A Conservative source has apparently reported that John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay, ‘has mentally left the Conservative Party’. Matthew Parris, writing in the Times (£), puts a positive gloss on these defections, describing UKIP as a poultice draining away pockets of nastiness in order to allow the party to reclaim the moderate centre ground.
It’s difficult to find anything positive to say about Labour’s own rather excruciating interventions into the debate:
Asked what he thought when he sees a white van outside a house, Mr Miliband replied: ‘What is going through my mind is respect.
In response to accusations of snobbery, Phil quite reasonably insists that White Van Dan is not representative of the white working classes:
Contrary to what the hacks and the politicians think, the majority of working class people feel that showy displays of patriotism outside of European/World Cup tournaments is tacky and vulgar. So stick that in your pandering, patronising pipe and smoke it.
But I’m not sure about this bit:
At this point, some fellow lefties might pour scorn on Dan as a racist (“I will continue to fly the flags. I know there is a lot of ethnic minorities that don’t like it”), uncultured backwoods reactionary, but they would be mistaken to do so.
Atypical Dan may be, his views most certainly are not. Vilifying him as a knuckle dragger from the multicolour bubble of lefty identity politics is only going to alienate the millions who share these sorts of opinions from progressive politics.
Phil goes on to say that insecurity has led Dan to hold these views, and urges readers to leave the snobbery to Tories. But it should be possible to take issue with the Danifesto without being considered snobbish. Phil traces his views back to job insecurity, but people respond to such concerns in a range of ways and have responsibility for the positions they take. However Phil makes it very clear that there is a danger in pandering to such voters, as does Bob from Brockley:
The danger in the mainstreaming of the Ford/Goodwin analysis [which demonstrates that there may be support for UKIP from Labour’s traditional demographic] is that it encourages Labour strategists to take up UKIP’s themes to win back the “left behind”. This can only encourage the temptation to engage in the immigration arms race, to indulge xenophobia, and to retreat further into the miserable Blue Labour Little Britainist campaign for a better yesterday.
This, from Atul Hatwal, makes depressing reading:
Labour clearly couldn’t call for voters to back Ukip, but it could do the next best thing: fight the Rochester and Strood campaign on Ukip’s core subject, immigration.
Unlike Heywood and Middleton at the start of October, when the party virtually ignored it, this time around immigration was all that national figures wanted to talk about, despite the main issues locally being about health and housing.
Yvette Cooper and Rachel Reeves were busy making “tough” new announcements earlier in the week to ensure it remained front and centre for the final days of the campaign.
The more cerebral of Ed Miliband’s team have always been sceptical about the capacity for Labour to win on immigration and nervous about the boost it gives Ukip.