The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), led by the charismatic and controversial Nigel Farage, are being widely quoted as topping the polls. Upon review of some of these polls it certainly looks like they are proving to be a very robust challenge to the main parties. UKIP are providing attention to some major contentious political issues that our country faces, namely immigration and European Union membership. The Green Party is also getting a lot of attention with regards to their predicted gains.
A particular YouGov poll puts them ahead of the Liberal Democrats and on track to win three times as many MEPs as they currently field. The Green Party, in much the same way as UKIP, offer an alternative viewpoint on the current status quo dominated by the Conservatives and Labour and are willing to address environmental policy in ways that the others cannot.
Why are Labour and the Conservatives suffering so badly at the hands of these other parties? Well it really comes down to their policies and their leadership. Labour and Conservative have historically been the choice for many decades and they naturally hold on to this concept with keen arrogance.
Since the conception of New Labour in the 1990s the party’s policies have moved to more closely resembling the policies of the Conservatives, so we no longer have stark political differences as we used to. However, now being firmly in the age of the Spin Doctor party leadership, politicians are more likely to make decisions based upon how they will be received by the general public, which has destroyed a lot of integrity on both sides for many people.
If we look at Scotland it is an altogether different picture. UKIP does not look like it will get the hold in Scotland as it will down in England. Scotland currently has 2 Scottish National Party MEPs, 2 Labour MEPs, a Conservative MEP and a Liberal Democrat MEP.
On the other hand, YouGov has looked into the rise in the popularity of the Greens and their impact could be quite massive. It seems that the Greens are mostly taking their votes from Liberal Democrat supporters, which could see the potential demise of the Liberals as a political party. Their support has fallen to such a low degree that they are now struggling to find candidates to stand in local elections.
In the 2010 general election, the Liberal Democrats offered the more radical alternative to the two main parties and, so far, have failed to capitalise on their position within the ConDem Coalition.
People now see the Greens as the radical alternative and the Greens, unlike the Liberals, would do well to not renege on any promises they make. The Green support now stands at 10% while the Liberals have slipped from 9% to 7%. Maybe the Green message of the “Common Good” has struck a chord with some people.
Protests votes are extremely important, like any vote is, but we must be careful not to squander them on parties that might not address the issues we consider important. Referring to the Blogspot page, Another Angry Voice, we can see there are many options for protest/alternative votes: the Greens, Plaid Cymru, No2EU, Pirate Party UK, SNP and National Health Action Party. Just think back to the 2010 general election when the Liberal Democrats were inundated with support from Labour and Conservative defectors alike. The Liberals offered change to tuition fees, the voting system and democracy as a whole. So far we have seen very little attempt to implement these promises. Choose wisely.
Whatever way you vote this May it is extremely important that you do so. If you have the chance then you should participate in our political system, even if it is to spoil your ballot paper. The European Parliament decides on animal rights, consumer rights, the environment, international trade, regional economic development and workers’ rights, so it most definitely affects you.
Whatever the outcome of the election, I think the result should definitely be a wakeup call to the main parties for them to listen more and for the public to speak more – it will achieve that through voting.