Labour attempts to combat Ukip’s appeal to working class voters with attack on 'bull**** artist' Nigel Farage
A member of the Shadow Cabinet has accused the party leader of 'pretending he's something he's not'
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 15 May 2014
Labour has tried to halt Ukip's advance among working class voters by branding Nigel Farage a “phoney” and a “bull**** artist.”
In Labour's strongest attack on the Ukip leader, Michael Dugher, the Shadow Cabinet member who is in charge of the party's communications, said: “Farage comes across as a kind of man in the pub, the voice of the working man, but he is a bull**** artist. He's an actor, he's phoney, he pretends he's something he's not.”
The MP for Barnsley East said: “The idea that Nigel Farage is some sort of the voice of the working class frankly is bollocks.” He claimed the Ukip leader “masquerades as the anti-politics candidate” but had in spent 15 years as a full-time politician in the European Parliament. Mr Dugher pointed out that Mr Farage was a former stockbroker and anti-working class. “Look at his policies - taking away workers' rights, charging people to see their GP and tax cuts for millionaires,” he told the Daily Express.
The shadow Cabinet Office minister and Labour vice-chairman is seen as his party's licensed “attack dog”. But even by his own standards, his words are striking.
His personal criticism follows a deliberate attempt by Ukip to target working class supporters to broaden its appeal. Recent opinion polls have shown that the Conservatives have wiped out Labour's lead, with two surveys putting the Tories two points ahead. One possible explanation is that growing support for Ukip among the working classes has weakened Labour's standing among its natural constituency.
Michael Dugher said the BBC was giving Ukip more prominence than it deserved (PA)
Although surveys suggest that Ukip takes four votes from the Tories for every one it secures from Labour, a growing number of Labour MPs are worried that their party may be underestimating the threat from Mr Farage. A newly-published academic study said the make-up of current Ukip supporters made it the most working class of the four main parties.
In his interview, Mr Dugher suggested that the BBC was giving Ukip a bigger platform than it deserved. “Whenever I switch the telly on, Nigel Farage is on my TV,” he said. “Fine, but in the same way he has a platform now, we are also going to say with that comes some scrutiny and we are going to tell the people we represent exactly what your policies are because you can't pretend to be the anti-politician when you are basically a professional politician who stood for election on 10 occasions. He's is always standing for election except when he thinks he's going to get his backside kicked like in [the] Newark [by-election] then he bottles it.”
Mr Dugher also said Mr Miliband was the leader standing up for British workers. “Ukip wants to take away people's protections at work that would make it easier for unscrupulous employers to just go and hire cheaper migrant labour,” he said.
Inequality: Rich own half of wealth
Britain’s richest families now own nearly half of the total household wealth, official figures have revealed.
In a sign of growing inequality in the UK, it was found that the wealthiest 10 per cent of British households now control 44 per cent of national assets, according to the Office for National Statistics. The richest families’ share of national wealth, which includes property, pensions and cash, has increased under the Coalition Government while average families are worse off.
The study showed that almost one in 10 households (9 per cent) could call themselves millionaires, owning assets worth £1m or more. The richest 10 per cent now own around five times as much as the poorest half of the population, who between them own 9 per cent of the nation’s wealth.
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