Saturday, November 22, 2014

UKIP and the Future of Europe

The big news out of Britain was that the anti-immigrant, anti-Europe UK Indepenence Party won a Parliamentary by-election in what had been a safe Conservative seat, routing the mainstream parties. Interesting analysis by Charles Moore, who thinks that the follies of the Tories and Labour have driven conservative populists to UKIP:
In any old, stable, free country, there are many losses which deserve to be mourned. It is not irrational or unpleasant to wish you could still leave your house unlocked, expect your children to share school classes with pupils who can all speak English, or not find your wages, at the lower end of the income scale, threatened by foreigners who will work for less. In such a civilisation, of which Britain is a prime example, change is welcomed only if the best of the good, old things are secured in the process. . . .

In Britain today, many people feel that the good, old things have not been secured and that the changes are not helping them. If they are indigenous, and from the poorer half of society, they are probably right. . . .

Those who berate the Ukip nostalgists the most are those who most uncritically believe that the European Union is the future. Isn’t there more and more evidence that they are wrong? We have now lived beside the eurozone long enough to realise that it truly, madly, deeply does not work. It cannot correct its original flaw: most of its members cannot be like Germany, and so the single currency has become a machine for joblessness, recession and political alienation across half the Continent. Far from being modern, the eurozone is the product of a mid-20th-century, top-down, bureaucratic Utopianism. It cannot deal with the connected, competitive, global character of the 21st century.
Two things here: first, the great challenge of contemporary government is how to make the system work better for ordinary working folks. People can only be made to accept the changes that all progressives want if they feel that the world is getting better for them, and how is the world getting better for the white working class? If they feel that the established parties are not working for them, they will rebel. In the US this has taken the form of the Tea Party assault on mainstream Republicanism; in Europe it has led to a surge for nativist, right-wing parties like UKIP. But in whatever form it will go on until the incomes of ordinary white people start to rise again.

Second the Eurozone has been and remains a disaster, and I am staggered that so many Europeans still support it. Are they blind, or are they seeing farther than I am, past a generation of economic turmoil toward some greater prize?

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