Are you not getting that promotion you want at work? I think it’s time you blamed the EU. Unable to shoot your noisy immigrant neighbours? Well, that’s down to some unacceptably semi-literate ruling passed by the European Court of Human Rights, which continues to shamelessly trample over the British judicial system. Suffering from embarrassing premature ejaculation? The fault lies entirely with a graphic catalogue of sinister EU directives designed solely to undermine the sovereign state of British manhood under a flurry of red tape. If we left the EU tomorrow, it’s safe to say that all these problems would evaporate instantaneously: it would certainly be the last we’d hear from that pesky Saharan dust, that’s for certain. Really, we should leave everything in the capable claws of UKIP, and i’m sure we’ll be fine.
Nigel ‘fags and beer for breakfast’ Farage is on a crusade to recapture the prelapsarian innocence this country was brutally robbed of in the 1975 referendum which saw Britain clamber awkwardly into bed with the European Common Market. The UKIP leader, who is more irrational complexes than man, has sauntered onto the political stage in the last few weeks, brushing Nearly Headless Nick Clegg aside in two highly choreographed debates on the positives and negatives of our membership of the EU. Farage had of course been an active concern before the debates: he’d become part of the political talk show furniture and is the undisputed figurehead of disgruntled conservatism. But with the recent Channel Four show ‘Nigel Farage: Who Are You?’ reinforcing the UKIP frontman’s omnipresence, it feels like UKIP have comprehensively gate-crashed UK politics, turning it, irreversibly so, into a four party system in a way the Green Party failed to do.
Having said that, I strongly believe that UKIP have not and cannot make any political capital with young voters. On issues like gay marriage and immigration, the extraordinary gulf between the mindset of a current Red-Brick University undergraduate and a grizzled UKIP acolyte is so gargantuan, that it can easily be filled with all the technocrats and sleazy admin merchants the EU institutions house twice over. I imagine most young Tory voters, who would sympathise with UKIP’s love of grammar schools and desire to have a flatter rate of tax, would find their social conservatism anathema to them. UKIP has the oldest membership base of all the major political parties and, contrary to the popular belief that they are packed with disaffected Tories, are in fact predominantly comprised of voters who would’ve been sympathetic to Old Labour, or of the floating variety. They are a party held together by foreign sellotape, imported glue, misguided sentiments and protest votes, and I am certain that if they were to, heaven forefend, get a seat in the 2015 general election, the party would be ruthlessly exposed as a hollow force that sounded much better when it didn’t have any power.
Much like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage has transcended his privileged background with his charisma and startlingly articulate tirades: demonstrating just how important a magnetic and colourful personality can be in helping disguise your despicable politics. However, the atrociously sycophantic show on Channel Four inadvertently revealed him as an extremely dangerous politician, masquerading under the facade of someone who is concerned about the plight of the most disadvantaged. He is a wretched free market warrior with deeply held convictions about the sanctity of uninhibited free trade. He is a neo-Thatcherite warrior, intent on reinforcing the dominance of the City of London and consecrating everything that generated the abhorrent levels of inequality we’re suffering from today. This leads me on nicely to his position on EU membership.
Most infuriatingly, Farage conclusively failed to outline what the economic and social consequences would be if Britain left the EU tomorrow. Despite this troubling ambiguity, results across several polls showed his arguments went down better with the public than those of the catastrophically inept Nick Clegg, who turned out to be Farage’s greatest asset. I don’t believe this lack of detail has anything to do with the limitations placed on the two leaders due to the format of the debates: Farage wilfully omitted crucial details surrounding what an exit would mean for workers’ rights or trade union restrictions for example, to fit his own pro-market agenda. I myself am still none the wiser as to what leaving the EU would mean for young people, and am sick of being mentioned in the speeches of hate filled politicians to further their unrepresentative agendas that do not reflect my desires and beliefs. The UKIP leader has converted the EU into a fetid repository for people’s withering execrations, and has turned millions of Brits into determined euro-sceptics, sadly bereft of objective knowledge about its institutions. Some people only have to see the Belgian flag to seize up with caustic fury at the thought of some unelected, hunchbacked crypto-Leninist formulating a law that would force plasterers to adopt mermaids on the third Thursday of every month. This is why a referendum on our membership is so dangerous and unadvisable: not enough of the electorate know enough about the EU to give an educated assessment of what the pros and cons of membership are, and what, in the long term, two fingers to the bothersome bureaucrats in Belgium would mean. How do you combat this? Education. Politics must be introduced as a compulsory subject at GCSE level, and the EU must be a facet of that course. The results won’t be evident immediately: this is a plan meant for the long term. I do not trust the mainstream media or politicians to give us the correct information which would help us all make judicious evaluations of our membership. Of course, all politicians are completely paralysed by myopic short-termism to say anything like this, so I might as well be roaring at a fish tank in my local pet shop for all it’s worth.
What’s curious is that Farage classes himself and his party as ‘anti-establishment’. This never ceases to tickle me. Farage is not a republican; he is not in favour of regulation on big businesses; nor is he desperate to separate church and state. He seems to hold the ludicrous belief that by attacking the London based media, the three main parties and their leaders, it somehow makes him a punk iconoclast from 1977 possessed by LSD and Marxist theory. I would love to bet my two copies of Oasis’ final album ‘Dig out Your Soul’ that he is a secret Clash fan who once modelled his facial hair on Friedrich Engels’s own mighty strange and weird, but unfortunately, I just can’t. Furthermore, conceding that they are now swaggering amongst the major parties, the scene Farage craves to be a part of, means they lose their ‘anti-establishment’ status. However, it does not guarantee UKIP a permanent place in the Premiership of political parties. It was only a few months ago on the Daily Politics that Andrew Neil dissected UKIP’s 2010 manifesto with clinical precision, in front of a sheepish Farage who claimed he wasn’t aware of some of the less flattering policies because he was unsure of how to use a website. This makes Farage’s ascendancy even more remarkable, and even more concerning.
UKIP are, to borrow some lyrics from Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Still Take You Home’, ‘a fad and a fashion’, albeit a dangerous one. UKIP are well and truly brawling with the big parties now, causing the Conservatives untold problems and holding the gaze of tabloids and broadsheets alike. However, they do not have a single elected MP. Optimistic predictions have been made about their performance in the European and Local elections in May, but the real test will come in 2015. It is important to remember that UKIP do not stand up for the interests of those who are anti-privatisation, supporters of trade unionists or multi-cultural Britain, despite the fact they are Britain’s ‘most working class party.’ They are a party clinging on to the hope that a socially conservative Britain that thankfully died a long time ago will be resurrected by their glorious leader. They are a party that will ravage public services in the name of profit and sanctify the irreparable schisms cleaved into the heart of the English nation by the rapacious and tyrannical Thatcher. Farage will have plenty of photos he can put in his albums, but it is important to not be taken in by his empty promises that UKIP would govern in a way that would benefit the working class of Britain.