Posts Tagged ‘Maternity Leave’

Vox Political on IDS Attack on Workers’ Rights on the Sunday Politics

May 16, 2016

One of the pieces Mike put up yesterday was about IDS’ appearance on Andrew Neil’s The Sunday Politics. The man dubbed ‘Brillo Pad’ by Private Eye put the former Minister in Charge of Murdering the Disabled on the spot by asking him if the government would protect workers’ rights if Britain left the EU. At the moment, European workers, including those in Britain, are guaranteed a minimum set of rights under the European Social Charter. Neil asked IDS if the government would retain the Working Time Directive, paid annual leave, maternity pay and protections for equal pay. IDS’ answer was a piece of deliberate obfuscation. He declared that “All of these were accepted by my existing government, the Conservative government, and I believe strongly that there need to be protections for workers. All of these things in a democracy are debatable and debated.” When Neil asked him further if he would support them, he answered that he would, as they stood right now.

Neil then reminded him that he had voted against the Social Charter in 1992, the Working Time Directive in 1996 and the minimum wage in 1997. He then started to bluster about the need to make workers’ rights more flexible.

Mike in his comment on the article notes that

When Iain Duncan Smith says workers’ rights should be “flexible”, he means employers and businesspeople should have the ability to restrict or eliminate those rights.

He does not mean workers should be able to expand their rights.

That’s why he said: “The Working Time Directive of itself gave little or no flexibility to business and to employers at the time [it was introduced].”

That’s why he said: “UK law would protect what we think is best for the workforce” [bolding mine].

Indeed. When Conservatives and Neo-Liberals, like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown talk about labour ‘flexibility’, they mean removing legal protection on the workforce, and making it easier for businesses to lay workers off, pay them as little as possible, or not pay them at all, if they need to retain their services, but don’t have them working all the time, such as the poor souls on zero hours contracts. IDS said that he supported these protections as they stood, but he certainly gave no guarantee for the future. He said that they, like everything else in a democracy, were up for debate. And his lukewarm statement that the Tories would support them as they are now doesn’t count for anything. The Tories have lied and lied again, and Smith himself has been one of the most mendacious of the lot. He has lied so often, and so badly, that I’ve called him ‘Matilda’ after the unlucky heroine of the poem by Hillaire Belloc ‘Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes’. IDS previous opposition to the Social Charter in 1992 shows you why the Leave Campaign really wants to Britain out of the EU. They object to the Social Charter and the Union’s guarantee of some basic rights for workers. IDS wasn’t the only Tory, who voted against the Social Charter. Many others also did. One even appeared in Wogan to state that he had, but that he liked the EU when it had simply been ‘the Common Market’. They have no real objection to trading with the Continent on its rules. What they really object to is European authorities stopping them from turning this country into the Third World sweatshop IDS and the authors of Britannia Unchained so desperately want it to be.

For more information, see the article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/15/duncan-smith-reveals-hope-to-bin-workers-rights-in-on-air-rant/

Vox Political: Tories Want to Leave EU to Scrap Workers’ Rights to Paid Holidays

March 1, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political on Sunday posted up a piece reporting that Angela Eagle, Labour’s shadow business secretary, had warned on the Andrew Marr show that many Tories wanted Britain to leave the EU, so they could scrap the various workers’ rights that were written into EU law. These include equal pay for men and women, rights for part-time workers, and the right to paid holidays. Mike concurs, stating that she’s ‘absolutely right on this’.

Tories want to quit EU to “scrap workers’ right to paid holiday”

She is. Very much. UKIP’s leadership is drawn very much from the ranks of the Conservative extreme right, and the hate workers’ rights with a passion. It’s a passion they also share with those organs of the embittered chattering classes, the Daily Heil and the Express. The Mail, for example, has ranted on against the maternity and paternity leave, because of the financial burden this places on businesses. It’s argued that it should be scrapped because maternity leave makes it expensive to employ women, who are then likely to get time when they get pregnant. In addition to paying to support them, the company also has to pay another, temporary worker, to do her job.

As well as UKIP, the Tories and Lib Dems a few years ago were also discussing the possibility of removing the right to paid holidays. Mike put up several pieces about this on his blog. This should tell you how reactionary the Tories are, as the legislation giving employees the right to a paid holiday dates back to the late Nineteenth century. As well as harming workers, the scrapping of this right will, needless to say, damage the tourism industry, including Britain’s own. Resorts like Blackpool came to the fore in the 19th century due to the legislation giving workers the right to paid holiday. Blackpool, for example, thrived because it became the holiday centre for industrial workers from the Lancashire textile industry. Before then, resorts such as the various spas, like Bath and Tunbridge Wells, were places where the wealthy and aristocratic came to take the waters. I don’t think the poorer sections of society could afford to visit them, although they certainly did attract their fair share of customers and patrons from all over Europe.

Presumably, this is what the Tories want to return to. An early Nineteenth-century Britain, where the workers just slave away all day long for the factory masters, without sickness or holiday pay, where only the rich are able to take holidays, safe from the danger of mixing with the great unwashed.

The Young Turks: Female Staffer on Sexism and Misogyny in Trump Campaign

February 2, 2016

This is another piece about Trump’s terrible attitude to women. A former member of Trump’s campaign team in Iowa, Elizabeth Mae Davidson, has left it and is seeking advice from a civil rights organisation, citing The Donald’s sexism and refusal give women working for him equal pay to that of their male co-workers. She states that she was paid $2,000 a month, while the men, who were also working part-time for the campaign, were paid $3,500-$4,000. She also points out that sexism and negative attitudes towards women were rife in his company.

Cenk Uygur, the Turks’ anchor, points out that her statement about pay has yet to be ascertained legally. It is possible that she could ‘just be saying it’. But he points out that Trump and the Republicans do not want women to be paid equally. They reject it on the grounds that it’s just an excuse for women to sue corporations. Uygur makes the point that as a staffer for Trump, Davidson should have known this, and it should have come as no surprise when he did it to her.

Uygur also reports that when Davidson and another female activist met Trump, he said, ‘You guys could do a lot of damage.’ They thought at the time that he was referring to their looks. Trump, again, has laughed off this accusation, saying that ‘a lot worse could be said’, but denies he actually did so, stating that ‘it’s not in my vocabulary’. He has then gone on to make other comments and accusations against Davidson. One of them is that she behaved strangely when she was on campaign team, to the point where she started dressing as his wife.

Uygur has some sympathy for her position as a woman working for such a terrible man, who does see women simply as sex objects and doesn’t want them to have equality with the men in his organisations. But he criticises her for having the same selfish attitude to these issues that permeates all Republicans. The Republicans don’t care when the policies they advocate harm other people. Not when people are unable to feed themselves on their pay, find themselves discriminated against at work, or are shot down, assaulted and imprisoned by the cops for no reason whatsoever. This last is a reference to the racist shootings by police of unarmed Black men, which sparked the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests. In one of the most horrific incidents, a young boy was shot and killed, simply because he was playing with a toy gun. When incidents like these happen to other people, the Republicans simply shrug and say it doesn’t matter, because it didn’t happen to them. but when it does happen to them, there’s outrage.

Uygur’s entirely right about Trump’s horrendous attitude to women, and the way it’s firmly based in Republican attitudes to gender. The Republicans are very much in favour of traditional gender roles. Jerry Fallwell, the right-wing TV evangelist, first made his breakthrough into national US politics in the 1970s, when he led a campaign against the equal pay act. This was the piece of equalities legislation which gave American women the right to be paid the same as men for the same work. And the attitudes to women get more crazed and reactionary the further right you go. Ann Coulter, possibly the Republican’s most splenetic and venomous polemicists, has stated that she doesn’t think women should have the vote. Really. You can check it for yourself. Along with all the other insane and bigoted things she said. There’s whole lists of them on the Net and Youtube.

And these attitudes aren’t confined to America. They permeate UKIP over here, and you can find the same rants against equal pay and maternity leave for women, and flexible working hours to they could fit in their duties looking after their children, in the pages of the supposedly ‘female-friendly’ Daily Mail. They’ve also attacked equal pay legislation and campaigns as harmful to industry, alleging that such provision for maternity leave will make women employees less productive and more expensive to hire. They’ve then go on to argue that this will result in either less women being employed, or firms suffering economic damage from having to employ them and cater for their needs.

I found this meme about the Republicans’ appalling attitudes to women’s rights on the Tumblr site, 1,000 Natural Shocks. (Over 18s only). It probably refers principally to the most vociferously debated and obvious campaign against a recently won right for women, abortion. But it also describes pretty much their entire attitude to women’s rights as a whole, from working outside the home, equal pay, to the right to vote. And this is all despite the fact that the Republicans also have very powerful women on their side, like Coulter and Sarah Palin. And they are powerful, no matter what can be said about their own intelligence, sanity or the stupidity of their policies. But the danger is, for some reason people still continue voting for them.

Republicans Women's Rights

Kipper Insurance Firm Moves Jobs to South Africa

June 4, 2015

Okay, I really I’ve been away from blogging for over a week or so now. I got sidetracked doing other things after the Tories won the election. As I said in my previous blog about the Tory victory, I was just so angry and upset that I simply couldn’t face blogging.

Well, I’m back. And I couldn’t let this story up, because it affects my home town, Bristol. According to Hope Not Hate and the local paper, the Bristol Post, Aaron Banks, the founder of the insurance company, Go Skippy, has decided to outsource its 150 jobs to South Africa. The staff at their headquarters in Cribbs Causeway were greeted on Monday by company representive, who read from a script and told them to pack their bags and clear the office.

Banks himself, who comes from Thornbury, a small town just north of Bristol, made the news last year, when he gave £1 million to Farage’s stormtroopers. He was originally only going to give £100, 000, but increased the amount after William Hague sneered at him as ‘someone we haven’t heard of’. Before that, like so many of the Kippers’ backers, he had been a Tory donor.

The Post stated that they had seen a letter from the company, which says

“The most robust and prudent way for the company to test this new way of working is to divert all live functions in its entirety to South Africa for the period of this trial.

“This will ultimately establish if this proposal can succeed against rigorous and demanding service level agreements that will be scrutinised over the coming weeks.”

The Post’s article states that the letter goes on to say it will “significantly reduce” the workforce in the UK if the trial is successful, and that it was taking this measure after the poor results of the insurance business in 2014. It also states that during the trial period, departments in Bristol affected by the trial will be closed down.

The article reports the shocked reactions of some of the workers, one of whom nicely summed up the situation. One woman said ” I think it’s quite ironic that he (Mr Banks) is a UKIP supporter and yet is taking his business to South Africa”.

It is, but it’s part of the party’s deep hypocrisy and highly misleading and mendacious attitude towards British nationalism and the European Union. While Farage and the others tried to get working class votes by playing on fears about immigrants taking British jobs, and British industry supposedly being stifled by Brussels bureaucracy, in actual facts they are deeply hostile to workers’ rights and all in favour of globalisation. As so many blogs have pointed out, ad nauseam, the Kippers want to get rid of basic rights like paid holidays, sick pay and maternity leave. This last is part of their highly reactionary and grossly sexist attitude towards women. Like the Daily Fail, they seem to have the attitude that employing women is a particular burden to companies, as they have to be supported and their jobs kept open when they become pregnant and take the necessary time off to bring junior into the world.

Much of their hostility to the EU comes partly from nostalgia for the time when Britain could command the resources of an entire Empire, and the standard Tory resentment to the European Union because of the provisions protecting workers in the Social Charter. Way back in the 1990s and the first decade of this century, there were noises from the transatlantic Right – American Republicans and some sections of the Tory party, that Britain should leave the EU and join NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Area. Years ago there was an article in Lobster that covered the history of calls from the Conservative party for Britain to join America as the 51st state. It’s a bizarre, and unrealistic dream, but it resurfaces every so often because the Tories in this country like and admire the country’s cut-throat capitalism and corporate power. Hence the way some of the Tories on the extreme Right over here, like the Tory MEP for Dorset, Daniel Hannan, go on about the ‘Anglosphere’ – the English-speaking world in preference to links with the continent.

