What jolly japes, eh?

Ukip is on course to win the highest share of the vote in next month’s European elections, senior political figures warned on Sunday, in a result that would be viewed as a collapse of trust in the political establishment.

Entirely correct of course. A very large number of people have lost trust in the political establishment. And given that I’ve met quite a few of them I can understand why too. Alarmingly incompetent most of them.

51 comments on “What jolly japes, eh?

  1. “And given that I’ve met quite a few of them I can understand why too. Alarmingly incompetent most of them.”
    Surely, doesn’t that depend on what metric you’re judging them?
    They may be thoroughly incompetent as businessmen, or economists or even tying their own shoelaces. But those aren’t the talents required to be part of the political establishment. For these talents they’re entirely competent.

  2. “A collapse in trust in the political establishment.”

    Yep, a good reason not to vote for anyone from the establishment. Nown can anyone offer me single good reason to vote for Ukip?

    P.S. I’m under 65 and I think Lenny Henry is English.

  3. The jolly japes would be jollier if something useful ensued but all this means is that UKIP will be milking the European Parliament for more by way of allowances than before.

    It doesn’t get the UK one step closer to Brexit.

  4. Yep, a good reason not to vote for anyone from the establishment. Nown can anyone offer me single good reason to vote for Ukip?

    Some of their economic policies aren’t insane.

  5. It doesn’t get the UK one step closer to Brexit.

    But David Cameron is not genuinely going to offer Brexit? Not in any form that permits the result not to go his way; this is a man who has a personal vision of an EU that stretches from the Atlantic to the Urals.

    I think the one thing UKIP has done and can continue to do is influence the narrative / agenda. Ditto the bigger the share of the vote come 22nd May.

    and I think Lenny Henry is English

    and so, I suspect, do 99% of people who support UKIP. Or, at least, I would bet it’s probably not materially different to the numbers who support the Conservatives or Lib Dems etc?

    I suspect that the current slur and smear campaign will get very much dirtier and more intense. I saw one quote that seemed to sum it up quite well: “if you’re getting loads of flak, it means that you’re over the target”.

  6. UKIP are playing the jingoism card. They’re playing it hard, and they’re playing it well. I don’t blame them.. arguing that the EU is a corrupt and undemocratic cancer on the good peoples of Europe isn’t a votewinner. Neither is the refreshing stance on personal and civil liberties that UKIP appear to take.

    Saying ‘Bulgarians are after your jobs’ gets support, and purporting to stand up for those who think ‘we can’t talk about immigration’ is smart. Add in the fact that there’s obvious dissatisfaction with the usual parties and a failure (outside of Brighton, at least) of any other party to step into the limelight, and it’s all good for UKIP.

    But I wouldn’t vote for them. They may well have some useful things to say, but they’re playing to the lowest common denominator – making them just the same as the rest. Like I say.. I don’t blame them for that. It’s rational. It’s just not for me.

  7. The Political Class are worried. They know that a very small minority of the public actually support any given political party, so any government will always have minority support. 60% of people vote, so if 40% of them vote for a given party and that party then forms a government, it only has the support of a quarter of the whole population. 75% are either actively opposed to it (voters for other parties) or hacked off with politics in general (the 40% who don’t vote). Thats a lot of people to dislike you. If anyone can start to tap into that vote they could wipe the current Establishment off the map. So all methods will be used to smear anyone who attempts to do so. Pure self preservation.

  8. Odd how senior political leaders don’t ‘warn’ about Labout, the Lib Dems or the Conservatives topping the polls.

  9. ” and I think Lenny Henry is English

    and so, I suspect, do 99% of people who support UKIP”

    Generally, this works the other way round. it depends on what Lenny Henry thinks he is. If he behaves as if he thinks he’s English, the vast majority of people of any & all political persuasions will regard him as an Englishman who happens to be black. Best expressed in “But Winston I work wiv. I mean he’s jus’ like us , inne? He’s a mate. I mean he’s black but he’s not really black, is he? Know what I mean?”
    And if Lenny Henry wants to give it his Afro roots every time he opens his mouth & accuse everyone around him of being the heirs of slaveholders, it wouldn’t matter if his great grandparents were born in Dagenham. He ain’t English.

  10. Political establishment, “Alarmingly incompetent most of them”.

    And the UKIP non-political establishment ? The usual collection of scoundrels and fools that shoot their mouths off in the corner of the Saloon Bar or the Golf Club, to equally vapid admirers. and sycophants.

  11. It seems to me UKIP have two messages.

    The first is the democratic deficit involved in being part of an EU which makes x% of your laws and yet cannot be sacked.

    The second is, ooh, these foreigners taking all our jobs.

    If they fight on the first they stand a fair chance of succeeding because the second isn’t true and anyway can only be influenced by victory on the first.

    However, it’s also obviously true that some people have been out-competed by new foreign workers, and it’s valid politics to address it in the right way.

    I’ve yet to hear Farage/Anyone Else respond to John Humphrys/David Dimbleby/Nick Clegg to the effct that, ‘You would say it’s racist, wouldn’t you, but then you’re a millionaire underzero threat of losing his job to an Albanian (or anyone else).’

    All that said, the key phrase is out-competed. Do I want to pay more for Kent plums because they’re picked by an Englishman?

  12. BiS: “Surely, doesn’t that depend on what metric you’re judging them?”

    Not really, competence is largely a transferable skill, although many businessmen or technical professionals may not have the temperament for politics and many politicians may not be suited to other ways of life.

    I have a general metric for a politician’s competence: would they be able to hack it as a regional director of personnel for Boots? Sadly, in the case of most MPs, the answer is not for long.

    I have had the pleasure of working with many leading businessmen/entrepreneurs, top lawyers from UK, European and US firms, quite a few top barristers and accountants. They are are almost entirely very impressive individuals. I have yet to meet an MP/minister (and I have met quite a few) that comes anywhere near that level of ability (even the accountants).

    GeoffH: re vapid UKIPpers, you are probably right, but as mentioned in another thread, it puts pressure on the established parties to up their game.

  13. I expect UKIP are as incompetent as the rest, but as they haven’t expressed a desire and belief to rule the World and every aspect of our lives it doesn’t really matter.

    I would be toleranly incompetent at driving a Space Shuttle, but as I neither want to or will ever do so it is irrelevant.

  14. Interested – I’m not sympathetic to the idea that there is a fixed number of jobs in the economy, but I’m even more unsympathetic about being taxed to the eyeballs to subsidise millions of cheap foreign labourers who claim every tax credit, housing benefit, child benefit, and school place going while we have millions of our own people sitting on their unemployed backsides.

    If farmers and restaurants want to hire Bulgarians or what-have-you let them foot the bill for their presence in the United Kingdom, not reap the benefits of minimum wage labour while expecting the rest of us to pick up the cost of housing, feeding, schooling, and medical treatment for their workers and their many relatives.

    We can have open borders or we can have a welfare state. We cannot have both, at least not for very long.

  15. Steve – absolutely, very well put.

    I find UKIP make a very poor job of putting across any view without sounding like golf club bores, but at the risk of sounding like a golf club bore myself, they’re right on an awful lot of issues.

  16. Bloke In Italy – thank you 🙂 I know what you mean. I’ve never lifted a golf club in anger but whenever I see something political on the news these days I feel like I’m turning into Alan Ruddy Partridge. A double breasted blazer with a natty tie and badge combo beckons, but so be it.

    The Meissen Bison – The thing I can’t stand about giraffes is everything. From their smug beady eyes to their long, graceful necks. “Look at us! We can eat the unspoilt foliage from higher up the tree!”, they seem to gloat.

    Giraffes are show-offs.

    I did write to UKIP expressing my views on the camelopardalis curse, but even though I made it look extremely professional by crafting my letter out of words clipped from newspapers and magazines then glued to a sheet of A4, they have yet to reply.

  17. “I have a general metric for a politician’s competence: would they be able to hack it as a regional director of personnel for Boots?”, Alex says.
    But is that the appropriate metric for today’s politician. it’s doubtful if a regional director of personnel for Boots would be successful in politics. But a diversity coordinator for a local authority would be. The only competence required to be a politician is the competence to be a politician. Almost any other is a hindrance.

    “UKIP are playing the jingoism card.”
    With respect – Go stick it where the sun don’t shine.

