It is a truism that politics can be a nasty “game”, but it seems to be particularly so when it comes to how the old establishment parties and much of the press are reacting to the rise of UKIP.
Rather than address the issues that UKIP is connecting with the local electorate on, such as High Speed Rail 2, immigration, European Union membership, NHS and welfare reform, unequivocal support for our armed forces, grammar schools and a host of others, certain individuals, media outlets and groups have decided to resort to base “smear” tactics, libellous sneering on social media outlets and even in electoral literature that we have seen distributed across the country in recent elections.
In one way this is a compliment. The cosy complacency of the parties that have controlled this country for decades has been shaken to the core, and they clearly fear that their dominance will be further eroded, or even over-turned, in the 2014 European elections, the 2015 local elections and of course the next General Election. Their fear is palpable.
In another, it is dangerous. In Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire County Councillor Phil Gomm, UKIP candidate in a local district council by-election, was physically assaulted while out leafleting and canvassing. The individual responsible was throwing Nazi salutes and yelling that UKIP is a party of fascists, racists and no different from the BNP.
This is an entirely incorrect representation of what UKIP stands for, but given the pervasive media narrative from the national press, left and right, it is not difficult to see why this individual arrived at such a warped perspective. One only has to look at the disgraceful picture used by several papers representing Nigel Farage with a “Hitler moustache” for one example of how this negative narrative is being reinforced.
UKIP is the only party which bans even former members of extreme groups from membership and expels them when it is found that they have been dishonest on their membership applications. UKIP is not anti-immigration, we are pro-controlled immigration using a similar system to that used in Australia. UKIP is not anti-Europe or anti-European, we are just against losing our national sovereignty and independence to unelected European Union bureaucrats.
UKIP is not fascist – anyone with even the most basic appreciation of reality knows that fascism is a political ideology that is authoritarian, anti-democratic, economically protectionist, racist and pro-big government; UKIP is none of these things.
If our opponents disagree with UKIP policies, let them argue against them in a grown-up, objective manner and treat the electorate as intelligent adults who can make their own choices. The problem is that they will lose these arguments since UKIP policies occupy the common (not centre) ground of British politics and our blend of common-sense, pragmatism and always putting our constituents (and our country) first is speaking to an ever increasing number of normal people across this nation. This is why they resort to gutter-tactics and attempt to shut down the debate through mindless pejoratives.
Barry Cooper is Chairman of UKIP Buckinghamshire and a prospective UKIP MEP Candidate for the South East Region.