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 74.

    I see the lefties are out in force on this subject again, or is it just the BBC. Every comment praising UKIP or deriding the EU is given negative rates. Amazing!
    UKIP stand for the common man and all that they allude to is putting right what successive govts have compounded over the past 50 yrs. Surrender of this country to the EU and uncontroled mass immigration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Those who laugh last and all that,Cameron and Milliband will now have to listen and as long as they stick their heads in the sand over the EU and open door immigration UKIP will gather momentum and bleed votes from both of the main parties,good thing too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I am working class and was brought up with good working class values, that is not to expect anything for nothing, to obey the wish of the majority, (whether it suits me or not), to expect punishment for wrong doing, and to earn any rights.
    I've voted Tory for most of my life but recent governments have eroded our national values, so I'm now a UKIP voter looking for a return of those values.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Leo Jones
    6 Minutes ago

    For the last 20 years a sizable minority in the UK, and England particularly, have been disparaged and ignored as the 'Daily Mail' readers.

    .....and rightly so, if they had a little more intelligence and honesty they would be reading Das Kapitol!

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Just joined UKIP. I am an ordinary working single father. I believe in equality, fairness and am no bigot or scare monger. We need a change and the rich kids from Eton of Labour, Tories and Libdems need a long holiday. Perhaps abroad maybe for ten or twenty years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    UKIP's modest success is hardly surprising when you consider that three quarters of the press in this country have been pumping out messages of distrust of foreigners, all benefits claimants are spongers (even those in work!), the rich need more tax breaks etc. etc. for years.

    Let's see what happens in 2015, shall we?

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Now UKIP have several, rather than just the occasion, elected representative they will come under more scrutiny than ever....

    ....and they will come up wanting......

    ....they do attract clowns & nut cases, even if not all their representatives fit that billing.......

    ....and by the next General Election they'll be seen for what they truly are - nothing new or different.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Did I just read a comment saying that human rights were of minority interest? What does the commenter think he is if not human?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    @ 50. sagamix

    '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.'

    Thanks for taking time time to share your patronising elementary philosophy but you seem to be suffering from the same problems as DC and EB - you aren't listening and you are talking in riddles

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    We have been consistently LIED to about Europe by all THREE main Westminster parties! Tory Ted Heath in his memoir wrote that the plan was always closer integration!

    It was the Tories who removed our democratically elected prime minister because she opposed the Maastricht Treaty!
    The Tories signed Maastricht with no support from us in 1992!


  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 63.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    UKIP's gains in voter numbers are due to the three main parties having policies that the voters do not want.
    We do not want expensive renewable energy nor the land covered by windmills and pylons.
    We do not want immigration from poor countries.
    We do not want the EU dictating to us, it is bad enough with our own parliament and local authorities let alone allowing others to join in.
    Etc. Etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Nothing the chattering classes can do can detract from a fantastic night for UKIP. We are on our way and this will pass a psychological milestone for the public .... That in national elections UKIP can take on the establishment and win.... They should be afraid.... Very afraid..... And the rest of us very happy

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    As long as the government spinners write it off as 'a mid term blip' and continue to do what they want to do - or what they can get away with, aka those "tough choices" - people will continue to turn out in low numbers.
    Not democracy

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Personally, as a pro-European, I welcome a bit of public exposure for UKIP and its councillors. There have been a couple of quasi-forced resignations of councillors over the last year, for various forms of public bigotry. Let's see how long some of this crop last - and the damage they do to their party in the meantime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    For the last 20 years a sizable minority in the UK, and England particularly, have been disparaged and ignored as the 'Daily Mail' readers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Worth reading the history of Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazi party who were laughed at for years. Hitler did not seize power but was elected by people who were tired of the established parties & chaos. The Nazi party offered simple solutions and blamed everything on one group. For jews then read EU now. So much easier than confronting one's own failure. Our problems are all home grown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    The 2 truths.

    1. The electorate don't feel that the main parties are any different. When they get into power they lie, cheat and steal.

    2. UKIP has squeezed into the gap left by the 3 main parties because it has connected with the electorate on the issues that the main parties don't ever want to talk about.

    Democracy has spoken!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    UKIP will be no different than any other political party once they get some "power" BUT they have served a warning to the "main parties" that they must listen to the people , especially on benefits, prison sentancing and most importantly immigration.

    Exit from the EU was never a reality but it has served the point that we need to renegotiate some elements of membership.


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