You can be forgiven for confusing the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) with the US’s Tea Party. After all, they’re both extreme right groups with a meteoric rise, they both rely heavily on racism and nativism, they both took their countries by surprise. While there are striking similarities, it’s worth noting that the US political system can really only hold two parties at once, while the British system can entertain several at the same time. While the Tea Party is merely a branch of the wider Republican Party, Ukip is its own party, and could be the most popular one in the upcoming elections. This does not bode well for a nation that many progressives have looked to as a beacon of hope.
The I in Ukip is for Independence, and this is one aspect of the driving force, the center of Ukip’s identity and reason for being. Ukip was formed for two reasons: independence from the European Union and British nativism. In other words, it’s an entire political party founded on ethnic bigotry and racism. Even the Tea Party’s stated goals are based around taxation and economic libertarianism – though racial animus is a clear energy behind the movement. The people who designed the Tea Party, however, were focused on deregulation and shrinking government with the goal of lower taxes for the ultra rich. And while the organizers of the Tea Party used racial and ethnic anger as a marketing and recruiting tool (or didn’t stand too much in the way of it being used as such), Ukip is specifically focused on xenophobia and Anglo Supremacy.
They’re the political (and somewhat respected) arm of anti-immigrant and Muslimophobe groups like the English Defence League and Britain First, groups that are partly responsible for the uptick in hate crimes against Muslims in the country the last few years. But now that they found a “respectable” political group, they can do far more damage than “invading” Mosques, rattling worshipers and throwing bibles at them. They can direct local and national policy and make it extremely difficult for tens of thousands of immigrant families and non-Whites, rather than merely a few thousand.
For starters, Ukip wants, according to The Guardian, to have a five year ban on new immigration, with strict quotas afterwards. Asylum seekers would be basically imprisoned. Immigrants seeking citizenship would have to wait at least five years and have no citizen rights until they become official. Oh, and multiculturalism? That will be abolished. Also? They want to get rid of the Human Rights Act so they can more easily deport those deemed dangerous (you know, imams, Muslims, etc).
But of course, since they are a political party, they have to have a platform and need to draw more than just fascists and Neo-Nazis, right? Unsurprisingly, most of their beliefs steer right wing, such as their support for a flat income tax. They are an official Free Market party, so libertarians would be happy with that (though to be fair, many US libertarians aren’t anti-immigration). They seek to privatize the UK’s National Health Services while increasing the military budget by 40%, with an emphasis on the army and navy (because Captain Jack Sparrows is terrorizing the high seas, I think. Maybe not for that reason, but it’s probably better than the awful truth). They also seek to reduce government jobs to 1990’s levels while also reducing welfare and tax breaks to those with more than three children. Oh, and then there’s harsher incarceration terms, too.
There’s also the fun stuff. Like, smoking would be allowed in select rooms in pubs again (because it’s no longer dangerous?). Also, they’re Global Warming Deniers, so they’ll save money by relying on nuclear power plants, gas, and shale coal while scrapping wind farms. Ukip also wants to reduce the amount of university attendees while giving out more grants (huh?). And finally, cyclists need to be taxed a vehicle excise tax despite the fact that, y’know, bicycles give out no emissions. They also need to pay for parking. That’ll incentivize them!
Okay, so maybe this is a plot by the Koch brothers.
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