I would never really describe myself as a political creature. Yes, I probably pay a little more attention to political events than most people I know—but never with a mind to party loyalty, and always with a rather fetching air of scepticism (if not outright cynicism) about me when I do so. While I do have “leanings”, they are tempered by, I like to think, just enough intelligence to prevent me from ever becoming, as too many are, to my mind, entrenched. Consequently, over the years, I have voted for all three of the main political parties, my decisions based on what I believed at the time was right for the country and, yes, for me.
So have I ever considered voting UKIP? No. And would I ever consider voting UKIP? Well, if the title of this piece hasn’t already made it clear, no, I absolutely would not.
My reasons are quite simple to enumerate and explain. However much cleaning up Farage claims to have done within the party, many of its candidates are still unapologetically homophobic and much farther to the right than I would ever wish to be comfortable with. The kind of voter they attract is also a concern: all too often they are either politically naive, racist or a particularly worrying combination of the two. As a populist party, they quite clearly know how to home in on the concerns of so-called “ordinary people”; unfortunately, they also know how to represent these concerns in such a way that becomes disproportionate—and which, whether they accept it or not, in part serves to legitimise and facilitate the growing far right attitudes we are today seeing.
That immigration is an issue that needs to be addressed is undeniable. Sensible debate free from xenophobic undercurrents should always be the way. Policy should reflect our needs as a nation but also the responsibility that comes with being the sixth richest nation in the world (or fourth or fifth, depending on whom you talk to). It’s all well and good saying that we should take care of our own first and foremost—but that fails to acknowledge that the wealth we enjoy (yes, comparatively speaking, even the poorest among us “enjoy” that wealth) is founded on a history and indeed a present that has and continues to exploit the resources, labour and expertise of other countries. It may be claimed that we give a lot. We do. But we have taken so much more. Say that that was not of your choosing as much as you like, the life you live is nonetheless built upon it.
Of course, who you choose to vote for is down to you. I, however, could never and would never subscribe to the “them and us” mentality that, however hard they might try to shake it, clings doggedly to UKIP and its supporters. It’s an approach that is at best divisive—at worst, destructive.
©2015 Gary William Murning