That's the number of UKIP councillors that were elected in the recent council elections. On the contrary to the amount of headlines this has made, UKIP are still only the fourth largest party in the United Kingdom. What's more, Labour never lost a single council post to UKIP, and actually gained substantially, narrowing the gap between them and the Tories.
Nevertheless, for a party that a year ago was shrugged off as the BNP-lite, 147 councillors is certainly not something to be ignored. What certainly cannot be ignored is the fact they are swiftly catching up to the Liberal Democrats, and it would seem that by 2015 the nation's third party will be title for their taking. The significant thing about this is that it would reveal a heel turn from a centre, socially liberal party, and a system that is balanced with the main parties occupying the right, centre and left (If Ed Miliband sticks by his word, of course), to a populist right, socially conservative party, transforming our system into an imbalanced left, right, and even more right occupation of the spectrum.
All across Europe we have watched as moderate governments have handed in their reigns to be replaced with right wing governments, and Greece is a keen example of a surprising emergence of the extreme right as Golden Dawn managed to capture some seats. France, too, now has a third party that is fascist in all but the name.
We looked on as if we were immune to the far right, but are we really?
It only takes a glimpse at UKIP's history and current manifesto to peel back the flesh and reveal what lies beneath the anti-Brussels sentiment.
First, with the party's founding; the party was formed by a group of disgruntled Tories who dubbed themselves the League of Empire Loyalists. That's right, a group of ministers who harked back to the 'golden days' of colonialism. Even worse, the founder of this group, AK Chesterton, was a member of the British Union of Fascists, which also comprised of members who would later go on to form the BNP.
But then, can we really judge a party on their early history? I mean, the US Democrats were originally the party of slave owners and yet now have a black president who advocates gay rights, affirmative action and universal healthcare. Can the same be said for UKIP?
Well why not look at the manifesto and judge for yourself:
On Immigration: "Any future immigration for permanent settlement must be on a strictly limited and controlled basis where that can clearly be shown to benefit the British people as a whole and our economy. Immigrants would not be able to apply for public housing or benefits until they had paid tax for five years."
On the Human Rights Act: "UKIP would withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Convention on Refugees."
And, to show just how much of their values as pro-colonialists are still intact, their stance on 'political correctness' and education: " Children are taught to be ashamed of our past. Multiculturalism has split our society. Political correctness is stifling free speech."
Other than that, it opposes equal marriage, does not believe in global warming, and wants to increase military spending by 40% while reducing taxes and cutting £77bn in public spending.
Now, of course, UKIP are not going to actually get in power, meaning these full rounded policies will never truly be implemented. But as all democracies go, all mainstream parties will have to face the voter's apathy. UKIP are essentially a lobby group, a very effective one, and the more people that vote for these kind of policies the more chance our mainstream parties will shift to the right to regain their trust. We are only a stone throw away from losing any touch with the left as it is, and a few stones' throw from losing a decade of social and multicultural progression.
Now, it might be true that their emergence is down to their emphasis on leaving the EU, which while flawed in its belief that leaving the union will somehow bring peace and prosperity, is not particularly worrying and is somewhat understandable depending on where you stand on the issue. But I sometimes wonder if people ARE aware of their horrendous policies. If so, maybe it's time we stopped behaving as if we share nothing in common with continental Europe after all.
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