukip.

      The logic is presumably that it being pronounced as a word rather than spelled out makes it a normal proper noun.

      The rule surely should however be what they call themselves and their own website, publications and posters have UKIP.

      Failing that the media outlets who UKIP clearly have more readers (even if that word is a bit of a misnomer for some of them) and viewers than those who Ukip,

      And don’t even get me started on the people who pronounce BAME as a word…

  5. Martin said,

    How exactly are UKIP racist? It’s not racist to want to control immigration.

  6. Lamia said,

    As Martin said, what are UKIP’s racist policies?( I don’t doubt that some of UKIP are either a bit barking or plain nasty, on a variety of subjects, and Farage does not impress me at all.)

    ‘Arrogance and incoherence’ sums up Thacker and her performance on the BBC Today programme perfectly. Matt, I would recommend you listen to it before assuming that Thacker had good reason for what she did. To give the most generous intepretation, her own recorded words suggest she is someone who can’t make up her mind why she did what she did. A less charitable and more logical interpretation would be that she’s a liar who has been caught out abusing her power as an official for political ends.The children – siblings – have now been split up from each other. But at least they are not staying with those horrible UKIP people.

  7. charliethechulo said,

    From MAC in the comments over at Dave’s Part:

    Respect before the by-elections:

    “We are on the edge of a political earthquake in British politics. In polling conducted at the weekend, the Respect candidate in the Rotherham by-election, Yvonne Ridley, has the lead over Labour. Labour has panicked and launched a vicious and negative campaign of dirty tricks against Respect but this has been sidelined by our magnificent positive campaign with the Respect battle bus, advertizing truck and campaign groups in every ward.

    Polling conducted in the Croydon North by-election suggests that Lee Jasper, the Respect candidate, is now neck and neck with the Labour Party to win the constituency.”

    Ha…ha…ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha….ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha….my tummy hurts…ha, ha, ha. ha, ha…please, stop…ha, ha, ha, ha, ha………

  8. Jim Denham said,

    To Martin and Lamia: I think, given Ukip’s obsession with immigration and so-called “multiculturalism” that it’s fair to describe them as a racist party, albeit one that uses codes and dog-whistles to attract their constituency. As I said/wrote above, however, that doesn’t make all their members/supporters racists.

    I also think that allowing the state to penalise people simply because of their political allegiences is highly dangerous to the left – and that even applies (in employment matters) to fascists like the BNP:

  9. Martin said,

    Jim, just because the party have legimitate concerns about immigration and want to reduce it, doesn’t make them racist. Any links showing UKIP’s “racism” would be most appreciated.

    • Faster Pussycat Miaow! Miaow! Miaow! said,

      What exactly is a ‘legitimate concern’ about immigration? How exactly is ‘immigration’ different to ‘migration’ from Hampshire to Oxfordshire? And why should we not be ‘legitimately concerned’ about it?

      • Martin said,

        Concerns about unemployment for example are legitimate, I mean too much immigration isn’t exactly a good thing for the job market is it?

  10. Jim Denham said,

    Martin: I’m sure that I’ll be unable to find any overtly racist statements by Ukip: as I said/wrote, they use “codes and dog-whistles” in relation to immigration and “multiculturalism.”

    In fact, I suspect (though I haven’t checked) that it’s probably quite difficult to find any overtly racist comments from the BNP (in recent years), or EDL, either.

    • Martin said,

      UKIP have got the right idea when it comes to immigration anyway Jim, and you can’t just assume they are racist just because they use so called codewords? Have you got any examples of these “code words”?

  11. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    As I just said over at Osler’s to adapt The Simpsons on Fox News ‘UKIP not racist – but number one with racists’.

  12. Jim Denham said,

    Roger, this is what you posted over at Dave’s:

    I’ve never seen any evidence whatsoever from the many opinion polls that I’ve looked at that UKIP gets much support at all from Labour voters – rather any working class support they do get seems to be those former working class Tory voters (of whom there used to be a great many – most of my family included) who haven’t gone all the way rightwards to voting BNP.

    This only seems counter-intuitive due to the bourgeois pseudo-left Guardian reading scum’s fear and loathing of the real working class who they believe to be racist morons and who therefore must be inclined to support the party for racist morons (to adapt the Simpsons line on Fox News: ‘UKIP not racist – but number one with racists).

