Approaching a slightly uncomfortable but somewhat timely topic as you can't take a breath without smelling UKIP.
Lots of issues out there, immigration and the M4. Breastfeeding mothers in the corner, sex scandals etc. For me, all of these is proof that UKIP is now a mainstream party. Can you imagine national news headlines about the Monster Raving Loony Party. Me neither.
About 19 months ago, a friend and I (both immigrants) sat together to discuss the European Elections when UKIP had their best showing ever. I was of the opinion then that they will get better, potentially win parliamentary elections and then reveal themselves to be just like every other party. From the sleaze perspective, UKIP have certainly ticked that box. From the perspective of nothing will change if they ever have an influence on governance, watch this space.
Despite the fact that I am in immigrant, I admire Nigel Farage. Nigel is a typical entrepreneur, he has seen a market niche, a political niche and he has adapted / redesigned an existing product to satisfy this niche and he is enjoying remarkable success.
His success in my opinion is partly attributable to the fact that Nigel Farage & UK have given many people a voice. Mainstream politicians (especially in the Labour and Conservative parties) almost made it a crime to challenge immigration a few years ago. With Farage's focus on this issue and also the subject of Europe and with the results he has achieved, the mainstream politicians are now happy for us to discuss immigration and terms of staying in Europe. He has made them sit up and pretend they are listening. Once they get the next 5 year mandate in 2015, they will continue with business as usual.
I get it when people like Russell Brand say Nigel Farage is dangerous but he is no Hitler and we don't live in the 1930s. I can foresee other circumstances leading to a war in Europe, none of it related to UKIP's desire to leave Europe or the dislike / hatred for immigrants. I think Russell Brand should actually copy some of Nigel's approach. Russell has a platform now with his media profile and since he is not 'short of a few bob', start a movement (perhaps dedicated to an anti UKIP / Farage issue), get like minded people or his rich new friends to fund it, make a difference in a segment of society, give the voiceless a voice, do something positive that believes, something that might get the mainstream parties to sit up and adapt. Alternatively as e has been advised, run for parliament. You can either join the system and change it from within or like Farage try to smash it apart. Don't stand on the outside waiving your hand helplessly or shouting in a shrill voice.
Are UKIP and their supporters right about immigration? Where I came from originally, immigrants (same colour as me) have been mass expelled twice, in a country without any form of welfare. You want anything including water, roads, light etc you get it yourself mate. Yet immigrants (they were called aliens for God's sake) were expelled. The comments back then are similar to the UKIP chants "they are taking our jobs" "they are criminals""our country is crowded". Yes xenophobic I agree. Characterises a group of people (yes this is wrong). But people actually feel this way? Your electorate. What have you done to help them see things differently. Are things really different? Or you are just trying to hush people and prevent them from asking tough questions? Saying people should not feel a particular way is daft and will continue to fuel UKIP & Nigel's growth.
We are all somewhat careful about strangers. We even teach our children about 'stranger danger'. So why is people complaining about immigration such a big deal. If people have been impacted by immigration why should they not talk about it.
Is it so difficult to see the impact of the growth in population which is largely attributable to immigration (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10927865/UK-has-had-fastest-growing-population-in-Europe-for-a-decade-official-figures.html). Can the country afford the additonal investment in roads, health, education, governance etc that the growth in immigration brings?
The economic benefits of immigration and the diversity it affords the UK as a nation are the obvious defence of the main parties and the pro immigration lobby. Clearly there are benefits and you can never put a price on diversity. At the end of the day, the world is turning into a global village. However where is the table showing the benefits of immigration versus the cost of it - from the government and from the mainstream parties.
Are the economic benefits strictly limited to the ability of multi national businesses to access cheap labour that EU immigration and to some extent non EU immigration allows. Is this in any way balanced by the taxes these businesses pay? Do they even pay taxes with their complicated tax arrangements and well paid tax advisers? If the benefit derived by businesses are genuine benefits, why are wages depressed and why is it that the biggest chunk of the UK welfare bill is the 'in work benefits' portion?
I hear talk of work shy indigenes and a desire to live on benefits as a way of life. I don't disagree there are people like these. I will imagine we have them all over the world. I have actually eavesdropped on a conversation on the train between a middle aged person and teenager. The middle aged person was encouraging the teenager to see benefits as a way of life / an entitlement. In the middle aged person's words, "your grand parents paid for it". I strongly disapprove of this sentiment. However why is it that employers prefer employing immigrants. Some say that immigrants work harder. I find this difficult to accept. What is the basis of this belief? Perception? Hard data? As we are unlikely to see research based on productivity by ethnic group, it is unlikely that this will ever be proven. However my interpretation of the graphs on this page (http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/5887/economics/uk-labour-productivity/) suggest that the claims about immigrants working harder than indigenes is hogwash.
I have heard many critics of the 'immigrants work harder' claim that immigrants are able to work for lower wages as their base expenditure is lower than that of an indigene who invariably has bigger overheads. I buy into this view as I find it difficult to imagine why anybody will take a job that does not cover thier basic needs when the alternative is much better.
If the mainstream parties want to genuinely stop the march of UKIP. They should genuinely listen to people and mean it. None of those faux 'listening and lessons learnt' that you have come to expect from them. Address the fact that people feel powerless as everything appears to be ordained by Europe. Geniunely explain to people why is it that we can't live without Europe. Will China stop buying Land Rovers because the UK is no longer a part of the EU? will Saudi Arabia stop buying weapons from BAE? or will Apple stop buying IT services from the UK? What is the UK gaining by been in Europe? What are the implications and cold hard numbers? How have they been derived? on the other page, what are the cold hard numbers and also implication of leaving Europe?
In my opinion, politicians believe only in democracy when it suits their purpose. Labour and the Conservative are unwilling to give the electorate the opportunity to vote on Europe but willing to spout 'Europe is good' platitudes, whereas people can see that everything they complain about is because of laws / policies / guidelines emanating from Europe. Immigration (European free movement). Deportation of criminals (European Human Rights)
As for me, Farage should enjoy this period when he is setting the cats amongst the pigeons and dictating the political agenda. He doesn't have executive power so he doesn't have to make a decision that affects anybody outside of UKIP. If the time ever comes when he has administrative powers after gaining sufficient seats in Parliament, you only have to look as far as Nick Clegg to see what he will become. A toothless bulldog beholden to the same mainstream he spent years railing against. For he is one of them and that is never going to change.