Thinking rationally about the irrational

It was going to happen sooner or later. Well I say ‘it’ referring to two things. The first is me posting, so in keeping with tradition, “Hello, world.” The other part is politics. Very localised politics. Specifically European politics.

For those in our audience who are not familiar with the situation in Britain at the moment, there has been a surge in nationalism, with organizations such as the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party – the cause of the recent referendum on independence, to which the answer was ‘No’ (but now we are only clinging on by our finger-nails)). I share my dad’s opinion that Scotland will be independent within 20 years – people who believe in the union may yet be converted, but the same is not true of nationalists. In much the same way, the chances are that Britain will leave Europe in a referendum on our membership of the EU, whether in 2017 or at a later date.
Again, the reason appears to be the resurgence of nationalism, figure-headed by a certain Mr. Farage (to rhyme with garage if you take him at all seriously, since he seems a passionate xenophobe) who heads an organization known as the United Kingdom Independence Party – UKIP. I must admit that I share many of the grievances of his supporters – that Europe and our economy are being run for the benefit of a tiny fraction of society – the wealthy elite. I however would propose a different way of dealing with those responsible for, to name but one example, the most recent financial crash, in which many millions of people were made unemployed. But not the one percent. Despite the monumental cock-up that they made, that cost billions of dollars, and resulted in almost everyone suffering. But not the one percent. As you may have already guessed, I count myself as a Marxist, and I take offence at the fact that the world is run to exploit workers, and reward the powerful.
But let’s take my opinion aside for a moment, and place ourselves into the shoes of a UKIP candidate. They see the same issues as me – a struggling and floundering economy, a government spending more than it can afford (although governments are not businesses – they are not meant to run at a profit), and a country suffering from a lack of unity and of low turnouts for elections (what I see to be a symptom of people becoming disillusioned with politics). And they blame immigration. They blame women. They blame gay marriage legislation. And it makes me question why anyone takes them seriously. But many people clearly do. They recently won two seats at by-elections.
Recently, the Prime Minister said that the Green Party should be included in the televised leaders’ debates, or he would not participate; while he has been called a coward, and been told that he was neglecting his duties by Ed Miliband. On one level, when I heard about that, I giggled, and thought ‘coward’ along with everyone else, but on another level, I thought : if the Liberal Democrats (who were beaten by the Greens in the recent European elections), and UKIP were to be included, why not the Greens? After all, they have a parliamentary seat, and in the same way that UKIP (or even arguably the Lib Dems in some constituencies) could be counted as a protest vote, the Greens could be seen as a ‘deviation’ from Britain’s historical two party system (the Lib Dems have never governed, forming in 1988, and their constituent parties, Liberal and Social Democratic Parties had not governed since 1916 between them, 60 years before the SDP even formed, and UKIP and The Green Party are newer still; both are children of the ’90s) of almost 100 years, in the same way that UKIP and the Greens are protest votes. But I digress.
Let’s just, for a moment suppose that somewhere along the line, immigration, as UKIP and other ultra-nationalist parties suggest, became a problem. Sure, a fair number of people come to Britain every year. Don’t ask me why; with politics like ours, and more importantly the weather (the accursed weather), our isle has become something approaching a watery hell. And even then, there is no evidence that immigrants ‘scrounge’ – au contraire, all evidence shows that immigrants contribute more than their fair share to our economy, and while people complain about losing out in job opportunities, the fact of the matter is that immigrants tend to take the kind of jobs that would cause our ‘poor, undercut proletariat’ to turn their nose up and sniff. The fact of the matter is that UKIP, like the Tories, do not represent the workers – the majority of any country, they represent themselves, their cronies, and their interests. They do not represent the people, nor do they make changes for ‘the greater good’ (an interesting phrase that I will no doubt need to investigate in greater depth later); they seem at times to make changes for the sake of making changes, or just to spite the opposition – look at the NHS’s ‘restructuring’ (read ‘privatisation’).
Having said all that, maybe they have something right. Maybe we have an issue with national unity; with neighborly values; with the idea that others will look out for you, as you would look out for them. Maybe it stems from a lack of national unity. Maybe the discrimination, xenophobia, and hate that is being bred has something to do with it. Maybe? Just maybe?
Whatever you think, I would challenge you to think about your views, and maybe, just maybe, tell me what you think of this essay, and whether I have gotten anything wrong, or if you strongly agree with anything. Just one request. Please be polite.


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