MT comment: Solid analysis by Awale Olad on what role the anti-immigrant message will play in the polls and upcoming elections in the United Kingdom. The delicate balancing act involves anti-immigration rhetoric, which could be ignited by the government’s Immigration Bill, and scaring away those votes it needs to capture, according to Olad.
With Euro MP and parliamentary elections coming up in Finland in 2014 and 2015, respectively, will parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) beef up their anti-immigration rhetoric to capture voters? That is what is exactly happening at this moment. Why did the PS’ new party secretary, Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo, “demand” right after she was elected that Finland should tighten immigration policy?
The interesting question to ask is how much of a boost will the party’s anti-immigration message give the PS in both elections?
By Awale Olad
The Conservative Party has spent the best part of the past two years lagging behind the Labour Party in the polls until the most recent ICM poll. Most political commentators agree that the budget delivered by Chancellor George Osborne in 2012 was a critical factor in the reduction in Tory fortunes.
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Now that parliament has gone quiet for the summer recess, a cheery bunch of Tory MPs will be heading for their summer breaks riding high in the polls having wrested some support back from UKIP, which has put them neck and neck with the Labour Party. With two years to go, strategically, this is the best an incumbent government, trying to manage a sluggish economy, can hope for.
The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour adds:
The fall in the Ukip share may reflect the recent comparative decline in publicity for the party’s leader, Nigel Farage, and Downing Street’s persistent efforts to neutralise Ukip’s appeal by countering with a series of strong messages on immigration, welfare and a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.
With recent events, some could argue that a catalyst for a further rise in support for the Conservative Party is a mixture of the Tories toe-poking Labour on their links with Unite the Union coupled with Theresa May’s final showdown with Abu Qatada, who managed to successfully secure a treaty with the Jordanian government, and send him home. This undoubtedly could be a contributing factor to their fortune in future polls and has been ‘good news story’ for the Tories in recent weeks.
Number 10 will continue to try and neutralise UKIP’s support but it will certainly fall short of electoral success. The reality, as Tory pollster Lord Ashcroft often points out, is what really matters to voters is the economy and jobs.
Both Ashcroft and Wintour agree that these salient issues would ultimately give the Tories a chance of winning the next election. Seducing Tory/UKIP swing voters by going hard on immigration will only win back support in constituencies the Tories need to hold. The Conservatives will need to expand their reach by campaigning on more potent issues, and in particular, raise their game in courting migrant and BME voters. Ashcroft writes:
All in all, the first half of 2013 represents a time of stagnation that we could hardly afford. We have a good case to make on many of the policy areas on which we have lost ground, including crime, immigration, welfare reform and the economy. But people will only hear that case if we use the available air time to make it. The latest round of parliamentary scandal will make people all the more resistant to what we have to say, and the spending review later this month makes it all the more necessary to show we are doing what people expect of us. There is no more time to waste.
Ashcroft is clearly irritated by his Party’s internal squabbles and the cyclical one-upmanship with Labour (generally not the greatest indicator of public mood and feeling) as time-wasting exercises. Tough immigration rhetoric braced with harsh policies will not win the Conservatives the general election but it will consociate the UKIP appeal, which is the first step towards building a coalition of supporters, according to Tory strategists.
The government’s upcoming Immigration Bill will be an interesting dog-fight internally within Conservative MPs and externally with the Labour Party. If the Coalition manages to find time to debate this Bill, the government would need to be careful not to ignite drastic anti-immigration rhetoric that will do little to attract exactly those votes it will increasingly need to capture.
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This piece was reprinted by Migrant Tales with permission.