Category: Alerts 2013
- Created on 13 May 2013
- 13 May 2013
By David Cromwell
The local elections in England earlier this month saw the right-wing UK Independence Party win over 140 council seats, gaining around 25 per cent of the vote where it stood. This led to a deluge of media headlines and stories echoing UKIP leader Nigel Farage's gleeful claim of a 'game changer' in domestic politics. The Conservatives ended up with egg on their face after veteran Tory Ken Clarke had labelled UKIP 'a collection of clowns'.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson declared of the UKIP 'surge':
'It is the day UKIP emerged as a real political force in the land.'
But a BBC estimate of the turnout was a mere 31 per cent – down a whopping 10 points from the last local elections in 2009. The true electoral 'victor' was voter apathy or, more likely, disdain towards the available political options. Perhaps for most of the public - such as the 69 per cent who didn't cast a vote - all too many of the politicians on offer were clowns. After all, who could tell the difference between most of them, or the policies they espouse? There are fine exceptions, but the corporate media routinely ignores, ridicules or vilifies them. So much for 'our' thriving British 'democracy'.
Comedian Frankie Boyle had already put it all in perspective:
'I've never been surprised by low voter turnouts. In fact, I'm surprised anybody ever votes at all. Politicians seem so alien to us, their insincerity taken as a given, behaving inhumanely while they pretend to be human in some symbolic way. If, instead of a nation, we were 500 people living as a tribe, or a bunch of survivors in a lifeboat, would anyone elect Miliband or Cameron as a leader, with their choppy hand gestures, lack of conviction and bizarrely automated range of emotions? In a normal social gathering, most of our leaders would seem to suffer from a hysterical personality disorder.' (Frankie Boyle, 'Work! Consume! Die!', HarperCollins, 2011, p. 319)
There is much more to the degradation of politics, as Boyle recognises, than odd self-regarding personalities and PR-trained, party-approved automatons. But the point is nonetheless very well made.