Battsby: Farage-Oh

Posted: May 17, 2015 by tallbloke in Politics
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Guest post from Battsby

I have harboured a mistrust of the European Union and of politicians in general since long before 1975. I saw union power cripple industries; wildcat strikes, flying pickets, one-out/all-out and often on a whim. Two minutes-worth of tea break, efficiency drives, mechanisation and more; any excuse it seemed, back in the sixties and seventies and the all-powerful shop steward would snap his mighty fingers and the crack would be heard across the land. But in one thing the unions and I were agreed; there was something rotten about Project Europe.

Then after Wilson’s victory in 1974 on a promise to hold the first referendum in our history I saw the way in which the two sides, pro and con, handled the debate. Despite the overwhelming feeling in the country that we lost something of ourselves when Ted Heath signed us up, the big money of the ‘in’ campaign bombarded us with the slick propaganda of fear. We were already in, they said, and it’s fine. To leave before we gave it a chance would make us look ridiculous. As a declining world power our voice could only be heard as part of something bigger. If we weren’t inside the Common Market we would be outside all markets. It stank. And as a result of that stink the British pinched their noses and voted against their heart.

Twenty years later that heart returned as Britain’s confidence had grown and a small new party was formed. Since then the Internet has allowed access to follow the debate in far more detail than hitherto and although there is no precedent to show we would be better off out, there is precious little to show we’d be better off in; but one hell of a dirty pile of evidence of corruption, coercion and a hell-bent agenda of eradicating the nation state. On pragmatic grounds the generation that got to vote in would now vote out. The generation that just missed out – me and millions like me – are even more certain we have nothing to fear from stepping outside. But move to the under-forties and the picture is blurred by a relentless message from Brussels that to leave would be suicide. It just wouldn’t.

But for Ukip’s dogged persistence we would simply not be discussing it at all. Conservative rebels have serially failed to bring their party to heel and many sit firmly on the fence, occasionally hopping to one side or another – I’m looking at you, Boris – whenever politically expedient. And Ukip would not have had the success it has had without the dogged persistence of one Nigel Farage. Red Ukip, Right Ukip; however the party has lurched, whichever vote it has courted I have always viewed it as a one-issue – one crucial issue – party.

They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This may or may not be what is happening with Nigel Farage right now, but now is not the time for the party to fall apart. David Cameron may or may not honour his cast-iron pledge for an in/out referendum but we already know he is 100% on the side of in and his whips will do their utmost to keep his dogs in line. You can say what you like about Nigel Farage and I know you will, but I am wholly convinced of one thing: we would not even be having the prospect of a referendum were it not for him.

Come the referendum…

Others have written at length about what Patrick O’Flynn has said and sharp are the knives, ready to carve Nigel’s early epitaph, but the political landscape might have been a sterile wasteland without his towering presence. As a one-man thorn in the side he has done more than any Euro-sceptic Tory to give the people of Britain the choice they never really had 40 years ago. So, I no longer care about whether or not Ukip is ‘different’, or whether the man at its helm is a true anti-politician or just like all the rest; none of that is important now. But the ‘out’ campaign needs a strong voice and there is none bigger and more coherent than Team Farage’s.

  1. Well said. Nigel Farage is needed more than ever. I hope he has a good minder.

  2. Truthseeker says:

    The UKIP need to have others taking some of the weight from Nigel Farage. If he is 100% of the face of UKIP, then it is too easy a target for the established power structures. The UKIP got over 4 million votes. It needs to be a party, not a person.

  3. Fanakapan says:

    There is a saying that if you want to know how a man views the world, look at the world as it was when that man was 20.

    Given that Battsby has such vivid memories of the end of the post war consensus, I’m guessing that he may have been quite near his 20’s at that time.

    I was still at school when Sailor Ted took us in, and my worldview would be more of the so called Thatcher Revolution, but it does occur to me that it might be an idea to have an upper age limit on voting in the upcoming referendum. I’d even count myself out on that one, and the truth is that many of those with an opinion on the issue, either Pro or Anti, are really in danger of imposing a decision on those coming along that is based entirely on prejudice.

  4. Ben Vorlich says:

    I don’t want to divert this into internal UK issues. So what I say should be taken in an EU context.