    My own hypothesis which I intend to test when I have time to crunch the Goddawfully formatted 2010 data from the electoral commission is that UKIP support is in fact correlated to the relative strength of the Tories and the weakness of Labour.

    Certainly in the southern seats I’ve already looked at they only did well (by loony fringe party standards) in very safe Tory seats where Tories could vote UKIP without any consequences and did very badly in marginal seats like those in Brighton where Tories knew a vote for UKIP was an indulgence that would return a Labour MP.

    Please tell us more.

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Not that much more to say yet.

      I’ve only looked properly at the 35 or so seats in Sussex and Kent in the 2001-2010 general elections so far as a by-product of some analysis I did for the Labour PCC campaign.

      The national general election data is a real bugger to crunch due to the peculiar way it’s formatted by the Electoral Commission so I’ve never got round to extending that analysis nationally.

      There’s also not that much proper polling research on who UKIP voters are as other than GE exit polls your typical 1,000-sample poll has too few UKIPers (i.e. generally only low tens or even single figures) for any breakdown by class etc to be statistically significant.

      However I may have missed something as surely somebody somewhere must have done some proper work on UKIP.

      (BTW did you get my e-mail requesting a plug for the BBC Scotland programme on Helen MacFarlane?)

      • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        ComRes recently did ask UKIP voters who they previously voted for and only 3% were previous Labour voters compared to 33% Tories.

        They do skew more to C2DE than the sample but size while double that of a normal opinion poll at 2,024 still only gives 157 UKIP voters who identify their class – which is a rather small number to base a detailed analysis on.

        With that caveat UKIPs key defining characteristic from the poll is age: 40% are over 65, nearly two-thirds are over-55 and only 1 respondent from the 147 respondents who gave an age was under-25.

        As 65-pluses tend to disproportionately identify as DEs in polls this probably explains their class skewing as well.

        UKIP voters are also heavily – over 60% – male.

        So for me we’re very clearly looking at a disgruntled mostly Tory former electorate which shares many of the key characteristics of the urban working class Tories identified by Mackenzie and Silver in their classic study Angels in Marble from the late 1960s (which I remember mainly because it was heavily referenced in my sociology A level in the 1970s and I happened to come from precisely such a background myself).

        Other than our knowing nothing about their religiosity once can also hypothesise that UKIPers share a great deal with the embittered elderly white working class bigots who are a such key element of the US Republican party base.

  13. Jim Denham said,

    From Roger: “BTW did you get my e-mail requesting a plug for the BBC Scotland programme on Helen MacFarlane?”

    No; my new email is:

  14. Matt said,

    more evidence that the case is more complicated than the right-wing press is trying to make out:

  15. Jim Denham said,

  16. Lamia said,

    @ Jim Denham

    ” I think, given Ukip’s obsession with immigration and so-called “multiculturalism” that it’s fair to describe them as a racist party,”

    I don’t. Immigration is not about race. Nor is ‘culture’ interchangeable to ‘race’. UKIP have quite a number of black members, inlcuding their candidate in Croydon. It is not truthful or useful to simply try and tar them as ‘racist’.

    I appreciate that, over the past fifteen years, calling someone ‘racist’ has become the Labour party weapon of choice in an argument, but it has meant that pretty much everyone in the country has been tarred in that way by now. It’s not so impressive anymore.

    UKIP are reactionaries in various ways, but you have no good grounds for calling them ‘racist’ for their views on immigration or multiculturalism. multiculturalism as an ideology – i.e.the promotion of difference, separateness and tribal grudges – has been a bad and divisive thing, as increasingly even people on the left have acknowledged in recent years. You can support a multi-racial society and still want one over-riding national culture – to which there are all sorts of contributions from other countries and cultures, obviously. We don’t criticise other countries as racist when they do it, so it’s hypocritical to do so with regard to British culturalists.

    I completely support a multiracial society, and I believe one’s loyalty should be to one’s fellow citizens in one’s country, not to one’s cultural tribe/interest group first. That is why I am against ‘multiculturalism’, because it emphasises cultural difference and loyalty to anywhere but to the country the people are living in and the other people they are living among. Multiculturalism is the antithesis of socialism.

