A Note on UKIP and the Illogic of Voting for It

At least one of my friends and one of my relatives are considering voting for the UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) candidate in next week’s General Election. As far as I can tell, both may do so largely as a protest against ‘interference’ from Brussels.

ballot

But this doesn’t make sense to me. Never mind that UKIP has put forward some very unsavoury candidates, whom their ‘normalisation’ project hasn’t quite succeeded in disguising. Rather, I take issue with any argument based largely on ‘interference’.

Doesn’t all government ‘interfere’, whether at village, town, county, regional, national or supranational level. Isn’t that what we elect a government to do? There’s undue pettiness, admittedly, in almost every  human institution, and we should constantly reform the machinery of state wherever we can, not least at EU level, but better to get on with that than get out of it.

I fear and distrust UKIP and any party that represents a particular national interest. I see no reason to believe that interference at national level is acceptable and at supranational level not. It all depends, of course, on the extent to which you feel you belong at one level or another. I am English, British, European, and human, so I accept the legitimacy of ‘interference’ at all of these levels, including, at the highest level, the United Nations. I have great difficulty in thinking of myself as British alone.

True, I don’t fully know what’ it means to feel European, but don’t ask me to say how it feels to be British either. Both notions, I hope, will always defy definition. Define them, and you start to hear the baying of thugs. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Britain can be more easily geographically defined than most countries.

UKIP, with its little Britisher mentality is certainly not for me.

So, don’t pretend the argument is about ‘interference’ alone. If you don’t want ‘interference’ vote Anarchist, if that isn’t a logical contradiction.

Who loves to queue?

It’s often said that the British like to queue, but I don’t think that’s true. What the British like is to queue well, in an orderly manner, where precedence is properly established by our time of arrival, and where discipline is maintained even when the bus arrives. For the British the concern is more with quality than quantity. We really don’t like to queue (it’s humiliating), but if we have to queue, we like to do it well

.Bus queue

There are other nations, though, whose people seem to revel in queuing, so much so that they like to do it more than once. I was reminded of this when I was in Rome last week.

In Italy you often get the chance to queue at least twice. At bars and cafes you queue at the cash desk to ask for what you want and to pay, and then you queue again at the bar to ask for what you want and to get it. I’m a system designer. This is bad system design. Who would design a system where you have to enter the same data twice? It widens the scope for error, especially if you don’t speak the language.

But the Italians aren’t nearly the worst. When I lived in Hungary in the late 1980s the Soviet-prescribed model was that you queued three times in shops. First, you queued to ask for what you wanted (often, of course, they didn’t have what you wanted), then you queued at the cash desk to pay for what you’d chosen, and after that you got a receipt and joined a third queue to get what you asked for, all wrapped up in brown paper and ready to go. It kept the working population busy, I suppose, and you could idle away a Saturday morning queuing fifteen times to buy five things.

But the worst queuing I’ve done on a regular basis, in terms both of quality (poor) and quantity (huge), was at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow in the late 1980s. The queue at passport control was a disordered scrum where you could spend ninety minutes elbowing your way to the front, kicking at the shins of those who try to get in front of you.

Departure from Moscow meant five queues: a queue to have your luggage checked, a queue to check in, a queue at passport control, a queue at security and then a queue to board the plane.

And then there was the time I queued eight times in Bucahrest to buy a small ball of string. No, that’s enough about queuing.

Suffice it to say, when it comes to queuing, the British are best.