UKIP’s 19th Century Anti-Immigration Electioneering

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On Friday I reblogged a piece from the ever-acute and satirical Tom Pride about how the unemployed worker in UKIP’s election poster was actually an Irish actor. This was a source of highly ironic amusement, as well as a comment on the double standards used by UKIP and some of the other parties, when they start banging on the nationalist and anti-immigration issues. On the same evening you could also see a clip on the BBC’s long-running satirical quiz, Have I Got News For You, UKIP’s Fuehrer, Nigel Farage, being given a thorough grilling by the Beeb’s Nick Robinson. Why, asked Robinson, if immigration was so bad and a threat to British jobs, did Farage employ his wife, who was German, as his secretary? Because, said il Duce, there were no English people, who could do the job, thus torpedoing much of his anti-immigration arguments. It also brought forth the rejoinder from Paul Merton, ‘What? Sleep with Nigel Farage?’

The Tories were also caught using a similar set of double standards a few years ago during their election campaign to persuade the Scots to vote for them. They published a leaflet claiming that under the Tories, Scottish jobs would remain in Scotland. But obviously not as far as the production of the leaflet itself went. It was printed in England.

Such ironies aside, UKIP’s poster is highly controversial, because of the way it plays on British fears about immigration. The unemployed British workman in the poster is unemployed due to competition from immigrant workers. The message is that UKIP will stop foreigners entering the country and taking British jobs. The poster recalls some of the Conservative anti-immigration campaigns and posters in the first decade of the 20th century.

One of these posters showed an employer opening his door to welcome in a new, and obviously foreign employee to his workshop, saying, something like ‘Welcome, Mein Freund’. Meanwhile, a British workman was being forced to leave out the back. He had been made unemployed to give a job to his foreign employer’s fellow countryman. It was no accident either, that the boss and his compatriot both spoke German. The campaign was playing on the racial fears caused by immigration to Britain of German-speaking Jews entering the country following a series of pogroms in eastern Europe from the 1880s onwards.

Jess, one of the commenters on this blog, supplies some further information on the anti-immigration campaign and the context of these Victorian and Edwardian posters. She says:

The poster you refer to was probably part of the tory campaign to introduce the Aliens Bills of 1904-5

Bill Fishman has an interesting chapter on this in his ‘East End … Radicals’

“1887 was the year of opportunity both for political demagogues flying the anti-alien kite and the new social reformer. The East End borough of Tower Hamlets provided a focus…On 19 April 1887 the first recorded public meeting was held for the ratepayers of Mile End to petition for the exclusion of destitute aliens. It took the form of a debate with the motion put by Conservative MPs Captain Colomb, Howard Vincent and Lords Charles Beresford and Brabazon..The chairman was … Arnold White. The result was a compromise……But …White would not let go. On 14 July, writing en route for South Africa…he directed (under the ..title ‘England for the English!’) a second broadside through The Times: ‘Will you permit me to fire a parting shot at the pauper foreigner…..’”
Fishman p.71

Arnold White was a notorious racist and militarist, whose writings helped form the basis of British fascism in the 1930′s. We hear their echoes in the rantings of ukip today, unfortunately.

She then describes how Lord Brabazon concisely summarised this policy in a letter to the Times.

It is quite surreal that the clearest exposition of ukip and tory migration ‘policy’ I have yet found is not in the diatribes of Arnold White, but in a letter to the Times from Lord Brabazon, an hereditary liberal peer, who described himself as being of the ‘old [ie free-market] liberals’. What he also meant was that he was opposed to Irish and Scottish ‘Home Rule’

PAUPER IMMIGRATION,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir,— Mr. Arnold White has the courage of his convictions. The suggestions contained in his letter which you published in your issue of Saturday, March 26, are so contrary to the principles of action which have found favour in this country for some time past that they are sure to meet with severe criticism, and it is only right, therefore, that those who have some knowledge of the condition of the working classes in our large towns and who share his views should speak out.

I have for some time been of opinion that the wholesale immigration into this country of more or less destitute foreigners should, in justice to our own working classes, be placed under some kind of control. The low wages which are paid for many kinds of labour are in no small degree due to the competition of these hordes of foreigners who, to escape military service in their own country and believing that the streets of London are paved with gold, flock to our shores. Not a few manufactures which used to employ a large number of persons in the East-end are now almost entirely in the hands of Germans and Jews.

Foreigners would not come to London unless they thought that by doing so they could in some way better their condition, or, in other words, they desire to share in some real or fancied advantages which they consider England possesses over other countries.

So surely these advantages may be very justly considered by Great Britain as property bearing a money value. Most of them, such as free and stable government, civil and religions liberty, immunity from wars and social and political disturbances, vast manufactures, extended commerce, the practical monopoly of the carrying trade of the world, have been won by the energy, enterprise, inventive power, unconquerable determination, and blood and treasure of Englishmen. In private business a man who desires to be admitted into partnership is always required to pay for the advantages which he seeks to enjoy. Advantages enjoyed by the aggregate of individuals composing a nation may surely be considered as much a property, bearing a money value, as the advantages possessed by individuals and companies which are every day bought and sold in the public market.