    Jingoism’s one of those meaningless words like bigot ( defined as far as I’m concerned as holding an opinion the user strongly objects to – thus hard to tell which direction it’s best pointed). Inevitable used where the user can’t come up with a coherent argument. What’s wrong playing to the lowest common denominator? That’s how compromise works. Best all round outcome for the lowest cost. Problem with Europe’s all the compromise is expected from the same direction.

    From further up the thread;

  18. Steve,

    You’ve pretty much nailed the issue. When a single Pole or Bulgarian moves here, they depress wages in their sector, raise rents where they live, and add to transport congestion. But that’s pretty much it.

    However when a couple moves here and starts having children, they become eligible for more benefits, their children incur costs to the NHS and schools (£6,000 a year per pupil), and all the rest. Their tax contributions are nowhere near enough to offset the costs they impose. (Assuming two kids and a stay-at-home mother, the father would need a pre-tax salary of £35,000 to contribute £12,000 in income tax / national insurance.)

    More enlightened countries such as Canada and Singapore have a skills-based immigration regime which means their immigrants have higher added-value, contribute more in tax revenue, and thus are net contributers to the exchequer.

  19. “We can have open borders or we can have a welfare state. We cannot have both”

    Totally agree; I’ll take the open borders. The sort of open borders that allow me to marry a gorgeous German woman if I get that lucky.

    What I won’t do is join a ‘free trade’ party that campaigns against and produces posters to denounce talented people coming to my country to practice their trade or profession freely.

  20. What I won’t do is join a ‘free trade’ party that campaigns against and produces posters to denounce talented people coming to my country to practice their trade or profession freely.

    Ironman, I think Farage is completely in favour of talented people coming here – and particularly attractive, intelligent, young Frauleins – he is strongly supportive of a skills based immigration system (like lots of places elsewhere).

    He simply opposes the current EU free for all at the lowest common denominator, and which as it happens is a logical “consequence” of his EU policy, even if it is put forward (for votes) as a key policy…

  21. Andrew M – “More enlightened countries such as Canada and Singapore have a skills-based immigration regime which means their immigrants have higher added-value, contribute more in tax revenue, and thus are net contributers to the exchequer.”

    That seems to be what UKIP are trying to suggest Britain should do. I say seems, because when they were invited to comment on the news last week the only question Jon Snow wanted to ask was 50 variations on “You’re a racist, aren’t you?”

    Ironman – good luck with the frauleins. I’m sure we won’t lack for talented foreign baristas, hotel maids, and cleaners in the foreseeable future though, so you needn’t worry.

    I’m voting for the chaps who seem most serious about ensuring my kids grow up in a Britain that’s worth living in as free citizens and not the tax slaves of King Rumpy and pals.

    Are UKIP my perfect libertarian dream ticket? Nope. Neither was Mrs Thatcher’s government, and she was our greatest postwar Prime Minister. One of the benefits of an interest in economics is learning to appreciate the trade offs inherent to every choice we make.

    As the old song goes, it’s later than you think. I don’t believe I can afford to passively watch as the political establishment herds us further along the road to serfdom. So I’m taking my ivory quill to the polls to put my X in support of the only plausible alternative that’s available to us right now.

  22. Steve: The thing I can’t stand about giraffes is everything. From their smug beady eyes to their long, graceful necks.

    Well, it’s a point of view, I grant you but how would you compare the long slender neck of the giraffe with the short fat neck of, say, a retired accountant from Wandsworth and which is the greater bastard in your book?

    Incidentally, you must be considerably taller than me if you can look a giraffe in the eye sufficiently for that organ’s smug beadiness to strike you.

  23. The problem is the poster says They’re coming to take your JOBS”; not “your benefits”.

    Well, frankly free trade means allowing labour to compete as well. It does not mean a gov’t imposed idea of the skills we “need”. We all on this blog either believe in trade, deregulation, freedom of movement or we don’t. It is legitimate NOT to believe it. But, if we don’t, then we should say so and say why. And then don’t be surprised when someone uses the same argument for, say, planning or for the allocation of Capital.

  24. The Meissen Bison – that’s a tough question to answer. The nightmare scenario would be some sort of half-giraffe, half-Ritchie hybrid who used his extended brass neck to filch your wallet directly from your pocket.

    A Girurphy, or a Ritchaffe, if you will.

    Ironman – meet democratic politics. Politics, meet Ironman.

