Last Thursday, elections were held in Britain to elect a fresh body of MPs for the European Parliament. The United Kingdom Independence Party was always the favourite to ‘win’, and that prediction has now been decisively justified.
Despite this foreknowledge, the media has since reacted with a purple-faced hysteria. Reading the papers this morning, one would think that Nigel Farage has been announced Prime Minister, Archbishop and direct inheritor to the crown. Metaphors like ‘earthquake’, ‘shock’ and ‘hurricane’ are being hurriedly worn out, as are adjectives like ‘unprecedented’, ‘historic’ and ‘revolutionary’. In the Mail and Telegraph, rustic conservatives are pictured jubilantly flushing down pints of real ale, whilst liberals and leftists are portrayed with creased brows and watery eyes.
In France meanwhile, Marine Le Pen has dramatically triumphed in the popular vote and in doing so may have fatally wounded traditional Gallic conservatism. In Denmark and Germany, far-right parties have also seen their fortunes rise, if only by one seat in the latter case. Bucking this rightward trend, Geert Wilders’ PVV Party returned a smaller vote than at the last election, despite earlier opinion polls suggesting an increase. Elsewhere, Greece has thrown its support behind the radical Leftist grouping Syriza.
My feelings about all this haven’t had the time to mature, but I’ll offer them anyway.
The descent of Geert Wilders is obviously disappointing, as is the victory of radical socialists in Greece. Madame Le Pen’s victory meanwhile provides cause for both hope and fear; Hope that the French people are collectively waking up to the state of their civilisation, and fear that Anti-Semitic boot boys merely have an attractive disguise and are privately bent on dividing the continent as fatally as their German predecessors.
In regards to UKIP, my feelings grow even more nuanced. I love listening to Nigel Farage speak and concur with a lot of what he says, especially about the decadent and unresponsive elite of Westminster. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel his party has been elected on an imagined manifesto.
If one votes for UKIP believing – as many do – that they will ‘sort out’ the Islamisation of Britain, one will likely be disappointed. UKIP in truth has no coherent policy on religion, cultural protection or race, save for a flaccid, over-qualified commitment to an ‘immigration freeze’. Anyone who voices Islamophobic opinion within UKIP furthermore, is routinely expelled without hesitation.
In addition, the Muslim inflow to Britain is not usually the fault of the European Union, and would not necessarily be affected by Britain’s withdrawal from it. True, we would have fewer Poles, Ukrainians and Romanians, but as miniature Pakistans swell within London, Birmingham and Manchester, that seems rather beside the point.
I don’t want to be completely negative about all this. There are reasons for celebration today. Across the continent of Europe, many vital signs are beginning to return, and the comatose patient is beginning to blink and shuffle, perhaps signifying that it is ready to awaken.
UKIP is one such blink. The party has value, but only as a path-breaker for others who will tread the prepared ground with greater daring.