May 15, 2009 Leave a comment
Shahid Malik, the first British-born Muslim to become an MP and the first to become a government minister, stood down (the first government minister forced to do so, over the expenses controversy) today after claims that he had broken the ministerial code with his expenses claim.
As an article in today’s Guardian continues;
“The move comes after the Telegraph revealed that Malik designated his London flat as his second home, which allowed him to claim more than £60,000 on the property over three years.”
It comes one day after the sacking of Elliot Morely as Gordon Brown’s climate change envoy.
The above article adds;
“Malik’s case is likely to go before the Labour national executive committee on Tuesday, along with that of Elliot Morley.
Gordon Brown yesterday suspended the party whip from Morley, a former environment minister, for claiming £16,800 in mortgage interest payments for a mortgage that had already been paid off.
Morley yesterday met the chief whip, Nick Brown, to say he would stand down from the party and put his case in front of the parliamentary commissioner for standards.”
It was controversies like the ones aforementioned, that Gordon Brown blamed on a rise in distrust of politicians from the voting public.
He, at the launch of the Labour party’s local and European election campaigns in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, asserted that such distrust may well express itself with a “swing to the right” in the coming European elections.
David Miliband briefly contributed to the discussion by mentioning “the politics of hate”. An acknowledgement of the rise in support of right and far-right parties like Ukip and the BNP.
Another article in the Guardian noticed from the recent YouGov poll that Ukip are more likely to benefit from the apprehension of the big three than the BNP. Though, as is pointed out, polls based on voting intentions are only partly useful when it comes to the BNP because of people’s reluctance to admit voting for them (see also Peter Kellner’s interpretation).
But, on the basis of this poll, which even give or take 2%, shows the BNP short of the 6 or 7 seats predicted them by their leader, Nick Griffin.
One more thing, again even being liberal with the figures, the poll shows that voters opposed to the Lisbon Treaty flock to Ukip, even if the party’s other policies run contrary to the voters’ own. The swing to the right in the European elections might have something to do with the lack of well publicised progressive sceptics of the current EU ideology.
And though Ukip doesn’t style itself on a cross-issue, anti-EU agenda (it most certainly is not a single-issue party, there are all sorts of unpalatable measures they plan to take, and do take, in the European parliament), it does style itself on being the only real option to euroscepticism, representing the UK, in the European parliament.
Step forward NO2EU. While I have had election campaign material from Ukip, BNP, and the greens sent through my post-box, I have had nothing from NO2EU. Their organisation is not on the tips of tongues of most voters, even those who, from a leftist perspective, have little faith in the EU.
The diminishing trust voters have in Brown, the Tories and the liberals might contribute to the rightwards shift. Brown implies this has something to do with the expenses controversies. But this election will pan out very similar to the last European elections held in 2004. This sentiment of distrust in being represented by the big three in Europe has not only recently emerged.
And with little in the way of progressive EU opposition (even inside the Labour party, formerly composed of members pouring scorn upon big business ideologies like the Lisbon Treaty), the shift to the right that Brown speaks of may be helped along by progressives with few options to distance themselves from the pro-EU centre.
One of two things need to be addressed thus; that NO2EU maintain their campaign after the European elections – unlike a large chunk of leftist European parties, such as the near-forgotten Left List – in order to gain publicity and support from those who feel sympathy for their cause. Or Labour make an overall return to a sentiment of big business scepticism like that of Tony Benn in order to recapture the progressive EU sceptic.
With both above being equally unlikely any time soon, Ukip enjoy the pick of the sceptics of the Lisbon Treaty, and those otherwise floating voters, disaffected by the enterprise playing-field of the EU, are trapped by a party hell-bent on anti-immigration, homophobia, BNP flirtation, and protectionism.
In short, the shift to the right is not limited to voting trends, it is prevalent in the Labour Party with its current leadership. A shift to the left should not wait until an embarrassing defeat in the planned 2010 general elections. As Polly Toynbee said, Labour should gage the results of June 4th, and act accordingly.
The shift to the left will not only provide winnable opposition to Cameron’s conservatives, but provide disaffected voters with a reason to believe in politics again, and not waste their time with gimmicky protest parties like Ukip.