"An Australian-style points system": Individualizing immigration in radical right discourse in the 2015 UK General Election campaign

Stephen Gibson, Rachael Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Analyses of racist discourse have often involved data from contexts concerning issues of human mobility. A great deal of this literature points to the extent to which people draw on the tropes of liberalism in order to justify social exclusion, and in particular to warrant negative evaluations of outgroups. Using media data from political debates involving the radical right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in the UK General Election campaign of 2015, the present paper highlights a different rhetorical strategy by which exclusion can be warranted by speakers arguing for a reduction in immigration. This novel strategy explicitly avoids any negative characterisation of outgroups, and instead advocates the individualization of immigration decisions. This is exemplified in UKIP?s policy of basing the UK?s approach to immigration on an ?Australian style points-based system?. This was invoked by UKIP representatives in the debates as a straightforward ?off-the-shelf? system that would enable the UK to ?take back control? of immigration, whilst ensuring that immigration decisions were based on individual merit rather than on group membership. As such, the points system could also be invoked specifically to anticipate and counter accusations of racism and/or xenophobia. The findings are discussed in relation to the tacit ideological assumptions underpinning UKIP?s policy, specifically around psychologisation, the reliance on an acultural version of Australia, and the tacit use of categorical accounting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-397
Number of pages9
JournalPeace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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