E11: The Brexit Party and UKIP

E11: The Brexit Party and UKIP

12 Rules for What discusses the prospects of the Brexit Party and UKIP in ligjht of the European elections.

The Brexit Party are the breakout party of the European elections. Unlike rival upstarts Change UK, Farage's ragtag grouping surged to first place and are set to agitate for Brexit within the European Parliament.

We discuss the Brexit Party's prospects going forward, and examine how Farage's old party, UKIP, have fared after a dismal showing in the elections.

Comments

R Totale
Jul 1 2019 10:05

Not quite sure why they framed it so much as "will UKIP become a new NF?", I'd think that in many ways the Nick Griffin BNP might be a better comparison, both in terms of the historical context and being a more purely electoral formation. If Farage does stick around then UKIP might well be finished, but if not I can definitely see it retaining and expanding the nationalist electoral base who voted BNP in the 2000s and UKIP more recently.
Also, how we respond to electoral right formations that aren't trying to control the streets is a whole discussion in its own right, and a worthwhile one I think.

Jim
Jul 1 2019 15:33

I think the existing NF is probably a good comparison for where UKIP are heading. They're going to be a much smaller party than they have been. Even after Farage stepped down as leader he was the main player in UKIP, the members were basically his fans and were held together by his charisma and by a shared commitment to leaving the EU. Beyond that there was a lot of ideological diversion. What's happened with Gerrard Batten has seen hordes of these people leave the party to join Farage, including whole regions. UKIP is not going to be able to replicate the same kind of electoral machine that the BNP had when it was at it's height.

How we respond to electoral right formations is simple, we need to provide a better alternative for people by building working class power. There is no other solution.

Noah Fence
Jul 1 2019 20:51
Quote:
How we respond to electoral right formations is simple, we need to provide a better alternative for people by building working class power.

Well yes, that and milkshakes.

R Totale
Jul 2 2019 09:04
Jim wrote:
How we respond to electoral right formations is simple, we need to provide a better alternative for people by building working class power. There is no other solution.

Ah, nice and easy then. wink I definitely agree with that in general, even if it's easier said than done, I was thinking more of election times, when much of the left is content to say "use your vote to keep the fascists out", how we do antifascism without just defaulting to a defence of the establishment parties in that context. The IWCA was one attempt at answering that, but beyond that I think it's still kind of an open question, and one that we may need to revisit in the face of the Brexit Party or whatever comes next.

Jim
Jul 2 2019 09:26

Why do you need to do things any differently at election time to the rest of the year? Bosses and landlords don't stop exploiting us just because politicians might change. I think this idea that we need to reevaluate our politics constantly because of the way the news cycle changes is a really damaging tendency within modern activism and is one of the main reasons why people struggle to build things which last.

Juan Conatz
Jul 2 2019 13:19
Jim wrote:
How we respond to electoral right formations is simple, we need to provide a better alternative for people by building working class power. There is no other solution.

That's not really simple at all. Organizations have nearly torn themselves apart trying to figure out this 'simple' thing. Does it mean organizing syndicalist unions? Punching nazis? Rebuilding mainstream unions? Having study groups? Engaging in electoral/parliamentary activity? All of the above? None of the above? I don't feel like I have the answers myself.

Mike Harman
Jul 2 2019 13:42
Jim wrote:
Why do you need to do things any differently at election time to the rest of the year?

You don't need to do things differently, but this is different to completely ignoring that elections are happening. A lot of people still post "Don't vote, they're all the same" content around election time, which misses out that there's wider cleavage between the political parties than there used to be, even if mainly rhetorically. In the late '90s the idea that New Labour and the Tories were the same was quite commonly held, not so much now with say Corbyn vs. Boris Johnson. So anti-electoralism needs to actually justify this (like Labour's support for 10,000 more cops and 500 more border guards) vs. simply asserting it. This isn't just for randoms, it's for the anarchists and autonomists who rushed into Labour as soon as Corbyn got elected leader let alone all the Trots who switched from 'new mass party of the working class' to Corbynism. And not just the high profile ones we all know and hate.

