A little while ago, I wrote a blog post abut why immigration is a feminist issue. It focused on the appalling conditions female asylum seekers are facing in detention centres such as Yarl's Wood and the ways in which their experiences of rape and abuse are disregarded by both the staff at these centres and our own government. It argued that we could do better than this, that as a country that prides itself on democracy and humanity we should not put women who come to our country seeking refuge into an environment that makes over half of them suicidal.
So now we have come to a point where a party that has very regressive views on immigration, that wants to put all asylum seekers in detention centres like Yarl's Wood, has won a national election.
Ukip's campaigns work by singling out the most vulnerable groups of people in our society and making them into scapegoats for anything that is remotely credible on the surface. At the moment, that means targeting immigrants, particularly Romanians, and vilifying them so that the rest of the population believe that the best thing to do would be to rid of them. Remind you of anyone?
I'm not going to go too far into comparisons with The National Socialist German Workers' Party because I'm aware that many people would believe that to be a ridiculous overreaction, which is a shame because it is not. After all, UKIP have already called for the arrest of one particular blogger who made some less than flattering remarks about the party. And they associate themselves with other parties in Europe that have been known to make disturbing remarks about Anders Breivik. But in the interests of not hinging my entire argument on these comparisons, I'll move on.
The thing that many people don't appear to have noticed is that it isn't only immigrants that are on Ukip's list of potential scapegoats. If their popularity and power continue to grow, it is likely that they will begin to target other vulnerable groups that are currently tucked away in their manifesto. If you consider the fact that they oppose gay marriage, want to make cuts to maternity leave and want to repeal the human rights act, it becomes clear which groups these are.
If Ukip win the next general election - a possibility which now seems a lot less remote - women and the LGBT community may also become targets. We may be blamed for the degradation of society, the economic crisis and anything else that Farage would care to pin on us. We may become the subjects of bigoted billboards and will quite literally lose our rights. Imagine what this would mean for the advancement of feminism, for women's refuges and Rape Crisis centres, for the rights of trans men and women. As fits the rigid patterns of history, straight white men would be the sole beneficiaries of a Ukip government. So why are people voting for this? Why are women voting for this?
In the simplest sense, they want change. They have become disillusioned by British politics, by the system that favours only the rich, and for this I cannot blame them. The Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems have about as much range of thought as a teaspoon, so much so that it's like a wolf dressing up in several different, yet equally unconvincing, sheep outfits. But, as the comedian Stewart Lee has said, if you're going to place a protest vote, place it for a nice party or a hilarious party, or write something offensive on your ballot paper at the very least. Don't vote for a party that are so backwards that they put inverted commas around the phrase climate change.
Of course, it's also possible that those voting for Ukip are gullible or naïve, haven't actually read the manifesto, or really do want to lock up rape survivors, get rid of the human rights act and deny climate change. If this is the case, we've got a lot more problems than we first thought.
If this election has taught us anything, it's that we need to turn the tide on UKIP. We need to renew the faith of the British public in non-radical parties and to persuade them that not voting because they don't think politics affects them is no longer a rational decision. It's time that we all used our votes to stop our country sinking further into a pit of self-serving xenophobia, and that we wake up to the potential realities of a Ukip government.