UKIP’s latest win in the Rochester by-election with defector Mark Reckless has highlighted a problem. With growing popularity towards this ‘saying what everyone is thinking’ party, the real question to ask is why are UKIP becoming so popular in the UK at this crucial moment in time before the May General Election in 2015?
We must consider the argument from Standing (2011), who argued there is a new socio- economic class emerging, made up of those who are unemployed, have little job stability and cannot fit into any other class due to alienation from work and the community, these citizens are known as the ‘Precariat’. The Precariat in the UK are one of the fundamental reasons to why UKIP are suddenly seeing an upsurge in popularity over the recent months. This is shown through the latest figures of the Rochester election as with a population density of 19, 203, UKIP managed to gain 16, 867 votes for the party. This reiterates Standing’s point that there is a new class emerging, and I believe this new class is part of what’s making UKIP the newly feared party.
UKIP have the ability to manipulate these voters due to their ability to scapegoat. The case that the Precariat are the citizens showing a high interest in this party this would be due to another point by Standing (2011) as these people are viewed as the ‘socially ill misfits living off the dregs of society’. Therefore, it’s so easy to manipulate the alienated into believing that migrants take their jobs as they are unable to see another explanation than the one the party is enforcing. For instance, UKIP state that 26 million EU migrants will take these citizens jobs, whereas in fact only 1.45 million migrants received a job in the UK in 2012 compared to the employed UK citizens of 25.5 million. Yes 26 million is an intimidating number, but through the party’s scaremongering tactics the marginalised Precariat are bound to take the bait and vote.
The Precariat citizens that are aiding this upsurge is due to the exploitation they have endured as a result of economic crisis. Burnham (2014) argues that even by depoliticisation of the economy there will still be political and social unrest. Marx in this text also believes this will always happen once we are in a system of capitalism. This is valid as regardless of whether the economy had more political action involved, there would still be social unrest in the form of those who are the ‘losers’ in capitalism. Through Burnham’s (2010) work he recognises that Marx views a ‘call for constant ‘intervention’ from state’ in terms of a capitalist system as this essentially would reduce the class difference and would decrease the uprising of a underclass.
The Precariat are a major fuel to UKIP’s fire. The party is telling them what they want to hear and giving them a scapegoat to blame all their problems. The ultimate problem with UKIP is there will always be new voters. The Precariat need economic help and it appears that no one will.
Burnham, P (2014) Depoliticisation: economic crisis and political management. Policy Press (vol 42)
Burnham, P (2010) Class, Capital and Crisis: A Return to Fundamentals. Political Studies Association
Home Office. Gov (2014) Impacts on migration on UK native employment. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/287287/occ109.pdf [Accessed on 29th November 2014]
Kent. Gov (2014) Kent County Council. Available at: http://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/information-and-data/Facts-and-figures-about-Kent/area-profiles [Accessed 29th November 2014]
Medway. Gov (2014) Elections. Available at: http://www.medway.gov.uk/thecouncilanddemocracy/elections.aspx [ Accessed 5th December 2014]
Standing, G (2011) The Precariat: The new dangerous class. Bloomsbury Academic.