We’re just days away from the latest round of European elections, an election that in years gone by has passed largely unnoticed by our increasingly disenfranchised society. This year’s election, however, has taken on a whole new level of importance thanks, in no small part, to the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
They must be applauded, if for nothing else, for empowering vast swathes of the country to take a firm stand on an issue they clearly feel has been overlooked by the mainstream parties for too long. But that’s where the compliments end.
Let me lay my cards on the table early on – I have no time for UKIP, I’ve never bought into their EU-bashing mantra. But that’s my prerogative, just as it’s theirs if they wish to talk ad nauseam about the EU and immigration. We’ll call it a difference of opinion.
Unfortunately, this upsurge in interest in a very narrow aspect of politics resulting from UKIP’s meteoric rise directly correlates with a significant downgrade in the quality of political debate in the UK. Take it from me, I watch Question Time every week, I’m that sad. I don’t have statistics or a survey to back this claim up but then such things matter not in the current political dystopia where unsubstantiated claims are all the vogue.What does matter is the increased support for UKIP poses a significant threat to reasoned debate in the UK. So many have been swept up by the attractiveness of their popular cynicism, which tells us to fear rather than care and sympathise, that the idea of commonality among humans has become an increasingly alien concept to many.
The real fear now is that this type of thinking is so deeply engrained in many people that it cannot be undone. The result: a divided society.
But why worry! If everything goes to plan we’ll be out of the EU before long living the life of Riley, rejoicing over the reclaimed land formerly occupied by those ghastly wind turbines and Romanian gangs. However, these changes are based on a false premise that everything will be better without them, masters once again of our own destiny, freed from the iron grip of the European Commission and the miles of red tape that keep the hands of our business owners tied.
But while simple solutions to complex problems are understandably attractive to the common man or woman, they rarely deliver on their promise. Parallels have been drawn to a certain unpleasant moustached-man who presided over some of the worst crimes in human history and while such comparisons are extreme, they are a useful reminder of what happens when we allow the politics of division to dictate policy at the expense of reason.
UKIP have been credited with reengaging the disengaged but what their supporters are actually doing is merely transferring their allegiance to another branch of the establishment they purport to hate so much. In truth, UKIP’s supporters are either ignorant of the facts or, more likely, guilty of intellectual laziness, admittedly an affliction that affects many others outside UKIP too. Whatever the case, there can be no excuse for either.
Intellectual laziness is what leads people to believe wild assertions that have no basis in reality. It fixates people on single issues so that they never consider the bigger picture. In short, it is the single biggest obstacle to achieving positive change.And while it may seem unfair to label people as “ignorant” or “lazy”, consider an earlier post of mine in which I highlighted the absurdity of voting for UKIP into an institution they hold in such contempt. The hypocrisy of their position might be lost on some but the logic of their position does not stand up to scrutiny.
UKIP believes elected representatives in Europe are redundant because all the important decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats. Fair enough, but that makes the forthcoming elections a charade to bolster the EU’s democratic credentials, rendering all MEPs elected on Thursday utterly useless. So why then put forward dozens of candidates to sit in an irrelevant institution while happily accepting a taxpayer-funded salary? Yep, that sounds dodgy to me too.
The idea that a vote for UKIP is an anti-establishment vote is a myth shrouded by Nigel Farage’s charisma. Despite the rhetoric, decisions on the UK’s future in the EU will be made at Westminster, not in Brussels or Strasbourg, so a vote for UKIP on Thursday is a futile exercise.
Their ability to bring about meaningful change is limited by the narrow vision they have of a world that no longer exists. Peoples, races, and cultures are becoming increasingly entangled and we would be better served at finding ways to live peacefully together rather than finding ways to keep us apart.
So let’s hope common sense breaks out before Thursday and people heed my advice because, you know, my opinion supersedes that of all others. If not, well, I tried!