Europe and Immigration are two political issues that everyone seems to love discussing at the moment. From politicians and parties to grassroot activists and voters, these two issues are the latest craze. This is what both, voters are saying to me on the door step as I campaign for Labour, and Labour members tell me as I go around canvassing support ahead of the ballot for the preferred selection of European candidates. These two issues also pose the greatest threat to British and European politics and democracy. The Tories may dread everything about UKIP; their presence, their popularity, their people and their policies but the Labour Party too must fear from this sudden increase of hype.
Being part of the EU has meant the UK signing up to the “four freedoms.” The freedom of goods, freedom of providing services, freedom of establishment and freedom to move. All these freedoms provide European citizens the ability to make their horizon much more than just the constraints of the individual member state that they belong to. Scots and Brits can go to Finland and become dentists, the Germans can sell their cars in Poland and Danes can opt to move and settle their family in Italy.
However, there is a limit to this sense of European freedom as highlighted by the rise of far right parties in Europe like the Fronte Nationale in France, the People’s Union in Germany and the BNP in Britain. The freedom to move and the resulting mass immigration of people of different nationalities moving in and out and across Europe is making it very unpopular with voters to bear and so politicians are also turning their minds against this.
The rise of right wing parties like UKIP has allowed voters the option to turn their backs on what they feel to be an ever growing problem but without having to also fully grasp far right extremism. UKIP is pulling voters away from the Tories, it is only a matter of time before they also start pulling voters away from Labour – and that is why Labour should fear UKIP too.
Asim Khan is Scottish Labour’s Prospective Candidate for the European Parliament elections in 2014
You can follow him on Twitter: @asim_rel