    The feelings expressed in this article were the norm for the Scottish people with regard to England and the 1707 Act of Union (see below). Especially as there was a feeling that English politicians had done all they could to ensure that the Darien Project failed, and the Scottish politicians who took bribes to vote for the union were the only group despised more. Robert Burns summed up the feelings best in “A Parcel Of Rogues”, which could be re-written as a UKIP anthem. Part of the rise of nationalism is due to a feeling of being ignored and exploited, there is still an element of we only see Westminster MPs at election times so a plague on all your houses.

    We have harboured a mistrust of the Union and of politicians in general since long before 1707. We saw southern power cripple our industries and draw our money and send people abroad. and so on

    Despite all the good things that came from the UK to Scotland 45% of the electors in the referendum voted to opt out. The EU referendum will have a similarly close result, and whichever way it goes the losing side will continue to pressure for change. With such close results and a first past the post electoral system who knows what will happen at the general election after the referendum. So I don’t think a referendum will actually solve very much whatever the result, and if the result is to stay in then will actually be divisive both in the UK and with relations with the rest of the EU for that matter

  5. A C Osborn says:

    I voted out in the previous referendum and I will vote OUT in this one.
    The UK won the War FOR Europe and lost the peace to the EU, which has shown it does not actually have the best interests of the whole of Europe at it’s core. It just wants Federalism run from Germany via Brussels.
    The only good thing that came out of 15 years of Labour rule was the UK not joining the Eurozone disaster.

  6. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan: Given that Battsby has such vivid memories of the end of the post war consensus, I’m guessing that he may have been quite near his 20’s at that time.

    Your guesser needs oiling. I’ve met Battsby in person and he ain’t that old. As for your idea that those who weren’t old enough to have a say last time are too old to have a say this time… pfffft. 😉

  7. roger says:

    In 1992, our ejection from the ERM was reported as the end to our joining the Euro and was reported as an economic catastrophe that would marginalise our position and diminish our trade in Europe.
    Now in 2015, with our strong pound and economy, as Greek exit reaches the end game we realise that George Soros saved us from a similar fate.
    When Greece stages an equally swift recovery outside of the EU to that we enjoyed post ERM the IN camp fox will have been shot.
    At age 75 my recollection of f events accords with Battsby- trying to run a business in the late 60’s into to 70’s in the face of his resume and the inevitable rampant inflation that ensued, made the potential of stability that seemed to be offered by membership an attractive alternative.
    If the clueless clowns of whatever flavour could not control the country, then perhaps the discipline of the EEC might.
    Desperate people make desperate choices. You need to be over 70 to appreciate that.

  8. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Roger, we need to win the referendum and the reason we will lose is that businessmen are worried about their businesses and workers are worried about their jobs. This mind set is so ingrained that we have all but lost already.

    I appeal to you as an UKIP candidate in the recent election. When are we going to see some attempt to counter this widespread fear about the impending economic disaster being spread by Europhiles?

    Alternatively, who is the appropriate person at UKIP and how do I contact him/her? Where is the published plan for businesses?

    It is so frustrating!

  9. tallbloke says:

    SC: Calm down. The head of JCB was on earlier saying we’d be better off out. Nigel talks to business leaders a lot too.

  10. Fanakapan says:

    Roger (may I)

    Never mind the guesser, judging by Battsby’s words he must be a minimum of 65, I’m 56 and only have the memories of a young and therefore disinterested observer of the events described 🙂

    The point would be that the 70’s are history, and to view the world through the prism of those days is to project the past onto the future. That leads to prejudice as opposed to deliberation, and is maybe not the best method to decide on the best course for the future, which as Twain said, is notoriously hard to discern 🙂

    Given that the outcome of the referendum will have its biggest effect upon those now in their 20’s, it’ll be interesting to see if the vote is opened up to 16 year olds as per the Scottish referendum. But certainly it does seem to be the case that very many of the most vocal in favour of exit are essentially those whose day is done.

  11. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan: (Care to share your first name?)

    People who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat the errors contained in it.
    Battsby learned that history rather then lived through it as an adult. I can tell you what happened with solar activity variation in the C18th. This doesn’t make me 200+ years old.

  12. stewgreen says:

    Roger A Question, How many seats were lost due to the rightwing vote being split ?
    … Before the election I heard stories of how UKIP would cause the rightwing vote to be split and enable Labour to win seats, this DID happen *..but I have seen no news stories analysing this .only the usual stories seeking to smear UKIP.

