UKIP victory is a false dawn for British democracy
It cannot be denied that UKIP have had a good month. Not only has Nigel Farage been invited to take part in the party leader’s TV debate in 2015, but Tory defector Douglas Carswell was recently elected as UKIP’s first MP in the Clacton by-election- a serious blow for the three main parties.
What should we make of UKIP’s recent success and promise of a new kind of politics? Carswell’s assertion that ‘change is coming’ falls completely flat when the obvious is pointed out: the same person was elected under a different badge. UKIP are hardly challenging the political status quo by getting a white, male, middle-aged former Tory elected. True ‘change’ would be seeing more women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ and disabled people elected, something which is unlikely to happen under UKIP.
For many, recent events have only served to cement a dislike for UKIP. In an interview with Newsnight Europe, Farage said that he wanted to ‘control the quantity and quality of people who come […] people who do not have HIV’. In case you think this could have been misconstrued, Farage later confirmed that he would extend the ban to people with tuberculosis too. There was also a suggestion that those with HIV were as ‘undesirable’ to Britain as convicted Latvian murderer Arnis Zalkans.
This is an ignorant, dangerous and quite frankly, sickening view. NHS shortages are an important issue but to characterise HIV sufferers as ‘the other’ is inexcusable. Farage’s comments hark back to when there was a huge stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS, which thanks to the dedication of activists, medical professionals and many others, is in decline. Now thanks to him, there is a real danger that many will be discouraged from seeking treatment or getting tested.
Furthermore, to suggest that those with HIV bring nothing more to this country other than costly medical expenses is horrifying. This hardly needs stating, but there are thousands of HIV positive people all over the country who enrich our society.
Despite this pseudo-revolutionary talk and straight-out bigotry, Farage will be on our screens in the party leader’s TV debate. This would be bearable were it not for the fact that thus far, no invitation has been extended to Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett. The Green Party have one seat in Parliament: the same as UKIP. The Green Party are also polling at the same level of support as the Liberal Democrats and received more votes than them in the recent European elections. Logic would dictate therefore, that the Green Party are more than eligible to take part.
This UKIP-bias in the media makes a complete mockery of democracy. Not only that, but it also means the line-up is, once again, entirely white, middle-aged men. The matter of quotas is subject to much debate, but here it isn’t even a question of that. Natalie Bennett happens to be a woman and has as much right to be on that stage as the rest of them. So why has she been excluded?
Farage claims to speak to all voters, but in reality he speaks to those who are afraid and are disillusioned with the three main political parties. UKIP’s meteoric rise is a wake-up call: let’s not ignore it. We deserve better from our political system and those who govern us.