As far as jobs go, they have absolutely no objection to outsourcing them if they think they can make a quick buck out of it. And they have definitely not raised any objections to the TTIP, the transatlantic trade agreement that would allow corporations to sue national governments for legislation that damages their profits. As so many bloggers have pointed out, this is a danger as it would cement in place the Tories’ creeping privatisation of the NHS.

UKIP have now gone into something of an eclipse, having failed to get any MPs except Douglas Carswell elected. The Fuhrage’s fake resignation, which has been compared to that of Stalin’s own threat of resignation in order to force the rest of the Politburo to endorse him, has led to the party currently being riven by a leadership contest. Nevertheless, they’re still about, and just might make a come-back. So, it’s worth making it even harder for them.

And this story is relevant far beyond UKIP. They’re actually putting into practice, and saying what the Tory Right also believes and says. Cameron and co are just more subtle about, and better at hiding it all behind spurious pretexts and outright lies.

Never mind their verbiage about the EU – this incident shows what the kippers and the Tories really think about ‘British jobs for British workers’.

And quite frankly, they don’t care two hoots.

The Bristol Post story is at http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/150-staff-Bristol-insurance-company-Skippy-told/story-26621857-detail/story.html#ixzz3c7OEcSTg.

The Hope Not Hate story is at: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/news/home/article/3784/jobs-of-150-staff-at-bristol-insurance-company-founded-by-ukip-donor-could-go-to-south-africa

UKIP’s Leaflets in Cheltenham: Printed in Germany

April 14, 2015

According to today’s Gloucestershire Echo, the party’s leaflets for their campaign in Cheltenham were printed by a Bavarian company, Onlineprinters, at Neustadt an der Aisch. Which kinda makes a mockery to the party’s slogan of ‘Believe in Britain’.

UKIP’s spokeswoman, a Mrs Simmonds, said that it was a simple business deal, as the Gloucestershire printers couldn’t provide the same quality and price.

The article’s at http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/General-Election-2015-Cheltenham-UKIP-s-Believe/story-26325765-detail/story.html

So much for UKIP’s patriotism, but it does show you their real values. They have absolutely no interest in protecting the country economically. Indeed, they seem to stand four-square behind the Tories’ privatisation of Britain’s assets, which have been sold to companies outside the UK.

What they are really against are mass immigration, and, of course, Britain’s own working class. Hence the demands to remove workers’ rights like maternity leave, sickness pay, paid holiday.

As for criticising the Tories for their ‘broken promises’, this is mendacious coming from the Kippers. They promise to provide another £3 billion in funding for the NHS. As Nigel Farage wants to replace it with an insurance based system, and Paul Nuttall and other senior Kippers have said they want to privatise it, the reality is that probably the NHS won’t see any money from them at all. Except in so far as a temporary boost in investment may make it attractive to the highest bidders.

Trade Union Meme on EU Benefits for British Workers

April 10, 2015

This is another meme I found on the SlatUKIP page. It’s been produced by Unite the Union. It shows the benefits British workers get and are guaranteed by European legislation. These are: protection at work, paid holidays, 48 hour working week, workers’ rights, equal pay, fair treatment if you’re ill, maternity leave, and parental leave to look after children, healthcare on holiday, and rules against discrimination because of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Unite Europe Benefits

These are the real reasons UKIP hates the EU, and why they want to take us out of the European Union. They’re the same reasons the Tories have also become increasingly Eurosceptic, because of the rights granted to British as well as other European workers by the EU social charter.

A long line of Kippers have denounced current legislation giving workers paid holidays, maternity leave and other workers’ rights, claiming that they penalise and created added burdens for industry. Like the Tories, they wish to create a Britain where workers have absolutely no rights, and live in fear of being sacked at the bosses’ whim.

