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UKIP if you want to: It isn't Europe, it's engagement

UKIP are one of the peculiarities of British politics. As unique as we are, it takes a privately educated former city broker's popularity to tell us that the political elite are out of touch. Farage has shocked us all by connecting with the electorate and making other politicians seem like wealthy elites while he acts like your mate from down the pub- impressive considering his background (as a wealthy elite). But why are the three major parties in such trouble? 

 
The forgotten masses 
 
The first reason can be traced back to Blair. Perhaps it can be traced back to Thatcher. If you're trying your hardest, you could perhaps trace it back to Heath. However Blair's 'third way' politics goes the furthest to explain the shift in the political elite- both he and John Smith, his predecessor as leader of the Labour Party and fellow moderniser, watched Labour become unelectable under Kinnock. The British public no longer wanted to vote for traditionally right or left ideas, but for politicians who seemingly embraced more than just their party. 
 
 
The race for the middle ground commenced, while Blair parked the New Labour bus right on top of it. The idea was that those who had always voted Labour would always vote Labour, and those that had always voted Tory would always vote Tory. The gains were to be made from those who may easily justify changing their mind. He was proven right, not just by his 1997 election victory, but by the hapless efforts of the various Tory leaders he faced as PM who foolishly decided the best strategy was to move to the right. 
 
 
The Conservatives followed Blair to the centre under Cameron, but the focus on the middle everyone saw everyone forget about their traditional supporters. The alienated Labour masses refused to vote at all in 2010, switched to the SNP in Scotland, and can often be heard lamenting the current generation of 'valueless' politicians. Everyone's alienated masses are switching to UKIP, partly in protest to a political class that refuses to listen to them and partly because UKIP are managing to say everything the forgotten supporters have been saying for years (often all at once, in a confusing populist diatribe bordering on the comically nonsensical). 
 
 
Worryingly the fight for the middle ground isn't the only factor. If it were, one might expect both the often comically left wing direction of Miliband's Labour and the often worryingly right wing direction of Cameron's Conservatives to have tapered UKIP's meteoric rise. It hasn't- UKIP are continuing to grow at an unprecedented pace. 
 
 
Of the current set of 'Westminster elites' few didn't go to private school. If fact, few didn't receive an Oxbridge education. An alarmingly small proportion received no university education whatsoever. We don't want a political system filled with people purely because they have no qualifications, but the perceived hypocrisy of the privileged Labour members talking about the hardship of the working class and the perceived 18th century lifestyle of Cameron and his popular Bullingdon club friend (and potential successor) Johnson takes things a little far. Farage is no better (in fact, he is worse than most), but this is a battle of perceptions, and people see him as 'that bloke down the local' rather than 'that rich kid telling us that we're better off'. 
 
 
Our representatives don't help themselves. We might all forget about their backgrounds should they behave in office. The reputation of our MPs hasn't yet recovered from the expenses scandal of the last parliament, while at the same time a select few continue to say and do stupid things. Weather it's Geoff Hune palming his speeding points off to his wife, Aiden Burley casually arranging a Nazi themed party in France (and proceeding to chant Nazi chants and buy an SS uniform), or Labour councillors in Portsmouth refusing to allow elected UKIP officials use the community centre for their surgeries, the 'old guard' seem like a group of arrogant children living in their exclusive immoral club. 
 
 
Reconnecting
 
It may seem the solution is obvious. You may be screaming 'break the consensus'. But what would that do? As the Tories look more and more like UKIP-lite, and Labour like a less media savvy Lenin, the majority of British people- the people who occupy the centre- will be alienated. So much so that the Lib Dems could have a majority government in 10 years. Worse still, people might not vote. Our embarrassingly low turnouts could plummet to turnouts so low that our system loses all legitimacy. 
 
 
The solution is ethics and attitude. Parties not selecting candidates because of their privileged background (and making it far more clear that they aren't). Elected representatives clearly working for the good of the people and not for their own self interest. Party leaders explaining why their vision is better, with a focus on outcomes and how they correlate with the core values of the party rather than on what the other party is doing wrong. 
 
 
That sounds idealist. It isn't. In the 1990's Blair was forced to explain much of his plans for modernisation to the old guard, which he did in terms of the wider Labour vision. That kind of accountability would be easy to reinstate, and would make our politics less childish and more constructive. 
 
 
And ethics. Well, we've been trying for years apparently to instil some of those. We haven't been trying hard enough. Allowing MPs to create a system while reacting to a scandal isn't going to work. No system created in response to scandal is going to work. Two robust systems, one mandatory one within parties and one system within our state bodies, could all but end the days of political corruption. 
 
 
Should politicians reconnect with the electorate, UKIPs days are numbered. After all, they don't really have any policies, their values don't fit with their supporters values, their members are perhaps the most sleazy of any party in history, and Farage's sublime / insane excuses can only work in the current political climate. However, if they don't, UKIP could get their wish. They could hold the balance of power in 2015, and the Conservatives may well embrace every half baked UKIP policy devised over a few pints with Farage. 
 
 
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