    Multiculturalism, because it logically entails preservation and even entrenchment, inevitably also fosters the same or even worse social conservatism that Labourites make a show of abhorring when it comes from groups such as Tories, UKIP et al. Thus we have socialists who are fervent in their opposition to Christian B+B owners who won’t host a gay couple; but who are silent in their ‘opposition’ to Islamist preachers who advocate far worse for gay people, i.e. killing them. Part of the problem is, some of those preachers are mates with the Labour party, aren’t they Jim?

    Labour even got Lutfur Rahman’s Respect boys up from Tower Hamlets to help leaflet on their behalf at a recent by-election in Leicester. Quite coincidentally, a lot of leaflets got distributed homophobically smearing the Lib Dem candidate, Labour’s only real opponents in the ward. Tower Hamlets is of course celebrated (is that the right word) for its tolerance of homophobia – be it in the streets, at beacons of tolerance like the East London Mosque, or even in the council chambers. So no prizes for guessing which section of Labour’s team those leaflets came from.

    Still, who minds about stirring up homophobia when you calculate it it might get you the vibrant conservative Muslim vote, eh Jim? Not your beloved Labour party, that’s for sure. Just turn a blind eye to Lutfur’s boys, known homophobic scum, and let them get on with it, giggle, giggle.

    That among other problems, is where a pre-occupation with multicuturalist piety 9and its hierarchies) has got us. Resenting that and wanting it resolved has nothing to do with racism, and it is dishonest and self-serving of the Labourites and Thackerites who created this mess to keep insinuating that it has.

    UKIP are making strides not because the British public are dreadfully xenophobic but because UKIP are being allowed open goals in three areas which to varying degrees are legitimate and widespread issues for voters across the spectrum:

    EU membership; immigration; multiculturalism.

    Opposing any or all of those is not in itself, in any way whatsoever, logically, ‘racist’ (or even anti-socialist). Most people know that, and just keepin on shouting ‘racist’ when any of those come up is a sure way to drive more people into the path of UKIP, which is certainly a hard right reactionary party with some nasty elements.

    I don’t fancy having UKIP run the country, and I won’t be voting for them, but I can see why others are, and it’s not because they’re racist, it’s because the political mainstream, especially from the left, has been so thoroughly dishonest, incompetent and unfailingly condescending on all three of those issues.

    Ah well, keep going as you are as you wish, but it would be better for all if you learnt a bit of humilty, realism and honesty, rather than just giving us the same platitudes about ‘change’, multiculturalism and immigration being overwhelmingly brilliant things with no down sides. Many people – especially poorer people – saw through that long ago. And you have no right to tar them as racists for no longer smiling and swallowing it.

  17. Lamia said,

    PS in case you feel like knocking together a strawman, the bit about Labour cultivating homophobia in Leicester was a point against multiculturalism (the ideology and policies and tactics), not one for UKIP. I’m perfectly aware a fair amount of UKIP might be quite happy to see opposition candidates homophobically smeared – though in fairness they don’t have as impressiv e a record of advocate killing homosexuals as some of the mates of Labour.

    That’s why multiculturalism is shit, and multiculturalists are dishonest. they are not liberals or socialists, they are just the baggage carriers for exotic reactionaries.

  18. Jim Denham said,

    Lamia: I most certainly agree with you about “multiculturalism” in the sense you use the term (ie: “the promotion of difference, separateness and tribal grudges”), but I don’t think that’s the sense in which Farage and UKIP use it. They clearly mean “multi- racialism” and are simply against a multi-racial society and racial integration. They’re against, in other words, the “melting pot” that all socialists, liberals and simply decent people are (or ought to be) in favour of.

  19. I don’t want to sound wise after the event but……… « Representing the Mambo said,

    […] being talked of as a possible winner, and that Respect and UKIP had the Labour candidate trapped in a pincer movement. […]

  20. Jim Denham said,

    Farage eviscerated at the European Parliament last week…by a Belgian MEP!

    Great stuff:

  21. UKIPer for the right to keep and bear arms said,

    As a former UKIP branch chairman, I fully support the right of British citizens to keep and bear arms. The socialist elite doesn’t want that, because an armed citizenry is difficult to control. Socialism and communism are funded by the same bankers that destroyed the real free market and replaced it with corporate fascism.

    Although UKIP is far too socialistic for many of us to stomach, it is the best political party on offer today.

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