A “UKIP earthquake”? No – a landslide for disengagement


"UKIP earthquake"?Politicians don’t care much about turnout. That’s why most politicians and commentators don’t talk about it.

What politicians care about is winning.

There’s plenty of news right now about a “UKIP earthquake“. The BBC reports UKIP gaining 30% in an area where they had not run before. They explain excitedly the prospect of UKIP as a disruptive force. So it seems.

However, I’ve just learned that the turnout in Wycombe District — somewhat larger than the constituency — was 41,381, or 32.84%. Most of the electorate did not vote.

That’s not a UKIP earthquake. It is a landslide for disengagement.

A stalwart member of Wycombe Conservatives just called. A long-serving Royal Air Force pilot during the Cold War, he’s just returned from Normandy. He and friends had stood on the beaches reflecting what cost was borne in living memory to preserve freedom and democracy for the United Kingdom.

It is a tragic fact that politicians are once again talking to themselves while commentators encourage them to do so. We have failed to inspire the public even to throw us out.

The challenge after this election is not how to defeat UKIP. It is how to speak truthfully, hopefully and realistically to a population thoroughly disenchanted with the entire political system.

For those of us who believe prosperity and joy is to be found in right relationship with other people, it is to set out how our present circumstances are the consequence of abdicating our personal and social responsibilities to the coercive apparatus of the state. It is to explain how liberty under the law, personal responsibility, compassion and mutuality are a better basis for a good life and a good society than the old lie that everyone can live at the expense of everyone else through politics and power, law and regulation.

I don’t doubt that is the harder path. It is the one all politicians of sincerity should take.

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Comments & Responses

7 Responses so far.

  1. GTE says:

    old lie that everyone can live at the expense of everyone else through politics and power, law and regulation.
    ============

    So why are you taking people’s NI and spending it leaving debts?

    Why are you getting tough on benefits tourism? 150 a week for 3 months means no income tax and less than 2p a day in NI. If that’s for a family of 4 they cost the rest of us 45K.

    10K for pensions
    12K for education
    13K for HB
    8K for the NHS
    Then the welfare part.
    Police, defence, democracy etc all cost too.

    That is living on someone else’s expense, and Cameron thinks he’s getting tough on benefit tourism. He isn’t, he is encouraging it.

  2. Steve Sturgess says:

    During yesterdays news bulletin,representatives from the Conservatives,Labour and Lib Dems lined up to sing the praises of their achievements at the polls. On occasion saying “we get it”.

    How very patronizing.You get nothing.

    With the government front bench
    made up largely of old Etonians or similar, and the Labour leader clueless to the cost of the average weekly shopping basket. Never say you get it when you plainly don’t.

    All you’ve got is an extra three weeks leave.(self awarded). A population disenfranchised with politics,with ever present threat of extreme views or behaviours because you don’t “Get It”

    • Steve Baker says:

      If you live in Wycombe, please call High Wycombe 448408 to agree a time for a discussion.

      I realise few believe we work when Parliament is not sitting but it is nevertheless true.

  3. GTE, I think that comment is rather unfair. Mr. Baker is but one small cog in a very large machine. He is not personally doing any of the things you are accusing him of. You may be able to validly claim his party is, but not at his say so! He is stating that each politician needs to change and better themselves, both in the other parties and in his own. Although it would take a miracle for this to happen he is not wrong to say it, the more the merrier in this respect.

  4. patently says:

    You’re right that there has been a strong shift towards not voting; this has been developing over several General Elections and is symptomatic of a general mistrust of politicians. There is a cosy stalemate that has emerged between the media and senior politicians, whereby the media limit their questions to ones designed to catch politicians out and trip them into saying something that can be misinterpreted, and politicians avoid saying anything of any substance or meaning in reply. Both tendencies reinforce the other. Both lead to people switching off.

    UKIP have succeeded in tapping into this and presenting themselves as a break from the old order. In that regard, by focusing on “gaffes” made by UKIP spokesmen or candidates, the traditional media have played into their hands by confirming that UKIP are not part of the club and that the Establishment is ganging up on them.

