Political elites in Britain are stunned at the win by the UK Independence Party in the recent EU Parliament election. Interestingly, the word “earthquake” appeared frequently regarding the vote: Ukip wins European elections with ease to set off political earthquake, Guardian, May 25, and Ukip and Front National lead populist earthquake, Financial Times, May 26.
As a Euroskeptic party, Ukip aims to divorce the UK from the European Union because the EU has shredded the national sovereignty of all members.
In his victory statement, Nigel Farage noted, “The penny’s really dropped; that as members of this union, we can’t run our own country and crucially we can’t patrol our own borders.”
In January, Farage voiced support for a newcomer moratorium:
Nigel Farage: Ukip wants five-year ban on immigrants settling in UK, Guardian, January 7, 2014
The UK Independence party is likely to go into the next election repeating its promise of a five-year ban on people coming to settle in Britain while immigration policy is sorted out, Nigel Farage has said.
The party leader also said all immigrants should be banned from claiming benefits for five years after their arrival, and admitted his plans would require the removal of the UK from the European Union.
A February poll found that 70 percent of British voters wanted immigration reduced or stopped completely.
(Honest polling in America shows similar preference for more enforcement, less immigration, but many Republican lawmakers remain enthralled by campaign consultants preaching amnesty.)
Elite British media has slimed Ukip non-stop, with characterizations of racism, xenophobia and extremism. A BBC interview with Farage about his victory took 38 seconds to use the word “racist”: Nigel Farage – Anything is possible after tonight.
A Spectator blog item named immigration as the game-changer issue:
It was the immigration issue wot won it for Ukip, Spectator, May 26, 2014
Ukip have triumphed in the UK European Elections. The BBC project that Ukip’s national share of the vote will be 28 per cent ahead of Labour on 25 per cent and the Tories on 24 per cent with the Greens on 8 per cent beating the Lib Dems who are on the 7 per cent into 4th.
This is the first time that anyone other than Labour or the Conservatives has won a nationwide election in more than a century. Nigel Farage and his party has given the British political system a mighty shake this morning. They have demonstrated that, in these elections at least, they can put together a coalition that can defeat both main parties.
The big development in this campaign has been Ukip making inroads into the Labour electoral base. The Ukip vote is no longer just made up of disaffected Tories worried about the loss of sovereignty.
Ukip has done this by putting immigration at the centre of its message. Ukip has a unique selling point on immigration because it wants to leave the EU. This means that, unlike the other parties, it can claim it would stop EU immigration into Britain. No other party can make that pledge because it is incompatible with the UK remaining in the EU.
There were, obviously, other factors behind the Ukip vote. The party undoubtedly benefitted from the anti-politics mood in the country, the desire to give the political establishment a kicking. While the fact that wages have stagnated under both Gordon Brown’s government and the coalition also contributed to the party’s appeal.
Ukip’s victory will lead to a lot of soul-searching in Westminster. Labour will wonder how they as the main opposition party have failed to win these elections; no opposition party has ever won a general election without winning the preceding European Election. For their part, the Tories will worry that they have lost the mantle of being Britain’s Eurosceptic party. As for the Liberal Democrats, this result shows just how far they have fallen nationally.
There is an important lesson here for American politicians, but will they notice?