Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The morning after the Thursday before

    It's been a busy few weeks for politicians, here in the UK. A local election, a Euro election, and a by-election. Normally both the cause for a collective show of apathy as the Opposition creams the Government in the local councils, a stodgy show of Party allegiance in the Euro poll, and a dramatic reduction in the share of the vote gained by the party of government in the by-election. And a tiny turnout, with most voters not caring in the slightest.
    Ah, those were the days! Long gone now, for this time the People Spoke, and they didn't speak the script provided for them. They elected UKIP in the Euro election, and this is vexing to a lot of people. The UK Independence Party that is, a party somewhere beyond the right wing of David Cameron's Conservative Party and famously described by him as "fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists". I'll leave you to make up your own mind as to the accuracy of that assessment but speaking for myself I can't disagree with it. They are however trying to become the UK's 4th major mainstream party, and as such they have to be taken seriously whether you like them or not.
    So why did it happen? What changed UKIP from a one-issue pressure group minor party to a party capable of winning an election? Partly they are the beneficiary of lucky timing. The Euro crisis, the banking collapse, and the MP's expenses scandal for instance have all eroded trust in the established parties. But the biggest reason for UKIP's success as I see it lies with the open goal left for them by the mainstream parties on their core issues. Decades of not addressing the issues of immigration and EU integration caught up with them as UKIP became the only voice in town.
    In the aftermath we heard a chorus of shrill denunciations and excuses from those who couldn't quite believe how badly their chosen parties fared. Sadly they all seem to be under a delusion that there is no trouble in their own houses. It has become a concoction of ludicrous conspiracy theories or downright offensive views of the voting public. The BBC are somehow conspiring to give UKIP more promotion then their rivals, for example, or the electorate are all simply xenophobic racists who don't know what's good for them.
    A couple of decades ago when I was a spotty young student oik I spent a lot of time as part of a student radio station. In the years since I've pursued an obscure career in software, but among my friends from that period I have quite a few who became professional broadcasters and journalists. Knowing what motivates them in their jobs I think they would be highly offended at the suggestion that they favoured or promoted UKIP. Instead they've been doing their job covering the elections, and whether we like it or not UKIP are as substantial a part of that as the other large parties. In fact the coverage of UKIP in UK media has been anything but positive, with some newspapers going to extravagant lengths to find negative stories about them.
    If supporters of mainstream parties want to defeat UKIP, they simply need to effectively engage with them on the issues. Not by lurching to the far right, but by challenging the assumptions in question and owning up to past mistakes. UKIP don't see themselves as such but they are a protest party. People have voted for them because they are concerned about the direction Europe has taken, not because they are necessarily xenophobes.

8 comments:

  1. Bit deep eh Jenny. Didn't know you were into politics. Personally I think UKIP are a breath of fresh air. I am sick and tired of the same old routine, left to right and back again politics so a new kid on the block is a good thing. Perhaps politicians will take note of the people's protest. I am fed up with the way this lovely country is slowly losing its identity, is slowly being taken over by Europe, Islam and foreigners of all kinds. I am not a racist, I am not against other people's religions but what I am against is immigration on the scale it has been happening over the past twenty or more years. It simply has to stop. So has the fact that we support countries that are better off than ourselves! There is much wrong with this country that needs correcting. I say let's put the GREAT back into Britain. For the record I voted UKIP in the elections this time.

    Shirley Anne x

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  2. Shirley

    This country isn't losing it's identity, nor is it being taken over by Europe, Islam or any one or thing else.

    Immigration has and will be what makes this country great....the accepting, multicultural attitude that we enjoy is in part why someone such as myself (obviously trans but living successfully in my true gender) can live life to the full and be free of any form of discrimination.

    A UK with UKIP as a major influence would be disastrous for LGBT+ rights as well as for the economy, the NHS and for all including the Daily Mail readers who are being taken in by UKIP's hyperbole .

    Granted politicians need to up their game but UKIP is not a viable alternative....before you jump on their bandwagon please take a deeper look at their proposed policies and their previous voting record in the European parliament. Try starting with the votes regarding ending violence against women and FGM.

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    1. I think time will prove me right Tanya

      Shirley Anne

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    2. Nice well thought out reasoned arguments aren't really your thing are Shirley?

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    3. I don't comment in order to enter into long drawn out arguments Tanya even though I could. I am simply not interested.

      Shirley Anne x

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  3. Maybe a cup of tea is in order all round.

    Looking at the "politics" tag I surprise myself how many posts I've made over the years.

    Me, I'm a mild Eurosceptic who thinks that the established political parties find themselves in the position they are in through decades of incompetence and bad policy. However I see UKIP as the symptom rather than the solution, I don't think they have the answer. I think it's foolhardy to dismiss them as extremists, fascists or whatever, I just don't think they match my politics and I strongly doubt their competence as well. Voting UKIP is probably a case of "be careful what you wish for" as far as I'm concerned.

    Trouble is, that leaves me as always with nobody I want to vote for. As I believe I once wrote a post, I'm thus a floating voter. My ideal is a representative with a majority of one, then I finally have one who cares about my concerns.

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  4. And there is an interesting wee referendum coming up in Scotland in September!

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    1. Now that's another story entirely :)

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