UKIP advances as voter anger with mainstream parties runs far deeper than realised

By rights and in keeping with electoral convention, in the first County Council election results that were announced on Thursday night, UKIP should only have managed to win a handful of seats.

To have won 42 seats before the main bulk of the contests have even begun counting, against a backdrop of a concerted smear operation by the Conservatives against UKIP candidates and the absence of anything that could be fairly described as an effective UKIP local organisation, is a stunning result.  This reveals the depth of voter anger with the mainstream parties runs far deeper than perhaps even we realised.

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg will be very fearful men this morning and with good reason.  Make no mistake, if the UKIP advance continues with the results to be announced on Friday this election, and the forthcoming European elections in which UKIP were already expected to do well, could represent a game changer in national politics ahead of the 2015 General Election.  The results could be that significant.

An unexpectedly high tally of seats to accompany a strong percentage of the overall vote is likely to bring about several things.  Firstly, UKIP can expect more scrutiny, but significantly more air time and coverage in the media to present their narrative – albeit in need of urgent improvement and cohesion.  This will result in more potential voters taking a look at the alternative to the mainstream parties, which could lift UKIP’s support even higher.

Secondly, with something now approaching a local base developing, we can expect to see an increase in dissatisfied Conservative councillors defecting to UKIP, as they become confident they have a fighting chance of still being re-elected outside the Tory umbrella.  Don’t underestimate the vested self interest of electoral prospects informing the decision making of councillors, many of whom are sick to the back teeth of Cameron’s evisceration of conservative principles and policies.

Thirdly, with wider coverage and evidence that UKIP can win seats promoting more confidence, party membership can expect to increase in the coming months.  Crucially for UKIP this would also result in more money – and there could now be a real prospect that some current Tory donors might consider switching their money to UKIP, as electoral success from virtually no base will show their cash could be used to achieve some tangible success.

Fourth, the EU referendum strategy, which Cameron has developed around the idea of batting it away into the long grass beyond the next General Election – and only then if the Conservatives win, which is now looking a more distant prospect – is likely to unravel.  Internal pressure within the Conservative party to address the issue much sooner in an effort to arrest UKIP’s progress, will be deafening as the non-wets assert themselves with electoral evidence of the strength of their argument.

In politics, momentum should never be underestimated.  A combination of opposition to EU membership, anger over immigration, and the opportunity to protest against the cosy mainstream political stitch up and reject the main parties, has given UKIP momentum.

What matters now is how it’s used.  As this blogger has always maintained, with Farage at the helm things have the capacity to fall apart quickly and people might find the party is all fur coat and no knickers.  There are a number of risks but two in particular that stand out.

First, that the lack of cohesion on policy due to Farage’s refusal/incapacity to ‘do detail’ results in contradictory statements and voting which embarrass the party.  Second, that Farage’s autocratic control of the party, which because of its relative size makes him more powerful comparatively than Cameron is over his Tories, means some unsavoury candidates have slipped through the net and as they are exposed – make no mistake, the media poodles will pore over them continually – they bring the party into disrepute.  There is a greater than average chance that UKIP proves to be its own worst enemy for the reasons this blog and others have trailed for many months.

We now wait to see what Friday’s results bring.

10 Responses to “UKIP advances as voter anger with mainstream parties runs far deeper than realised”

  1. 1 StrongUnitedKingdom 03/05/2013 at 10:37 am

    All UKIP ask is for the same scrutiny to be applied to the other Party candidates. There will be a great deal more to find there than in our ranks. And it will also highlight another big difference between UKIP and the others. When we find someone has done wrong they are removed and their membership revoked. Compare this with the LibLAbCon who merely recycle their own, regardless of crimes or misdeeds. Surge, rebellion or revolution, call it what you will, the task of breaking up the self-serving, UK hating, cosy cabal at Westminster has begun.

    As for Nigel being autocratic, let people compare this with Cameron’s run up to the 2010 election with forcing candidates onto Local Associations, all female lists, and 8 years of ignoring his Party’s members and voters. At that point such allegations fail to hold much water.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 03/05/2013 at 10:57 am

    I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole with this, but unless Farage approves, you don’t get anywhere near being a candidate. Andreasson being made a candidate by Farage outside UKIPs own rules make the point well enough. There’s plenty more besides and Eric Edmonds has catalogued.