  25. Ironman,

    Are you suggesting that a belief in “trade, deregulation, freedom of movement” implies that no borders (restricting any movement of people whatsoever) should exist anywhere across the world (or have I misunderstood)?

    If yes, then you’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ll be quite clear, I don’t believe in that. I could see that working if there was one absolute world government (including taxes etc), otherwise it’s complicated.

    If no, where do you draw the line? Personally, I draw it more towards the control of people we can elect or throw out (ie the nation state), rather than towards those who are unaccountable to us (eg the EU).

  26. Well said Ironman.

    Those posters are economically stupid if nothing else.

    We have to be careful not to throw away the baby with the bathwater. Freedom of movement is the greatest thing that Europe brought us. That it has been spoiled by harmonisation is another story.

    Personally, I prefer a hard working immigrant that moves here to better his life, than the home grown underclass which has costs me £100000s in taxes in 25 years.

    That said, the point about benefits is right and there should be a period where you are not entitled to anything that you don’t pay for directly.

  27. Steve: – that’s a tough question to answer

    Nice try but candidly, wouldn’t you rather see a giraffe on the board of HMRC?

  28. @PF,

    Free movement of people would force states to pull their fingers out to make it attractive for people to stay, if nothing else.

    That does not need a world government. Indeed, that would defeat the whole point of it.

  29. monoi – I understand.

    Perhaps thinking more that, without a world government, how would one enforce that potential for freedom of movement across the entire planet? It would just never happen.

    I just can’t see anything like that happening in any recognisable timescale.

  30. @PF, unfortunately, you are right.

    But it has happened in Europe in my lifetime. Not so long ago could you not go the Eastern Europe.

    So there is hope. Not for a while though.

  31. @Steve

    Absolutely – that’s my point.

    Remove the subsidies for idleness and the plum pickers will be English and the problem goes away.

  32. @monoi
    “We have to be careful not to throw away the baby with the bathwater. Freedom of movement is the greatest thing that Europe brought us. ”

    For freedom of movement, all that’s needed is states & the people make up states, to be in favour of freedom of movement. See Benelux. Throughout history, movement’s been free. And it’s been restricted. It’s had very little to do with political groupings. The USSR was a unified whole & had internal passports. Constitutionally, the USA is less unified & has rarely imposed restrictions on internal movement. Borders within Europe, as a continent, can be as open as europeans want them to be. As they can with the rest of the world. With an organisation like the EU, you mightn’t get the choice. Either way.

  33. What about a higher minimum wage for foreigners? That avoids the problem of the government picking which sector get to import “skilled workers”.

    It could be set high enough so that the taxes they pay should cover average costs (health, education etc.).

    Wonder if it might actually be legal under EU law, since it’s ostensibly discriminating against our own nationals.

  34. Thought it probably would be, but has it been tried? You sound quite definite.

    What about the economics? If we’re going to have restrictions on immigration, is it not the least bad method?

  35. I wonder what Nigel Farage really thinks about immigrants. I mean the classy, witty guy who handled himself on ‘Have I Got News for You’ better than any politician I’ve seen, who despite his background has the common touch that politicians just don’t have, who has had a very successful career before politics, the urbane guy who married a beautiful German woman. I wonder what he really thinks, whether he believes in that poster.

  36. Richard,
    Yes, having a simple rule is much better than asking civil servants to write a list of “in-demand” professions. In Canada they’ve made this mistake, and ended up with PhD-wielding immigrants driving taxis.

    Of course the simplest method is to auction work permits to the highest bidder. This has the obvious advantage that you know in advance how many permits will be issued.

  37. @ Ironman

    My simple take, FWIW:

    UKIP’s raison d’etre is regaining sovereignty – ie re-defining our relationship with the EU. All else is tactics.

    Control over our borders is in any case a consequential by-product of that. And with the runaway immigration of the last decade, it is increasingly a potential vote winner and which has taken the UKIP share of the vote to a new and different level.

    Hence, all of this immigration noise has attracted “foot soldiers”, and from both the left and the right, to UKIP’s real cause which is some form of exit from the EU.

    Farage believes in a points based immigration system, rather than in being anti-immigrant. We would all be much richer as a country by pursuing a skills based approach rather than the current lowest common denominator approach – which simply drives down wages for the poorest – and which we simply cannot change whilst remaining within the EU.

