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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Labour try to out-UKIP Farage

We all knew that Labour are unprincipled, opportunistic and popularist but even the cynics on the interweb last night were not expecting a gaffe so dreadful that it confimed all their prejudices in spades. However, as the New Statesman says, it wasnt really a gaffe. It was a calculated and cynical manouevre designed to counter UKIP, whilst undermining the Tory USP. And that makes it even worse:

Labour has come under fire from its own activists after releasing a branded mug that promises “Controls on immigration”. The troublesome cup is being condemned as unspeakably naff at best and outright racist at worst.  The worst part is, it isn’t a gaffe.

A Labour spinner tells ITV News, not unreasonably: "Labour has five election pledges. This is one of the election pledges." To which the only response is: yes. That’s exactly the problem. Five years after Ed Miliband was elected on a promise to take Britain to the left, and three years after that this was a “centre-left moment”, the only one of Labour’s pledges that excites anyone is a pledge to "control immigration".

The case for Labour’s defence is this: large majorities of the public think that immigration is out of control. Labour’s biggest mistake according to the average voter wasn’t the war in Iraq – it was the party’s failure to manage migration. That’s why, when asked to describe New Labour’s biggest mistakes during that first debate, Miliband settled on immigration. That’s why he promises to “bear down” on immigration, and his party’s latest fundraising wheeze is to sell mugs promising illusory controls” on migration.

That’s why, privately, Labour strategists are relaxed about a few bruised feelings among lefty activists on Twitter.

Just one teeny-tiny fly in the ointment: it doesn’t seem to be working. Increasingly rancorous language about migrants and benefits has done nothing to secure Labour’s increasingly alarming position in the polls. If anyone can be said to have “won” from the party’s vituperative rhetoric, it is the surging Greens.

The big problem for Labour is that the party obviously doesn’t believe what its saying; Miliband looks uncomfortable and unhappy whenever he attacks immigration, and its actual policy – a two-year wait before any new arrival can claim benefits – won’t do anything to turn migrants away.

This is the same old Labour Party, manipulative and unprincipled. As the New Statesman says though, the problem with copying UKIP is that Labour will end up with the UKIP solutions of promising ever greater barriers on migration, and even more punitive measures for the people who make it past those barriers.

If that is what they want to do then isn't it time they came clean and said it?
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