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 174.

    This is UKIP's energy and climate change policy, and the Guardan's critique thereof.

    If the rest of their policies are as badly thought out, they are not a suitable party for government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.


    Hopefully this is a protest vote & does not represent something worryingly xenophobic about society - the propensity is to blame minorities for everything in straitened times, the urbane Mr Farage seems a respectable outlet for those feelings but what about the rest of UKIP?

    It may do the main parties good to have a wakeup call, so long as they don't seek to compete on UKIP's terms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    It is about time that the "Red Ping & Blue Pong" parties owned up to having misgoverned this country for generations to their own personal advantage.

    Democracy has become a business under them.

    They only run the business to make a "profit" for themselves and force us to we work for them.

    It is time for a big change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    All this talk of UKIP giving the tories a bloody nose by those on the left is missing the point. If UKIP's momentum continues they will be forming the next coalition government with the tories. Personally, I'll be happy if Ed and co continue to keep their heads in the sand!

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Why do people who like to discuss immigration constantly moan that they can't discuss immigration every time they discuss immigration?

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    I would be more inclined to support a "one topic" party like UKIP if they chose the topics more diligently. If they added a "zero tolerance to ALL tax avoidance and evasion" I would vote for them tomorrow.

    Voters are fed up with broken promises from a bunch of "parachuted" career politicians who have chosen to see their job as a vacation rather than a vocation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Frankly I'm amazed at the detractors here. They have just been told that UKIP has been rubbished, insulted and ignored and its ensured their light has shone brighter. People ARE voting for them - by the bucketload. So keep ignoring and insulting.........."First ignore, then insult, then fight and lastly lose" remember the quote. The main parties need to understand or deminish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    It really is time to challenge the ridiculous rhetoric of the PC commissars

    Any discussion of uncontrolled immigration will inevitably result in gas chambers!!!

    Any discussion of the EU will unavoidably lead to a re-run of WW2!!!

    What nonsense

    About as reasonable as claiming allowing discussion of socialism will inevitably result in the killing fields

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    The so called main stream politicans are only just realising the backlash that is growing around many topics that they themselves tried to push under the carpet. Anti EU feeling is high and so are concerns about our apparent open border policy. And so the list goes on, instill they step up to the mark and confront these issues the so called clowns will still be in the Big Top.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    156 Gingermum

    'Oh yes,weak and divided government mass unemployment, rising prices and someone who stood up and blamed it all on the Jewish people'

    Yeah, but they really blamed the Jewish bankers. Now who was it that destroyed the UK economy and then blamed it on the likes of Goldman Sachs?

    Divisive? Dictatorial? Scapegoating the 'bankers' for their own incompetence.

    Sounds more like Labour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    156. gingermum

    BBC deleted my post for saying the same thing .....

    I note through all this, however, that the Lib Dems are no longer spouting about the merits of proportional representation ....


  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    There is something quite wrong with this country. Some deep malaise eating away at us. We live under a kind of socially constructed thought police, where ideas are supressed under the threat of the label of racist or bigot. It's sad really, people just want an honest debate, but Westminster provides no honesty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    That is why the previous "vote" on First-past-the-post was so ridiculously one sided. The BBC and Labour trumpeted how it would help right wing extremists when in fact all it does is entrench their power. It actually reduces the democratic impact of elections. Well done Britain for not fixing that long standing problem when you had the opportunity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    132. Walt78

    You entirely misrepresent the EU - but I wouldn't expect anything more from the unthinking bigoted classes! You are a menace to descent society.

    We need to cooperate with our friends for very good and mutually beneficial reasons - but your stupid hatred will prevent it! You are a fool and a dangerous one at that. Easy answers that lead to appalling outcomes. No EU hols for you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Can't understand why the main political parties on TV are sitting there self righteously trying to rubbish UKIP.

    UKIP are getting 1/4 of the vote not because UKIP are a fantastic alternative but because the mainstream parties are even worse. UKIP are showing just how bad the LabConDem lot have got.

    No one in politics should feel anything other than shame for their failure to secure better

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    It was interesting on Question Time last night when the panel were exposed as belonging to a privileged elite except, for once, the Tory Justine Greening. This cosy club is what UKIP is fighting against, The elite is, of course, perpetuated by the BBC - there was no UKIP representation on the panel led by the privileged Dimbleby. So 25% of the electorate were not even present!

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Although I don't consider myself a UKIP voter, I can't help but feel a certain amount of Schadenfreude towards the Conservatives for bloody nose they've been given (or the political establishment in general) in these elections. So I would happily raise a glass to more embarrassing defeats for the mainstream parties whether they be from UKIP, Greens or whoever. My contempt could hardly be greater

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    UKIP just sounds like a political party

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Just remind me again of the circumstances by which Hitler came to power? Oh yes,weak and divided government mass unemployment, rising prices and someone who stood up and blamed it all on the Jewish people. History teaches us lessons we need to learn from them. Looking after people, paying in your fair share and working hard are what matters, these are not British principles apparently

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    kaybraes I suppose if you had been around in the 1930's you would have been seduced by the siren voices of Hitler and the rest of the Nazi party. Try finding out what this bunch of lunatics really stand for beyond the sound bites and their hatred of deceny?


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