There was also 'anti-fascist' Mike Stuchbery calling for people to join the Tories to work against fascism within the past year or so, and the less extreme version of that of the dozens of people who accuse us of being secret Tories every time we post something critical of Labour. The massive upsurge in social democracy (as ideology) the past five years is a serious issue, and Juan is right that tonnes of people conflate it with 'working class power' - in fact Paul Mason blocked us on twitter claiming we weren't interested in 'working class power' because we're not Labour supporters.

R Totale
Jul 2 2019 13:46

Yeah, I get Jim's point but I also feel that if we accept antifascism is worth doing at all, then that means you are inevitably going to be doing things reactively to some extent. If you think it's worth reacting to Patriot Prayer, EDL, DFLA or whoever, then that means doing things differently when they march through your area, and if you're going to respond to a BNP/UKIP/Brexit Party-type formation, then that means doing stuff at election times because that's where those groups focus their strategy on, I would have thought.

Jim
Jul 2 2019 14:15

We tried using direct action against the BNP when they were standing in elections, it wasn't easy. There were some successes (particularly in Cumbria) but generally, you can't use direct action tactics against a semi-covert political party which doesn't advertise it's door-knocking and doesn't advertise it's public meetings. There is also a risk that if a party like the BNP are going around estates telling people they'll clean up dog shit and stop drugs being sold and then all your local anti-fascists are doing is running around trying to stop the BNP, you end up not putting forward a positive alternative for people to adopt instead. I will try to write more on this later.

Jim
Jul 2 2019 14:19
Juan Conatz wrote:
That's not really simple at all. Organizations have nearly torn themselves apart trying to figure out this 'simple' thing. Does it mean organizing syndicalist unions? Punching nazis? Rebuilding mainstream unions? Having study groups? Engaging in electoral/parliamentary activity? All of the above? None of the above? I don't feel like I have the answers myself.

Just quickly, none of the things you've mentioned involve building working class power. Working class power is built through struggle, when people come into conflict with those in power and recognise and exercise our own collective strength. Through things like strikes, occupations, riots etc. Randomly punching a Nazi doesn't build working class power. Organising a community to defend itself and stop a Nazi march (which could involve a lot of punching) does. Study groups can help people think about these things and are worth doing but aren't automatically building that power.

Mike Harman
Jul 2 2019 14:29
Jim wrote:
There were some successes (particularly in Cumbria) but generally, you can't use direct action tactics against a semi-covert political party which doesn't advertise it's door-knocking and doesn't advertise it's public meetings.

This might be true but to my knowledge the Brexit Party and UKIP were not doing secret door knocking? They were getting glossy leaflets delivered by Royal Mail, paying tens of thousands of pounds for facebook ads, and walking around town centres getting milkshaked (which presumably without the milkshaking would probably have been for the benefit of youtube and facebook videos again?). Maybe there was some door-knocking going on alongside this so I won't rule it out, but they're highly funded, mostly national and astroturfed organisations without any real activist base as such that will actually do legwork like canvassing. Milkshaking was pretty effective for stopping them looking normal doing town centre vox pops but they have plenty of other options for generating facebook content.

Jim
Jul 2 2019 14:38

Mark Collett who was a leading figure in the BNP when Nick Griffin was leader and it went through the successful electoral phase actually did a video about why Sargon of Akkad's attempt to get elected was such a disaster. Apparently Collett had told him not to advertise in advance where he was going to be and been ignored, which meant he had loads of milkshakes and kippers chucked at him. A serious fascist party is not going to make those mistakes.

Mike Harman
Jul 2 2019 14:39
Jim wrote:
Just quickly, none of the things you've mentioned involve building working class power.

A good case study for what does and doesn't build working class power is the recent Corporate Watch report on resistance to immigration raids: https://corporatewatch.org/immigration-raids-how-direct-action-got-uks-i...

The anti-raids network has not directly organised resistance to immigration raids - they produce leaflets and stickers, they run social media accounts that distribute information about raids when they happen, and they publicise resistance to raids that happens (whether following vans around on bicycles, shouting at immigration officers, or full on attacks on immigration vans).

As such there's been a huge increase in community resistance to ICE raids the past couple of years, how much of it can or cannot be attributed to the anti-raids network is more or less impossible to tell, except 'some'.

