Opinion: Our seaside towns and the challenge of UKIP

Clacton beach huts photo by Nick PageIt now looks set that Duncan Carswell will win the forthcoming by-election in Clacton and become the first UKIP MP. Whilst enjoying the Tory discomfort, I’ve been thinking a lot about what we need to do to counter UKIP and their simplistic appeal.

In a poll last weekend, immigration was identified as the top concern by 57% of people who intend to vote for UKIP in Clacton. As with many of UKIP’s other target seats the number of immigrants living in Clacton is actually very low – just 4%. What there is in Clacton though is a struggling local economy, high unemployment, low pay, former B & Bs being used by the Council for temporary accommodation and poor educational achievement.

Over many years white working class people in southern coastal towns have been neglected both by the Tories who are more interested in ‘wealth generators’ and by Labour whose core vote is elsewhere. It is high time that the interests of these communities are prioritised both by the Liberal Democrats and by Labour. If we do not do so, we are failing a whole section of society and we can be sure that even if UKIP wins only a handful of seats in 2015, it will win a lot more in 2020.

Some positive moves have been made by this government e.g by encouraging the development of a renewable energy skills hub in Great Yarmouth. But these initiatives have been patchy. Both ourselves and Labour propose to boost regional growth through more devolution of power and funding. When done well, local action and strong community politics can make a big difference – just look at Stephen Lloyd MP in Eastbourne, who has relentlessly promoted job opportunities and apprenticeships for local people.

But many of the councils of southern coastal towns now have a growing population of UKIP councillors. Whilst I am sure that there are some caring community politicians amongst them, I suspect that many are more interested in immigration, the EU and the other bogeymen, which are not the real issues for these areas.

So maybe, contrary to the Lib Dem’s natural instincts, the state needs to be more involved with an active strategy for regeneration of coastal towns with a sharp focus on the achievement of working class children. I hope that the Lib Dem manifesto for 2015 goes beyond general calls for regional development through devolution and explicitly addresses the problems of many of our seaside towns.

If people feel that they have real opportunities in life, the siren calls of UKIP will fall on deaf ears.

Photo of Clacton-on-sea beach huts by Nick Page

* Cara Jenkinson is Vice-Chair of Haringey Liberal Democrats and PPC for Enfield North

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  • I agree with Cara that the way for Lib Dems to respond to the rise of Ukip is to tackle the economic aspects of what have become known as “left behind” voters. Tackling inequalities and seeking to enhance life chances and opportunities for people to get on in life is much more in keeping with our liberal and social democratic traditions.

  • As with many of UKIP’s other target seats the number of immigrants living in Clacton is actually very low

    The inference, that we can hardly dare to spell out, is the possibly counterintuitive conclusion that an increase in immigration to these areas can be expected to undermine support for UKIP.

  • David Evershed 5th Sep '14 - 4:14pm

    Firstly we should develop Lib dem policies out of our own liberal values rather than in response to UKIP.

    Secondly if we are to develop policies in response to competing party polices, we should be doing so in relation to Conservative and Labour polices since these are our main competitors.

    A starting point is to have more rigour in education and better teaching so that children are more employable when they leave school. A further step is the growth in apprenticeship schemes for school leavers and others. More re-training and re-education could be established for those who find their skills are no longer suitable for current needs.

    Although the coalition has been doing a good job in these areas, don’t expect the electorate to be thankful. The voters are going to vote at the next election for parties who promise increased spending and lower taxes. This will only change when the countries creditors call a halt and we can no longer borrow or only at crippling interest rates.

  • It’s Douglas Carswell.
    Leaving that aside; very insightful.

  • ‘Duncan Carswell’

  • Well, harnessing local action and using community politics to help create opportunity in these places is one part of the solution.

    Without turning this into another Nick Clegg thread, the other is party leadership. To defeat Nigel Farage’s fraudulent front of false blokeishness we need leadership figures who are authentic and who connect with people on some level. Kennedy did quite well at this, but Ming was too professorial to really do it and Clegg hasn’t come out of coalition well, to put it mildly. Pointedly ignoring our 2015 situation and its aftermath and looking ahead to 2020, we really need to have people at senior levels in the party who aren’t public schoolboys and who can connect.

