Hardly a day goes by without the rise in the popularity of UKIP featuring somewhere in the news. Generally it revolves around some outrageous comment one of their candidates or elected members have made and the warranted condemnations that inevitably follows. UKIP rebut by claiming these are smears by the media and the establishment. The fact is that without the media they would be nothing seems to pass Nigel Farage by. The argument that it is the 'establishment' again is flawed, due to the fact that this is not 1950 and the old boy network is not what it used to be. You only have to look at the make up of the House of Commons, to see that the vast majority of members come from everyday back grounds. Besides what UKIP call smear, most of us would call scrutiny, which everyone who puts themselves up for election should be subject to.
Nonetheless after all the reports of racism, homophobia, sexism and so on, UKIP support doesn't seem to be dented. In fact maybe around a third of those voting on the 22nd will be casting their vote for them, which in itself to me is disturbing mainly because I have always thought of ourselves as a very open and liberal country. This is partly why I think we should fear the rise in the popularity of UKIP. More importantly however is the fact they are enjoying such support without any real policies and people only knowing what they stand against and not in the main what they stand for.
Currently I would argue that we are experiencing Farage mania, much like we experienced Clegg mania during the 2010 General Election campaign. Look how that turned out!
I feared Clegg mania in 2010, not for it's electoral impact on my party but for the fact it was based on nothing as such, other than he sounded good in a debate. Nick Clegg's popularity along with his parties rose significantly after the debate, even though his new supporters in the main didn't know his parties policies. The same is the case with Nigel Farage and UKIP now. We have no idea what their polices are other than they are against the EU, against foreign aid, against HS2 and against equal marriage. Looking through any of the their political literature you cannot find anything they are actually in favour of, yet as I said before. Possibly a third of those voting, will be voting for them. That is what I think we should fear the most!
What has happened to our political system in our country, where elections face becoming another version of Britain's Got Talent or X Factor. Whoever comes up with the best act or performance will be voted into power regardless of what they actually stand for.
Sound bites such as " help us to help you get your country back" sound great but what actually do they want to do if they get "our country back"? What are their policies on Education, the NHS, transport, Law and Order, Development, Welfare and the list goes on.
We are already increasing our trade links with countries such as China and Brazil. The Prime Minister and Chancellor have been on numerous trade missions to help British business succeed overseas. When asked which of the laws currently made in Europe UKIP would like to repeal or change they have no answer other than immigration. Something the Prime Minister has pledged to bring back under the control of the UK government.
The main political parties with a significant amount of help from the media, have clearly left a void where a significant number of the electorate feel they can and want to vote for a party they know little or nothing about. What we do know in my opinion is very disturbing.
Politicians clearly need to regain the full trust of the British electorate and replace soundbites with real policies of substance. Ed Milliband and his team don't help by coming up with populist 'policies' that are solely aimed at vote grabbing rather than anything of substance.
British politics has fallen into a trap of worrying too much of what people feel rather than think. People jump to conclusions based on the smallest soundbites/headlines rather than read the whole story/policy thinking the worst of politicians. Is this because we have become lazy at explaining our policies? Lazy in the habit of using soundbites, that have now allowed parties such as UKIP to use them with success. Is it simply that the British people are so distrusting of politicians they now only hear what they want to hear?
Whatever the answers are to the the questions I feel the we should all be afraid by the rise in the popularity of UKIP.