The next article in our Voices of Portsmouth series comes from Portsmouth North candidate Mike FitzGerald of UKIP. Start a conversation with him on GovFaces!
The recent general election campaign was a challenging period which rewarded and taxed in equal measure. Looking back now there is certainly more to be positive about than was apparent immediately afterwards. The new UKIP team in Portsmouth performed superbly and achieved great results with the resources available and despite the negatively biased Media coverage across the country.
Whilst it is true that politics does attract some eccentrics, this is far outweighed by the solid, principled and hard-working people who really make things happen, day in day out, despite the challenges. “Why are you standing?” is a common question that people ask. In addition to the key responses that it is the right thing to do and that common sense and the people of the UK need a voice, I would now also add that it is a great way to meet some of the best people in the area. An election campaign is first and foremost a team effort, and I am most grateful to the superb team that supported me.
With the rise in people’s reliance on Press and the Media, perhaps the most difficult part of the election campaign is engaging with the people. This is not a positive development for the process of democracy. Whoever they may wish to vote for, it is always informative to hear what they have to say and what their concerns are for the city and country. Whilst the organized hustings were well attended, there were few other effective events to allow people to meet candidates and understand their principles and policies. It is interesting to note the contradiction that has developed here between the people and their candidates. With the massive rise in the control and law-making of the EU, MPs have restyled themselves as “local MP’s” as their role of holding the Executive arm of Government to account has effectively disappeared. This is in stark contrast to many people’s falling interest levels in the actual candidates they have to serve and represent them. This low level of voter engagement is apparent across the country and must be addressed if democracy, as the means of safeguarding individual freedoms, is to be kept alive.
The public interaction with other candidates was once again informative. Though it is good to have differing views on a range of topics, again in contrast to the lack of effective opposition witnessed in the House of Commons over the last 18 years, facts and common sense were in critically short supply on many occasions. It is to be hoped that 2015 will be the high-water mark of the old parties wilfully avoiding the key issues facing the country to direct the voters from thinking about the real challenges we face, but this is doubtful. As history has taught us repeatedly, as power become more remote and centralized, truth becomes the enemy of the state and propaganda and spin become the main tools of our Government. Personally I believe that all of the issues we face as a nation can be fixed, building the foundation for the next age of the UK’s security and prosperity, however it is apparent that things will need to get worse before people are willing to support the necessary steps to make this happen.
The election results themselves were interesting, disappointing and excellent at the same time. Naturally I was disappointed at not being chosen to serve their community. However, this feeling was balanced by the five-fold increase in votes over my 2010 result. With a similar increase for UKIP across the nation, it is a clear indication that we are on the right track and are speaking for a substantial and increasing number of the people. This a clear success and bodes well for the future.
Though the main target of multiple Westminster seats was not achieved this time, the overall result for UKIP was really very good. It has also demonstrated, in the most public way possible, the failure of the current and outdated “First past the post” system of election. With the SNP taking 56 seats with 1.5 million votes and UKIP taking 1 with some 4 million the need to reform here is clear. Under a proportional representation system, UKIP would have won around 80 seats, ensuring a strong pro-British voice in Parliament. The basis of the democratic process has to be balanced and fair representation in the Government of the people. This is clearly not possible under the current system and so it must be changed. A Government that is not seen or believed to represent and serve the people who elect it will ensure further damage of our country. This state of affairs does not serve our best interests at all.
UKIP’s main priorities now lie with tackling the upcoming EU referendum and generally holding the Government to account on key home and foreign issues. Whether the referendum will actually happen is still not yet entirely certain, but what is certain is that the deceit, manipulation and false propaganda of this Government, working hand in glove with the EU to ensure we stay in, will be on a scale not yet witnessed. The real figures show we would be financially better of out of the EU, but the fear factor of change will be played heavily by the pro-EU movement. The real argument though is one of sovereignty, democracy, freedom and security, to which the EU has no answer. It is a collective organization with the stated aim of building one nation under central and by definition, (lacking a European demos,) undemocratic control, where individual rights will be sacrificed ensure the Eurocracy stays in wealth, luxury and, above all, unaccountable power.
To ensure we control our destiny and leave this country fit for our grandchildren, we cannot leave our finances in the control of the banks through national debt and our laws, economy and freedoms in the hands of the corrupt and failed EU. Success will be saving the UK and the countries of Europe from decades of disastrous communist rule like that witnessed in the former USSR. Failure is not an option. Once again, UKIP is leading the way here.
Voices of Portsmouth is a series of articles coming from various stakeholders within the Portsmouth community, from members of political parties to academics, students, or members of NGOs. The series highlights some of the most important challenges the city faces today.