UKIP are doing well because working-class communities are being ignored by the political elite

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eau de farage

There is a smell lingering. Its quite toxic, definitely past its sell by date, will induce nausea and headaches and if you are exposed to it too much, may result in you behaving like a pitchfork carrying caveman stuck in some 1900’s black and white movie.

This is the age of Ukip and it’s the new cologne in town. Everywhere we turn, there is Ukip and its caricature candidates venting their bile.  While we all throw our arms up in hysteria and despair at the explosion of Ukip, the seemingly toxic fragmentation of democratic politics and the rearing of that bogey-man, ye old man racist, on the cusp of a European election that could potential see poisonous, devious and diabolical politicians get elected, just maybe we should take a breather. Let’s get some fresh air and take stock for a moment.

Many of the left and the right surprisingly agree that Ukip (or some of its candidates and policies) are racist, or at the very least discriminatory to groups of people who they class as ‘foreign’. That usually places one in the racist category but let’s not split hairs.

The real question is: how did we get to a point when Ukip increasingly hold large polling majorities? The answer, my friends, is not one the liberal left or right are going to like because, aside from a majority right-wing press that perpetuates the myths Ukip peddle, that we are variously going to be overrun with immigrants taking our jobs/women/houses/culture (delete as required), the answer is closer to home.

You see, it’s our fault.  The reason Ukip are here and doing so well is because of the political elite and the powers that be ignoring the mostly working-class communities who in their droves are saying they will vote for a party that for all intend and purposes is a parody of itself.

And therein lies the rub.

Every week, I knock on doors and I am told “Sorry, we are voting Ukip”. Alongside the none of the above party, Ukip has become an enticing option. When I ask people why they are voting Ukip and we talk about their policies, we come to a blank. I have yet to meet a person on the door who:

A. Knows what policies Ukip have on the NHS, employment rights, tax, etc.

B. Is voting Ukip because they are out and out racists, or because they genuinely believe that Ukip are the answer to our democratic deficit.

The reasons I hear week in, week out are:

“I am voting Ukip because we need to shake up the system”

“I am voting Ukip because none of the other parties listen to us.”

“I am voting Ukip because MPs are in it for themselves and only look after their own.”

This isn’t an indictment on Ukip; this is an indictment on the ruling political classes and politicians as a whole. The rot didn’t set in overnight, like most things that mature with age, the rot of disaffection, of apathy, of hopelessness, of a divide and rule ideology and a sense of being so insignificant nobody is interested in hearing what you are saying, has been festering for the past forty years.

The people in power over successive decades who have created this space are seemingly baffled about how this can happen. Yet the vacuum that now exists for a party that not only contradicts itself, has policies that could not be put into practice and denies basic truths about its candidates, to occupy and occupy well was created by that very same powerful elite. While the politicos sneer in the background about the air, paper and cyber time given to the party, nobody wants to get a mirror and hold it up to witness why they are so popular.

I say this as a second-generation working-class Kashmiri woman from exactly the kind of area Ukip ply their trade. I have over twenty years experience living and working within some of the most deprived communities in the UK and it’s not difficult for me to understand why people express a desire to vote for a party that actually goes against the grain of our Britishness.

To dismiss Ukip supporters as racists or uneducated and making the wrong choices is too easy and allows the elite to abdicate responsibility. It also allows a distance to be created from ordinary people who live next door to you or I. (While there may be some truth in the latter part of the sentence, the former are simply untrue and perpetuates a culture of them, and us that seeks to further divide and rule, our already fractured communities.) The people I speak to are not racist. They are voiceless and what Ukip gives them is a voice.

One woman I spoke to, a lifelong Labour supporter, said: “People do not like being ignored – why should they be ignored? It divides the working classes… I am frightened that the vote is going to go down – I am frightened of Ukip.”

The simple truth of the matter is we have failed a significant portion of our society and that section is now flexing its muscles and we are in hysterical analysis.

We have a deep history of tolerance, compassion and bold governance. Let’s not let our own blindness send us into a abyss that is getting ever deeper. If Ukip gain large votes after 22nd May 2014, the first action we should take is to look in a mirror. The second action is going out and listening to people who voted for them, apologise for letting them down and seeing what we can remedy to get the country back on track for May 2015. This is a war of words and at the moment, the establishment are losing.

Amina Lone is the Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale

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