I’m not really a politics person, but I do believe in the right of every individual to vote in a free and democratic society. However, I feel that political right was wasted last week.
On Thursday 22 May 2014, British people went to the polls, many to vote for their local Councillors but also a chance to vote for Members of the European Parliament, MEPs. Traditionally, mid government polls see a shift in votes to the party in opposition, however, this poll was a bit different. With the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats currently ‘enjoying’ a coalition government, the natural opposition are the Labour party. Or are they?
Over the last few days we have seen what can only be described as a meteoric rise of a fourth player in the political arena, the UK Independence Party, UKIP, led by the ‘charismatic’ Nigel Farage. I’ve not been following the debates closely, and I expect I’m no different to a lot of people in the country, but you can’t help but notice the rise in the attention that Mr Farage and his followers have received. He is charismatic, in that he seems to attract a lot of attention, but what does concern me is that the sensationalist views he holds and the way he espouses his views, has attracted an imbalance in coverage from the media. And in what is supposed to be a balanced political debate that is questionable, and the accusation that UKIP have benefited from an unfair advantage have some merit. It’s not just an imbalance of an alternative and benign political view, it represents a big shift to the political right and all that comes with it. It’s the politics of fear of the unknown rather than the politics of hope for the future.
I don’t wish the give the UKIP any more coverage than they are already getting, they surely don’t need it. But it has to be said that as an electorate, we must shoulder a lot of the blame. As is often the case, the turnout for the local and European elections was pretty low, between 30% and 40%. So what happened to the majority of the electorate? Laziness? Apathy? I don’t know, as a country we seem to take our right to vote very much for granted. But I hope those people who didn’t vote, for whatever reason, don’t ever think they have the right to complain about the outcome and whatever happens as a consequence.
But there is hope for sanity to be restored. London, with its multicultural diversity, rejected the UKIP rhetoric and bucked the trend, gaining just one European seat. As ex (yes, she lost her Merton council seat) Councillor Suzanne Evans agreed, the ‘cultural, educated and young’ people of London turned their back on UKIP. Add middle-aged, intelligent and fair-minded to that as well. (That’s me in case you’re wondering!)
However, there is a wider question to address. Why did so many people feel the need to vote UKIP in the first place? Well clearly I don’t know the answer to that, I live in London! But the other parties surely have to look at themselves here. Perhaps it’s time for them to start listening to the people of this country, stand up for what they believe in and give the country a clear and positive choice.
They have a year to the next General Election to sort it out, stop the politics of blame and negativity, and look at the future positively. Use this UKIP wake up call to address the fears that Mr Farage has created and show up this protest vote for what it is.
One year – let’s get this great country of ours back on track.