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Lawrence Bailey blog: Protest politics is a dangerous business

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: May 27, 2014

Ukip leader Nigel Farage smiles as he hears the results  during the European Parliamentary elections count at the Guildhall in Southampton.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage smiles as he hears the results during the European Parliamentary elections count at the Guildhall in Southampton.

Comments (11)

THERE'S this scene in the film, The American President, where the lead character delivers a lesson in essential politics to his audience as he explains: "Whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson [his opponent] is not the least bit interested in solving it.

"He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it.

"That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it.

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Over the past weeks I've been assailed by leaflets and broadcasts from all the parties urging me to use my vote to 'send a message' to the government or to the opposition or to Brussels.

A part of me understands the motive behind the rhetoric.

What bothers me is the presumption that I can only serve a useful purpose by voting against something or someone.

Protest politics can be a powerful thing. Just ask Nigel Farage.

I've watched news presenters trying to give the impression that they've seen it all before. They haven't. Not on this scale.

Neither can any of them adequately explain the popularity of a party with only a sketchy outline of actual policy supported by candidates that defy stereotyping.

Yet should the media or the main parties be surprised?

Having highlighted protest politics themselves for so long, it was inevitable that the anti-establishment chickens would eventually come home to roost.

I read elsewhere that people have been looking for a way to express their discontent with a political class made up of self-serving right wingers with off-shore interests or a left of centre full of people ready to brandish a placard at the mere suggestion of impropriety. Maybe so.

For me, it was Liberal Democrat MP Lyn Featherstone who best summed it up when she observed how modern politics has become so guarded and so on-message that it has lost the human touch.

I'd go a step further and say that more and more people no longer think that politics makes a difference to their lives.

That's called disconnection and it's a dangerous place to be.

As the old saying goes, the unfortunate thing about political jokes is that they have a habit of getting elected.

Of course, there comes a stage when the laughing stops.

By that time however, it's usually too late.

That's my message.

Lawrence Bailey

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11 comments

  • mdcurran  |  May 28 2014, 9:00PM

    Reading the Bailey Labour blog, I would go a step further in making it compulsory to vote. But there again the couch potatoes, complacents, et al would have to force themselves out to put a cross aongside the box that begins with 'L'. Mmmm... Maybe not!

    |   -2
  • Kaiser_Macsen  |  May 28 2014, 3:23PM

    Jester21: Of course I'll enjoy it and I'll avoid Facebook because the Daily Mail says it increases the risk of cancer: http://tinyurl.com/d34v4l

    |   1
  • Jester21  |  May 28 2014, 2:53PM

    Kaiser: Enjoy your compulsory daily aerobics on the Village Green. Also, remember who to complain to when you have no pub to visit, no affordable alcohol to buy when you want to relax and when your weekly shopping bill goes thru the roof due to all the legislation. All the major parties have their faults, not just Labour. But only Labour get votes from sheeple like you. It used to be said a brick would get elected in Wales because of it's red colour. Fortunately, we now can see that isn't the case. Fortunately, no Political Party will gain a majority at the next election. So the waters are merely going get muddied further

    |   -9
  • Kaiser_Macsen  |  May 28 2014, 2:02PM

    Jester21: You appear to miss the point. Labour has not issued a new manifesto. As for health scares, the Daily Mail reigns supreme: https://http://tinyurl.com/pvuwe6z

  • Zoomer  |  May 28 2014, 1:22PM

    Millions of voters within the UK have recently taken the time and effort to vote for UKIP, as opposed to the other Parties they used to vote for, before UKIP was invented. After all, most voters, are regular voters. The thoughts of non voters, don't count. Why did all those people put their cross against UKIP ? Basically, UKIP is a one issue Party, at the moment. They are no doubt busily working on a new election manifesto, for next year's General Election. If the regular voters like what UKIP has to offer, then there is no reason why UKIP shouldn't win lots of votes. If the voters don't like what UKIP offers, then tough luck UKIP. If the Conservatives want to win the next General Election, easily, then get cracking on a EU referendum asap, not IF they win the next election, and then only in 2017. It's not rocket science. Millions of people are fed up with the present state of the EU, and have now realised that they do have some power with their vote. If politicians wish to ignore the voters, then they do it, at their own risk. As for Labour, they've got a lot of Leadership problems to contend with. As for the LIb Dems, they could be finished at the next election.