  3. 3 JMR 03/05/2013 at 11:27 am

    Is it not time to rejoice that at last there is some prospect of cutting the pro EU supporters down to size. Lets all get behind the “only team in town” and stop the continual sniping at UKIP. Of course things can go wrong but they could get even better!

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 03/05/2013 at 11:59 am

    I’m not going to vote for UKIP just because they are the ‘least worst’ option. They will not reform the democratic process and until that happens voting is just a waste of time that will change very little.

  5. 5 Jeremy Bridges 03/05/2013 at 1:40 pm

    I joined UKIP three years ago. Nigel is the very best leader by far. God Bless him

  6. 6 Bruce 03/05/2013 at 4:47 pm

    AM, you’re very obviously a clever and articulate guy. I know this because I’m quick to recognise my own qualities in other people (wee joke there). I’m not privy to what happens at the UKIP local organisation level because I live in Scotland where UKIP supporters, entrepreneurs and common sense are in equally short supply. But from where I’m sitting – and I know you don’t agree – Farage is BY FAR UKIP’s biggest draw.

    I honestly haven’t spoken to a single person who doesn’t like Nigel. That is unbelievably important – more so than local level in-fighting – to UKIP’s future success. If the leader, the face of the party, isn’t likeable and appealing then you can have the best organisation in the world but no one will want to vote for you.

    And as for the weirdos that seem to slip through the selection net (such as it is) I think people are so fed up with the identikit politicians in the other parties that they don’t much care if there are a load of eccentrics in UKIP. Personally, I love eccentrics. In fact, the less like a professional politician candidates are the more chance they will have of being elected in future. People by-and-large hate politics and politicians and who can blame them.

    UKIP, Farage, weirdos, local in-fighting, it’s all like a blast of fresh air in the sterile, fugged-up (no spelling error there) world of party politics. Come on AM, put aside your personal views and start waving the flag for a Nigel-led UKIP in the interests of shaking up the whole system!

  7. 7 StrongUnitedKingdom 03/05/2013 at 9:23 pm

    AM, I am a UKIP candidate and know full well the strengths and weaknesses inside the Party. No one in it is perfect. However I refer you to my previous comments. Compare like with like and Farage is not the ogre many would have you believe. I am also accutely aware of the deceit and autocracy in the Tory party that has been played on its own members and this topic has nothing to do with the EU.

  8. 8 Sam Duncan 04/05/2013 at 12:11 am

    “Secondly, with something now approaching a local base developing, we can expect to see an increase in dissatisfied Conservative councillors defecting to UKIP, as they become confident they have a fighting chance of still being re-elected outside the Tory umbrella.”

    i.e., what Glenn Reynolds calls “preference cascade”. It didn’t actually happen as he predicted in the last US Presidential election, but I agree that it could begin now over here.

    Then again, let’s not get too carried away: of the councils contested this week, the Tories still control more than everyone else put together. The UKIP surge should certainly make them stop and think, but that fact should probably do the same for all the rest. The preference cascade might yet prove as elusive as it did for Mitt Romney.

  9. 9 Autonomous Mind 04/05/2013 at 9:41 am

    StrongUK, the list of people who were senior UKIP members – who have been considered by Farage to be a threat because they are capable, effective and have expertise in governance that he cannot match – who have been drummed out of the party so Farage can protect his position, is long and distinguished.

    When you couple that with the constitutional changes that Farage pushed through which gave him effective control of and veto over everything concerning the management of UKIP, which includes policy, selection and party rules, and it is impossible to defend charges of autocratic dictatorship.

    Certainly, there is no suggestion I am aware of that a huge sum of Conservative party funds managed by Cameron is unaccounted for and the party’s executives and accountants are blocked from access to the accounts and instructed never to question or mention the matter. The same can’t be said of Farage – – who issued an angry denial but still refuses to answer what the ‘expenses’ listed in the accounts were actually used for. Five NEC members quit in disgust.

    But he’s no ogre, right?

  10. 10 Bruce 04/05/2013 at 10:30 am

    What you’re saying may well be true, I don’t know. But it’s not doing them any harm, is it?

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