They are very definitely not the party of the people, and are interested in working for no-one except the extremely rich. Just like the Tories they came the oppose.

UKIP: The Party of Hate and Negativity

March 21, 2015

This is another excellent meme laying out UKIP’s negative attitude to just about everyone and anyone, who isn’t a rich, White, male supercapitalist.

UKIP Hate Meme

It says

Hate the NHS? Hate foreigners? Hate the minimum wage? Hate paid maternity leave? Hate the Gays? Hate refugees? Hate tolerance? Hate clean air? Hate Asians? Hate Women’s rights? Hate foreign food? Hate the working classes? Hate fairness?

Hate Britain?

VOTE UKIP

Join the party of hate – Britain’s newest establishment party.

It really does just about say it all.

Farage: Leading the Party from the Saloon Bar

March 6, 2015

I found this satirical piccie of the Fuhrage from Hope Not Hate on the SlatUKIP page.

Pub Farage

It comes after Farage appeared the other day on ITV’s Loose Women. They asked him if he had any regrets about his beer and cigarettes image, to which he gave the answer shown above.

This just about confirms what many comedians and satirists have been saying already: that UKIP make up all their policies in bar room of men-only golf clubs.

Other comments Farage made on the programme didn’t go down to well with its female audience either. Discussing the lack of women in the boardroom, he denied that this was due to sex discrimination. The hedge fund generalissimo declared that women were indeed equal to men, and that a woman could rise to a position of senior management. However, they were held back by taking time off work to have families. This prevented them from moving with the rest of the ‘pack’, and so when they returned they earned less. He recognised that there were more men leaving work to raise the children, but said it was quite natural that women earned less when they came back to work. Those women, who did manage to break the glass ceiling to get to boardroom level were those, who didn’t have children and chose to concentrated on their career.

This had various female politicians asking the vital question on Twitter whether Farage was ‘for real’. I’m afraid he is.

The lack of women in positions of senior management is another point of contention at the moment. It’s been widely debated in business circles, and some Conservatives have supposedly mooted more measures to allow more women to gain seats on the board and create a ‘female-friendly’ business environment. A few years ago there was a drama on either BBC 3 or BBC 4, about a woman in a financial company, who finds herself the victim of a campaign of sexist and misogynist abuse after she return to work to concentrate on her career after having children. The programme was designed to raise awareness of the problem, and those women I know, who saw it were left seething at such injustice.
Farage’s comments about women in the boardroom will have done very little to endear him to women concerned at this unfair situation.

It is, however, of a par with the Kipper’s attitude towards women generally, which is deeply sexist. For example, if the Kippers get in, one of their policies will be to end maternity leave, along with a whole other raft of workers’ rights legislation going right back to the Victorians.

There is absolute no reason why any woman, or indeed anyone from the working and lower middle classes generally, should vote UKIP. Indeed, there are more than enough reasons to vote against them.

As for spending five or six hours a day in the pub, you actually wonder what Farage is doing in there. Someone pointed out on Terry Wogan’s weekday talk show back in the 1980s that the real movers and shakers of politics tend to drink very little. Maggie Thatcher was a case in point. They want to keep a clear head so they know exactly what’s going on around them, and can make the right decisions. I doubt Farage is really any different, for all the beer and ciggies blokey image.

Of course, he might be different, in which case if the Tories don’t win again, and choose them as their coalition partners, we can expect the country to be run from the inside of a pub by people stumbling around, getting maudlin drunk and saying to each other, ‘You’re my best mate, you are. You know what we ought to do? Give the workers a good kicking and boot the foreigners out! I’ll get the next round in.’

Farage: Britain Must Abolish NHS in Decades Time

February 13, 2015

Farage Drawing

This evening, Jon Stone for the Independent published this story on the newspaper’s website Britain must look at replacing the NHS with an insurance system, Nigel Farage says.

The article begins

The National Health Service may have to be replaced with an insurance system within the next decade, Nigel Farage has said.

