Over the weekend I contemplated whether writing a short blog about last week's election would be wise. I am no psephologist and thus quite likely to misunderstand or misinterpret what has just happened.
But two things overruled that thought:
- My original purpose for blogging which was experimental and reflective and
- My visceral depression that the UK could be so stupid as to vote in droves for UKIP!
I cannot comfort myself with the thought that this is just a protest vote... a finger in the eye of the established parties. I too have a sense of disenfranchisement. None of the leaders of the major parties comes across as having anything other than the most fragile of principles that evaporate at the first whiff of power.
Now don't get me wrong. I am not completely naive. Politics has always been about the pursuit of power. You aim to say something that hits the middle ground between what you think people want to hear and what you think they'll believe from you. Hence after crises parties at the extreme tend to prosper as they are seen as either:
A: Offering an easily digested but false explanation for the problem
B: An alternative to the sorry lot that created the problem
But the week after Prince Charles allegedly compared Putin to Hitler, it is quite easy to see the echoes nearer to home of the decline of the Weimar republic, the end of the Romanovs or the collapse of the Ancien Regime. For Jews and the Treaty of Versailles in the 1930s read Romanians and the Treaty of Lisbon now.
Neither Blair nor Brown nor Cameron/Clegg were responsible for the collapse of the financial markets and the subsequent depression. Nor were any of them responsible for the unparalleled period of growth and prosperity that preceded it. Politicians spend entire careers trying to take credit for things they had no hand in and denying any responsibility for the things they actually did. So there is no point in punishing them and self-harming ourselves on a pan European level by electing UKIP, Le Front National or Neo Nazis.
This is the trouble with complexity. It is complex. Although I am embarrassed by the percentage of people who voted for UKIP across the UK, I am rather proud of London where they only managed single digits. As UKIP's spokesperson Suzanne Evans said on the Today programme the other day,
"We do have a more media savvy, well educated population in London and they are more likely to have read some of the negative press that there has been about us and I think that they'd be more likely to believe it" Source Huffington Post
That really does bear re-reading. Their own spokesperson is basically calling UKIP voters ignorant, credulous fools. But that doesn't matter because these same voters are unlikely to read newspapers much less listen to the Today programme.
But the main parties cannot call these voters idiots... it's not a good way to woo them back.
If we want to prevent history from repeating itself we must learn from it. I don't care if you vote Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem, SNP, Plaid, Green even the Late Lord Sutch would be worth a protest vote. Just don't vote for the dangerous but charming simpletons who think blaming foreigners and homosexuals for all our problems will actually make anything better.