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, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Yawn yawn,Europe foreigners blame someone else!

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    For the "youth" of the country it is more about trust than policies; do we trust parties who [the media have portrayed as] are expense mongering, anti-the-other-guys, let down artists and seemingly impervious to the majority of society's input? No, the guys saying what they truly believe hence reconnecting with the "lost" generations get our vote.

    The recession is here to stay. Give us honesty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Just seeing if you can comment on the elections here without being pre-moderated. If so, what is going on beeb? You can't on the other comment page.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    By resorting to petty name calling The Tories have played into UKIP's hands. Tories have also miss calculated what UKIP are about, they think that by promising a referendum it negates the need for UKIP - in my County of Staffordshire the issue of HS2 which UKIP are opposed to is a key issue of concern - hence their projected gains. When Political Parties don't listen then people look elsewhere

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    An age old phenomenon is playing out here.

    In times of economic slump people's xenophobic impulses are strengthened and they can be seized by a nostalgic hankering for a simpler world.

    Assuming the main parties have the intelligence and integrity not to exploit this feeblemindedness it can allow the right wing fringe to do quite well, given an effective leader (which UKIP have in Farrage).

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    What are UKIP policies apart from get out of EU, ban immigration, ban health and safety, go back to yards pounds and miles, anyone know. Oh yet build more prisons for all those nasty foreigners

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    "43. Now, will the major parties listen to us?"

    They might pretend to they ever?

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I have the greatest respect for one who is prepared to speak his mind rather than pandering to perceived political correctness and the vocal minorities in order to gain or retain a seat. I hope that UKIP can now go on to convert their group into a party that can realistically contest seats at the next general election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    these days, can we really trust any of them? put it to a general election Mr Cameron.....

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The voters have given Mr Farage and his Merrymen an opportunity to show us all they're about more than just Europe.

    You've been challenged Nigel, lets see if you can't live upto the trust which has been placed in you. Remember good, honest politics is what we're looking for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Now, will the major parties listen to us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Cameron is no Thatcherite. Thatcher opened the doors for the lower and middle classes to own homes, start their own businesses, she removed the glass ceilings. She was no austerity queen. She just believed in common sense spending. The Bedroom Tax is an awful error as is the failure to tackle the banks that are choking are nation. UKIP are the future once a few silly policies are dumped.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    'Send in the Clowns' - a ridiculous and totally unnecessary framing of a very serious issue. There are elements of this piece which are sensationalist and speculative.

    It is natural that disaffection in the status quo will result in alternative votes-it's important for democracy and will send a clear signal to the majors in the run up to the election. UKIP will now have to stand up to scrutiny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Farage is such a windbag, let him have his day. Come the general election, lets see his face the day after. I will look forward to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The most 'positive' aspect of UKIP is that they do not have established political / business connections, unlike the other parties.

    UKIP is not, yet, rolling over to big business regardless of the impact on voters because UKIP recognises it needs the people's votes.

    Government is meant to be safeguarding "we the people" - now and into the future. Not destroying us in the name of commerce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    UKIP putting down roots is rather akin to finding bindweed in the garden.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    ukip focussed on parts of lincolnshire with high levels of eu migration and with high % of older people - - it worked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    It’s not just about Europe and funding economic migrants. While we suffer, politicians from another era are morally and financially in debt to trade unions (not electorate), desperately trying to look cool (gay marriage & overseas aid) or trying to sell a European Superstate. We want politicians out of our living rooms & running the country. UKIP seems to promise this - don't hold your breath.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    I live in Sussex and have voted Conservative at every election since 1976. Until yesterday.

    Message to Cameron. Don't put words in my mouth. Don't state that I voted the way I did for any other reason than that I want our relationship with the EU sorted - before the General Election otherwise you probably will not be in power to make good your 'promise' of a referendum!


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