UKIP’s victory in the recent European elections has sparked much angry conversation.
How can we, as a modern, free thinking and liberal society, be represented in Europe by a party steeped in racism?
As such a conversation raged amongst a group of indignant vet students when the results of the election were announced, I asked the question: “How many of you voted for someone else then?” Not a single person in the room said they had.
There is undeniably widespread disparity between politicians and the people they claim to represent. More than ever, people feel the country is being run by a political elite who are not concerned with improving the wellbeing of the population, which should, after all, be their primary responsibility.
Empty promises and recent austerity measures have sparked feelings of anger and frustration towards the mainstream parties. People have protested by looking to parties who appear to offer them something different, such as UKIP or The Green Party.
Comedian, turned political activist, Russell Brand, has encouraged people that the way forward towards his ‘spiritual revolution’ is to abstain from voting all together. He says that the system we have in place is an imitation of democracy and that its function is to sustain the people in power rather than give power to those voting to implement real change.
Now whether young people, particularly students, are genuinely angry at the establishment or simply not voting because they don’t care enough, is up for debate. I would imagine the truth lies somewhere in between the two but it is my opinion that people, particularly young people, feel that their vote doesn’t make a difference and that there is no one ‘worth voting for.’
With national turn out at just 34.17%, the lowest for sixteen years, the lack of political engagement by the majority of the population is evident. It is an encouraging thought that, despite UKIP’s victory in the recent elections, less than 10% of the population actually voted for them. The remaining 90 or so percent of us may feel ashamed and embarrassed that a party such as UKIP has been given the responsibility of representing us in Europe.
To denounce UKIP as a racist party is grossly unfair. I do not believe that the majority of people who vote for them are at all racist. I strongly believe however, that UKIP have played, and played very well, on the underlying fears we all, as human beings, have for those who are different to ourselves. The comments made by Mr Farage relating to his own discomfort with regards to hearing foreign languages on the train, only go to show the weaknesses in human nature that his party prey on.
Much of UKIPs pre-election propaganda was focussed on blaming the problems that this country faces on mass immigration from the EU, blowing the negative effects of immigration out of proportion and fuelling underlying racism in society.
UKIP themselves claim ‘not to be able to get through to the young and the educated.’ This is probably because there is no reasonable argument for leaving the EU and their popularity is based on exploiting the legitimate fears of the most vulnerable members of society.
One thing I think we should all learn from this latest election is that failing to vote because we don’t know who to vote for is dangerous. Perhaps it is better to choose the ‘lesser of two evils’ by ticking our ballot boxes, as opposed to allowing a party such as UKIP more power than most of us may feel comfortable with.