The UKIP factor

Waking up earlier than planned with a touch of insomnia and a reoccurrence of my gout, I found myself doing something I haven’t done before – watching almost in its entirety BBC’s breakfast show while ironing anything I could find. One of the things that did struck me was that main feature stories were repeated each hour but given this was a new experience I imagine this to be the norm.

As might be expected some items of news were of greater interest than others. One of the on the hour repeats was a story about George Clooney and his new bride taking up residence in a new house in Oxford and reflecting on the impact this might have on neighbours. This is one story I would have been happy to drop, and who is this George Clooney character anyway? Some stories that I consider to be important received scant coverage e.g. ISIS about to take over yet another strategic stronghold and the possible untoward consequences on those directly affected. But as one reporter remarked, there is a certain weariness on the part of the viewing public being told further horrendous news about which the perception is they can do little about affecting matters.

One item of news that I have been following with interest is the spread of Ebola and in this report the steps being taken by UK authorities to combat this. I have to confess both ignorance and concern. After talking to a medical expert, I was led to believe that the potential damage of what a short time ago appeared to be isolated incidents, but could turn out to be on the same scale of AIDS if appropriate action is not taken, and the added dimension that it can be caught in much the same way as a common cold, yet with potentially the same fatal consequences as AIDS. Already there are stories of possible panic and overreaction, but also legitimate concerns that appropriate measures need to be taken. Perhaps one of the heartening aspects is hearing reports of medical practitioners putting their lives in danger to help those most in need.

Which brings me to perhaps the main news story of the week – that of UKIP winning a by election and gaining a seat in Parliament and almost winning another, doing better than polls predicted. Given yesterday’s news soon becomes just that, coverage was fairly limited, but it doesn’t detract from the significance. I have discussed the UKIP phenomena in recent posts and my own political journey given my own disillusionment with the three main parties and whether to vote for them not just as a matter of protest but even based on conviction their policies (still not clear what they are) are best, or go leftwards and vote for the Green candidate, a friend who I respect despite our disagreements. One thing is apparent, while by-elections are not always a good pointer to what will happen in the General Election, it does appear politics in this country is due for a shake-up. I watch developments with interest and will continue to throw in my own two-penneth worth to those who will listen.

Perhaps the most interesting commentary I came across was from Christian Concern’s Andrea Williams, whose article “What does the UKIP factor tell us?” revealed important insights, which I happen to share: “We are living with a political and media class (reflected even  in the leadership of our State church) that has become used to power, assuming that it knows what is best for the people. The rise of UKIP has, therefore, caught it unaware; it finds itself perplexed about the rise of UKIP. It can hardly fathom it because it had become so comfortable. Whatever we feel about UKIP we see that what it demonstrates is the fact that a whole swathe of people feel disconnected and unrepresented by the existing political elite. Furthermore, there is nothing to distinguish between the party hierarchies. They are all peddling a secular, liberal atheistic agenda which is destructive to our nation”.

As for me, I will carry on my work as a community activist, working particular among the poor and disempowered of our society and do what Jesus says we should: “Watch and Pray”.

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