    If I had to put money on it, no, I suspect he doesn’t believe what’s on the poster, but the poster generates votes for the cause. And the cause can then in turn help deliver what’s on the poster. And you get a much higher earning fraulein. Is that a win-win all-round?

    Oh, and we get to negotiate our own trade deals with the rest of the world and much, much more…

  38. Reasons to vote UKIP* in the Euro election.

    i) Stick it up Lib/Lab/Con’s arse!

    ii) The European Parliament is a parasitical waste of money and space with no meaningful power whatever so kick out all the current ticks and replace them with a new set with the nominal aim of doing away with the place.

    iii) Stick it up Lib/Lab/Con’s arse and other orifices.

    iv)As a signal of the complete contempt we hold the political establishment in, it is a winner.

    v) UKIP have a half decent energy policy which is less llikely to leave us freezing in the dark.

    vi) They have a few other half decent policies.

    vii) Stick it up Lib/Lab/Con’s and the contemptuous and contemtible media’s arse and other orifices.

    vii) Shove it down Lib/Lab/Con’s and the contemptuous and contemtible media’s throat and other orifices.

    * Note if you really can’t vote for Nigel and his ‘golf club bores’ then vote for the monster raving loonies or if your tastes run towards International Socialism, then vote SWP or if you’re a National Socialist then vote BNP. But not Green party. How anyone can vote for the misanthropic eugenicist party I’ll never know.

  39. @ bis

    Jingoism was the best word I could come up with. There isn’t really a snappy term for that sort of thing that isn’t loaded against the person with that belief. It so happens that I do disagree with people who don’t want ‘them lot coming over here’, but I don’t judge those who think that way. My job isn’t under threat from a Pole who’ll do it just as well for half the wage, but unlike the average Groan reader I recognise this privilege.

    Lowest common denominator stuff is good politics. So I liken the UKIP posters (for example) to Labour banging on about pasty taxes and ‘out of touch Tory government giving a tax cut to the richest’, and the Tories blaming everything on Labour and comparing national finances to mum’s credit card. It’s all rational, and effective.. but I’m no going to give much heed to parties who’s strategy is to feed, and feed off, stupidity. If that’s all of them then so be it.

    UKIP’s trolling of the (self-anointed) ‘enlightened’ is to be enjoyed. But maybe not admired.

  40. Re: Canada. Their points-based system is very stringent. I ‘applied’ on the website on a whim and despite having an MSc and a working knowledge of French, I barely scraped over the line. If I had been merely a graduate with some French I wouldn’t be allowed in.

    Yet for at least twenty years Canada has apparently been a ‘liberal’ (ie ‘progressive’) paradise. A strange paradox.

  41. Almost every Islamic nutjob I came across in the Middle East had a Canadian passport: they allow years on a student visa to count in the residency period before citizenship. They’re not that stringent.

  42. UKIP are playing the anyone but Liblabcon card that works for me. I will chose the incompetent non establishment bastard every time.

  43. If what is primarily desired is a referendum on exiting the EU, I suggest a letter writing campaign to the Conservative Party central office in which the writers state that they will vote UKIP until the Tories promise a binding referendum on EU membership with a single, simple question: do you want the UK to leave the EU? If that promise is made, then the writers can state that they will vote for the Tories.

  44. Obviously voting will have to go.
    Epecially if it interferes with the manifest destiny of the the EU.
    People often don’t vote because they like the way things are going and trust Brussels.
    You know this must be true.

  45. The issue I ever heard about Poles or such taking the jobs supposedly owed (why?) to homegrown individuals is not so much the low wages but the fact that the former show up and has a work ethic.

    Furthermore, it seems a lot of new jobs have appeared in the last few years so I find it hard to believe that they were all taken by immigrants.

    Simplistic arguments.

  46. @TMB
    Re “jingoism”
    There isn’t a better word or snappy term for that sort of thing because the “that sort of thing” never exists.
    As it doesn’t with UKIP. There’s some separate strands of opinion have temerity to be on the reactionary side of the progressive. And the sheer audacity to be assertively voiced. So, instead of dealing with them individually, they’re stacked together with the most outrageous as the face card & labelled with the J word.

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