What lies behind the Farage media storm?

0
451

By Alan Bisset

Last Thursday myself and the SSP’s Colin Fox were in Cupar at a Yes Scotland event, setting out our case for an independent socialist state. At the same time, the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) were on the High Street of Edinburgh, picketing a press conference by UKIP’s Nigel Farage. One of these events made national headlines.

Let’s ask why.

By Alan Bisset

Last Thursday myself and the SSP’s Colin Fox were in Cupar at a Yes Scotland event, setting out our case for an independent socialist state. At the same time, the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) were on the High Street of Edinburgh, picketing a press conference by UKIP’s Nigel Farage. One of these events made national headlines.

Let’s ask why.

While RIC’s accusations of fascism against Farage are misplaced – although not as misplaced as Farage’s counter-accusation – a message was sent about the kind of politics which are unwelcome in Scotland.

We should not be surprised, however, that the unionist media and politicians have been falling over themselves to defend Farage against the RIC, since the free ride UKIP have enjoyed from the British press stands in stark contrast to the ritual battering of the Yes campaign.

Even The Guardian, Britain’s most cherished left-leaning daily, showed Farage and Salmond squaring up on their front page beneath a headline stating ‘Battle of the Nationalists’, as though they are somehow identical.

Challenge

It suits the establishment to compare UKIP to the SNP on negative grounds when appealing to a leftwing vote, but to defend UKIP when courting a right-wing one. This is because Farage, however much of an electoral threat he is to the mainstream parties, represents a buttressing of the British state.

Scottish independence represents a challenge to it.

It’s also why – until last Thursday, at least – Farage was continually presented in even the sceptical media with a blokey pint in his hand and a grin on his face: a man of the people. Not that they’d admit it, but UKIP are hostile to ‘the people’. Have a guess what they think of single mothers or the unemployed, for example. This contempt applies especially to Scots.

Were their rhetoric alone not enough – UKIP’s Lord Monckton believes ‘the Scots are subsidy junkies, whingeing like a trampled bagpipe as they wait for their next fix of English taxpayers’ money’ – they intend to reverse devolution.

In their election manifesto they outline plans to replace MSPs elected to Holyrood with Westminster’s own Scottish MPs. The same would go for Welsh and Northern Irish politicians. This allows Westminster to become a de facto English parliament.

English autonomy is all fine and well following the breakup of the British state, but under the current structure UKIP’s plan means the boosting of English power at the expense of the Celtic nations.

UKIP are, in all but name, an English nationalist party, as well as a xenophobic one. It is for a reason that the fascist English Defence League are now instructing their members to vote UKIP.

So how dangerous is Farage to Scotland? While a majority UKIP government is a remote possibility, there’s still the frightening chance of a Tory coalition with them at the next election.

More likely, Tory policy will chase UKIP’s on Scotland in the way it has on Europe. The Tories will seek to recalibrate London’s relationship to Holyrood in their favour, as punishment for the Scottish ‘rebellion’.

When Farage reports back that he has ‘seen the face of Scottish nationalism and it is ugly’ he is prompting an English response. Paying him heed, however, would be disastrous for the English working-class.

It is a tactic of right-wing parties to pretend to working people that their enemies are foreign, to distract from the true nature of the class struggle. In every respect UKIP offer a similar menu to the Tories – anti-Europe, anti-immigration, aggressively capitalist – but do so with more personality and more blatant appeals to ethnic nationalism.

UKIP, like the BNP before them, may well exploit the disaffection of working people abandoned by Labour, but given that one of Farage’s political heroes is Margaret Thatcher, English workers will only be walking into another capitalist trap.

UKIP have no plans for jobs, wealth distribution or higher taxation of the rich. They have only what the British bourgeoisie have always had: imperialist rhetoric and myths of glory, binding the workers to their masters’ interests.

Sadly, there are sections of the Scottish media and political class all too happy to defend Farage. Clearing their throats with a brisk, ‘We don’t support his policies but…’ they denounce the RIC for curtailing Farage’s freedom of speech.

An increasingly-misnomered The Scotsman is the main offender in this regard. Freedom of speech, of course, includes the right to protest, but this is neatly ignored by a British establishment keen to portray Scottish independence as aggressive to ‘civilised’ values, even if it means backing a homophobic, xenophobic politician over a pro-immigration, pro-gay rights, pro-working class lobby like the RIC.

Weakened

The way ahead for the ‘British’ proletariat is clear: a dismantling of the UK state so revered by Farage and his rich cronies. Once this imperialist construct is weakened, gaps will open up for socialists.

The English have been told by the likes of Farage that Scotland will fall to pieces without them. Once they see socialist policies develop in an independent Scotland – such as protection of the NHS and the building of affordable homes – they will realise this is possible for them too.

They will ask serious questions of the so-called ‘Labour’ party and revitalise the English Left. This is why Farage has to be defended even by Scots unionists: they know the Westminster gravy-train would hit the buffers of a Yes vote.

In the meantime, Farage has been sent homewards to think again. Well done, Scotland.

Now truly give him the message and turn that into a Yes.

This article appears courtesy of Scottish Socialist Voice