European Parliament Elections: You don’t have to scream into a pillowcase…yet.

In the wake of the European Parliament election results, the UKIP MEPs will be smugly dancing (the middle-aged, middle class, awkward white type of dancing) all the way to their well remunerated jobs. Of which, they are disgusted about; but will take them on with a sullen grimace.

With a portion of the electorate wondering what in holy hell went on in 27.5% of the voting booths, we are now left with a confused and fragmented citizenry.

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A true man of the people….

In response to this uptick in support for UKIP, more air time, column inches, and blog….space (?) has been devoted to mocking them, calling them racist, bigoted and homophobic. Whilst portions of the party may possess some, few, many or all of these traits, we should not ignore what millions of people are saying. It doesn’t need to be agreed with, but acknowledged. We can’t just ‘listen to the feedback’, the erstwhile response of a disappointed politician, we have to take action.

Mocking UKIP is not a viable strategy any more, we can’t wholly laugh away their policies. Candidates, yes, positions, no. During the run-up to the election, one of the refrains was ‘I don’t care who you vote for, just not for UKIP’; can a democracy really be founded on such apathy? Political parties, commentators and those who like living in a positive society need to start offering a real alternative to the yellow-toothed attraction of UKIP.

Parties should also steer away from pandering to the perceived wants of those that voted UKIP and actually try and steer public opinion. Yes, have more conversations about immigration, but be brave and defend those that come over and show up British natives. Yes, agree that the EU is flawed, but the UK will be floored without it. Yes, agree that politicians are usually quite a grey group of people but learn how to juggle or tell a decent joke. Be human.

In essence, don’t belittle, be big.

 

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Democracy is great, but you have to accept the nutters

Protests are fab. The placards and chanting are infectious, and that is not even getting onto the rare pleasures of kettling or tear gas. I mean, who doesn’t love a good cry? This is why we should all be cheering the developments in Egypt, with the protests leading to the ousting of Mohammad Morsi, right? People marching, standing their ground and making a change (albeit with a little help from the military, whom they suddenly LOVE) is surely the purest form of democratic expression?

Look at the lasers!

Well, not really. Having millions of people in the streets demanding a change in leadership does not and should not over-rule the results of a democratic election. Yes, Morsi was a twerp, but he was a twerp that the majority of the Egyptian people voted for. Whatever reasons given for the Muslim Brotherhood being elected in the first place (split opposition, a Moses promulgation caused heavy traffic on the A43), it should not be confused for a specific idiosyncrasy of Egypt but regrettably a feature of most developed democracies (Google ‘Britain’ for more information).

Often in protests, the silent majority is overlooked in favour of those on the streets; the tyranny of the extrovert. In this instance, the millions of people demanding change in Tahrir Square are dwarfed by the 80 million or so sitting quietly in their homes either in a state of passivity or tacit support for Morsi. Though the self-aggrandising, arrogant nature of the protestors attracted the world’s attention, it meant they forgot the point of the Arab Spring: the right to be heard not the right for their demands to be heeded. The passion and overall aim of their demands were laudable, and whoever brought the massive stadium laser should be a national hero, but the stifling single-mindedness of the beliefs is not any different to that of the Mubarak regime.

As outsiders, it is important to remind ourselves (as well as be reminded by the media), that protestors only represent a small portion of the population as a whole, and often a very narrow demographic (young, a bit angry), and should not be extrapolated to cover the rest of the nation. Egypt is probably better off without Morsi, but next time make sure the whole country gets a say, not just those with lasers.