The nation knows not how to feed its present population, increasing at the rate of 340,000 a year, over and above the large emigration which is continually taking place.

The ship of State is fast becoming water-logged. It is good to work the pumps of emigration and colonization, but let us at the same time not forget to stop the leak of foreign immigration, which is filling the vessel as fast as we attempt to empty her.

I see no reason why we should not, as the Americans do, refuse to receive foreign paupers, nor can I believe that any injustice would be perpetrated by requiring every foreigner, residing in Great Britain for more than six months, to take out a licence upon which a small tax should be paid, such licence to be renewed annually; the liability to take out the licence to cease after, say ten years, should the bearer in the meantime have become a naturalized British subject.

I am, Sir, yours faithfully,

[Lord] BRABAZON.: The Times Wednesday, Apr 13, 1887; p. 13;

Lord Brabazon (of Meath), you will recall, sat on the platform of that 1887 ‘meeting’ chaired by White

All of the ukip themes are here;
“those who have some knowledge of the condition of the working classes in our large towns and who share his views should speak out”;

“the wholesale immigration into this country of more or less destitute foreigners should, in justice to our own working classes, be placed under some kind of control”

” low wages which are paid for many kinds of labour are in no small degree due to the competition of these hordes of foreigners ”

“The nation knows not how to feed its present population…”

Apart, of course, from ‘The Thing’, Cobbett’s meme for his own anti-Semitism, and an entrenched ‘establishment’. That bit was supplied by the League of Empire Loyalists’ reference to the European Union as a ‘EUSSR’.

How do they get away with this stuff, whilst pretending to be a ‘party’ of the 21st century?

This shows you how UKIP and the Europhobic parts of the Conservative party are taking us back to the worst features of late 19th and early 20th century Britain. UKIP and the Tories both are Neoliberal parties hostile to state intervention and welfare benefits for the working class. Margaret Thatcher in particular heartily despised them. UKIP are suspiciously silent about their domestic policies. When you do find out about them, they’re horrifying. They have been described as Tories on steroids. One of their policies, for example, is to abolish paid annual leave for workers. In order to gain working-class votes, they stress national solidarity against the threat of foreigners and outsiders. In this case, it’s foreign workers supposedly coming here to steal British jobs.

As for the description of the EU as the ‘EUSSR’, it’s highly significant that this came from the League of Empire Loyalists. These were an extremely Right-wing anti-Semitic, founded by Arnold Leese. They were one of the groups that founded the National Front, along with the British National Party and the Greater British Movement. It’s quite sinister that something coined by them that should be so widely adopted outside of the ghetto of the racist politics. My guess it entered general political discourse through extreme Right-wing Tories.

As for the Brabazon’s complaint that the foreigners coming over here in the late 19th century did so partly to escape national service in their own countries, that wasn’t entirely true. When the Kaiser lifted the restrictions on Jews entering the army, it aroused a wave of patriotism amongst German Jews, many of whom enthusiastically took up the new opportunities of a military career. The single largest group in the German army in the First World War were the Jews. One of these Jewish soldiers was Hitler’s captain, who recommended him for the Iron Cross. It’s one of the facts that gives the lie to the ‘stab-in-the-back’ explanation for the fall of the Reich – that somehow Germany was betrayed by the Jews.

Further east, in the Russian Empire, you couldn’t blame the Jews, nor any other minorities from wishing to avoid national service. The Tsars used it as a method of forcibly converting the Jewish population. Russian recruits are subject to a level of truly horrific bullying and physical abuse, and this was inflicted on Jewish members of the armed forces. Under Communism, the same attitude and abuse was adopted towards Pentecostalist Christians conscripted into the forces. Some of these received beatings so savage, that they were also hospitalised.

If the Tories and UKIP succeed in their policy of the utter dismantlement of the welfare state, this kind of anti-immigration attitudes will increase, and get much, much worse, leading to a revival of the overt, vicious racism of the 19th and early 20th centuries as the poor are forced to compete for increasingly meagre economic resources. And Tory and UKIP campaigns against ‘political correctness’ will be used to justify overtly racist rhetoric. The only way to stop this is to vote them out of power.

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2 Responses to “UKIP’s 19th Century Anti-Immigration Electioneering”

  1. untynewear Says:

    Reblogged this on UNEMPLOYED IN TYNE & WEAR and commented:
    UKIP are making a determined bid for North East votes, as you’ll know if you’ve been following posts on UT&W in the past week or two. Before you’re swayed, read this…

  2. guernsey58 Says:

    Reblogged this on guernsey58.

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