However the model that anti-raids are using is not 'organising' as such - it'd be quite difficult to organise pro-active resistance against immigration raids - you could do an 'occupy ICE' style blockade of an office, but that requires sustained static protests that's vulnerable to the police and won't necessarily disrupt things that much either. What they're doing is promoting the idea that the raids can be resisted, and giving advice and examples of how to do so, and spreading news when it happens (which otherwise doesn't make it anywhere including a lot of left/anarchist sources).

Jim
Jul 2 2019 14:43

Yeah, community resistance to immigration raids is obviously an expression of working class power. Going around campaigning for a political party which says it will close one notorious immigration detention centre is obviously not building working class power, whatever Mason says.

R Totale
Jul 2 2019 18:43
Jim wrote:
We tried using direct action against the BNP when they were standing in elections, it wasn't easy. There were some successes (particularly in Cumbria) but generally, you can't use direct action tactics against a semi-covert political party which doesn't advertise it's door-knocking and doesn't advertise it's public meetings. There is also a risk that if a party like the BNP are going around estates telling people they'll clean up dog shit and stop drugs being sold and then all your local anti-fascists are doing is running around trying to stop the BNP, you end up not putting forward a positive alternative for people to adopt instead.

Yeah, this is kind of what I was thinking of - there might be a role for direct action, milkshakings and the like in any future campaigns antifascists wage against electoral nationalist formations, but I think it has to be mostly a counter-propaganda job. That still leaves big questions open about what our message should be, how it should be delivered and so on.

Jim wrote:
Just quickly, none of the things you've mentioned involve building working class power.

Tiny bit sweeping there, I think that successfully building either syndicalist unions or mainstream ones will involve at least an element of struggle where people come into conflict with those in power and recognise and exercise our own collective strength, even if that is mixed in with other things (very much mixed in the case of mainstream unions). Also,

Jim wrote:
Randomly punching a Nazi doesn't build working class power. Organising a community to defend itself and stop a Nazi march (which could involve a lot of punching) does.

I'd agree with this, but there are people - the "antifa is liberalism" lot - who'd probably say that organising a community to stop a nazi march is still a distraction from building w/c power because the nazis aren't the ruling class. I think they're wrong, not least because that view massively skips over the whole role the state plays in defending fascist marches and repressing community self-defence, but I think that at least some of the people making that argument are coming from a genuine position of wanting to focus on organising and sack off activist distractions.

Jim
Jul 3 2019 12:12
R Totale wrote:
Yeah, this is kind of what I was thinking of - there might be a role for direct action, milkshakings and the like in any future campaigns antifascists wage against electoral nationalist formations, but I think it has to be mostly a counter-propaganda job. That still leaves big questions open about what our message should be, how it should be delivered and so on.

My point is that the most effective ways of neutering electoral nationalist formations is by providing an actual working alternative. If they're going around saying x, y & z are the reasons why people struggle to access social housing, it's no use following them around and saying they're wrong. We need to be organising struggles which help people access social housing, we need to be providing a practical alternative that shows what we're suggesting can help everybody improve their lives. Obviously there's no harm in some milkshakes and a bit of direct action, but it's quite easy for us to overstate the threat such parties pose and lose sight of what we need to be doing to advance our own politics.

R Totale wrote:
Tiny bit sweeping there, I think that successfully building either syndicalist unions or mainstream ones will involve at least an element of struggle where people come into conflict with those in power and recognise and exercise our own collective strength, even if that is mixed in with other things (very much mixed in the case of mainstream unions).

Well from my experience of trying to organise an anarcho-syndicalist union, organising the union isn't the bit which builds working class power. It's organising workplaces and then winning struggles which builds working class power and sure that can happen with mainstream unions.

R Totale wrote:
I'd agree with this, but there are people - the "antifa is liberalism" lot - who'd probably say that organising a community to stop a nazi march is still a distraction from building w/c power because the nazis aren't the ruling class. I think they're wrong, not least because that view massively skips over the whole role the state plays in defending fascist marches and repressing community self-defence, but I think that at least some of the people making that argument are coming from a genuine position of wanting to focus on organising and sack off activist distractions.

I don't think the 'antifa is liberalism' lot are really worth taking seriously. In my experience they're as bad as the 'anti-fascism is just two groups of white men fighting in car parks' crowd. Otherwise agree completely.