Owen Jones: Beware the Ukip beast of the North

There is a chasm between Ukip leaders and their voters

Share

Watch out, Northerners, Ukip is coming! As its purple-rosetted canvassers descend on Wythenshawe – just down the road from where I grew up – we’re getting more insight into the Ukip phenomenon.

First, Ukip has the potential to become the populist right-wing force in northern England that the Tories are incapable of becoming. When the Conservatives unexpectedly won the 1992 general election, my primary-school teachers came to work dressed in black. Conservatives were seen as an occupying army from the South-east who had hammered the North. Ukip leaders may believe in Thatcherism on speed, but they’re keeping it quiet and don’t suffer from the same reputation.

Second, Ukip is basically a bit of a franchise. The Liberal Democrats at the local level were traditionally like that, a hotchpotch of cynically contradictory positions, saying anything to get elected. They even dabbled with racism in Tower Hamlets in the 1980s. In Wythenshawe, Ukip is playing the “Labour has abandoned the working class” card, and even talking about protecting benefits.

And that brings us to the final point: there is a chasm between Ukip leaders and their voters. The EU is not a burning priority for most Ukip supporters.

Their priorities are immigration, fuelled by a lack of social housing, the disappearance of secure jobs, and falling living standards. On economic issues, they’re often to the left of other voters. Quite the balancing act, then.

If Ukip achieves a respectable second place in the Wythenshawe by-election, who knows: it could begin to supplant  the Tories as Labour’s northern opposition.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, who has its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival  

FAO Jamie Dornan: For a woman, being followed is not 'exciting' — it's humiliating and all too familiar

Mollie Goodfellow
By pretending to be a man, Mulan was able to join the army, defeat the Huns, and save China  

Disney is making a live-action Mulan? Well, that's one way to ruin the best film they've ever done

Helen Pye
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat