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 94.

    UKIP don't have to be in power to be able to change the face of politics in the UK

    If some MP's from the main parties defected to UKIP - UKIP might gain a more moderate, acceptable view. Even the ability to make policies on a wider range of subjects !

    This would make it harder for the old school politicians from the other parties to rubbish them and might help change politics for the good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    The civil service can run the country with no party.

    UKIP offers 1 or 2 ideas and need offer nothing else, during the next parliament if they get those 1 or 2 things complete then we have a winner.

    The huge manifesto provided by parties is just white noise they NEVER do them.

    Do 1 or 2 things and do it properly.

    UKIP are connecting with the people.

    Lib,Lab,Con are all failed entities.

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I voted UKIP because I am getting a bit too old for jam tomorrow. I think we need to dump the Brussles legislature and frac lots of lovely cheap gas out from under Lancashire PDQ. UKIP promises me both.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Without a doubt their leader has a charisma that is sadly lacking in politics today. You feel you know where you stand with Nigel Farage and that he will deliver what he promises given the chance.

    Moreover, a lot of what he says is tapping into a large swathe of public opinion that feels unrepresented by the current main parties regarding immigration and the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Do these gullible people (whom voted UKIP) do no realise that:
    UKIP=BNP=National Front

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    The UKIP Success is almost entirely due to the Established Parties (and David Cameron in particular) not listening to ordinary people’s justified concerns about Immigration and the EU.
    Austerity, aimed primarily at the lower and middle earners, could give UKIP the Grand Prix.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    @ 74. Emzdad

    Instead of wittering on about conspiracy theories that the BBC are fixing the 'up/down' ratings or 'lefties' being out in force, had it occurred to you that not everyone commenting on here agrees with you or UKIP?

    Get some perspective. UKIP don't 'stand for the common man', if they did they would be in power by now.

    I prefer my political parties to be inclusive. UKIP ain't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.


    "In times of economic slump people's xenophobic impulses are strengthened."

    It is as foolish to label UKIP as xenophobic, as it is to ridicule them as clowns. The public have had no say in the way in which uncontrolled immigration has transformed our towns. The public have lost faith in the old politics. UKIP exist because on the street people feel disenfranchised by our politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Cameron was handed the poisoned chalice when he took power, hampered by the LibDems.
    His position is now strengthened since on the basis of these results the Libdems will be wiped out in a general election.
    He needs to gain the support of his own people to stop a Labour walkover.
    When will UKIP take power?

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    As a non-white Brit, UKIP's surge genuinely terrifies me. I understand people wishing to protest against the main 3 parties, but doing it by voting for a party openly against multi-culturalism? Never mind the message these voters are sending to the other parties, what about the message they're sending to Brits like me who were born of immigrant parents? I really don't feel safe here anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Nick - "The stranglehold of the three big parties have had on British politics has been broken."

    Really? - I don't think so. I will believe it when UKIP wins seats in the House of Commons.

    Their views are almost 180 degrees to my own but I would vote for them if they broke the cozy club of political apparatchiks.

    UKIP may replace the LibDems as the third party though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    The EU and Immigration will be dealt with because the electotrate will it, and no amount of derogatory comments from other parties or media outlets will detract from what UKIP are offering.

    To me it looks just like a fox has got into the chicken coop and the slurrs are just panic from the realisation that the 3 party model is bankrupt and the people see the deceit of the last 20 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Cameron,Wake up!!! UKIP will continue to rake in votes based on Europe not on local issues.Start listening to the people regarding main issues (give people a referendum after the next general)You wont be there man to oversee it.The problem we have is quite obvious,none f the three mainstream parties have any intention of giving the electorate any say on this issue.Democracy my A--E.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Sorry, my dear.
    But where are the clowns?
    Quick, send in the clowns.
    Don't bother, they're here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    It was only a matter of time wasn't it Dr Bob Matthews & Fiscal prudence? - search for 'Godwin's law' and see what you learn.

    You are both very wrong - it is completely acceptable to discuss immigration, membership of the EU and foreign policy without being branded racist or xenophobic - its a shame people like you resort to such shameful and juvenile tactics during an open discussion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    My problem with UKIP is that I agree with many of their policies, especially on immigration, but not with their main policy of UK independance. I voted for them anyway in my local elections, but I don't think I would vote for them in a general election. UK independance would be a big mistake.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    How do I feel about large numbers of people ignoring local issues and instead voting for a party that wants to cut us off from the rest of the world and dislikes "foreigners?"


    I like Eddie Izzard's "British Europoean" take on life. That describes me pretty much.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.



  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    The only thing that will stop UKIP is a referendum on EU membership, in or out. Cameron should have it at the same time as the next General election.


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