April 2013 Beware a dangerous protest

01 June 2013

Last month UKIP – the UK Independence Party – came second in the Eastleigh by election. The general view was ‘don’t worry’. Political commentators told us not to be concerned because people vote in mysterious ways in by elections and more sensibly in General Elections. The people of Eastleigh were also soothing. Many said voting UKIP was ‘just a protest vote’.

That is the appeal of Nigel Farage’s crew. His party’s message is basically, ‘If you don’t have faith in politicians, vote for us.’

It is shameful that many politicians are seen to be more bothered about their personal ambitions and desire for celebrity than the concerns of their constituents. I see two ways of dealing with this.

One is to restore confidence in politicians by ensuring we are represented by people we know and can relate to, who are approachable and understand what we want. That’s why we ran ASLEF’s first week-long political training course last month (see page 8).

The second is to give up. One way of doing this is to vote for UKIP.And it’s dangerous. I don’t want to sound over-dramatic, but it was precisely the Nazi Party’s appeal when the people lost faith in Germany’s political processes in the 1930s. They wanted to protest - and ended up creating a monster.

I’m not suggesting that UKIP are akin to Hitler’s Party. But I do believe they are dangerous.

Take one example. Last month Labour's MEP for the north East, Stephen Hughes, pushed a new initiative on removing asbestos from public buildings in the EU through the European Parliament. He called for the removal of asbestos from all public buildings and buildings requiring public access by 2028, an EU-wide model for screening and registration of asbestos, and a roadmap for its removal.

The voting was 558 votes in favour and 51 against. All the UKIP MEPs voted against. Doesn’t that show you what UKIP really means? It’s a long way from casual protest.

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