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The UKIP revolution

October 13, 2014

The media is awash with new analysis about of the Clacton and Heywood & Middleton by-elections. I disagree with a lot of it; especially the idea that we are in the midst of a ‘revolution’.

For me there was nothing unexpected about the result last Thursday. The appeal of UKIP and formerly the BNP in places like Heywood & Middleton is pretty old now. I met voters disenchanted with the establishment parties- ‘because all mainstream politicians are thieving and lying’- as soon as I became elected several years ago. Anger and disillusionment are the food on which all opposition politics is based on.

Lib Dems have in the past electorally benefitted from that anger with the establishment , now we are part of it. If UKIP is indeed going to be the third or fourth force in UK politics the same fate will befall it. People vote UKIP because it has no power.

Protest voters suffer from an absurd martyrdom, each time they put their faith into a new white knight riding over the horizon, they are being disappointed (and move to the next anti-establishment party.) Their chief disappointment is that things never change as fast and radically as they expected. Yet the reality of western pluralistic multi party democracies is one of small steps, often a long process and almost no solution that suits everybody. Those who promise anything else are the real lyres.

I don’t believe that UKIP is successful because the other parties have failed to listen to peoples’ concern about immigration. For starters no party could have failed to hear what people are saying about immigration because it has been a huge issue for a long time, particularly in places like Heywood and Middleton. So if all other parties had a go at addressing the issue but not making the breakthrough progress- maybe the real answer is that solutions are slow, difficult to implement and full of adverse side effects.

Then of course UKIP supporters don’t only worry about immigration- they worry about crime and antisocial behaviour, they disagree with equal marriages, they don’t want more houses built in their area, (but worry about house prizes for their children), they are frustrated about long waiting times in doctors’ surgeries and pressure on NHS resources, they are anxious about school places and employment and, and, and.

What UKIP does is to have one simple answer to everything: get out of Europe. The simplicity is seductive. But for anybody worrying about the fact that the most common boys name in the UK is now Mohammed- as stated in today’s Daily Express- what does Europe have to do with it? Since when are Poles or Rumanians calling their sons Mohammed?

Since when are Germans telling the Brits to have hugely inflated property prizes, which is the one single issue- housing- that makes life for ordinary people on a low and middle income so difficult to manage?

Why is it the fault of European immigrants that people live longer and many more people live with long term ill health, which puts unprecedented pressures on health and social care services?

One only needs to scratch on the surface and the whole Farage edifice is tumbling down.

What UKIP supporters are really saying is that they worry about the present and the future, some feel left behind; some feel disorientated in a changing world. They are dreaming about restoring an idealised past, probably a time that never existed, a comfort zone like a costume drama.

Nigel Farage and his colleagues are abusing these sentiments in the most shameful way. I wonder when people are waking up to this ‘revolution’.

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