An open letter from Owen Jones to Ukip voters

I'm in far more agreement with you than your leaders are

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Dear Ukip voter,

We've got a lot in common. If you even know who I am, you might think this is a suggestion that borders on the offensive: what, that gobby little leftie who looks like he's walked off the set of Home Alone 1, shouldn't he be doing his paper round? So, bear with me.

Like you – or three-quarters of you – I wouldn't choose the European Union as one of the key issues facing the country, even though I agree the British people should be given a vote on our membership. You think Westminster has become the preserve of career politicians, which is why I agree Parliament desperately need more working-class MPs, rooted in their communities, who understand the everyday concerns of voters.

But our agreement goes so much further than that. A generation ago, our energy suppliers were flogged off to profiteers, some foreign, some British, but all rich and making money out of hard-pressed consumers. No wonder nearly 8 out of 10 of you want energy brought into public ownership – a figure even higher than other voters. You're right: it's time we stop the Big Six holding us to ransom, leaving millions lying awake at night wondering how they can pay the bills, and elderly people shivering in their homes.

It's the same story with our railways, too. You're justifiably angry that the taxpayer is forking out three times more subsidies to our rip-off, inefficient railways, filling the bank accounts of the rail barons while millions are priced out of travelling. So nearly three-quarters of you are right to back bringing rail back into public ownership – again, a higher number than other British voters.

This Government is handing our NHS, one of our country's most valued institutions, to tax-avoiding private health companies who are driven by profit, not the needs of patients. I'm not letting the last Labour government off the hook, before you ask, with their Private Finance Initiative which has left so many of our hospitals saddled with debts. So, like 84 per cent of you, I believe the NHS should be “nationalised and run in the public sector”.

We're spending billions of taxpayers' money subsidising poverty wage-paying bosses, and most people living in poverty in Britain in 2014 have to get up each morning to work. So when two-thirds of you back “a substantial increase” in the minimum wage, I'm with you all the way: it would save money, boost demand in the economy, make work pay, and help stop bosses undercutting wages with cheaper labour, wherever it comes from.

Read more: Owen Jones - For Tories, privatisation is still a matter of dogmatic faith

Read more: Owen Jones - Stand up the Big Six

Read more: Owen Jones - Farewell to the NHS, 1948-2013

British workers get much more of a kicking than workers in other European countries: if rights are good enough for German workers, why aren't they good enough for us? Banning zero-hour contracts – supported by 57 per cent of you – would be a great start.

We've got five million people stuck on social housing waiting lists, we're splashing out billions subsidising unscrupulous private landlords and rents are so high that 43 per cent are worried that people like you will lose their home. That's why I side with the 50 per cent of you who back rent controls, and the 43 per cent who think we should borrow to let councils build, which would create jobs, bring in revenues from rents, give families an affordable home, and cut back on the £23 billion a year housing benefit bill.

And actually, in lots of ways, I'm in far more agreement with you than Ukip's leaders are. They want to introduce a flat tax, which would not only cut the taxes of the investment bankers that ex-commodities trader Nigel Farage used to hang out with. It would mean that call centre workers would be in the same tax bracket as millionaires. They want to slash employers' National Insurance contributions, handing bosses a £50 billion cheque while workers struggle. They want to cut two million public sector jobs, not only decimating public services like education and health, but devastating entire communities. They want to go even further than the Tories in privatising and dismantling our NHS. They want a bonfire of our remaining workers' rights, trashing legislation on redundancy pay, holidays and overtime.

I'm not going to waste your time or patronise you by preaching the benefits of immigration. Instead, I want to ask you this. Who has caused our country most problems: the bankers who plunged us into economic disaster, the expenses-milking politicians who have the cheek to lecture us on benefit fraud, the wealthy tax-dodgers keeping £25 billion a year from the Exchequer; the poverty wage-paying bosses and rip-off rent-charging landlords; or Indian nurses and Polish fruit pickers?

Those who really will patronise you treat you as though you're just Tories having a temper tantrum, voters who can be bought off with a referendum. It's the UKIP leadership, using your concerns over immigration to piggy-back extreme free-market dogma which would shovel even more wealth into the hands of their millionaire donors. There's lots you won't agree with people like me on, sure: but enough, maybe, to start talking.

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