  • Of course what one may see as simplistic policies others may see as common sense !

  • Richard Dean 5th Sep '14 - 6:12pm

    People in places where there are no immigrants don’t have the experience that many other places have, namely that immigrants aren’t really a problem. Without that experience, they are perhaps more susceptible to politicians and media telling them the opposite.

    Clacton and Frinton are nice places to go on a hot summer weekend, even Jaywick used to be ok. But for summer holidays now, they’ve probably suffered from competition from cheap flights to Southern Europe. And it’s just far enough from London to make commuting there a bit of a nightmare.

  • Some good points. There seems to be a general historical rule that when a society fails a section of its population – the “left behinds” in current parlance – then they turn to the extreme right while liberals crash and burn. But why?

    My sense is that being left behind is enough to make anyone angry bringing lots of raw emotion to the surface which Farage understands and exploits very well despite the obvious nuttiness of many of his supporters. Liberals in contrast just don’t connect emotionally; they typically rely on “facts” (which are carefully selected to make a particular point just like the other parties’ chosen facts) and/or carefully crafted policies which completely miss the point. As a strategy this is never going to work.

    As for immigration specifically, I don’t think it can be dismissed because only 4% ( a “fact”) of the those living in Clacton are immigrants. Even just a few people losing out on a job to a new immigrant or seeing house prices bid up beyond their reach will influence the general mood (an emotion which always trumps facts) and most will have relations in London or elsewhere that are directly impacted by immigration – and, from the POV of someone who is struggling, it’s getting worse. Immigration (mostly into the SE) is currently running at roughly TWICE the rate of new home building nationally and, although there is no simple connection between numbers of people and households, this bodes ill for the future. It means there is little reason to hope and without hope there is nothing. I think the white working class has every reason to be angry.

    Solutions are difficult but local tinkering, although perhaps marginally helpful, must involve running the economy for the benefit of the people rather than of capital (invariably obfuscated by using Orwellian constructions like “wealth creators”). In practice that means, for instance, making the City serve the nation rather than just stuffing its pockets but the Coalition has made nearly zero progress on this.

  • Keith Browning 5th Sep '14 - 7:07pm

    I would suspect the people of Clacton dont feel ‘left behind’ at all – much better life on the Essex coast than being forced to live like the ‘metro-crazies’ of London and the big cities. They just dont want it coming in their direction.

  • Little Jackie Paper 5th Sep '14 - 7:21pm

    GF – A very good post, but I have to disagree with this.

    ‘I think the white working class has every reason to be angry.’

    One of the problems that all parties are grappling with is that there really isn’t any such thing as the working class any more. Or at least not in any sense of the term that my grandparents (miners and cotton-workers) would understand. The term, ‘working class,’ gets lobbed about a lot, particularly on the internet, in a prolier-than-thou sense, but I suspect that there really isn’t much working class out there. If you drive a car, go on foreign holidays, pay a mortgage etc then you are not working class in the classic sense.

    What we have nowadays is a coping class. How well its make-up is coping is another question. We have an affluent class, largely the propertied boomers and we have an over and under class. Class politics in the sense of a clean-cut left-right divide is much weaker now than in the past and it is UKIP that has adapted. The coping class (‘alarm-clock Birtain?), which probably includes recent immigrants, is the part that has taken the brunt of insecurity and uncertainty. This is not to say that the coping class is poor, but it is the sense of uncertainty and instability that marks them out from the past.

    The direction of travel in politics over successive government has been to, ‘open,’ the economy and society. Open to foreign investment/ownership, open borders, open to globalisation and so on. And the EU is the ultimate, ‘open,’ symbol. For those who are, ‘coping,’ the stark truth is that open really hasn’t done them too many favours. Wage arbitrage and pressures on houses are the most obvious flags. And, of course, the comfortable class has done pretty well. It is the coping class that has come to see all the parties and the open agenda that they have followed as not in their interests. Hence the often expressed desire for change – change from, ‘open.’

