Clacton's unemployed must end UKIP's advance

Mon, 06/10/2014 - 14:00 -- nick

Following the defection of right-winger Douglas Carswell from the Tories to UKIP, this Thursday will see a by-election in Clacton-on-Sea.

The Essex resort is seen as a prime target for UKIP, and if the polls are to be believed the party will have its first MP in the House of Commons by Friday.

Clacton has an older, whiter population than most of the UK, and these are prime voters for the upstart UKIP, which bases its appeal on a mixture of EU hatred, nostalgia, immigrant bashing and pure contrarianism.

In a time when all the main political parties have stopped even trying to appeal to some sectors of the population, those left behind by the supposed recovery are tempted to give a black eye to the ruling parties that endlessly bang on about an 'economic recovery' which has done nothing but make them poorer.

Labour has been so timid in opposition that, despite the Tory/LibDem coalition overseeing this mess, it has not picked up significant support.

Miliband has refused to appeal to a constituency he could have all to himself, one that has been abandoned by all parties and makes up over two million working age people - the unemployed.

Like Tories and Liberals, he has made the same calculation that there are more votes in abusing the workless than appealing to them.

In Clacton, this should make a huge difference, as the constituency includes a huge proportion of unemployed people.

How many?

Well, that depends on who you believe.

According to The Independent, unemployment was 'around 50%' last year.

Yahoo News pushes a figure of 40% in its own report.

The Guardian's datablog last year showed only 4.4% of the town's residents claimed Jobseeker's Allowance, and the official government figure for Tendring Council - within which Clacton is by far the biggest urban area - is 8%.

A Voice of Russia report shows where the overinflated figures may have come from, pointing out that Jaywick down the coast, a small but very deprived town, has an unemployment rate of 50%.

The massive disparity shows why it is so important that unemployment coverage is carried out by those who understand it rather than general reporters with a degree in Wikipedia.

But the real issue in Clacton is whether unemployed people should be tempted to vote for UKIP.

Few other groups have such need for a major change in their personal circumstances and the services they receive, and many are understandably angry at the appalling treatment they receive at the hands of the major parties.

A UKIP vote might bloody the noses of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, but the workless are unlikely to find much comfort in the arms of Farage.

His party makes clear that it supports compulsory enrolment on workfare programmes, despite apparently standing for freedom and despite these programmes' poor records in supporting people into work.

Its low-tax standpoint means it supports lower public spending, and is likely to cut benefits to support this, including reducing all welfare payments to the same 'basic cash payment' level.

Some of the more looney fringes of the party - and this is a party made up almost entirely of looney fringes - have called for unemployed people to be banned from voting.

Last year blogger Johnny Void revealed how UKIP had deleted a page on its benefits policies from its website, and that this had called claimants "a parasitic underclass of scroungers."

UKIP almost make the Tories look like Benthamites, and the only reason we don't know even more damaging information is because they refuse to provide it, or hide it when it is exposed as the frothing unthinking nonsense it is.

A UKIP win in Clacton may shake up the British political scene, but it is not going to improve things for unemployed people.