This must be one of the most interesting and contentious Euro Elections I can remember and that’s for one reason, UKIP.
Mr Farage has, almost single handedly, made this election far more important than the normal run of the mill Euro Elections. He’s managed this miraculous feat by offering what none of the main parties really want. The chance for the citizens of the UK to have a say in the continued membership of the United Kingdom in the EU. (I know David Cameron has made noises about an EU referendum but he did that before the last general election and nothing came of it. I believe that even if the Conservatives win in 2015 – or 2014 – they’ll find a reason to worm their way out of a referendum.)
Farage’s UKIP is part of a wider movement in Europe that is not happy with the EU and the way it’s run. The discontent runs from Greece to Germany and then to the UK. People across the continent are looking at the way they’re governed and see an institution that can only be described as undemocratic and unrepresentative. UKIP’s success is partly based on tapping into this groundswell of discontent.
But UKIP’s popularity isn’t just based on their EU bashing stance. They’ve also listened to those who aren’t living inside the Westminster Bubble. I’m referring to people who do care about the Bogeyman issue that is immigration. I’ll say it again, IMMIGRATION! (I bet there are some Lefty types out there who are already crying “Racist” and “Fascist” just because I’ve written that word twice.)
So what is it that people are concerned with when it comes to immigration (oops, me bad)? It’s the perception that our nation isn’t quite what it used to be. That hordes of barbarians are at the gates and threatening to take people’s homes, their jobs, their women, their beer (which they can have, tastes disgusting to me) and control over their lives. Just look at the recent furore over Subway and their use of Halal products in a relatively small number of their outlets. Much of our populace appears to feel unhappy with the current state of immigration into the UK and the main political parties have failed to address those fears (whether unfounded or not).
I suspect that the mainstream political parties are about to pay for their lack of listening skills when it comes to the subject of immigration. I suspect that UKIP might well pull off an electoral shocker and win today’s Euro Elections. Then what? Will we see Labour, Conservatives and LibDems suddenly changing their tune over Europe and immigration? Can we expect our politicians to suddenly volte-face in an attempt to pander to popular feelings over these issues in an attempt to win the next General Election? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
Finally, I’d ask you all to vote today. Get out there and register you opinion, even if it’s just a spoilt ballot. Otherwise our political masters, both in Europe and Westminster, will just assume they can get away with anything they like because the citizenry of the UK just doesn’t care.