It’s coming. It’s bloody coming. That fateful Thursday the 22nd which sees you get up in the morning, wetting the bed in crippling excitement, armed like a political shotgun when you’ve picked up the clumsy black crayon, tears forming as you know you’re changing the very fabric of British political history! Can you feel that raw passion of democracy-fever? Can you?!?
You probably don’t, and frankly, I don’t blame you. Europe is about as sexy as Andrew Marr in lingerie: Most of us don’t want to know about it, and the minority that do only want to know all the ins and outs in order to tell everyone what’s good and bad about it.
But 2014 is different. The tweed-wearing maverick that is Nigel Farage has created a media frenzy, increasing interest, and painted the European issue as ‘I want in’ or ‘I want out’. It’s hard to outright hate the man – even if you do despise what he says, there’s no doubt he pulls the best faces in British politics and looks like he ribbets when he’s getting angry...
It’s probably true that this cult-factor is only matched by Boris in Big Town down south, and this populism isn’t necessarily bad because it’s one of the biggest factors that win elections these days. But never before has a party run a campaign so heavily weighted on one individual.
So what if we scratch at the surface of UKIP? What do we find beneath the squidgy-cheeked man at its frontline?
We find a party littered with contradictions. Remember Godfrey Bloom MEP condemning aid to ‘Bongo Bongo Land’? Or even more recently, David Silvester arguing against gay marriage because it caused the flooding in the south-west? Farage responded by saying he wanted to remove ‘silliness’ from his party, and recently asked people to ‘stop calling us racist’. Well, mate, you’re barking up the wrong tree: Even its own party members are leaving due to its campaign surrounded by rhetoric like this:
I don’t want to attack the racist impotent too much, although it is important. This is because even the most rational of us are inclined to vote for them on Thursday, simply because a high number of us are fed up with waiting for a controversial political structure to change and work for Britain.
Instead I’m attacking the way UKIP have turned the question of Europe into a black and white, dichotic yes-or-no debate. They hate everything Europe, even though the Union has done good for us in a number of ways – by bringing in safety measures on lorries so cyclists are safer on the roads; by bringing businesses opportunity to trade on an equal basis in Europe; by allowing us students to study through the Erasmus scheme; by providing chronic skills shortages in Scotland and Wales to be reduced through the freedom of movement.
Not everything about Europe is perfect – its economic policy needs to be reviewed, the migration issue has ground for readdressing, and it has caused difficulty in Westminster. But not everything about Europe is detrimental – these points listed above would be almost impossible for our government to pass by itself.
So on Thursday, I implore you to go out and vote for whatever you believe is right. But if you despise the European Union, vote for the party that does not see everything European as a tragic mess. I’m voting for the Greens, partially because I’m a free-loving daisy chain who has a shit haircut and too much time to love everybody, but mostly because they’re the only party who want to positively work with and make change in the European Union. If anything, even if you ‘don’t do politics’, just go to the ballot box and vote against the party that promotes fear in the people’s heart. Use that crayon as a middle finger to irrational politics.
By Jon Lupton