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 214.

    I think labour will be disappointed with their lack of gains in these local elections. I for one am not surprised, its easy to sit in opposition and say you're doing things wrong, but Labour have completely failed, to give any information on what they would do instead. Why would I vote for a party who don't tell me what their plans are. Local elections are affected by what goes on in Westminster

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    I'm totally won over by UKIP, they now get my vote. I *might* consider voting for red or blue if (IF) they can produce actual results instead of rhetoric. But we all know that's not going to happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    @202 - that only means something if you compare it with how much money the top 1% of earners actually earn versus the rest. If they earn more than 27%, your point is invalid.

    I'd actually be genuinely interested to hear that number if you have it (saves me a Google search or two).

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Time for David Cameron to wake up and take notice of the wishes of the people of Britain. At the general election he promised us a referendum on Europe - then reneged on it!

    The clock is ticking, David.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Whether UKIP is a protest party or not the point is that we live in a Democracy. The political parties are supposed to listen to the wishes of the Electorate. The electorate has voted against the ruling staus quo and have not gone for a left leaning agenda.

    It's up to the main parties to undrstand this and adjust their policies acordingly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    161 John_from_Hendon

    I'm no opponent of the EU and I think - contrary to the prevailing opinion on this HYS - that pulling out of the EU would be disaster, however you take the entirely wrong approach, and by demonising, petty name-calling all you're doing is alienating people you should be trying to reach and feeding fire to the fuel. I'm in favour of a referendum but would argue benefits of EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Like the Green party the UKIP appears principled and driven whereas the mainstream parties have become self-interested and complacent. But again like the Green party, UKIP's drive seems to be based largely on ideological emotion rather than logic and objective thought. I would like to see a party with a more open mind of things who is willing to properly test policies and try different ideas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    I am a Labour voter. Last night I voted UKIP for the first time ever, (it felt good). Like many Labour voters and my own local New Labour MP, I want this country in an economic trade union and not a political union. If that is not offered, then a complete withdrawal. We'll survive. In the absence of a centre-left anti-EU alternative, UKIP will get my vote every time. This isn't a left-right issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    I don't understand why some people are calling UKIP 'racists' and 'Nazis' when all UKIP are trying to do is protect the interests of the people of Britain - all of us, regardless of colour or creed.

    I call it common sense!

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    coats 173

    Yes, Farage is a real asset for UKIP.

    Even I see the appeal. Whenever he's on I shake my head and roll my eyes and go 'tut tut tut', but at the same time I'm thinking how nice it'd be to play a round of golf with him, just the two of us, and then have a good old chin wag over a few G&Ts in the members' bar afterwards, put the world to rights, maybe swap a risque joke or three.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Yes, but Gloone @ 193, UKIP will win very few, if any, seats at the next General Election.

    The facts are that a strong UKIP showing in 2015 could embarrass Labour, debilitate the Lib Dems still further, but would be CATASTROPHIC for the Tories, even if we weren't in possession of a flat lining economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    191 pdavies65.Well said,great comment and democratic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    #156 Gingermum. Would be interested to know what you consider to be "your fair share". The top 1% of earners currently pay 27% of all tax. The top 10% pay close to 60%. With the removal of the tax free band from high earners, they now even pay more tax on the "same money".

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    In the unlikely event that Farage got anywhere near No 10,I assume he would be offering us a referendum on EU membership.
    I just wonder where his one policy party would be if the British public voted to remain in the EU.
    They're really no different from any of the other parties,just more right wing than the Tories and desperately trying to cling on to an image of the UK in the 1950's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Farage himself IS a clown - of a kind that people have nightmares about.

    At the moment, distracted by the media, many voters are blinded by the fantasy that ending immigration will solve all their problems.

    Given enough rope, though, the sinister face behind the painted-on smile will be revealed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    I am 52. Have voted for the same party since I was 18. Because I believed that they represented what was best for the country and the people of this country. I did not vote for them yesterday. I voted UKIP. Not as a protest but as a converted voter to a party that I believe represents what is best for the country and the people of this country. Lib/Lab/Con consider it a protest vote at your peril

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    I was wondering what happened to all the BNP voters, I thought they'd gone quiet recently.

    Now we know. They discovered UKIP.

    P.S. ~25% of the vote in their most successful regions still means 75% of the population doesn't support UKIP's policies even in the places where they've performed most strongly. Still by far a minority opinion with no justification for action.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Reading an analysis of the results to date shows UKIP getting it's votes roughly 6:1 form the Conservatives & Labour. If this is replicated in a General Election it will ensure a substantial Labour victory with all the excesses of the last Labour Government - more EU, higher taxes, higher expenditure, more immigration, more welfare dependency and continued economic decline. Just what UKIP wants?

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    UKIP is not a protest vote - it is the voice of people who want their constitutional rights and a democratic referendum on the EU. If they think we are the minority, why are they so afraid of putting that referendum forward? They had no problem with magicking one up poste haste for proportional representation!

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    I hope the "Red Ping and Blue Pong" parties don't wake up and smell the coffee.

    Any success UKIP gets is their own fault for generations of misgovernment.


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