    There are opportunities in this for the Conservatives, though. Labour have shown themselves to be a failure (I think it has been quoted that no opposition party has ever not won a Euro election until now?), so the clear focus must now be on UKIP. The question is, why have so many Conservative supporters left for UKIP? My suggestion would be that a general mistrust of Cameron, a feeling that when the day comes he will wriggle out of the referendum promise, and a feeling that he is a highly experienced politician and “one of them”, are the main reasons.

    To an extent, Cameron’s shiftiness on policy has possibly been because he has been hamstrung by the constraints of coalition politics. But now, with the Liberals effectively dead in the water and the EU staring at a clear mandate for a British exit if current terms are maintained, he can afford to strike out, say what he thinks, and maybe even do it.

    In his shoes, I would

    (a) Describe the exact form of EU that he would wish to see. I for one don’t actually know what that is.

    (b) Set. A. Date. For. The. Referendum. Also, publish the question that will be set. That way, it might look as if he is committed to it.

    (c) Go to Brussels and ask for his vision of Europe. Explain bluntly that they can say “no” if they wish but it appears that the UK will leave if they do so. Point out that there is now a hard, immovable deadline.

    (d) Don’t be afraid to tell interviewers they’ve asked a stupid question, or one based on a truckload of false assumptions. Stop being a Westminster pansy and speak up. Don’t let them dictate the terms of the interview. The media are not your friends, stop treating them as such. Show a little steel.

    I know of two Wycombe votes that may go back from UKIP to Conservative if this happens.

  5. kev says:

    Rather than denigrate Ukip, I think you should have long joined them. I say this because I generally like what you say, particularly on economic and financial issues and, frankly, I fail to see why you still stick to a fake party like the Tories if not for the usual reasons.

    In this field, you are definitely closer to former Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom and, to some degree, Farage himself, than to any other Tory MP.

    As for Nigel Farage’s ‘earthquake’ it is a symptom of the same disengagement you speak of. Around 20% of Ukip voters had not voted for over 15-20 years or never at all. That says something about Ukip surely.

  6. slewis says:

    Your article in the Bucks Free Press rightly (in my view) underlines the danger behind voter apathy and “protest” voting. However, I was very disappointed in the literature that all parties – including the Tories – produced for the EU elections. All concerned covered domestic matters and made a preliminary joist for the general election. The one concrete message I took away from the Tory leaflet, was that the government had “rejected a Fiscal bill that would have threatened the City of London’s business” and had also helped to keep the EU budget figure from inflating. It has taken me some time searching the web to find out what that Fiscal Bill was about, aiming it seems, to supervise the type of toxic financial products that led to the recent crisis – Boris says the Fiscal directive would have threatened the AIM in particular. Meanwhile, on the wider European stage, the UK also seems to think it can be isolationist and ignore the increasing risks of democratic instability in parts of greater Europe. As the UK is now thought of as marginal to Europe within Brussels because of our referendum on membership and the rise of UKIP, UK governments will have no say. Couldn’t the Tories (or any other party) have stressed that, just because of increasing tension in Ukraine, (avoidable or not), Russia has pledged to export its gas to China over a 20 year period, which will affect the UK energy market and drive up energy costs in a way that completely dwarfs petty deals over capping utility bills? Exiting Europe will also deprive many people of skilled jobs, in my experience. (My husband worked for 3 Car Hire, American-owned global companies in the last 20 years of his working life; I worked for two companies that subsequently became American or European owned. Those jobs would not have existed if the UK was not in the Eurozone.)
    I think all political parties treated the electorate a bit like “muppets” in shying away from these issues. By contrast, the German public were treated to a thoughtful analysis of what was wrong (and right) in the EU by a former federal republic president, Roman Herzog, which I found very helpful. Here it is in translation (from Der Spiegel):
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/construction-faults-at-the-heart-of-the-eu-will-cause-its-disintegration-a-971283.html

    I would find it really refreshing if one of the major political parties took this candid, impartial sort of stance in the run-up to any referendum. Immigration is an issue across Europe and, no doubt, will soon be subject to restrictions within Europe, hence no reason to push for leaving EU as a way of controlling it.