UKIP - Send in the 'clowns'

 

This is the day when those dubbed "clowns, loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists" may find it hard to resist the temptation to laugh in the face of their detractors in the established political parties.

It is the day UKIP emerged as a real political force in the land.

The leaders of all other political parties will now be considering how to respond, what to say and what to do in the face of the party's rise.

UKIP has evolved over the two decades since it was created from an anti-EU pressure group into a fully fledged party which has now proved that it can succeed beyond European elections.

This is a more profound change than you might think. Before today a party created because of one issue and dominated by one man could, in theory, have simply wound up after a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.

Many of its early backers might have concluded at that point - "job done".

Now, however, there will be UKIP councillors all over the country (there may even be some with a slice of power once all the results are in) who will insist they exist for other purposes. UKIP is not going the way of the Referendum Party.

For now their impact will be on other parties.

Tories on the right will claim that if only David Cameron had listened to them none of this would have happened. They will demand political red meat to woo back their former supporters.

To some extent it's already been offered - David Cameron has talked of a parliamentary vote on an EU referendum, he's announced a crackdown on immigration and a tougher prison regime has been heralded. So, what now?

Blairites will reheat their warnings that Ed Miliband has not extended Labour's support enough.

Some in his party will angst about their appeal in the South, some about their failure to convince their traditional white working class voters. He will respond, I suspect, with an attempt to forge a much clearer economic alternative.

The Lib Dems will be relieved that the spotlight is on someone else's problems whilst having to live with the fact that their party's problems are very far from over.

Nigel Farage has already proved that he is one of those politicians like Ken and Boris and Alex Salmond who can make his country smile. Now the clowns are bringing tears to their opponents' eyes. He's sure to see the joke in that.

PS: Having said all of this this let's not forget that UKIP did not win the elections. They look set to end the night with tens of councillors not many hundreds, unlike their opponents. It is extremely unlikely to run any council alone.

They have no MPs and, under our first-past-the-post system, it would be a major achievement to elect just one. Labour still won last night's by-election and the Conservatives look set to have the most councillors and run the most councils.

UKIP are putting down political roots. They are not about to challenge for power.

 
Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 14.

    @ Plantpot2 - BNP and UKIP are as different as chalk and cheese. UKIP have policies that chime with the country. All three main parties will be very worried at the end of today and I predict major policy changes, particularly from Labour who are totally out of step with where this country wants to go.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 13.

    Tories : Just looking after their rich chums.

    Labour : Blaming the Tories for their own policies ( Spending, Immigration etc ).

    LibDem : Broken promises and lies ( Student Fees ), and willing to side with anyone if they thing they can cling on to power

    UKIP : See points above.

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 12.

    Do you think the main parties have got the message yet?

    I mean take the recent comments from Jesse Norman, he seems to think coming Eton some how is an advantage to public service although so far most of us would say you that such people have proven to be quite useless on most fronts apart from being better at self service.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 11.

    #6. plantpot2

    Where is the analysis of UKIP policies by the media? We only seem to report on jokes and insults thrown at party members. The major parties just don't seem to bring it up. The UKIP message so far is very simple and has wide appeal - "don't let foreigners take working class jobs/don't let Europe tell us what to do"

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 10.

    Labour- They need to get rid of the remnants from the Brown era and cut the strong union ties. Give us an economic policy that we can judge. Hint: Housing and inflation should be examined.

    LibDems: Clegg is a liability. Change leader and get out of the coalition asap.

    Tories: No comment. What happened to all the promises of being better than Labour? GO is a sequel of GB/EB.

    Hope Greens do well

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 9.

    Getting themselves elected was the easy bit for UKIP.....



    ....simply riding the wave of discontent.......




    .....but now they are in power they need t convince that they are competent & not simply a bunch of weirdos.....



    ....if I was a betting man I'd say the latter, but time will tell......

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 8.

    Got the knife in at the end there then Nick.
    A few years ago I was skeptical about all this talk of leftie, metropolitan elite BBC bias.
    I'm not any more.

  • rate this
    +59

    Comment number 7.

    I was until very recently a Tory all my life. But after seeing the Eton rich kids looking after the rich and themselves and breaking promises. I have decided never to vote Tory again. I have switched to Ukip and will join the party. I am no bigot, I believe in equality. I believe if more join Ukip they will refine (dump some silly polices) into a fine party.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 6.

    It was only a couple of years ago that the BNP were maqking gains and were the new 'protest' party. Now, thankfully, they have sunk without trace and I think UKIP will do the same within a similar time frame. I don't suppose many people who voted for them have a clue about their polices..other than they are anti European. I'm not sure that many UKIP members know either! UK politics is in a mess!

  • rate this
    +87

    Comment number 5.

    I would never vote for any of the 'three' main parties ever again. The country are fed of broken promises, lies, u turns and arrogance.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 4.

    Tories and Lib Dems are going to really suffer at the hands of UKIP whilst I predict Labour will gain from UKIP as it will split the Tory vote and allow Labour in by default. Labour and the Tories must however be very concerned about the 2014 European elections. Labour must surely change tack and come up with some very different and definitive policies on a referendum and immigration.

  • rate this
    +30

    Comment number 3.

    The politicians response is important: There is the view that a party of protest in these elections does not translate to electoral success at the nationals. One should acknowledge that people voted (gave up their time) for a reason and they should address that reason. To dismiss a protest vote will make their electoral success more likely - it shows you definitely are not listening.

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 2.

    ''They have no MPs and, under our first-past-the-post system, it would be a major achievement to elect just one.''
    They will have double figures if the two major parties do not listen to the concerns of the ordinary people. The Westminster chattering class and the Shires and the politcal media do not have a clue or are in anyway concerned about what live is like in the schemes.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1.

    Beware knee jerk reactions and a lurch to the right. Voters are fed up with the big 3 national parties but the newly elected UKIP councillors will have to prove they have some policies that will effect local issues. Especially when they are facing massive cuts.

 

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