Having recently been on my regular holiday to the lovely town of Whitby where I spent an awful lot of time in a pub, danced like an idiot and then got lightly singed (in short had a damn fine time) I’ve been way behind on the news and this whole local election malarkey. However I’ve now sort of caught up on all my news feeds and blogs and that sort of thing, and thus I’ve been reading an awful lot about those UKIP chappies. One interesting thing about catching up on about two weeks worth of news at once is you notice the way positions shift as a story unfolds and circumstances change. I’m going to try and not rehash everything that’s already been said as quite frankly I’m rather bored to tears with it all. Instead I’m just going to puzzle over how many of the commentariate (is that a word?) both in the mainstream press and in (some of) the big name blogs* have been reacting to UKIP and how they seem to view us voters and our all important vote.
Looking through all the many words written about UKIP (which I will try and avoid linking to) the narrative seems by and large to have gone:
- UKIP are a joke no one will vote for them
- People might want to vote UKIP but that would be a wasted vote
- Lots of people might vote for UKIP and let Labour/libDems win so they should ignore who they think they want to vote for and keep voting Tory
- Lots of people did vote for UKIP – resulting in votes being stolen from the Tories
- UKIP are basically the same as the Tories so that was silly and people won’t do it in a real election
- Ok voters we get the message we’re listening don’t you dare vote UKIP again your vote belongs to us
- Just in case they might vote UKIP again lets talk about a UKIP/Tory deal – else otherwise the other guys might get in
I accept that might be a bit of a simplification, but I think I got the gist about right. What strikes me, as has struck many other bloggers, is the attitude towards votes and our vote how it belongs to only one of the old big three parties and anyone voting for anyone else is just being silly. All of the narrative is centered around keeping the political balance the same, three identikit parties swapping seats now and then. The narrative can’t allow for people actually wanting to vote for UKIP as an alternative. We’re told UKIP can’t be serious because their candidates are normal people who’ve made mistakes cocked up and done stupid things (just like the rest of us) – only cookie cutter people in suits who’ve gone from pol-sci to think tank to party machine are allowed to be viewed as real politicians. The other big anti UKIP argument seems to be that they haven’t got a proper manifesto or costed out all of their policies – which seems odd as it’s a few years till the general election and they say their reviewing things as situations change, and as for not having costed things well given our ever growing deficit how much worse could it be perhaps something radical is called for and until you see the books how do you cost things (didn’t the current lot use that excuse for abandoning loads of manifesto promises?). Also of course we know that we can’t trust a word in any manifesto, brown went to court to prove it and both the Libdem and the Tories promised a referendum we still haven’t had so what difference between no manifesto and a manifesto that won’t be kept to anyway? Just in case all of that failed there was the usual accusations that UKIP are a “far right” party which doesn’t really stack up with their policies (summarized nicely over at Orphans of liberty) – but then the commentariate do seem to be stuck on a left/right only political spectrum with no room for statist/libertarian divisions or for parties which try to marry the best of all worlds (not that I’m saying UKIP do that). The “10 o’clock live” show demonstrated this terribly well by saying that UKIP must be racist because they feel they have to state they’re not racist – nothing to do with people like 10 o’clock live keeping accusing of them of it, really I expect them to ask Mr Farage if he’s stopped beating his wife yet next.
To be fair the commentariate have admitted that maybe we’re all fed up with our current breed of politico, but they won’t allow UKIP to be a different breed – nope we may be fed up but all they’re going to allow us to do is complain and then vote for more of the same. Possibly just possibly UKIP have upset that apple cart, with luck they’ve at least unsteadied the “wasted vote” myth, They won’t win the next general election they may not even get a single MP but they may give people the courage to once more vote for whom they want in rather than against who they want out, and if they do that who knows maybe our politics and our country will be improved.
So all these jolly japes and hijinks leave me with a bit of a puzzle. I’ve never belonged to a political party though I came perilously close to joining the UK libertarian party – I know that I don’t agree with all of the UKIP policies. But that’s true of all parties, and we have a party based system in this country so the only way to effect change is via the party system or by keeping shouting into the wilderness in the hopes of swaying enough people that parties will change which possibly isn’t the most effective way to do things. At the risk of being seen as jumping on the latest cool fad, I do find my self tempted to lend support financial and in the members numbers game to UKIP for the time being at least, especially given this statement on the UKIP website:
“Remember – UKIP councillors are expected to follow the best interests of their constituents, not just toe the party line as the other parties instruct theirs to do.
That’s why we don’t prescribe what they will do. ”
I shall have to think on it more, but a party which isn’t made up almost entirely of political wonks and that expects it’s Councillors to represent their constituents, that’s an idea which really kind of appeals and it could be a hell of a long time waiting for a viable party which perfectly represents my views and no one would vote for it if it did.
I shall leave you with a final link UKIP an apology
* Mind looking at the direction of my blog ranking I’m either going to have to find a more realistic blog ranking service or have to start counting myself in the lower end of that number.