Sometime in the past year I was in Scotland for a cousin’s wedding. It was three o’clock in the morning and much alcohol had been consumed. I was one of about ten stragglers in the hotel bar whose conversation inevitably turned to politics. An Uncle of mine staunchly told me, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t like or agree with any politicians, you don’t have to vote. But you do need to use your ballot, just scribble on it. You at least have to waste your paper.” That last statement is verbatim: “You have to waste your paper.”
It’s easy not to take UKIP seriously. Not merely conservative, they’re so far right that accusations of fascism have become cartoonish with bungling leader Nigel Farage frequently leaping in front of cameras to veer conversation away from racist or anti-EU messaging. But still, they want to retract Britain from Europe whilst reaping the benefits of our current presence and keep England filled with British people. Read into the last part as you wish.
I’m not the most politically active person out there. I keep up with the news enough to navigate my way through debates with housemates and that’s all. I don’t support UKIP but I am unreservedly pleased that they’ve risen to their current level of prominence following the European Election because they’ve given us something to be afraid of. They’ve given us a bad guy.
Our own David Berril wrote the following in his article The Rise of UKIP: The Frustrated Minority Triumph Over the Apathetic Majority:
It is my opinion that people, particularly young people, feel their vote doesn’t make a difference and that there is ‘no-one worth voting for’.
I desperately hope that David is correct because I’m part of that apathetic majority. I have never voted. At least not with a ballot. I’ve voted with life choices, the people I surround myself with and the decision to move from a small predominantly Caucasian city to a hub of ethnic and multicultural lifestyle and activity but I’ve never even registered to vote because politicians are so desperate to speak in shades of grey that I find it difficult to listen to without hearing what they’re not saying. And UKIP are no different, they’re just a lot worse at it. What they’re not saying is something I cannot stand by and watch come to pass.
I do believe that the majority has merely been apathetic. In recent weeks I’ve heard colleagues at work ridiculing UKIP and their policies openly, but nobody seems willing to say they voted against them. Personally I like to believe that Farage is leading a performance art troupe with the motive of instigating discussion about the state of the political landscape, but even though that’s probably not the case the actions of this party have still started important conversations.
In a funny twist of fate, whilst planning this article on an extended train ride, I struck up a conversation with a stranger who noticed I was writing a political piece. He’s worked for Labour for years and confessed until recently has faced his work with a nonplussed demeanour. Recent events have convinced him to take a stronger stance in his community which UKIP dominated in the recent election. Curiously he didn’t try to convert me to Labour but instead gave me his honest advice: to vote tactically. It reminded me of my Uncle’s position. I’m not going to waste my paper, though, I’m going to vote. For myself and I think a lot of people that probably wouldn’t be the case if not for UKIP.
Picture Rights; Alan Cleaver