Monday, 26 May 2014

The Badly Needed Ripples That UKIP Has Caused In British Politics

Well, as you've probably read now, after the European Election UKIP has the most MEPs and has taken over 27% of the votes.

A lot of people seem genuinely shocked that a party so rife with scandal could accumulate such a large percentage of the votes. I don't find it at all surprising that UKIP members kept cropping up in scandal (it happens to the other parties to, but they are not so well publicised). The UKIP members that call themselves a party aren't really a party in the traditional sense - they are a collection of people who've become disenchanted with the parties they used to support. Nigel Farage is a dejected Tory who can't bear to see the Conservatives become so left wing on issues like economics, Europe, immigration and homosexuality.

Whatever else we can say about the results, one thing ought to be crystal clear now for the other two main parties (I say two because hopefully the ramshackled Lib Dems will fall off the political radar in the coming years) - their tactic of insulting, trivialising and pretty much dismissing UKIP's sound-bytes has not only been a mistake, it has been rather dishonourable too.

A few weeks ago I wrote this…

As you've probably gathered, I can't help but think that the way many people are simply writing off UKIP as a bunch of bigoted racists with nothing worth hearing is an exaggeration too far. There' s disagreement, and rational arguments in opposition, which are all fair game - but as for lobbing an egg on Nigel Farage's head, and sending bricks and faeces through the post, well I'm afraid that's ignoble, and to be guilty of sinking to a level way below the party they're supposed to be repudiating.

Let's be clear, I'm not affiliated to any political party - but what should be evidently clear by now is that what's making UKIP popular relates to issues that the other main parties have not been, and are still not, satisfactorily addressing. I don't want to get into those issues now, but suffice to say that if UKIP can obtain over 4,350,000 votes in a 34% turn out, then crass dismissals of them amounts to, at the very least, crass dismissals of the issues the main parties are not addressing, and one might also say crass dismissals of the current concerns of an awful lot of people in the UK - like the efficacy of the current EU set-up, and like our ability to control immigration in ways that mutually benefits all concerned

Looking to next year, I still don't imagine UKIP will obtain any seats at the 2015 General Election (the first past the post system disadvantages them there), although they might be able to pick up one or two if they focus all their attentions on the small minority of potentially winnable constituencies. And it is astonishing to me that this current Labour party - probably the worst bunch of political buffoons since the Labour party of the late seventies, or maybe even ever - looks set to get the most votes in next year's election (either obtaining a majority, or at the least acquiring the most votes).

Of course, this is more to do with disenchanted voters floating away from other parties (primarily the Lib Dems) than it is anything they've done of their own merit. But if it turns out that way then David Cameron will surely look back and realise that his biggest mistake was in not re-claiming the territory lost to the best parts of UKIP - most notably the libertarian values of free-enterprise and global trade, small State regulation, and standing up to the charmless, un-democratic bureaucrats in the European Union, many of whose laws are stultifying, economically inefficient and nannified. Here's a prime example of what I mean; the EU's dreadful tariffs on non-EU agriculture dampens the price signals of agriculture and creates trade barriers that hurt much poorer non-EU countries like those in Africa. The result is not only an unnecessary disadvantage for those who desperately need more traded, it is a wasteful misallocation of agricultural adaptation as it effectively subsidies EU farming against those whose goods are more cost-efficient.

For all its ills, what UKIP has done successfully is focus on a few of those few key issues on which David Cameron will regret not doing better in the last four years. The Conservatives, the Lib Dems and Labour have too often behaved like petulant children, throwing slurs at a party they should have instead pre-empted, on issues they should have addressed more intelligently and perspicaciously.

As someone with no party affiliation, I'm glad to see the political scenery changing in the way it currently is. As things stand UKIP are doing just well enough to give greater illumination to the way the smug, sententious, out of touch muttonhead politicians (and the prostrating media) need to do an awful lot better.

And now that they have shown their popularity and forced the Con-Lib-Labs to address some of these issues, it exposes all the more the likelihood that the main parties, and their sycophantically loyal media hucksters, never really believed UKIP were racist, they just employed those tactics as a slur to dissuade voters from putting UKIP in a position they (as it turned out, justifiably) feared they would obtain.   

As things stand, UKIP have lobbed in a bus-sized boulder into the stagnant lake of British politics, while at the same time remaining far away from having any direct influence in Parliamentary policies. It's probably going to turn out that, in the long run, that'll be a good thing for the political landscape in the UK, particularly if, as looks likely, the ugly racist, xenophobic BNP thugs disappear into oblivion, and the Lib Dems become a tiny fringe party again that does much of its good work at the hands of their many decent local councillors.

* Photo courtesy of The Independent.