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UKIP: Are they really the BNP in blazers?

In Trafalgar Square at this year’s London May Day Rally, left wing Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn urged the working class to 'Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism' (although both are symptoms of capitalism) and attacked UKIP as 'the BNP in blazers'.

The main UKIP (UK Independence Party) policy is British withdrawal from the European Union. With this main platform they got 147 councillors elected in the English County Council elections in May taking 23 percent of the popular vote. This followed on from the Eastleigh by-election in February where they achieved 27.8 per cent of the vote. In March UKIP leader Nigel Farage was invited to dinner with capitalist media mogul Rupert Murdoch who later tweeted: 'Economies going nowhere. New leaders emerging on distant horizon. Stagnant Europe racked by discontent and resentment of EU. Farage reflecting opinion'.

UKIP was established in 1993 by Tories opposed to the EU Maastricht Treaty. By the 2009 European Elections UKIP had 13 MEPs, 17 per cent of the popular vote which equated to 2.5 million voters. At the General Election in 2010 they received 920,000 votes. Support for UKIP appears to be an expression of the economic insecurity after the 2008 financial crash, xenophobia, and a distrust of the political elites of the main parties. At present, however, most of the capitalist class do not favour withdrawal from the EU. Recently both Ford and BMW warned Cameron against EU exit insisting it would be 'devastating' for the British economy, and in a British Chambers of Commerce poll of 4,380 companies, 60 per cent felt exiting the EU would harm business.

The Tory Party leadership have been scathing about UKIP over the years; from Michael Howard in 2004 describing them as 'political cranks, gadflies and extremists' to Cameron in 2006 talking of 'fruitcakes and loonies – and closet racists mostly' to this year and Kenneth Clarke speaking about 'waifs and strays' and 'a collection of clowns'. Yet in a Guardian ICM Poll this May Labour were on 34 percent, Tories 28 percent and the 'clowns' of UKIP on 18 percent followed by the Lib Dems on 11 percent.

City backers

Farage has been described as a 'reactionary throwback', and his party, 'the Kippers', revere Churchill and Thatcher, want smoking back in pubs, a small state, low taxes, the end to mass, uncontrolled immigration with a points-based work permit system. UKIP's 'saloon bar politics' are anti-multiculturalism, anti-political correctness, against gay marriage which represents a traditional social conservatism that hides homophobia and misogyny. Their brand of rightwing populism wants increased police numbers, the doubling of prison places, an expansion of the armed forces and to 'no longer involve the UK in military adventurism' which seems to be a rejection of liberal interventionism. UKIP are also supporters of Climate Change denial (see Pathfinders, June issue). An unknown leading Tory referred to grass-roots Tory activists as 'mad, swivel-eyed loons', but they could be describing UKIP.

UKIP have an avowed belief in economic liberalism or laissez faire capitalism. The party is full of ex-bankers. Farage himself is former commodity broker, and UKIP want the City excluded from EU controls. They want the repeal of the EU directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers which seeks to regulate hedge funds and private equity companies in the City. The Daily Telegraph (1 June) reported that Farage had held fund-raising dinners for City supporters and had received a five figure donation from the former chief executive of a FTSE 100 company.

UKIP propose 'tens of billions' of cuts to taxation, along with a further £77 billion of cuts to the public sector in order to reduce the deficit. The economic plans outlined by UKIP have been called into question by thee Times (29 April) which identified a '£120bn black hole' in their spending plans. On workers’ rights, UKIP want to reduce the influence of Employment Tribunals, limit unfair dismissal claims, scrap most 'equality and discrimination legislation', and limit the power of Trade Unions. UKIP argue that if private sector workers have to endure pay cuts and job losses during the economic recession we are currently experiencing then it’s only fair that public sector workers must do the same. One UKIP MEP feels that women of child-bearing age should not be employed because maternity rights were 'too draconian' for employers.