The Ukip leader said anyone who believed the current way of paying for medical care in the UK had to be preserved “frankly isn’t thinking” and that he was open to “rethink[ing] the whole thing”.

Mr Farage also likened Ukip’s rise to that of Margaret Thatcher.

“There are times in a country’s politics where radical change is needed,” he told BBC’s Newsnight programme on Thursday evening.

“I lean towards government doing less. I believe if you lift off the backs of the British people excessive regulation and the wrong levels of tax they will do better.”

Farage then claimed that, despite increased spending on the NHS, there were fewer beds, and that strains on the NHS would increase as the British population expanded to 80 or even 100m. Stone’s article mentions that in their 2010 manifesto the party stated they would introduce health vouchers for people, who wished to opt out of the NHS.

However, far from being inefficient, Stone points out that in a survey of 11 countries’ health care, Britain came first for efficiency. The worst was America, precisely the people Fuhrer Farage wishes to copy.

The article can be read at: http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/britain-must-look-at-replacing-the-nhs-with-an-insurance-system-nigel-farage-says/ar-AA9mewY?ocid=OIE9HP. Go and read what Farage’s views on the health service really are.

Farage and the Kippers’ Disguised Hostility to the NHS

This isn’t really much of a surprise. Farage’s views on the NHS have been common knowledge for a long time, along with those of his deputy, Paul ‘Eddie Hitler’ Nuttall. The Kippers have, however, been trying to keep them quiet in case they put voters off. The last time Farage mays noises in this direction, he was effectively told to shut up by his stormtroopers. He then promised that at some time they would have to have ‘this conversation’ about replacing the NHS. He’s now broken his silence.

Farage has previously tried to sweep all this under the carpet by disowning it. He stated that their 2010 manifesto was ‘absolute drivel’, and whenever anyone pointed to the extremely rightwing, corporatist utterances of himself and his fellow stormtroopers, he’d try and block any further discussion with the statement, ‘That’s not official UKIP policy’.

It’s now gone far beyond that. Fuhrer Farage has nailed his colours to the mast, and shown everyone that, unless you’re extremely rich you can afford the best healthcare money can buy, there is absolutely no point voting UKIP. And especially not if your working or lower middle class.

I’ve reblogged articles detailing the legislation giving workers’ rights at work, going back to 1850, that Farage and his fellow corporatist warriors wish to repeal. Only yesterday I published one from Cablestreetbulldog showing how the Kippers hate and wished to destroy sick pay, paid holidays, maternity leave and a whole range of other, hard-won rights for working people. The Bulldog put these up to attack Farage’s spurious claim to represent the workers. He doesn’t. Quite apart from the fact that his own xenophobia runs counter to many people’s ideal of Britishness. The Bulldog’s slogan on his site is ‘Because Bigotry ain’t British’.

Quite.

And let’s also have no doubts about Farage’s claims of the rising British population leading to strains on the NHS. This is rubbish. It’s another bit of scaremongering. The Kippers’ propaganda is all about immigration making extra strains on state resources. Now I don’t doubt that in some cases that’s correct. In other cases, it’s rubbish. There have been repeated studies showing that actually immigrants and migrant workers support the British economy, rather than drain it.

Now the Right in both Britain and across the Atlantic are deeply concerned about falling birth rates in the West. Over on this side of the pond, you can see it in articles in the Daily Mail attacking feminism for taking women out of the home and making them pursue careers, rather than staying at home to raise families. One of the reason this is a major issue is that the economy needs an expanding population. They need more people to buy their products, quite apart from supplying the labour needed for what remaining jobs haven’t been mechanised out of existence. If there are fewer people, the economy contracts.

If the economy contracts, it means that there are fewer taxes being paid to support the welfare state. If there are more people, then there is more tax being paid to support government services. Farage’s argument about the threat to the NHS from a larger population is a pure red herring. Not least because many of the immigrants in this country actually work in the NHS, and have done so ever since Enoch Powell deliberately recruited Indian doctors and Black and Asian medical professionals to fill the employment gaps in the NHS.

