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

    Comment number 34.

    Like the 'Avelanche Theory' - little acorns grown into large oak trees. My family r 2 vote UKIP rather than cons & libs. Mainstream politics has become 'closed off' from grass root UK. It panders 2 large corporations with no bottle to uphold values. If I am 2 age impoverished - I'd rather go down with a struggle!

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    How does "we want out of the EU" translate into providing the local services that local councils provide? Highway maintenance, refuse collection, social care etc.

    My local UKIP candidate's headline policy was "I will do all I can to reduce immigration". As a county councillor in land-locked Leicestershire I'm looking forward to seeing exactly what "all I can do" translates as...

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    UKIP say what many people believe to be true and as NR rightly points out Nigel Farage just speaks his mind. The Conservatives may well see a repeat of this at the General Election, the Liberals may well struggle to win more than a handful of seats and slip into obscurity and Labour will win office by default. Something that Cameron needs to tackle head on but doubt he has the foresight?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    UKIP's rise has proven that peoples two main concerns are:

    1. Stopping Immigration
    2. Taking back sovereignty from the EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Cameron is on a self-serving agenda. He may or may not be be doing right by the deficit, but he's certainly not by the people. Milliband is silent, clearly his take on what opposition means. Farage has soundbites, which offers comfort, if not answers. Shame on Milliband and Labour;invisible oposition. Cameron is doing what he does, as we all might expect. The magic has stopped working. Oh Dear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    These results could end up being a bit of a poisoned challis for UKIP if it means their policies are given greater scrutiny. Once the public finds out that they want to privatize the NHS, massively reduce taxes for the rich and are opposed to Gay rights you might find they lose a lot of their protest vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Interesting days, disaffected tories, ex BNP types (oh i forgot they can't join) and former hard left Union Anti EU brigade from Michael Foots labour days all in a grand coalition, I suppose the markets will have the final say on this in the run up to a general election !

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    How long before the 1st UKIP Cllr has to resign in disgrace for making racist comments?

    How long before the 1st UKIP Cllr has to resign in disgrace for making sexist/otherwise offensive comments?

    How long before the 1st UKIP Cllr has to resign in disgrace for making dodgy expenses claims?

    Wake up people - UKIP are effectively the same politicos as the existing bunch......only worse.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I am a Labour member, supporter and past candidate and I welcome the rise of UKIP. Not because they are bleeding support from the Tories, but they are active players in our democracy. Our Parliament does not equally represent the views and opinions of this country and by establshing more parties of differing views like UKIP and the Greens, it allows for greater debate on a national scale.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Clark should now be ordering sackcloth and ashes and if he was honourable resign!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    A great night for UKIP and those of us who support it. Getting out of the EU is the most important thing we can do - they make all our laws at the moment - mostly with little regard for the UK (think of the Financial Transaction tax attacking the City). This is no longer a protest vote but support for policies which the "main" parties don't support (whatever they say, the rest are pro EU).

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Its no surprise that UKIP have done so well. Their leader is charismatic and speaks his mind without fear of political correctness. He also prioritises real issues such as; immigration, the EU, overseas aid, prison reform and the welfare state. Today's results give a clear message that these issues matter over pandering to the minorities (gay marriage, benefit claimants, human rights). Wake up DC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    3 parties who assume monetarist policies designed to serve the rich and the corporations (particularly multinationals), has left me with no major party to vote for.

    Milliband proved that the Labor party is still a center right party that does not have the intelligence to explain Keynesian economics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    @8 Lord Elpus:

    Some people would see that as giving balance rather than sticking the knife in, but you carrying on believing the BBC Left-bias nonsense if you like. Can you argue with the facts of his post-script?

    (By the way, you do know that Nick Robinson is a Tory, don't you? I always find his comments very balanced).

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    8.Lord Elpus - "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."

    I fail to see how telling the truth can in any way be considered "bias".....

    .....if the truth hurts though **** - care to actual try & justify your allegation with a nuanced argument or some FACTUAL evidence...???

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I seem myself more as a moderate Tory, and David Cameron should be very careful before shifting to the right and giving in to the demands of UKIP. If he does, I might find myself more at home on the Blairite wing of the Labour party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Nick, since when has 'angst' become a verb ? Don't want to cramp your style but suggesting that people 'will angst' is pretty rum language ? Interesting content apart from this

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Initial reaction from 'spokespersons' of so called major parties are laughable, Shapps, Hughes and Benn appear toi have their heads up their rectums. It will be intersting to see which of the major parties will be the first to try to hijack UKIP policies for the next general election.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Frankly the 3 party consensus was a dead hand on English politics (Celtic fringe is different). As well as UKIP, we can also expect the rise of a Muslim Asian party (Respect maybe or akin) in many city areas. Politicians eye for the short term means that they don't see the long term effects of mass unregulated immigration.


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