A few weeks ago, during the days when summer transitioned into a wintery autumn, our household was struck by an immigration issue. They came in all shapes and sizes, some small, some large, some black, some brown, but all with the same intent: feeding off us, using our benefits, impinging off our heating and lighting and making zipwires from my light-shade to my curtain-rail.
I was working one day (surprisingly) and I saw something out of the corner of my eye, something which scuttled with malice and a vengeance across the floor. This eight-legged horror froze as I turned my gaze upon its features, eyeing me back with contempt. I didn’t move either, and, summoning up my courage, I called my sister to remove it to a more suitable location. Then I knew. I had arachnophobia.
It lasted less than a week. I still don’t pick them up and let them run across my hands, and they’re not coming anywhere near my food, but I’m not afraid of them any more.
The word phobos is often translated as fear, but that’s not its true meaning. It’s the intertwined mix of hate and fear which supersedes reason and common sense. Paraphrasing Ovid, what is more influential than mankind, what less than an insect? Yet mankind screams and runs away from the insect.
The spiders have truly come out of the woodwork in the last few parliamentary years. In the midst of the populist web of disruption lies Nigel Farage, spinning out attractive propositions to win over the British electorate. The established parties, in reality, have nothing to fear from Ukip, electorally speaking. First-past-the-post, whatever disadvantages may be found with it, ensures that, even if Ukip come a close second in every constituency, they still won’t gain any seats. The spiders won’t eat the human.
Just as with the Anti-Waste League in the early 1920s, the Conservatives will inevitably shift more towards the right to eliminate the usefulness of Ukip, since they are more effective in government than the untested and globally unpopular Ukip.
Of course, the European elections show that Ukip has a mandate to voice Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom, but these cannot be taken as a prediction for the general election, given that the turnout was much lower (so those who did bother were probably more motivated to make it count anyway) and works on proportional representation.
The spider may not be able to do anything disasterous, but I still engineered a pretty comprehensive series of traps to stop one crawling onto my face during the night. Ukip may not win a majority in government, but they can still force Cameron’s hand in the EU, push for a reconsideration of the immigration laws and of the judicial infrastructure.
It isn’t logical to fear/hate spiders. In actual fact, they do some good, such as controlling the fly numbers…and probably other good things too. And Ukip have one good point – they’ve forced a reconsideration of the status quo and have ridded the established parties of the complacency in policy and in action they have enjoyed for a long time in Westminster politics.
We can prohibit spider from impinging on our territory by covering the vicinity in peppermint essence, or we can suck up each one with a hoover. We could discredit Ukip on the grounds of racism, sexism or whatever else the media can find, or we could seriously consider how they have enjoyed such a surge in popularity despite their ostensibly massive flaws.
I don’t have arachnophobia any more. I got over it. Maybe it’s time Westminster did too.