Brief Report of Hope not Hate meeting, “Let’s Talk About UKIP”, Leicester University, Monday June 10th

( one of over 60 such meetings round the country ).

Report from Geoff Gay.

Attended by around two dozen people, mostly Leicester University students, but not entirely – one chap ( who spoke a lot of sense) was older than me ; another notable attender was Sheila Mosley, convenor of the Leicester Left Unity group ( had a very good chat with her after the meeting – she promised she would be at the Loughborough LU launch meeting at JSH  Wed. 19th ).

My apologies for telling everyone that the “host” of both the Leicester and Loughborough meetings was the well-known Owen Jones, author of “Chavs” , co-convenor of People’s Assembly etc.
In fact, its another person of the same name, a worker for HnotH.

The brief opening addresses were all from Leicester students, from the HnotH group, the Labour students, and the Conservative students. The HnotH speaker set the scene by saying that, following on-line consultations, the proposed reactions to the rise of UKIP fell into five broad categories :

  1. Ignore them.
  2. Monitor and expose racism within UKIP but don’t explicitly campaign against the party as such.
  3. Do campaign against the party as such.
  4. Recognising that much of attraction of UKIP is cultural, offer positive alternatives to communities.
  5. Some form of combination from the above four.

The Labour students representative drew attention to the fact that, as well as the racist remarks from the UKIP leader on Lincolnshire Council, his group of councillors had refused to sign an anti-racist declaration. He also noted that UKIP were a threat to Labour because of their populist appeal to the traditional working class voter.

The Conservative representative said that UKIP’s threat to his party was feeding off the perception of his party being weak and divided. But he thought that UKIP’s showing in the CC elections could well represent their peak ( Maybe he is in for a shock from the Euro-election next year ! )

There was then a lively debate with plenty of diverse contributors, several of whom commented on the role of the media which generally gives UKIP, in spite of ( or because of ?  GG ) their “bonkers” policies, like denying climate change, much more coverage than the smaller parties of the Left, in particular the Greens. I explained that this was because the media tend to support the system which feeds them, contributing to the general hegemonic position of capitalist ideology, so that the genuine Left have a much more difficult job.

Although there were a few supporters of position 3 above, there was overwhelming support, including from myself, for a combination of 2 and 4 ( an actual vote was taken ).

Finally, the “other” Owen Jones told us that there had also been overwhelming support for 2 and 4 from the meetings which had already taken place, and asked us to consider the best ways of campaigning in the circumstances of Leicester and Leicestershire.

GG  12.06.13.

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One Response to Brief Report of Hope not Hate meeting, “Let’s Talk About UKIP”, Leicester University, Monday June 10th

  1. Martin Sears says:

    This week’s poll in The Guardian backs up the Conservative Student’s claim that UKIP’s support may possibly have peaked in the recent local elections. The traditional very low poll in Euro elections may still mean that UKIP do very well in those elections in 2014 because their supporters will be more motivated to actually vote.

    Geoff, if you think that UKIP’s position on climate change is ‘bonkers’ it is a pity that you did not pick up a copy and read the contents of the booklet titled ‘Keeping the lights on’ which Roger Helmer, UKIP MEP and Cambridge graduate, wanted to distribute at the Unlock Democracy event in Leicester on March 7th this year.

    In it you will see that they, amongst other key policies, want to re-establish a role for coal in this country. Given the lack of adequate provision, by successive governments, for the settlements catastrophically affected by the closure of so many coal mines and to which David Starkey maliciously referred to at the time as having no longer a reason to exist, the UKIP message will resonate well in those areas.

    Dismissing the UKIP position on climate change as ‘bonkers’ will not cut it with the British public. The British weather will see to that.

    Notwithstanding the above, UKIP also(?) offer a retreat to the 1950s and, unfortunately, this will appeal to the significant proportion of the electorate who still treat ‘foreigners’ as different and with suspicion, are eager to blame the EU for everything that is wrong in their lives and fail to understand, amongst many other things, that most of the government’s spending on health, welfare and social care is for the benefit of pensioners. btw Home owning generations of pensioners have never had it so go good – not bad for a ‘capitalist’ society:)

    Unless the other political parties can raise their game in discussing the issues rationally and without retreating to ideological positions that ‘the voter’ will never support, UKIP may indeed not, as the Conservative student had hoped, have peeked last month.

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