There has been a strong reaction to UKIP topping the Euro 2014 polls in the UK. The media seem pretty divided between the “we must protect British interests” line on the one hand, and the “UKIP are Nazis and Farage is like Hitler” line on the other. The latter line is dangerous because if you disagree with it, it immediately looks like those who oppose UKIP are getting hysterical over nothing.
For the sake of responding to the actual facts, I read UKIP’s 2014 local manifesto on their website. Their policies on Europe are well known, but there were a few surprises, such as all visitors to the UK including tourists would require proof of private medical insurance, and a plan to allocate social housing first to those whose parents and grandparents have lived locally. So it isn’t even just about being British; it’s also about being local in the sense of three generations living in the same town their whole lives.
Nothing good can come from this narrowing of scope. We learn by interacting with other people, through collaboration and the ability to see things from different perspectives. If you are advocating on the one hand “local living” in the UK, and on the other vastly reducing the scope of people from outside the UK to visit, the result will naturally be rarely, if ever, coming into contact with people from different backgrounds. This allows manipulation of fear of the outsider and does absolutely nothing to encourage thought or creativity, because it’s removing an external stimulus. If you add to that the policies of leaving the EUCHR and banning political correctness, it is inevitable that anyone from a minority group will be in a vulnerable position. Make no mistake – even if UKIP is not issuing racist statements (although there are plenty of quotes from its individual members in that vein), it absolutely will create a culture in which racism makes an ugly return and where people start thinking again in terms of “them” and “us”.
It saddens me that this party has gained any momentum at all, because it’s like willfully stepping back in time for all the wrong reasons. But I think (and hope) that this year’s results are part of a bubble which will burst in the 2015 General Election.
What conclusions can be drawn? I’d say: don’t despair, but do be careful. If you’re using your vote as a protest against the status quo, please read the manifesto of the party first and make sure you’d approve of all of their platform were they to get into power.