In May 2013 UKIP gained a majority vote to represent Andover, dividing mass opinions and generating heated online debates which then turned into immature, unsophisticated slanging matches. No-one could decide if UKIP’s majority ruling was a positive thing for the future of our town and no-one could give definitive answers as to why they felt strongly either way.
More often than not, for the weeks that followed this decision – a decision made by the majority of voters – people who supported UKIP were dismissed simply as “racists” and people who stood against them, dismissed as “unpatriotic”.
I was left wondering how my views would be categorised. I’m neither racist nor am I anti-britain. I love Britain and I count myself lucky to be British. I take pride in our multi-cultural society and appreciate that a lot of our food, drinks and materials are imported. Tea is a prime example of this. Where would the British be without tea which was introduced to the UK from China?
Politics is a complex affair – as in life – nothing is ever just black and white. Reading UKIP’s general Manifestos, there are some points made I genuinely agree with. I do think that giving real decision-making to local communities is a good thing and that taxes should not continuously increase.
However, I do strongly believe that UKIP’s opposition to the EU and wish to leave it is dangerous. It may cost us money, but the economic, social, health and cultural benefits to the UK of EU membership are vast. They include:
- 3.5 million jobs linked, directly and indirectly, to EU Trade in the UK
- The EU Health Insurance Card entitles us to a certain standard of Health Care wherever in the EU we find ourselves unwell or injured, and
- UK Pensioners are able to receive their Pension wherever in the EU they may live.
Now, you’ve probably got to this point in the article and questioned what any of the above issues have to do with our community; I say everything.
While Tony Hooke’s letter proposing the resignation of Carr was founded upon reasons which demonstrated concern for the well-being of Andover and it’s residents, I worry about what a UKIP majority means for the future.
- I worry about what it means for young people today and the next generation.
- I worry about local independent businesses run by immigrants and how UKIP Councillors view them.
- I worry about the extent of extra policing UKIP proposes to enforce on our streets and whether this will cause young people to lose faith in their community through feelings of distrust.
- I worry about what costs may rise and what services may be cut in order to decrease taxes.
- Essentially, I worry whether the stereotypical and generic view of UKIP as racist and xenaphobic will be proven right.
And generally there’s always a part of me that is concerned for the well-being of EU residents and the potency of the popular narrow labels that force a divide in any debate.
United we Stand, Divided we fall
In divisive politics where the language used creates “us and them” we loose sight of our shared humanity and scrap amongst ourselves while decisions are made behind closed doors.
In an age where economic, social, and environmental challenges more clearly effect us all, shouldn’t local people say no to divide and rule politics and look for things we have in common with our neighbours, in spite of our differences? That way, we might raise our voices together – however diverse and varied they may be – to address the issues that effect us all.
But with a UKIP majority and in the face of UKIP rhetoric – is that really possible? What do you think?
Article by Sophie Porter
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