    |   -34
  • Jester21  |  May 28 2014, 1:11PM

    Whilst the Daily Fail does have it's faults, it is as useful for exposing Political skullduggery as anywhere else. You obviously believe that the Daily Mirror is any better ? Public Health run the Labour Party. History has shown they usually get what they want from a Labour Administration

    |   -1
  • Kaiser_Macsen  |  May 28 2014, 1:04PM

    Jester21: Go to the Daily Mail for information? - You're kidding! You will not get the main parts of the Labour Party Manifesto until it is approved at their Autumn conference.

  • Jester21  |  May 28 2014, 12:41PM

    So Kaiser, making it up am I ? Strange then to read all that in the UK Labour Manifesto right here from 4th May 2014 (more up to date than your link). Link : http://tinyurl.com/lp3xzxv Nobody is making this up. It is there in black and white, or are you so blind that you cannot see past the Labour lies ? You may continue burying your head in the sand if you so wish

    |   -5
  • Kaiser_Macsen  |  May 28 2014, 11:31AM

    Jester21: 'Labour says no to a tax on high sugar' The Grocer 14 Feb 2014. Link: http://tinyurl.com/q99j7pj The Labour Manifesto you refer to doesn't exist. You're making it up, Jester, or someone is making it up for you and the gullible.

    |   11
  • Jester21  |  May 28 2014, 10:18AM

    The problem is that Politicians, of all persuasions and levels, seek to have total control over our lives and how we live those lives. We see it all the time. The latest Labour Manifesto contains all kinds of measures for taxing sugar, alcohol, junk food etc to (they claim) compel everyone to live healthier lifestyles. The Welsh Government itself is proposing draconian measures to have minimum pricing on Alcohol (which would put your cheap 4-pack of lager up from less than £2 to almost £8) and also to ban the use of ecigarettes in public places - despite there being no evidence that they harm either the user nor anyone else around them. The Conservatives are currently considering Plain Packaging for cigarettes despite its 'model' child for this (Australia) being shown to be a complete and utter failure (illicit trade went up as did the number of smokers). All these measures are mere examples (they are only the tip of the iceberg) and are all designed with only one thing in mind - CONTROL The problem for these Politicians is that people are seeing through this and can plainly see how our civil liberties are slowly but surely being eroded. This will naturally result in a reaction and protest. The problem is that all the main Political parties are the same. They are supposedly elected by us - the Public - but the only people they listen to are the big corporates that lobby them on a daily basis or the Public Health people who also lobby daily (with OUR money BTW) because they hate the thought that somebody out there might actually be enjoying themselves. Until the Politicians start listening to the people, treating us like ADULTS not children, then voter apathy and protest votes are going to become the norm. There is a simmering underclass of unrest in the UK as a whole because the Political Class are so completely and utterly disconnected from the Public they are supposed to be serving. All the Political Classes are interested in is how much money they can make from the 'trough' that is the Public purse and how much they can control and manipulate the general public to their will (Tony Blair anyone ?). This is supposed to be a democratic and FREE country. We fought two World Wars over our freedoms and we are not about to let those freedoms be slowly eroded by the political classes. If they think the public has no awareness of what is happening, then they are in for a very rude awakening. UKIP's popularity is no coincidence. Whatever you might think of them, they get votes because the public feel that NOBODY in the main Policial Parties are listening - and they are right. The Political Classes treat us with a derisory contempt and the public is fed up of it. The public is looking for the answers and do NOT see them in the current Political Classes. I seriously doubt UKIP is that answer either. But as it currently stands, short of a revolution, that is the only way that the public can send a warning shot across the bows of the Political Class. Like it or not, we will be seeing a lot more of this !!

    |   -4

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