    Now, of course, it should be pointed out that many have done well out of open and have made it work. If people have the wherewithal to make open work then they should be supported. The point is that more and more there is a sense that open is not necessarily a level competition. I would find it very hard to explain to a graduate with £30k debt competing for a house with a fee-free EU graduate that open housing markets are fair.

    This, not class, is that UKIP have tapped into. The sense that openness is not a reciprocal arrangement. Being in the coping class isn’t a problem if you are reasonably confident of being able to cope. If rents are soaring, your job is being zeroed and outsourced to Bulgaria and local schools have just had an influx of non-English speaking pupils then coping gets harder. More and more it is the classic middle classes that are getting hit with open-inspired instability and insecurity. It’s not class, it’s stability that is the divide now.

    Yes people are angry but not to my mind on traditional class lines and parties need to look beyond class. Immigration concern is a symptom not a cause. The root cause is a brand of openness that is not working for a lot of people from many walks of life. Think of it this way, the one thing that would really hurt UKIP is 2 million British people all heading off to Poland/Romania/Lativa, earning high wages and sending money home. The fact that such a scenario is not happening is the problem in this picture – open is not working for enough people. The whole Party of IN basically came over as More Of The Same.

    Whether leaving the EU would solve anything is a matter for conjecture – for my part I’m doubtful. But the starting point when it comes to UKIP has to be about looking beyond class and race and thinking long and hard about how (if) a liberal open agenda can be more than capitalism being great just as long as you have capital.

  • I think GP and Jackie both make interesting and certainly valid points (though I think they are blaming immigration too much as if this is the fault of immigration), but I think there is a further problem, which builds on this.

    Jackie refers to those who have suffered negative impacts from openness – and let us not pretend they have not – whilst also highlighting those who have done well out of it. This actually highlights the problem of this debate rather aptly.

    Those against immigration highlight all the reasons why people are ‘concerned by immigration’, whilst those who support highlight all the positives it brings. This makes a very polarised debate, where the positive points do not seem to be ‘directly’ addressing the concerns and the concerns seem to be dismissed as wrong or over-exaggerated. This leads to many of these ‘concerns’ being over-exaggerated and allows people, such as Farage, to easily sling actually incorrect concerns into the mix.

    So how do we ‘address the legitimate concerns’ and debunk the incorrect ones, if the positives are seen by too many voters to ‘miss the point’? I think people need to start addressing the point of this debate which is often ignored, the comparative.

    In many ways, Farage gains support because he does this – erroneously and in a crude manner, but he does it. When Farage says ‘a UK with immigration is one with higher house prices and lowers than one without’ he directly addressing the ‘concerns’ of the voters. Now, this is often incorrect, simple and scare-mongering, but when such an answer is the only one directly answering the question asked, then it is the one people will take.

    Therefore, those wishing to challenge this debate need to stop just talking about the positives of immigration in relation to society and the economy overall, as this ignores the negatively impacted subgroups in favour of the overall net-benefit (thus why seems not to answer their concerns). Instead they need to start drilling down to explain its effects on the comparative. This would make the debate much more compelling and convincing. It needs saying that ‘yes, immigration had this negative on this group of worker’s wages; however, it had this positive impact on the economy overall, which FURTHERMORE had this positive impact on this groups’ area of employment. Therefore, without the immigration to drive this positive effect, these worker’s would – on the comparison – be ‘worse’ off because their industry would have fewer jobs.’

    I believe the reasonable voting public would appreciate both the honesty of such points as well as their more detailed and logical nature.

    So, why is this not done? Two reasons, I believe:

    1 – the statistics needed to back these points up are not always readily available – and when they are, they are complex, both to use and explain. (A problem for those explaining them, not those listening.)

    2 – it means admitting a policy is not perfect, something that modern politics seems incapable for explaining.

    However, until these comparative debates are had, Farage will continue to makes his erroneous comparatives, which will always trump the absolutest positives currently put forward.

