UKIP’s rise is a triumph for the pro-establishment ruling class


12:26 pm - May 7th 2013

by Chris Dillow    


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In a protest against an out-of-touch political class, the British public have voted for a party led by someone whose class background is indistinguishable from Cameron's or Clegg's.

In this respect, UKIP's success demonstrates not the weakness of the ruling class, but the exact opposite – its complete victory.

I don't just mean this in the sense that political power is held in the hands of such a narrow group that the Dulwich-educated son of a stockbroker can present himself as an outsider.

What I mean is that, as Adam says, UKIP is not an anti-establishment party. For example:

– The demand for tougher border controls is a call for an increase in the power of the state.

– Whilst its possible that immigration control might be very slightly positive for low-wage workers, it would be bad for average wage-earners, and there are many better ways of improving the lot of unskilled workers.

– Hostility to gay marriage is fundamentally anti-liberty, as it asserts the power of the state to intervene in private relationships.

– The call for a flat rate 25% tax would be a big tax cut for the rich.

Cutting employment regulations would worsen working conditions and job security for ordinary workers, without creating many jobs.

– The demand that welfare recipients do compulsory workfare and not buy cigarettes or alcohol would be a reduction in the welfare state safety net, to the detriment not just of actual recipients but also to those in insecure jobs who fear becoming jobless.

UKIP's policies, then, do not challenge either the power of capital over worker or (what is a similar but distinct thing) the power of managerialists.

This is why I say their support represents the victory of the ruling class, because it demonstrates their complete power. I'm thinking here of Steven Lukes' "third dimension" of power:

Is it not the supreme exercise of power to get another or others to have the desires you want them to have – that is, to secure their compliance by controlling their thoughts and desires?…Is it not the supreme and most insidious use of power to prevent people, to whatever degree, from having grievances by shaping their perceptions, cognitions and preferences in such a way that they accept their role in the existing order of things? (Power: a radical view, 2nd ed, p27, 28)

It's in this sense that the ruling class has triumphed. The discontent that people might reasonably feel against bankers, capitalists and managerialists has been diverted into a hostility towards immigrants and the three main parties, and to the benefit of yet another party with a managerialist and pro-capitalist ideology. In this way, even "protest" votes help sustain existing class and power structures.

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About the author
Chris Dillow is a regular contributor and former City economist, now an economics writer. He is also the author of The End of Politics: New Labour and the Folly of Managerialism. Also at: Stumbling and Mumbling
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Westminster

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Reader comments


“Hostility to gay marriage is fundamentally anti-liberty, as it asserts the power of the state to intervene in private relationships.”

Maybe, but it’s pretty authoritatian to enforce gay marriage by law, especially when a significant portion of religious institutions fundamentally oppose gay marriage.

2. Left Not Liberal

Spot on chris. Good piece.

A very good point. Generally speaking, UKIP’s concerns are those of the Daily Mail and Sun – in other words, they are the exact concerns the Tories and their allies have tried to promote to the average newspaper reader as things they should be worried out – areas in which too-clever-by-half leftist establishment types are trying to put one over on the common man.

Which while it’s depressing in one way does have a certain irony about it. UKIP are basically claiming they’ll enact David Cameron’s campaign promises…

Boar:

So anything which is not banned can be described as “enforced by law”?

In that case, I think it’s terribly draconian to enforce the consumption of beef by law (I mean, hey, it’s not banned, so it must be ‘enforced by law’). A significant proportion of left-wingers fundamentally oppose the eating of meat.

5. Robin Levett

@Boar #1:

Maybe, but it’s pretty authoritatian to enforce gay marriage by law, especially when a significant portion of religious institutions fundamentally oppose gay marriage.

Is my compulsory gay marriage going to be additional to or in substitution for my existing heterosexual marriage; ditto my wife’s? When do I have to have the marriage; will someone get in touch with me to tell me who I’m marrying and when, or can I take the initiative and choose for myself?

The problem looks like its going to be getting these marriages done; as you say, there’s a significant proportion of religious institutions that oppose gay marriage. Since the government isn’t going to to force them to provide gay marriages if they don’t want to, that’s something of the order of 23 million marriages to get through the register offices.

Will it be compulsory to have a gay marriage if you’re only visiting the UK? Will they set up registry offies at the airports so that people who only have a heterosexual marriage can get properly married before they pass through Immigration? And what if there are odd numbers on the plane; will the odd man/woman out be stopped from coming in?

So many questions… Wouldn’t it have been so much easier if the government had just decided to allow gay marriage, rather than enforcing them by law?

Was it ever meant to be anything other than a conservative party? Did I miss something? And ofcourse it’s pro-establishment but pre 1975. If I were a genuine protester i’d be looking at where left wing parties obtain their candidates but i’m not, so I don’t care at all.

Boar says:

“It’s pretty authoritatian to enforce gay marriage by law, especially when a significant portion of religious institutions fundamentally oppose gay marriage.”

But those religious institutions aren’t being forced to marry gay couples. Indeed, the CoE is explicitly banned from doing so.

Could this be the worst article Dillow has ever written …?

Steven Lukes’ third dimension of power is more applicable to authoritarian leftist regimes – from Venezuela to North Korea – than it is to the UK Indignation Party.

I am not sure what you are trying to say in this article. You seem to be just trying to rationalise their victory because it doesn’t fit with your narrative.

11. Charlieman

@5. Robin Levett: “Is my compulsory gay marriage going to be additional to or in substitution for my existing heterosexual marriage; ditto my wife’s?”

I think it is worth giving a boost to Robin’s rant.

12. Robin Levett

@Charlieman #11:

Thanks – I rather enjoyed it myself. Unfortunately, it was, predictably, wasted on the nominal target.


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