In London, Labour won 50% of the seats in the European elections, won control of four more councils and increased our majorities in the others. This rather fucks up the right’s desired narrative that UKIP won the elections. The argument that London rejected UKIP because we are younger and better educated is deeply unhelpful and yet still reinforces UKIP’s story that they are the only party fighting an oppressive metropolitan elite. Funny that. It is ignored that Labour also did well in Manchester, Liverpool and North East.
Here’s a central truth, the victims of racism can smell it at 200 miles and will never vote for it, and neither will their neighbours.
I was disappointed with Labour’s exclusive focus on the racism, misogyny and nastiness of UKIP during the election campaigns but it’s possible, given the results, that they were right.
Apart from telling the story that London is uniquely different, we have a bunch of Labour MP’s arguing that we should “listen” to UKIPs voters and get tougher on immigration. This sort of language reinforces UKIP’s anti-immigrant politics and while John Denham writes a forensic policy orientated piece, it too reinforces the racist roots of those who argue against immigration. It also repeats a poor use of facts. It’s also one of the articles which tries to pivot the immigration issues into labour market reform; I don’t disagree with the proposed changes but the movement from immigration to labour market reform won’t be enough to satisfy the bigots. Denham’s article and co-incidentally to the magnificent seven is replied to at Labour List by Sohail Jannesari, he finishes with this,
Instead of cowering in the face of public opinion, Labour need to lead the way by engaging, challenging and informing the public through an evidence-based political debate. Instead of ignoring the clear racism of some anti-migration arguments, we need to tackle it head on. These changes do not need to be a long-term aspiration but can begin now as an electorally viable strategy.
It’s not immigration that’s the problem, it’s austerity and it was Labour’s failure to confront austerity that is at the heart of my disappointment with their euro-camapaign.
The featured picture is at flickr taken by Katy McClelland under CC BY-NC-ND 2012. I have resized it.