  • Martin Land 5th Sep '14 - 8:42pm

    Your car is German, Your vodka is Russian, Your pizza is Italian, Your kebab is Turkish, Your democracy is Greek, Your coffee is Brazilian, Your movies are American, Your tea is Tamil, Your shirt is Indian, Your oil is Saudi Arabian, Your electronics are Chinese, Your numbers are Arabic, Your letters are Latin, You complain that your neighbour is an immigrant? Pull yourself together!!!!

  • There clearly is a Forgotten Land of crumbling seaside towns in this country, many of them in the South-East and East Anglia, and I’m glad that political commentators are beginning to wake up to the fact. Some seaside towns continue to prosper, despite the collapse in the holiday trade. They are the ones that have managed to diversify. Eastbourne and Bournemouth have the conference trade, along with a core of very wealthy residents who give those towns a feeling of conspicuous prosperity, not wholly supported by the statistics. Brighton has two universities, along with day trippers and the gay scene. Southport, Clevedon and Portishead double up as commuter suburbs. The rot appears once you move east. Bexhill, Hastings, Folkestone, Herne Bay, Sheerness, Clacton, Frinton. The list is a long one. I think the main reason why these towns have failed to attract much attention as candidates for regeneration is the absence of vocal local lobbies (most of the MPs and councillors are Tories, who don’t like the state paying for regeneration projects), and the high levels of owner occupation, which give a false impression of economic well-being. There have been isolated attempts at regeneration. For instance, the Tate Modern in Margate. But they have yet to make much impact. Hastings is full of attractive Victorian properties that would fetch six figures in Hampstead, but barely a single estate agent’s board does one see there. Clacton is right next door to the high status village of Dedham, but they could be a world apart. Similarly, Hastings is cheek-by-jowel with Wealden villages. It requires good ideas, big money and buckets of political will. UKIP isn’t going to do anything to help, other than turn these towns into a national laughing-stock.

  • Good posts by GF, Little Jackie Paper and Liberal Al. I don’t know the area, but someone was relaying the views of a thoughtful local Tory to me recently, and he was making the point that this is an area that has suffered social disruption in recent years not so much from immigration from abroad but because it is being used by London boroughs as somewhere to house their homeless population. If this is true then it won’t show up in ‘immigration’ statistics, but will still have the consequence that people no longer know who it is walking towards them on their street. Violent crime in Clacton is a problem now that it was not a few years ago. A.S. Neill used to say that a community could accommodate one person with problems in 22, but a community that is already marginalised is liable to be much less resilient to negative external input, and this can spiral into a hopelessness that none of the establishment parties can provide a solution to because, apart from anything else, they are perceived (probably correctly) as having caused the problems in the first place.

  • Little Jackie Paper 5th Sep '14 - 11:13pm

    Liberal Al – ‘It needs saying that ‘yes, immigration had this negative on this group of worker’s wages; however, it had this positive impact on the economy overall, which FURTHERMORE had this positive impact on this groups’ area of employment.’ I can’t say that I agree. That is not far removed from telling people that their workshops have gone East, but at least they now have poundshops so things are cheap.

    There are all sorts of issues here really – immigration might be the flashpoint but it would be wholly wrong-headed to reduce UKIP to a reactionary gripe about immigration. The fundamental problem is that openness is not accessible to all. To use the immigration example, if open borders were the tide to float all boats then what would happen is that flows of people, rather than capital, would look broadly symmetrical in the EU. We simply don’t have that. As I said earlier, what would destroy UKIP is lots of young economically dislocated British people getting jobs in Eastern Europe as the EU’s open agenda works for them. There is simply no sign of it and the response of people is to look to a party that bucks the openness trend (or at least talks the talk of bucking the trend).

    I should say that I’m quite sure that openness has worked out great for many but to be blunt if you are not in a position to take advantage of those opportunities then the picture is not so rosy. Openness is great if you have a job in a multinational, or a bubble priced house to sell to a French banker, or if you employ zero-hours labour, or if you have a load of buy-to-lets. For the coping classes though the benefits look rather theoretical and if they wish to say so at the ballot box they are well within their rights to do so. It’s not foreigners that are being blamed, it is a brand of openness that is at best remote and at worst an illusion but is still promoted across the political spectrum.

