UKIP have an exclusionary and reactionary idea of the local
I’ve lived in Dundee for just under five years. I work in the city, really like it here, and see myself staying here for many years. I was therefore surprised that, according to UKIP councillor Suzanne Evans, I wouldn’t count as ‘local’. In last week’s Westminster Hour*, Evans argues for prioritising services for “local people”. Evans doesn’t seem to view just living and working in an area (even for several years) as enough to be ‘local’; instead, she states that UKIP’s idea of ‘local’ would require “specific roots to an area…having been born in an area, having parents or grandparents there…we think that’s only fair.”
According to this logic, I could never be a local in Scotland. First generation immigrants to the UK – even people who have been here longer than I’ve been alive – could never be a local anywhere in this country.** UKIP have an incredibly – and worryingly – exclusionary idea of what it means to be local.
UKIP have recently been complaining about being called fascist. I don’t believe that they are fascist – the term implies rather more organisation and centralisation than UKIP have been able to achieve. However, this reactionary and exclusionary idea of what it means to be local puts them in an unfortunate political position – their position on this is actually more regressive than some far-right parties which prioritise the nation over the local (and are therefore much more positive about movement within the nation).
What’s interesting here is that UKIP seem to be constructing a place-based, very exclusionary type of politics which is in some ways making them less nationalist – emphasising the local over the national. Definitely not fascist, though, so that’s a relief!
* listen from about 25mins in. I had to listen several times to convince myself that Evans was really making this argument.
** Unless, perhaps, they brought parents/grandparents to the UK with them. However, I am not sure that this is a goal of UKIP policy.