Unless Wales is very careful, Thursday’s European elections could well produce the grotesque outcome where all four of the MEPs sent to Brussels to specifically represent Wales will be UK representatives instead. With ¾ of the registered voters so disengaged from the deadly dull EU that they are unlikely to bother to turn up at the polling stations, the way is clear for batty but highly motivated racists to decide the outcome, whipped up and urged on by the prevailing and all-pervading agendas of London’s xenophobic right-wing gutter press. Polls are predicting that UKIP might win two of the four Welsh seats – and gain Plaid Cymru’s one seat in the process, thus silencing the sole advocacy of Welsh nationalism on the pan-European stage.
The last, lingering, livid convulsions of the vast system of institutionalised, state-sanctioned racism upon which the British Empire was built, out-and-out racists have long been a vocal minority in the banal bar-room blathering that passes for British political discourse. They normally get trounced at Westminster and Assembly first-past-the-post elections, but have snatched an undeserved platform via European elections thanks to the proportional voting system used and everybody else’s overwhelming apathy. Yes, it is the fat funding supplied by the very EU they despise so much that has allowed UKIP to grow.
Naturally, the “anti politics” politicians of UKIP have no problem at all with the brazen hypocrisy of getting their snouts in the European trough. So, contrary to the spin, there is nothing new and fresh about them; they’re just like all the other lying politicians – only even less principled.
UKIP have learned to dispense with the knuckledusters and swastikas of cruder predecessors like the NF and the BNP, tone down the foaming-at-the-mouth hatred, put on a suit and tie and pose as common-sense defenders of the ordinary Brit, brave plain-speakers who dare to say what the out-of-touch liberal elite and chattering classes censor. They’ve found a formula that always eluded previous manifestations of the far-right, one that can appeal to both disaffected old Tories, for whom Cameron is far too soft on gays and blacks, and disaffected old Labourites, for whom Miliband is far too soft on blacks and gays. By these foul methods Nigel Farage & co attained their foothold, and now UKIP candidates can be seen and heard throughout the media, shifting the entire political spectrum further to the right.
Treated as a legitimate, respectable political party, UKIP get away without any scrutiny of the glaring contradiction at the heart of their political ideology. Economically, they are all rabid right-wing monetarists, passionately committed to the uninhibited free market economics of their heroine Margaret Thatcher. In other words, the very economics that are the founding fundamental cornerstone of the EU, the very economics that require the free movement of labour to drive down costs and boost ‘competitiveness’, the very economics that bring those hundreds of thousands of undesirable eastern Europeans to the white cliffs of their hallowed little England.
In Wales, UKIP’s position is even more untenable. They scaremonger about the dilution of a fantasy ‘Britishness’ caused by 10% of the UK being immigrants, but are quite happy with the much more serious dilution, displacement and destruction of actual Welshness caused by 25% of Wales being immigrants from England. They rail against the Euro and monetary union, but have no problem with that even more iniquitous and rigid single currency called the Pound, ludicrously imposed in both Mayfair (average house price £2.5 million) and Merthyr (average house price £120,000). They bemoan the wealthy UK’s net contribution to the EU pot, but ignore the fact that Wales, washed up as one of the poorest parts of all of Europe after 500 years of London rule, is a net recipient of EU largesse, and without that emergency aid things would be even worse.
The clue of course is in the name. UKIP are a British Nationalist party opposed to the basic notion of an autonomous Wales with interests of its own. A Wales with any dignity, pride, wisdom and hope would not give them house room. Yet if the polls are to be believed, there is a very real prospect that past-caring Wales will sleepwalk into letting UKIP take half the European seats.
Wales’ four MEPs constitute 5.4% of the UK’s total of 73 and 0.5% of the Europe-wide total of 751 MEPs. To further Welsh interests in the face of that arithmetic is hard enough when all four are Welsh patriots of some description; but when two of them are anti-Wales ideologues it will be impossible. We will be invisible. Or, if such a thing were possible, more invisible…
And, you know, we will deserve it; because UKIP’s inroads in Wales accurately reflect the low ebb tide in which Welsh nationhood currently flounders. This is where we’re at.
But never despair. We’ve been here many times before. We will survive. We will keep the flame flickering. We’re still here.