Tax policy

A discussion paper on their website citing Adam Smith and David Ricardo as a guide to their taxation policy, states:

‘Every attempt to tax wages sets in motion a “shifting” process whereby the tax finishes up as a corporate impost anyway. This phenomenon was clearly set out 220 years ago in Adam Smith’s illustration of an employee earning £100. If the state imposes a tax of 20% his pay must rise by 25% in order to re-instate the employee’s former purchasing power (£100). He must now be paid £125 so that the 20% tax leaves him with disposable earnings of £100. In practice there may be a time-lag over which purchasing power (or the basic standard of living) is restored’ (Their emphasis. www.ukip.org/index.php/issues/policy-pages/tax).

David Ricardo did indeed argue: 'Taxes on wages will raise wages, and therefore will diminish the rate of the profit of stock... a tax on wages is wholly a tax on profits'. We too have always argued that although some taxes are paid by the working class, the burden of taxation rests on the capitalists and has to be paid out of the profit accruing to them in the form of rent, interest and profit, the basis of which is the unpaid labour of the working class.

Marx too explained why abolishing taxes on wages would make no difference for wage-workers:

'If all taxes which bear on the working class were abolished root and branch, the necessary consequence would be the reduction of wages by the whole amount of taxes which today goes into them. Either the employers’ profit would rise as a direct consequence by the same quantity, or else no more than an alteration in the form of tax-collecting would have taken place. Instead of the present system, whereby the capitalist also advances, as part of the wage, the taxes which the worker has to pay, the capitalist would no longer pay them in this roundabout way, but directly to the state... For the bourgeoisie the way in which taxes are distributed and levied, and the use to which they are put are a vital question on account of its influence on trade and industry' (www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/10/31.htm).

UKIP believe that 'Low taxes, few regulations and small government are the recipe for a successful economy'. They want to reduce the rate of taxation on the capitalist class by replacing VAT with a Local Sales Tax, abolishing the employers’ National Insurance contributions ('the tax on jobs'), abolishing Inheritance Tax and reducing Corporation Tax. UKIP are enthusiastic supporters of the Flat Tax to replace income tax and NI. They believe that there is tax avoidance by the capitalist class because rates are too high. So everybody, whatever their income, would pay the same flat rate of personal income tax.

Rather than ‘the BNP in blazers' UKIP are loony rightwing advocates of free market capitalism.

The British National Party (BNP) are Britain's very own pseudo-Nazi party, the successor to Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. The BNP are 'state capitalist' and advocate a different brand of capitalism to UKIP. They oppose globalisation, laissez faire capitalism and economic liberalism, and want an economic nationalism (autarky) whereby industries are British-owned, a renationalisation of the utilities, subordination of the City to central government, and a greater share ownership for workers.

The BNP's 'state capitalism' has its roots in 'Strasserism', the leftwing Nazism that originated in the Nazi Party’s 25 points programme from 1920 which included the abolition of unearned income, the breaking of ‘debt interest slavery’, nationalisation of associated industries, and the division of profits in heavy industries. The Nazi Party economist Gottfried Feder advocated 'breaking the shackles of interest' and saw financial capitalism or 'Jewish finance' as opposite to productive capitalism, and at the root of societal problems not capitalism itself. The Socialist Party pointed out that this opposition to 'unearned income' was due to the fact that foreign capitalists were raking off proceeds from German industry and was a cry from the hearts of the German capitalist class. The BNP state capitalism is indeed more 'reformist eyewash'.

UKIP represent a populist rightwing capitalist reform party which is fundamentally an external faction of the Tory Party while the BNP and their quasi-Nazi state capitalism would be the wages system under new management. Both are just alternative ways to manage capitalism. A Radio 4 talking head recently said Farage was not Mussolini because he had not got the 'grandiose idea'. In that sense, UKIP are 'more Enoch Powell than Oswald Mosley' and not 'the BNP in blazers'.