    I am mindful that none of this is necessarily fixed. In 25 years’ time we might have for instance real-time translation technology. That would open Europe more than any treaty and if anything will save the EU it is technological advance. But for the here and now a defence of openness is a defence of the insecurity that is felt in many parts of the UK, and I stress here that it is no longer just some over-romanticised working class that is bearing the brunt now.

    Is it really illiberal to deviate from the ideas of contemporary openness? Is it illiberal to recognise that openness has to be meaningful rather than a rights-on-paper-for-all exercise? Some in the LDP might do well to dwell on the question.

  • LJP, I agree with you on the working point completely. Also, if I appeared to be reducing UKIP to just being about ‘immigration’, I apologise. The point applies to ‘openness’ and most other policy areas, as well. However, as immigration is the one that most of those voting UKIP seem to be concerned about, that is the one on which focus is needed, I feel.

    The point is simple, really, there is no such thing as a perfect policy. Every policy has positive and negative effects, often on the same people. However, the debates often make it out that it is either solely negative or solely positive for a group. Therefore, the effectiveness of a policy is judged on whether it has been both progressive and significantly more positive than negative.

    Only by accepting that comparative of the policy’s balance between its positives and negatives can this debate be moved on from.

  • I should also note that just proving that things, such as Openness and immigration, are often not the real causes of their ills or – if they are – have indirect positives that actually outweigh their sometimes more noticeable and direct negatives does not absolve the parties of their responsibilities to tackle the problems facing these communities.

    Winning the debate is just the first step so that everyone can focusing on tackling the real problems is just the first step to get people working together towards a common goal. The next one is to – as has been said – offer these places real hope that something real will actually be done to help them.

  • Adam Robertson 6th Sep '14 - 7:18am

    I read Cara’s article with interest but I think there is a neglect on her part to grasp with some of the facts. Seats such as Waveney and Great Yarmouth, have had Labour and Conservative MP’s in recent time. I live in the Waveney Constituency, where educational achievement has been shocking and Cara is right to raise that. However, the local politicians (Labour and Conservatives) believe in pet projects such as Lowestoft Rising, to increase educational standards. In effect, to increase social and academic elitism within the school system, as they want to focus on those who can go to Oxbridge.

    This leads to a spillover effect of low pay for those students, who suffer because they are not focused on due to targets being set on teachers. Therefore, having to take seasonal work at low pay because of the educational attainment in places such as Lowestoft. Three of the high schools in Lowestoft, got less than 30% of students getting 5 A* – C’s in their GCSE’s. Both main parties have called for local innovative to work but I have my doubts, that they will.

    What has not also helped is that the County Council has been split with the Conservatives, virtually divided, hamstring the council .The main opposition lacklustre in its approach, apart from transport and educational issues. Although, on transport issues, you have to wonder if this because of the pressure being applied by UKIP Councillors, who have been good locally on the whole.

    While businesses in both Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, have suffered because of the economic downturn, Waveney District Council have decided to build a new Town Hall. Both Labour and the Conservatives, voted for this, despite what Labour’s Parliamentary Prospective Candidate argues. UKIP have picked up on this and could potentially to win up to 15 seats in the next Council election, which is next year. The fact is that Labour and Conservatives, are basically the same party in seaside resorts in the East. I think it is very narrow, to accuse, UKIP of just being about immigration, they are picking up resentment votes/protest votes, on the fact that the two main parties now agree on a lot of issues, without consulting Joe Public first.

  • Cara Jenkinson 6th Sep '14 - 9:07am

    Some really good comments here. Apologies about getting Douglas Carswell’s name wrong.

