Monday, 26 May 2014

Politics: UKIP, and the EU Elections

It's obviously easy to call UKIP names, and it's hard to defend a group with so many unsavoury characters. Avoiding what the 'racist' tag that so many have used, numerous candidates have made comments about other groups. Paul Forrest said that gay men are '10 times more likely' to be child abusers than 'normal men'. PinkNews posted a list of the most homophobic comments that UKIP candidates have said. Finally there's the quotes from donors about gay people being incapable of love, and the infamous Winston McKenzie called gay adoption 'child abuse'. Then there's the comments about women. Whether it's Godfrey Bloom's 'slut' comment, Marchessini's claim that 'there's no such thing as marital rape' or the fairly sizeable list of blunders that surround the party.

Now obviously there are incidents like this among every party, take Labour (x2), The Tories, even the Liberal Democrats become embroiled in it from time to time. The difference with UKIP is there sheer quantity of anecdotal evidence with a relatively small amount of members. There's the obvious argument that the newspapers are focusing on Farage's party - which is almost certainly true - are they really any worse than others? It's hard to say.

Obviously their tough stance of immigration sets them apart from any of the the three other main parties, and makes them an easier target for the label of 'racist'. Their policy of a points-based system is used, as we've been told many times, in places such as Australia but it's a lot more strict than the EU 'open-door'. This is somewhat like the Greens' green-energy policy in that it bridges policy areas. Obviously it's an immigration policy, but that should hypothetically fix jobs, strain on public services, and even crime if they're correct about it.

My main problem with UKIP at the moment, away from their personal opinions, are the fact that as a party they have no policies at the moment besides the referendum on EU membership. Farage's banishing of their prospectus means his party has no manifesto to run on. A combination of protest voting, emotive policies, and tapping into the reserve of non-voters gave them an unprecedented boost in the local elections, and now the European elections too. The fact that the former landed on the same day as the EU elections probably helped to boost their results in the council balloting.

Many hailing the emergence of a 'four-party system' may be premature. A lot can change in a year before a general election, and that's where the UK Independence Party will really be decided. It's a completely different contest, with votes being no promise of seats in the House of Commons. Normally UKIP lose about a third of their vote share - generally due to the increase of non-EU voters. They are, though, the first ever 'minor' party to 'win' a national election - if they hang on to the lead they have in the European Parliament. If any government were to give a referendum on EU membership then they could negate UKIP altogether.

I would hope that the main parties would also be able to come up with a way to counter-act the personality of Farage. They seemed to decide very late on that the negative attack wasn't the way to go, and empathy was a better option. Unfortunately for them, after the former, the latter seemed false.  I would assume that, whatever Nigel says, they have picked up a number of protest votes. Obviously we as yet have no real idea whether they'll stick with UKIP or go back to their 'original' parties, but for Farage it looks like more plan to vote for his party than in any of the previous elections, so it's a positive for him.

Voting for UKIP does kind of feel like shooting yourself in the foot. They don't represent the national interest whilst there, as most of the time they either don't turn up or vote against any policy. That can only mean that they get bypassed when policy is being debated, and don't really get any input. Although the EU is pretty complex when it comes to introducing policy anyway so it's not quite as clear cut. The only saving grace, in terms of the rest of Europe's perception of us, is that far-right parties have been elected from all over, including France 's National Front 'winning' the election over the Channel. There are positives from elsewhere in Spain, and Italy so it's not all bad, but this Parliament will be very interesting to watch.

Just a quick note on my personal vote, The Green Party. I am genuinely shocked that there are people who believe that their policy, that leader and deputy-leader must be different sexes, is in itself sexist. I think the way it's meant to be viewed is that the leadership will always be representative, at least in when it comes to men and women. It's interesting to note that on Reddit somebody posted:

"Very nice but forcing a random woman into power rather than having a normal selection process isn't the way to go about it."

Which I definitely think is sexist, as it suggests that the 'best' person for the job is a man, which is not the way that the Green Party saw it when this policy actually put a man in for a women. While both sexes can be incredibly empathetic to the other it's not the same as living it. Representation is an important part of politics, and in some ways the 'best' person for the job is solely down to the life experiences they've had.

Also, I'm slightly disappointed that they seemed to have picked up absolutely no votes from the Lib Dems. Not surprising, as my incredibly intelligent friend Michael points out, when the main issues were the EU, and immigration, among other things. Both of which the Greens are on the 'wrong' side of when it comes to the electorate. Interesting though, for the overwhelming coverage that UKIP received, even during the local elections, the Green Party have had limited reports.

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