I wrote previously about the Woolwich attack, and how it has been hijacked by extremists to advance their own causes. This is entirely predictable, as the political situation in England begins to resemble that of Germany between 1929-32. History has a habit of repeating itself if people do not learn the right lessons. The rise of "Golden Dawn" in Greece is one example; the rise of UKIP in England is another.
I wrote in an article a few months ago that UKIP had the potential to become a permanent force in England by learning from how the LibDems became established as the third party of British politics. The May elections only served to prove that point.
UKIP's popularity is no surprise, if you look at the political undercurrents, and the gradual changes that have happened in British society over the last twenty years.
The rise of Blair's "New Labour" came about after the defeat to John Major in the '92 general election. After the Labour leader John Smith died, Blair took Labour to the political centre, and it allowed his party to ideologically dominate British politics for the next fifteen years. David Cameron, when he became Conservative leader in 2005 (roughly ten years after Blair had dominated British politics), decided to ape his ideology to get his party into power. So by 2010, the next general election that was fought under this new "Blairite consensus", the three main parties had all officially accepted the so-called "social democratic" agenda. The only major difference was on how to deal with the financial crisis.
The last twenty years has seen a growing acceptance of the "social democratic" agenda: a diverse, accepting and socially-liberal society, in contrast to the earlier mood of narrow-mindedness and social conservatism of the previous generation.
It is also important to emphasize the generational aspect of this shift: that young people born in the last twenty years have accepted much of the "social-democratic" agenda. However, while the younger generation are more socially-liberal than their parents, they are also more economically-liberal as well. This has been borne out by evidence: that "Thatcher's children", or "Generation Y", think that the state should have a smaller role to play in their lives, and are more sceptical of the "welfare state".
This is of huge importance to the future of British politics. But even more than that is the fact that participation in conventional politics (eg. membership of the "big three" parties) has collapsed. The generation raised in "Blair's Britain" have registered extremely high levels of apathy towards conventional politics, and most of them have felt ignored by the political establishment. The rise of student fees, I imagine, is just one issue that would unite the young against those in power. The young, therefore, do not take politics half as seriously as their previous generation.
This "social democratic" consensus has occurred at the same time as the rise of the "professional politician" as a class. To become a politician, the vast majority of those in Westminster have been involved in politics since university; they study politics, then straightaway enter into politics, working their way to the top.
The "professionalisation" of politics that Blair brought to the the UK with his reform of the Labour party (after being inspired by Bill Clinton's Democrats) became the norm as we entered the 21st century. Politics became about "following the party message", so that politicians all began to speak with one voice for their party; and after Cameron became Conservative leader, all three parties became obsessed with speaking with the same voice in order to appeal to the "centre ground".
As a result, many political issues became "non-issues": the positive effect of the EU; uncontrolled immigration; complete acceptance of all faiths and opinions. The rush to the "centre ground" also meant that both Labour and the Conservatives effectively ignored their traditional voter-base (the "working class", both urban and rural). As these voters had no other parties to represent their concerns (which included the so-called "non-issues" mentioned above), Labour and the Conservatives allowed themselves to become complacent. Even if some of their traditional voter-base didn't vote for them, the first-past-the-post electoral system (and the concept of "safe seats") ensured that no other party could appear to steal their votes. Westminster was, to all intents and purposes, a closed shop.
All these factors now work in UKIP's favour. Although the first-past-the-post system works against them, it simply means that for a new party to appear, it must have a solid and broad voter-base to break into the system. UKIP have shown that they have that. Proportional Representation favours small parties, but it also means that parties can appear and disappear from parliament quickly, with the rise and fall of political passions. FPTP makes this less likely. The three main parties in parliament have all been there for more and a hundred years. This suggests that the new four-party system that UKIP is carving out in England, may be here for a while to come.
I've said before that UKIP is essentially a "Thatcherite" party. As the younger generation are more likely to espouse "Thatcherite" economic values (economically liberal) and "Blairite" social values (socially liberal), this favours UKIP more than the other three parties, if UKIP can tap into the well of disaffection with politics that many young people feel. As UKIP is perfectly-positioned as the only "anti-politics" party around, it's not surprising that many of those who support UKIP are those who didn't vote before.
If UKIP didn't exist, it would be necessary to create it. The political establishment has brought itself to an ideological dead-end, to the extent that it has forgotten what it truly stands for. The "social-democratic" agenda came about in tandem with the concept of "political correctness". A few months ago, I wrote about how the idea of free speech has become warped into a self-defeating cause. The establishment has now become so wrapped-up in the concept of "free speech" that it will protect the legal rights of (Muslim) extremists who encourage mass murder. This is not "protecting free speech": it is ideological suicide. It is the behavior of a political creed that has lost the will to live.
Britain as a state has lost the will to defend its own beliefs. Since the Woolwich attack, the actions of the establishment and the police give a helping hand to the extremists.When the British police are protecting the rights of Muslim extremists who preach death to Britons and abhor democracy, this is not defending "multiculturalism": this is creating a logical contradiction. It is no wonder that Muslim extremists look to Britain as an example of a state with no beliefs of its own. It has forgotten what those beliefs are, so no longer knows what "rights" it is supposed to be defending.
This is how the political establishment are surrendering the moral high ground to the likes of the EDF, who therefore manage to give the impression of caring more about "British values" than the establishment itself. It is a pitiful indictment of those in power that they would rather perpetuate a system of "multiculturalism" that creates a segment of society that has little sense of belonging to the country they were born in. This is not "multiculturalism" - it is perpetuating cultural segregation.
It is telling that America has much less of a "radicalisation" problem with its own Muslim population than does the UK. This indicates that America as a nation has a much more defined sense of identity and values than Britain; that many more American Muslims feel "American" first and "Muslim" second rather than the other way around. The experience in Britain suggests the opposite.
Because Britain's establishment has an unclear sense of identity and values (and because the "social democratic" political establishment refuses to discuss these "issues" in case they appear "racist"), it surrenders the debate to the extremists on both sides.
With the present crop of self-serving, uninspired and vacuous "career politicians" in Westminster, it is no wonder that UKIP are so popular: for many people now, they are the only alternative. This is what happens when the political system seizes up and becomes broken, its only sense of purpose being self-perpetuation. Every so often the dialectic of political ideology changes, when the old orthodoxy loses its legitimacy. For the past twenty years, the "social democratic" orthodoxy has ruled the roost. But now, with the political establishment so complacent and arrogant towards its electorate, UKIP appears as the force for change, to bring a new dynamic to British politics that more accurately reflects the political reality.
Some might say UKIP are Fascists in all but name; but for others, it may be a price worth paying, if it means a restoration of sanity to British politics.