    In terms of the debate on openness, what are our options? It is difficult to see how we can reverse this even if we wanted to. Leaving the EU might be one thing, but would have huge economic consequences – also it wouldn’t stop many aspects of globalisation – what would stop a company outsourcing to countries (EU or non-EU) with cheaper labour? As Nick Clegg (perhaps not very well) tried to point out in the debates with Farage, the idea of a successful isolated Britain is just not realistic.

    Liberal Al makes a good point about the complexity of the arguments on immigration – that for anyone to be taken seriously both the positive and negative impacts need to be considered – and we should focus on the groups most impacted. So we must put in much better protections for the low paid. Some employers have been able to take advantage of the fact that immigrants are prepared to put up with much poorer working conditions; we need to clamp down on companies that are not paying the minimum wage. We should also look at why there is such a demand for migrant labour – whether this is because our own population do not have sufficient skills, or whether in some sectors (such as social care) where due to underinvestment jobs are not attractive to UK-born workers.
    There is a recent report from the Migration Advisory Committee that looks at some of these issues – worth reading.

    Openness is probably not going away so we need to equip our population to benefit from it.

  • Tony Dawson 6th Sep '14 - 9:45am

    My short career as an international yacht charterer many years ago was built on top of my learning to sail in the creeks around Brightlingsea in the Clacton constituency. My lifelong problem with cows comes from being charged by a small herd in my great uncle’s field just outside Clacton at the age of six. Although it does have commuters to Harwich, Colchester and further afield, Clacton is one of the last bastions of English rurality, overlaid by significant retirement enclaves for the comfortable-but-not -rich who have escaped from conurbations. Those of us who have worked politically in areas affected significantly by immigration know that the biggest vote for the reactionaries often comes not in the wards significantly affected but those which are worried about what is ‘just over the hill’. It is the perfect storm for UKIP. We should recognise that we (and all these academic psephologists) have not got a clue what the effect on English politics ofa UKIP victory here will bring.

  • Cara Jenkinson 6th Sep '14 - 10:29am

    Adam Robertson – I agree that our elected politicians (Conservative and Labour) are letting local residents down in many areas, particularly eastern England. And there are some good local people who’ve decided to become UKIP councillors with the intention of standing up for local residents. Frankly it’s where we should be – standing up for our local areas as Lib Dem councillors. The challenge of course is that we now don’t benefit from the protest vote. But we have to keep fighting at a local level.

  • @ Little Jackie Piper.

    ” Think of it this way, the one thing that would really hurt UKIP is 2 million British people all heading off to Poland/Romania/Lativa, earning high wages and sending money home. The fact that such a scenario is not happening is the problem in this picture – open is not working for enough people. The whole Party of IN basically came over as More Of The Same. ”

    In a nutshell, liberal idealism crashes at 100 mph into reality.

    Kippers believe that in the absence of a fair an equitable world, the duty of a British government is to look after the interests of the British people first, second and third.

    Perhaps when liberalism has created this equal world we are always hearing about, where downtown Sofia or Mogadishu are a home away from home, and the average income is the equivalent of the £26,000 we are happy to give to all and sundry in benefits, then and only then may liberalism have a point.

    The one certainty at the moment, is that the only outcome under the current one sided arrangement will be unsustainable population growth, massive wage depression and an eventual standard of living dragged down to a second or even third world economy on the altar of unachievable political idealism.

    It might offend liberalism, but the reality is the British people are increasingly voting with their feet in deciding they no longer want to be the moral, financial or strategic guardians of the world. Liberals are of course entitled to disagree with them, but the people appear to be in the process of deciding their course is for a new type of UK restoring the self belief of the past , with a new vibrant outlook for the future , and to do that they have to escape the apologist, self debasing, valueless and frightened world view that has been endemic in our post Suez political landscape.

  • LJP – I basically agree with your comments about the working class. I suggest there are (at least) two things going on at the same time which complicates the picture.

    The first is that technological change since the industrial revolution and especially since WW2 has been massive bringing things to ordinary working people that not long ago were the preserve of the super-rich and not long before that simply unavailable. The list of examples is endless and the process will continue.

