So there were local elections yesterday, these for councillors for the County Councils (broadly speaking, States in the US). Councils are run by a number of councillors, and overall majorities mean that certain parties control whole counties (again, broadly and simply speaking).
Here is the table of the 34 counties which were up for grabs:
So, mid term, you would always expect the party in power to lose seats – this being a coalition of Conservatives (right wing) and Lib Dem (centre-left).
But holy shit, we weren’t expecting the shit-storm of protest votes for the UKIP (UK Independence Party). This party started a s a break-away party to the Conservatives when they started moving to the centre.
The issue is that, in reality, the UKIP is the middle class acceptable face of racism and science denial. Here is the BBC rundown of what they astand for, my emphasis:
- EUROPE: Nigel Farage says he wants an “amicable divorce” from the European Union. Britain would retain trading links with its European neighbours but would withdraw from treaties and end subscription payments, adopting a similar relationship with the EU to Norway or Switzerland.
- IMMIGRATION: An end to the age of “mass uncontrolled immigration”. It wants a five year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement – and any future migration must be strictly limited to those who can “clearly be shown to benefit the British people as a whole and our economy”. Immigrants would not be able to apply for public housing or benefits until they had paid tax for five years. In order to achieve these goals Britain would have to leave the EU because there are no restrictions on other EU citizens moving to the UK while it remains a member.
- TAX: UKIP favours a flat tax – a single combined rate of income tax and national insurance paid by all workers. It claims this would end the complexity of the current system and allow people to keep more of the money they have earned. It would also lead to a major shrinking of the size of the state, which would revert to a “safety net” for the poorest. The party has yet to decide the rate at which the flat tax would be levied. Its policy at the 2010 election was 31% but a recent policy paper suggested 25%. It is having an internal debate about whether there should be two rates.
- EDUCATION: UKIP backs selection by ability and would encourage the creation of new grammar schools. It would give parents vouchers to spend in the state or private education sector. It also advocates the return of the student grant system to replace loans.
- HEALTH: UKIP says it has no plans to fundamentally change the NHS – it would, however, shrink the Department of Health and hand control to locally elected County Health Boards. It would also restore “traditional” non-university training for nurses.
- DEFENCE: According to a recent policy paper, UKIP would increase defence spending back to 2010 levels. It would build more warships and carry out an urgent review of the case for replacing Trident, including the option of a new British-built nuclear missile system capable of launch from air, sea or sub-surface vessels.
- ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: UKIP is sceptical about the existence of man-made climate change and would scrap all subsidies for renewable energy. It would also cancel all wind farm developments. Instead, it backs the expansion of shale gas extraction, or fracking, and a mass programme of nuclear power stations.
- GAY MARRIAGE: UKIP supports the concept of civil partnerships, but opposes the move to legislate for same-sex marriage, which it says risks “the grave harm of undermining the rights of Churches and Faiths to decide for themselves whom they will and will not marry”.
- LAW AND ORDER: UKIP would double prison places and protect “frontline” policing to enforce “zero tolerance” of crime.
- THE ECONOMY: UKIP is proposing “tens of billions” of tax cuts and had set out £77bn of cuts to public expenditure to deal with the deficit.
- TRANSPORT: UKIP says it is the only political party to oppose the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line arguing it will destroy countryside for little economic gain. It also opposes a third runway at Heathrow, arguing instead for an expansion of Manston airport, in Kent.
- SOCIAL ISSUES: UKIP has been vocal in its opposition to what it sees as “political correctness” in public life. It also argues that multiculturalism has “split” British society. It would legislate to allow smoking in pubs, in designated rooms, and hold local referendums on repealing the hunting ban.
- DEMOCRACY: The party wants binding local and national referendums on major issues.
Now, just read some of those bullet points. Climate denialists. Anti-gay rights. Pro-fricking hunt! Man, the British public have sent our country backwards. This is truly worrying. Don’t people realise who they are voting for? A protest vote is one thing, but this is fucking stupid. Have you seen the number of candidates gained? From single figures to three figures. As soon as states start having trouble, as soon as recessions hit hard, the right wing raise their ugly heads. Golden Dawn in Greece, UKIP in the UK.
I am SERIOUSLY pissed off. We might as well import the fucking Republicans.
[EDIT – A more reasoned analysis comes from a reaction to this frustration which I linked to on a group on facebook:
It’s all the more insulting because we live in an age in which virtually unlimited amounts of information is instantly available to us on our phones, much less PCs (for those that have them). So people are either wilfully ignorant, or agree with UKIP.
Sadly most of the people I spoke to who were pro UKIP were very simply bigots. I’ve heard all sorts from the good old days of when black people and white people were segregated, to wanting people out because they make London smell of curry(!).
As some people have commented, even voting UKIP as a protest vote is idiotic, if not dangerous, as it leads to the other parties trying to take ‘tough’ stances on various issues, which by extension is seem to legitimise the arguments UKIP make.
Sadly I was very much of the opinion that UKIP getting support comes at a very high price to the Tories. However I can’t help but to have nightmares about a 2015 coalition between Labour and UKIP (or the unthinkable: Conservatives and UKIP).
UKIP taking second place in a strong Labour seat is very disturbing, not least because they didn’t even run a candidate in the last election there, and so have managed to build that up from virtually nothing.
Ironically it seems the less people that vote (very understandably) the easier it becomes for big swings like this to happen.
That means encouraging people to take an active interest in voting for parties they have no interest in or respect for.
By comparison it’s probably very easy to get people to vote UKIP.]