Put simply, Farage is trying to use fears of rising immigrant population to push what he wants anyway – a private healthcare system, run for profit. As a financier, Farage stands to make a buck out of this, along with his Tory counterparts with their noses in the trough of NHS privatisation. Like one Iain Duncan Smith, the underpants bandit.

According to the Independent article, Farage will be publishing their official policies in their 2015 manifesto in the coming months leading up to the election. According to stats I looked at yesterday, their electoral surge may well have passed its peak. Nationally, only 10 per cent of the population has said their willing to vote for them. And only 2 per cent of young people will. Let’s hold their feet to the fire on this one, and make sure Farage, Nuttall and the rest of his party of embittered reactionaries and barely closet Nazis can’t wriggle out of it this time.

Nigel Farage: Poundland Enoch Powell or Britain’s Own Mad Vlad Zhirinovsky?

December 12, 2014

Brand on Farage as ‘Poundland Powell’

Russell Brand was in the Independent and on MSN news today. The paper and the internet news service were reporting the spat between him and the Kippers’ Fuehrer on Question Time last night. The revolutionary, author and film star had called Farage a ‘Poundland Enoch Powell’. The Duce of the anti-EU right had responded by declaring that Brand had a messiah-complex.

It’s not hard to see Brand’s point, and the comparison’s a good one. Powell and Farage are both right-wing, anti-immigration politicians, and from a certain point of view Farage is definitely rather more downmarket than the man whose former schoolfellows used to call ‘Scowly Powelly’. Powell after all was something of an academic, who taught classics at one of the Australian universities. He was also multilingual and could speak Urdu. Farage, by contrast tries to promote himself as something of a man of the people, an ordinary bloke, who likes a beer in a pub and smokes.

Powell and Farage also have in common the fact that they both deny that they are actually racist. Farage likes to boast that UKIP is a non-racist, non-sectarian party and that it has a ban on taking members from the extreme right – the National Front, BNP, and Britain First, for example, while targeting the allegedly non-racist supporters of these parties. Despite the deeply violent, venomous imagery of Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech, it’s been claimed that Powell himself actually wasn’t personally racist and despised the Nazi stormtroopers, who were attracted to him after his infamous speech. Farage has learned from Powell’s mistakes, and how the former Conservative cabinet minister became virtually a political pariah because of his vile rhetoric. Farage promises instead to tackle immigration and get Britain out of the EU, all the while reassuring voters that his is not a racist party. It isn’t officially, at least in its public pronouncements, but as recent events have shown, it has had more than its share of racists in it.

Beer, Cigarettes, and Class Image in Politics

Brand also attacked Farage for his blokey, beer and ciggies image. This accounts for part of the Fuehrer’s electoral charm, as it gives him an apparent connection to the working and lower middle classes that the mainstream parties don’t have. Cameron and Clegg are toffs, who it would be far easier to imagine enjoying a sherry or extremely expensive fine wine than a pint of Best in a boozer. The same could be said of the Islington New Labour set around Tony Blair. A few years ago when Blair was in power, there was a story that Peter Mandelson had gone to a fish and chip shop in his Hartlepool constituency. Although strongly denied at the time, it was claimed that Mandelson had asked if the mushy peas northern chippies serve were avocado dip.

Brand’s right-wing opponents, like Peter Hitchens, have claimed that Brand’s working class image is false, pointing to the fact that he is very highly educated from a middle class home. Farage’s own image as a ordinary bloke is also untrue, as the man himself is public school, millionaire financier. I doubt very much that beer, the tipple of the working man and woman since time immemorial, is also Farage’s favourite beverage as he appears to claim.

Farage and the Mad Russian Fascist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky

In this respect Farage seems to me less like Enoch Powell, and more like Vladimir ‘Mad Vlad’ Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Russian far right in the 1990s. Both are extreme Right-wing populists, who deliberately try to present themselves as somehow standing up for the ordinary, working class people of their countries. Zhirinovsky racism was far more overt than that of Farage’s party. He was the leader of the venomously anti-Semitic Liberal Democratic party, which emerged amongst the economic chaos of Yeltsin’s mass privatisation of the Russian economy after the collapse of Communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Zhirinovsky’s part was ultra-nationalistic, racist and profoundly anti-democratic. The BBC in the 1990s filmed him on the Russian campaign trail, sailing along the Volga in a ship making speeches to disaffected Russian voters and plotting his next moves against his political rivals.

