An open letter from Owen Jones to Ukip voters

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

Share

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.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there