    * I can see in a couple of places)

  13. Fanakapan says:

    Greets Roger, I’m Bert.

    Whilst what you say is entirely true, it is the case that Battsby has worded his piece in a way that leads the reader to conclude that he lived through events pre 1975 in a way that scarred his very being.

    We were probably all alive at that time, but probably, and excluding being a predecessor of that young William Hague, would have not really have thought much of the political scene from the late 60’s to the mid 70’s ? Certainly I doubt it was the case that those times would have played a large part in forming our worldview, except inasmuch as we would have imbibed of the opinions of our elders.

    An example of the same thing is the book, Hearts of Oak, by Tristan Jones 🙂

  14. tallbloke says:

    Hi Bert:
    I was 11 at the ’75 referendum. I wore my NO badge with pride.

  15. tallbloke says:

    Stewgreen: Although a few seats were lost as you say, a lot more were gained by the Cons due to UKIP taking votes off Labour.

  16. Fanakapan says:


    ”I was 11 at the ’75 referendum. I wore my NO badge with pride.”

    You were more advanced than me. I was 16 and concerned with getting served in pubs, cigarettes, and motorcycles 🙂

  17. stewgreen says:

    Tallbloke ” a lot more were gained by the Cons due to UKIP taking votes off Labour.”
    I can believe that, but it is astounding no journalist thinks it’s worth looking at the numbers.
    – Rod Liddle has an extremely short article.
    – The Guardian have an article about one candidate saying his voters helped the Tories, but that article is more of a Guardian excuse to rubbish UKIP as a English white working class racist party.
    – Neither get anywhere near proper numerical analysis.

  18. tallbloke says:

    stewgreen: I think numerical analysis is pretty difficult, due to the collapse of the LibDem vote. Who did they switch to, if anyone? No answer to this can be generalised and extrapolated nationwide either.

  19. stewgreen says:

    Tallbloke Last week I took the list of top UKIP seats and looked at the votes for the ones where Labour won, and yes I did see that in some of them the combined votes for Torys and UKIP was higher than the winning Labour vote. One might argue those constituents have got a left wing MP when in reality they wanted a non-leftwing one.

    BTW Ferrybridge PS closing is local story for you

  20. Fanakapan says:

    Given that the epithet ‘Working Class’ these days really only applies to a rump of people who did not see the writing on the wall these last 30 or so years, and choose to engage with the new situation, its easy to see how those of that ilk who would formerly have voted Labour, would choose to vote UKIP.

    That group likely are feeling the most pressure from the influx of workers (probably temporary ) from the less affluent parts of the EU.

    Its worthy of note that many of these Transient workers are usually vastly overqualified for the positions they obtain, so from an employers point of view, and given the style of many or our working class these days, and combined with the price advantage, it becomes easy to see how Stan from Cracow looks more attractive than Derek from Salford ?

    The question then becomes will UKIP be able to maintain the advantage of appeal to those at the bottom of the pile in 2020 ?

    A couple of things could change things dramatically, Firstly it seems likely that the Tory’s will not have cleared the Deficit over the next term. In which case Austerity will have grown to an extent that those who did buy their council houses, and have a nice second user Beemer standing in the drive, will feel the chill of the Zero Hours malarky, and effectively Falling living standards. If that happens, and Labour under say Yvette offer a package that they feel comfortable with, then UKIP’s current advantage of appealing to the dispossessed will effectively be nullified.

    Another event that could upset the UKIP apple cart, less likely but still possible, would be if the EU managed to get an EU wide Minimum Wage. That would create a situation similar to the one prevailing in the USA, where there is a lowish Federal minimum, and where the individual States have the ability to mandate higher figures locally. If the poorer countries of the EU had in place a minimum of say approaching £5 an hour, then one would expect to see a Dramatic reduction in the numbers of those willing to embark on a course of working abroad.

    Given that dissatisfaction within the EU over foreign labour is not restricted to the UK, and the fact that many of the eastern members are experiencing labour shortages due to freedom of movement, the idea of an EU minimum wage may not be as fantastic as it at first seems 🙂

  21. stewgreen says:

    Tallbloke – One thing I am interested in, is the number of seats UKIP will win next time. And if they came second in 100 seats in 2015, then it maybe a case of just getting 1,000 or 2,000 Conservative voters to switch in each constituency.
    – You said “numerical analysis is pretty difficult, due to the collapse of the LibDem vote. Who did they switch to, if anyone? ” surely not UKIP ? The BBC campaigns veheremently against UKIP with the smear “it’s the racist party”. That smear I think has been successul in scaring people away from voting UKIP and I would expect almost all Liberal voters to believe it.

