The news that UKIP have apparently hired the same people who did the No2AV marketing has caused a bit of a stir, especially if you take a look at their latest poster. It has outraged a number of politicos from across the mainstream spectrum and those people have subsequently vented their anger at the shameless xenophobic nonsense on Twitter.
Outrage is not enough. We were outraged when the Conservatives published the poster below. It’s not just misleading, it’s an absolute lie. Under AV, two candidates (as there are in a boxing contest) are treated as if it was first past the post. The person with most votes wins. There is no conceivable possibility that the person with less votes could win under that scenario. Yet Warsi and the like fully defended it, despite politicos and journos calling them to task. They also happened to win. It doesn’t matter how misleading the message is – if it’s simple enough, if it’s scary enough, it becomes truth to those who don’t spend every waking hour engrossed in politics.
We will always struggle against the politics of fear. It’s much easier to scare somebody into voting than it is to rationalise them into positivity. But it seems far too often that those who oppose this sort of foaming-at-the-mouth tripe think that sending an outraged tweet is enough. We tweeted like hell on AV and lost.
So there are things you can do before May 22nd. If you are in a pro-EU party, go out and campaign. The more votes candidates get on the day can make a dent in the number of seats UKIP win under the PR voting system. If somebody on the doorstep says they’re voting UKIP, instead of doing what you’d normally do and move on to the next door, ask them if they don’t mind telling you why. More often than not, there’s a reason they’ve been given by Farage’s mates that frankly doesn’t exist. Arm yourself with the facts and keep an eye on pages of sitting Labour and Lib Dem MEPs – they are typically quite good at disbanding “Euromyths”. If you don’t have time to have a conversation there and then, print off the information about that specific “problem” later and deliver it to them with a note. The worst that can happen is that you’ve spent some time with that voter and if they are in any way convinceable, you may have both convinced them to support our continued membership of the EU and maybe even to vote for your party.
You have nothing to lose by challenging UKIP. Their success is, sadly, not a product of their own merit. It is that the mainstream parties are concerned about standing up to falsifications and the voters can tell. The one thing worse than standing steadfast against perceived populism on a controversial subject is sitting on the fence. It’s better to be disagreed with by lots but still respected for being principled than to be considered weak and indecisive.
Getting mad doesn’t win elections. Getting even does. Every time you see the nonsense put out by UKIP, promise to yourself to knock another hundred doors or deliver another 300 leaflets. Don’t let xenophobic scaremongering win another election, and let’s make sure these racists in suits get a hard fight on May 22nd.