The Labour and Tory parties are in decline. What were once proud, principled parties, each with clearly defined beliefs and a huge popular following, now only exist for one reason; the continued survival and advancement of a remote elite at the top.
There are many good folk remaining at grass roots level, but those grass roots are withering. Membership of the Conservative party has halved since David Cameron became their leader. UKIP membership has doubled since the start of 2013.
It was the 1992 general election when I first heard the phrase “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in”. It struck a chord then, it strikes a bigger chord now. Both established parties have painted themselves into a corner, they are stuck with the rhetoric and dividing lines of the past 50 years. This results in increasingly hysterical pantomime politics, to mask the fact that there is little substantive difference between them. Arguably the only real difference is that the Tories get their millions from big business and Labour get theirs from the unions, hence the different spin.
Indeed, they each rely on the other to continue their cosy consensus of the past 20 years. Neither party dare genuinely challenge the other on immigration, overseas wars, the true state of the economy for fear of rocking the boat and exposing their own track record. This leads to the current state of affairs where we have in Labour a government opposition that does precious little to hold the government to account, despite being paid £6.9million of the taxpayer’s money to do precisely that. From migration to the economy, Labour make a lot of noise but oppose very little, and provide a credible alternative even less.
The really good news is that people are waking up to this sham and demanding change. In 1953 97% voted Labour or Tory. By 2010 this had dropped to just 65%. Less than half of voters backed either party at the EU election last May. 2.8million people were card carrying Tories in 1953, that figure is less than 134,000 now. The Tories and Labour are speaking to fewer and fewer people. This suits them, but it is bad news for democracy.
Which is why the rise of UKIP has been so rapid and is so welcome. People who have been left behind by such cynical politics are taking an interest once more. People who hadn’t bothered voting for years have found something worth supporting. UKIP are a true grassroots movement, made up of ordinary people rather than career politicians. With no party whip system, you know that your UKIP MP would put their constituency before their party.
UKIP have taken around 400 council seats and won two Westminster by-elections under the first past the post system that will be used at the general election. Up and down the country, in 'rotten borough' areas where you could stick a blue or red rosette on the cat and get it elected, UKIP are providing a credible opposition for the first time in decades. Vote for change, vote positive, vote UKIP.
UKIP SW Norfolk Member