Is a drift to the Right an opportunity to rebuild democracy from below?

This week’s local elections have seen an almost total collapse of the BNP. Depending on how you do figures, they have also seen a decrease in UKIP, or marginal increase…. The Europeal elections see the same BNP collapse and an surprisingly small increase in people voting UKIP.  European elections saw an even lower turnout than last time…so as usual most people voted I DON’T CARE.

But does the hype around UKIP, the Pan European rise in the Far Right, and fear of this amongst the 90% who didn’t vote UKIP,  mean more people at community level who do care are likely to get involved? In Flatpack, I make the case that there has never been a better time for this. My fellow ifF councillor Toby Eliot sent me this on the subject:

Over the last few weeks a significant minority of the posts in my Facebook feed have been informing me how bad UKIP are. It’s not just one point being made; I’ve been tutored on the antics of bizarrely behaved candidates (where do they find them?), crazy policies rolling back civil rights and a frightening level of open intolerance. The information has arrived in a variety of formats including bold info graphics, parodies of election leaflets and links to more in-depth articles.

My concern is that I don’t think this is the right response to UKIP. The newest ‘main’ party in British politics haven’t found success by speaking for an unrepresented majority of voters or by picking on concerns that no one else touches. UKIP are gaining vote by filling the representation vacuum as more and more people become turned off democracy by broken political parties.

Given that the people posting this stuff are my (virtual) friends it’s no surprise that I generally agree with the sentiments; which is the issue: I never was going to vote UKIP. People who are voting UKIP aren’t seeing this stuff and if they were would it change their mind? What these people want is not to be told how wrong their decision is but to be given a real alternative.

If all of us who posted something on Twitter or Facebook or commented on a newspaper article pooled our effort could we provide an alternative, positive protest option for the disillusioned voter in 2015?


About the author

Peter Macfadyen

Social activist, ex Mayor and Leader of Frome Town Council, author, public speaker, undertaker, grandfather.

One Comment

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  • The national response to the result of the European vote has done nothing to change my mind that we’re looking in the wrong direction for a solution to our crisis of representation. Two things stand out:

    1. Every piece I’ve read, watched or heard since the results were declared has focused on how existing political parties will respond. But the existence and approach of these parties has caused this result. Whatever their response will be it won’t be the answer.

    2. UKIP haven’t succeeded in reinvigorating our democracy. Yes they have the largest share of the vote but the turnout fell. All they have achieved is to win votes from existing parties. Any real solution would get more people voting.

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