The picture that emerged was of a shrewd, cynical politico, who made contemptuous jokes about his own country and had no qualms about smearing and spreading lies about other politicians if it would serve his purpose. Unlike many Russians, he didn’t drink or smoke, but deliberately cultivated an image to appeal to the average Russian worker, who like their British counterparts, liked their booze and ciggies. As the ship sailed along, its speakers blared out Mad Vlad’s campaign song, whose lyrics the Beeb translated as

Zhirinovsky’s a proper Russian bloke,
Even though he doesn’t drink or smoke
.

They then went on to describe how Zhirinovsky, if he met the singer, would embrace him, before giving him a drink and cigarette. You can see the parallel with Farage, and the way he tries to appeal to the British working class with his pint and ciggie image.

As for spreading lies about his rivals, Zhirinovsky was shown cooking up a slander he was going to put about the mayor of St. Peterburg, Nemtsov. Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union have a reputation among Western businessmen as ‘the wild East’ for its violent lawlessness and political corruption. In the 1990s there were a series of assassinations of prominent businessmen, journalists and dissident politicians. Zhirinovsky decided that his party would claim that Nemtsov had murdered one of his opponents, and dumped the body in the Neva. Although slanderous, the allegation was all too credible given the massive political violence at the time. As he and his cronies cooked up this rumour, Zhirinovsky nodded his head and declared it to be ‘good information’, although the Beeb translated the latter word as ‘propaganda’.

Farage doesn’t lie about his opponents like Zhirinovsky, but he is very careful to lie or conceal his party’s true intentions. A string of leading Kippers, including Bob Nuttall, their deputy chairman, have made it very clear that they despise the NHS, and wish to repeal the statutory benefits and laws protecting workers and employees, such as paid holidays and maternity leave for women. When pressed on these statements, and the extremely right-wing policies put forward in their manifesto, Farage’s response is to deny that they are actually party policy. He has disavowed the 2010 election manifesto, describing it as drivel, and somewhat speciously claiming that he had no part in its formulation. The indications are there, however, that these are the party’s true policies behind the more liberal face the Kippers present to the voting public.

As for his supposed patriotism, Zhirinovsky was shown telling jokes about how terrible his country was. One of them was about two World War II British airmen, who get lost, fly off course, and crash in Russia. Coming across a kolkhoznik – collective farmer – they ask the astonished peasant where they are. ‘Up the a***’ the farmer replies. ‘That’s it’, declares one of the airmen, ‘we’re in Russia’.

Farage has similarly shown a double standard on the issue of immigration and the EU bureaucracy. The Kipper MEPs don’t vote, but are nevertheless eager to collect their salary for turning up at the European parliament. Farage has made it clear that he doesn’t want immigrants, because, according to him, they take British jobs. Not only is that factually incorrect, but Farage has personally broken this stance. His wife is German, and is employed as his secretary.

Unlike Zhirinovsky, and the parties of the Nazi right, Farage has always claimed to be democratic, and the Kippers have claimed that their party advocates the establishment of direct democracy in Britain, like that of Switzerland. Zhirinovsky, on the other hand, would have dissolved the fledgling Russian democracy if he’d won. ‘Vote for me’, he was filmed telling his audience, ‘if I win, you will never have to vote for me again’. The danger with Farage is if he ever gets into power, then for many it will be too late to vote him out once his policies of greater privatisation, benefit cuts and destruction of workers’ and women’s rights takes effect.

Farage is wilier, shrewder, and far more subtle than Powell or Zhirinovsky. He is, however, like them a right-wing populist, and particularly like Zhirinovsky in adopting a pose of enjoying working class tastes in order to gain votes and advance an anti-working class agenda.