    The second is the change in industrial structure at multiple levels, most obviously the automation of so many labour-intensive tasks and consequential loss of jobs but also the financialisation of the economy, outsourcing and mass immigration all of which have worked to massively alter the balance of power between social groups. The early losers were the traditional working class but the middle class is also increasingly stressed. In the US with no NHS and less welfare people openly discuss the death of the middle class.

    No nation can continue for long or prosper while trampling on the concerns of a big swathe of its citizens so this is going to farce a paradigm shift and that may well get nasty before its over. It would be nice if, just for once, liberals were the party with a plan rather than just trailing along in the dust of others.

  • richard boyd 6th Sep '14 - 5:13pm

    I thought Bob Spink was the first UKIP MP when he defected from the Tories, but did not then seek a by-election.
    Castle Point, his constituency had probably the highest owner occupier rate of any in the UK and one of the lowest
    ethnic %. Thus,very right wing.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Sep '14 - 10:58am


    Brighton has two universities, along with day trippers and the gay scene. Southport, Clevedon and Portishead double up as commuter suburbs.

    I grew up in the Brighton conurbation. When places like this are written up as “seaside towns” it gives a very wrong impression, as if the main industry and source of employment is tourism. Brighton is a large conurbation, taking the bits to the west that come under Adur District, it has a population of around a third of a million. Most people don’t work in tourism or anything connected to it. The Brighton conurbation had a lot of light industry, and it suffered the same destruction under Thatcher as industry in the north. Only you didn’t hear about it because the distortional representation electoral system made sure all local MPs were Tories who spoke only for the wealthier inhabitants, and these small scale factories and workshops and the like didn’t have the scale that enabled a trade union culture to develop.

    What actually happened in these “seaside towns” is that they became the place that poorer people in the south had to go to find somewhere to live, having been squeezed out of the rural surroundings. It is that, rather than the “seaside” aspect which is the key issue. These people have been ignored by Labour, dominated as it is by northerners and metropolitan types who write off the whole south as “true blue” and are hardly aware of the millions of poor people living there, and ignored by the Conservatives as the Conservatives are the party of the rich and speak only for the rich, and didn’t think they needed to work hard to win votes in seats they regarded as “safe”.

    Brighton itself managed to keep a Labour Party strong enough to revive after the 1980s – helped by the big council estates which remained Labour throughout, and the influx of left-leaning people due to the universities and trendiness. In the rest of the south, Labour almost disappeared, and the Liberals took over as the party of the poor. As we can see, the Cleggies who head our party have ignored that aspect of our long-term support, preferring to see it as the metropolitan elite see it, with Liberal Democrat support written up as all about people like themselves.

    Poor southerners tend to fall for the line “all politicians are the same” because they don’t see or hear any politicians speaking for them. Left with no-one much actively seeking their vote, they’ll drift between Labour and Conservative without much enthusiasm for either. That is why when the Liberals started getting organised and using community politics tactics, they were able to build up their support starting with the poorer places who were so pleased to see people coming along and showing an interest in them. We have MPs for Eastbourne and Lewes (remember the Lewes constituency also covers a chunk of the south coast centred on Newhaven). But not that long ago, Hastings, Shoreham and Worthing all looked like likely gains, and we had a strong local government base we could build on there. Also in Mid-Sussex, with its medium sized towns of Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath as other places where there is lower cost housing and poorer parts.

    UKIP do not deserve the votes of the people. UKIP stand for the sort of Thatcherite economics which destroyed industry in the south and pushed the working class southerner down just as much in the north. UKIP just use this line “we are on your side against the political establishment” because that works for people the political establishment has never bothered with much, and is hardly aware exists. The EU is NOT the cause of these people’s woe, pulling out of it will NOT make their lives better. UKIP has nothing to offer them, they are being cruelly tricked by this fat cat funded party and its gullible grass roots supporters, who we can see from the UKIP ex-PPC for Clacton get disposed of without ceremony once they have served their purpose.

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    @ Andrew, You seem to be somewhat contradictory on your "solidarity fund". Whatever you want to call it it will mean that if someone moves to Germany fro...