Wednesday, 26 September 2012

It's the economy, stupid

The phrase 'It's the economy, stupid' is a slight variation from a campaign slogan used by Bill Clinton in his successful bid in 1992 to be President of the USA.

This phrase emphasises that what is in the mind of the electorate when they vote is their personal financial circumstance: income, taxation, cost of everyday essentials, mortgage interest and so forth.  Rarely do other issues have a major impact on elections, although there are cases where local issues have affected the result in some constituencies: a second runway at Heathrow, the local NHS (Kidderminster).

It is for this reason that in the past electoral reform, changing the composition of the House of Lords, constituency boundary reform, English nationalism (either as an independent country or an English parliament in a UK federal structure), membership of the EU and green issues do not figure highly in the decision as to which party to vote for.

Are attitudes beginning to change?  Possibly.  UKIP is currently at 12% in the opinion polls.  It has benefited   from being a  party of the protest vote now the Liberal Democrats have given up that role as a member of the Coalition government. It is also the home for some disaffected Tories who consider the current Conservative Party has rejected core Conservative values.  Its main policy platform is withdrawal from the European Union, which of itself will not be sufficient to gain significant electoral support.  Hence the rush to develop a wide range of policies.

However, the travails in Euroland may result in UKIP gaining more support.  The civil unrest across southern Europe is a consequence of austerity measures forced on countries seeking to extricate themselves from the quagmire of being locked into the euro.  The grand solution of the EC commissars of 'ever closer union' and a 'federation of nation states' will only exacerbate civil strife as government becomes even more remote, unaccountable and undemocratic.

The headlines from Greece and Spain in recent days emphasises the danger when governments become divorced from the pain of their citizens.

The real issue is the effect any re-structuring of the EU will have on the issues which motivate people to vote for a political party.  It is here that the opportunity  resides for UKIP, to show the effects centralisation, EC bureaucracy and democratic deficit will have on people's ability to influence, by the party they vote for,  changes in economic and fiscal policies..

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