[Marxism] The Guardian on the EU elections: 'Respect' the UK Independence Party
borhyaenid at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 15 18:02:43 MDT 2004
Green is the new red
The failure of Respect to make an electoral impact
leaves just one credible left-wing alternative to
Labour, writes Peter Tatchell
Tuesday June 15, 2004
For many people who are disillusioned with Labour's
rightward lurch, the results of the European elections
are a huge disappointment. The bid to create a
successful party to the left of Labour in England has
failed ... again.
Respect was trumpeted as the spearhead of the radical
left's revival. It was to have mobilised the votes of
the millions of people who opposed the Iraq war, and
its leaders confidently boasted they would win seats
and "give Blair a bloody nose" on June 10.
I wish. Labour got a deserved drubbing, but Respect
got total humiliation. In the European elections, it
averaged a mere 1.67% of the vote in the nine English
regions. The other radical left party, the Greens,
polled nearly four times more, notching up 6.19%.
As well as being annihilated by the big three parties,
UKIP and the Greens, Respect was also eclipsed in the
European ballot by a motley collection of minor fringe
parties, including the BNP, English Democrats,
Seniors, Independents and the Countryside Alliance...
My conclusion? Labour is beyond reform and Respect is
fated to remain in the political wilderness. For
people who are fed up with Blairism, there is only one
serious option remaining - the Green party. Unlike
Respect and its forerunner, the Socialist Alliance,
the Greens are winners. They have seats on local
councils, the London assembly and in the Scottish and
European parliaments. If left-wingers and progressive
social movements united together in the Green party,
it would become a hugely influential electoral
The new avengers
Ukip is dangerous and populist - but claims that the
party is the respectable face of the BNP are nonsense,
argues Catherine Fieschi
Tuesday June 15, 2004
First, the good news: Europe's far right parties are
not doing as well as prophets of doom would have you
believe. The British National party, after the biggest
electoral push in its history, is pretty much exactly
where it was last week, with 16 council seats and no
In the rest of Europe, last week's EU elections saw
the bare maintenance of France's National Front at
below 10%, the collapse of Austria's far right Freedom
party and the annihilation of the List Pim Fortuyn in
the Netherlands. In Denmark, the far right did not
make further gains; nor did it in Sweden or Italy.
That's the good news.
But some will retort that even if the far right is not
on the rise, the populist anti-Europeans are. Enter
Ukip and the host of other eurosceptic parties that
have made a further electoral breakthrough in these
There is a tendency to argue that Ukip is no more than
the respectable face of the BNP: some commentators
last week even resorted to lumping the French National
Front, the Austrian Freedom party and Ukip together...
Both Ukip and the BNP use a high level of populist
rhetoric. But while their language may sometimes
overlap, the aims of Ukip and the BNP are very
The BNP's populist rhetoric, like that of traditional
fascism, offers the illusion of shared values and
egalitarianism in pursuit of what would in fact be a
ruthlessly elitist, sectarian order. Thankfully, the
BNP is far from achieving its ambitions, and it is
precisely British culture and institutions that will
stop the party dead in its muddy tracks.
Parties such as Ukip, meanwhile, are defined by their
populism: while the BNP tries to cloak itself in
populism, it is an extremist party pursuing
anti-Europeanism as a means to a far right end; Ukip,
by contrast, is an anti-European, conservative party
that sometimes uses extremist rhetoric to further an
The populist rhetoric and the nationalism create
resemblances, and these should not go unnoticed. But
it is very important to look at the aims of these
groups. However dangerous they may be to the
furthering of European aims, Ukip are not fascists or
far right extremists...
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