  22. tallbloke says:

    stewgreen: The British public are not fools. They know the BBC’s Pro-EU bias and anti-UKIP stance. And by no means all LibDem voters were ‘liberal’. Many of them were simply not going to back either Labour or Consrvatives – a protest vote if you like. A lot of those voters did come to UKIP in the election, including in my own constituency, where the Libdems collapsed, and all the other parties increased their share of the vote. The UKIP vote quadrupled.

    But quite a lot of UKIP’s support, and quite a lot of those LibDems drifted tactically to the Tories because they were not going to risk a Labour-SNP alliance against their interests.

  23. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan: the epithet ‘Working Class’ these days really only applies to a rump of people who did not see the writing on the wall these last 30 or so years

    I think you’re out of date on this. Firstly, few politicians refer to ‘the working class’. They talk about ‘hard working people’. And many of them are not older generation who ‘did not see the writing on the wall 30 years ago’, but are people of all ages who have to do long hours for immigration-depressed wages and are pretty well naffed off with the corporatist pro-EU parties and BIG business interests that created, and still maintain that situation.

    These are the people coming to UKIP, and there’s a lot more of them than your ‘rump’.estimate.

    the chill of the Zero Hours malarky, and effectively Falling living standards.

    This is the relevant, up to date ‘writing on the wall’, and the moving finger that wrote it is pointing at the #LibLabCon.

  24. Fanakapan says:


    Its true we seem to be following the Yanks with the idea that nobody wants to think of themselves as working class 🙂

    I’m living in the ‘Prosperous’ South East, and yet a trip into the local town reveals the Super Obese, Tattooed nightmare that the ‘Working Class’ in Britain have become.

    What used to be a town with a diverse portfolio of decent jobs to offer the ‘Semi Skilled’ has degenerated into a place where the jobs that absorb this fun loving mass, are pretty much entirely concerned with Logistics, and will probably pay not much more than minimum over an entire working life.

    As a group, no political party except UKIP seems to offer these people anything ? Whereas I suspect they had to a large extent given up on voting, the prospect of being ‘Listened To’ by UKIP does seem to have mobilised quite a number to get out and vote.

    Its my guess that many of the Liberals simply stayed at home, and the potential shortfall in turnout was mitigated up by this group who are the ones feeling the pain of competition from foreign labour, and imagine that UKIP will be able to ease their pain ? Combine those votes with the lower end of the Labour spectrum who had yet to degenerate into voting apathy, and changed sides to UKIP, and maybe we have an explanation for Labour’s poor performance ?

  25. stewgreen says:

    Roger thanks, I think I have an interesting new point that UKIP might now be in coalition govt if the public had not been distracted by the fake narrative of “Labour led governrnent is almost sure”
    – I accept a lot of your points eg many Liberal voters were not really Liberal voters and maybe were tactical/protest voters.
    – Rog said “The British public are not fools.” well They are split between the smart ones and the ones the BBC constantly air who refer to UKIP as “the racist party” , you can hear they truly believe
    – Rog said : “quite a lot of those LibDems drifted tactically to the Tories because they were not going to risk a Labour-SNP alliance against their interests.”
    Yet we now know that was always a fake narrative ..Unless Cameron was caught making a big mistake, Labour were never likely to get anywhere close to winning.
    A lot of time was wasted considering Leftwing coalitions that were never going to happen. That wasn’t just a wasted of time, but it was a distraction, a useful distraction from the Tories POV, cos while the public were thinking about that they were prevented from thinking too much about other options.
    e.g. if the narrative had become a Tory majority vs the option of having a Tory /UKIP coalition I think that would have motivated more people to vote UKIP . That new narrative would have generated UKIP momentum,
    (… but OTOH it might have given the UKIPhaters campaign momentum and led to voters voting Labour in.)
    – My thoughts come out of my comments on Ruth Dixon’s blog post
    “Yes Ruth although this fake certainty, and faith in experts thing is important for us in the Election and for the parallels into the Climate debate and science skepticsm , it’s bigger than that.”