Send in the clowns ....and the loonies ....and the fruitcakes.


Those David Cameron once insulted - but now says he respects - have given him and the Conservatives a bloody nose. Indeed, all the leaders of the big political parties are nursing wounds after so many chose to vote for "none of the above".

This has been a very English anti-establishment revolt. After all, its leader Nigel Farage is an ex public schoolboy from Kent, the son of a stockbroker who also worked in the City of London. However, like Boris Johnson or Alex Salmond he has found a way to reach those parts of the electorate others cannot reach.

No-one can know how durable his success will be but this election will kill the widespread assumption that UKIP is more a pressure group than a party... that it matters only in European elections... that it is merely a temporary home for disgruntled Tories.

The immediate effect will be to add pressure on the prime minister to sound and act like the sort of Conservative his activists want him to be - tougher on immigration, Europe and crime.

Longer term, today's results leave the next general election intriguingly open - a split vote on the right of politics might allow Ed Miliband to become prime minister with barely more than third of votes. Equally, the fact that Labour are not attracting many of those who are rejecting the Coalition means that its demise is far from guaranteed.

The people have spoken. Now it's time for the political classes to try to work out what on earth they meant.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    UKIP Recipe:

    Take one bunch of xenophobes and wash the dirt from under their fingernails, marinate in union flag dressing, add a touch of hang 'em high rhetoric, surround with salty sea water and half-bake for twenty years. The result may choke those of an inclusive disposition, however, those with a nationalist bent will swallow this Farrago wholesale.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    The challenge for Tories and Labour is to put up robust credible manifestos (we're now only 2 years from the next GE) and force UKIP to compete with them across the policy areas. Populist European and immigration policies will see UKIP good in council and European elections but without a coherent overall manifesto scrutiny should be their undoing at the GE. But only if the other parties scrub up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    Elected parties never listen to what the electorate want,once elected in the Westminster club,they live the good life,lunches, theater,shows clubs
    And even if they are defeated,at the next election,the very fact that they have been a MP,they will be offered a boardroom seat in some large company.
    UKIP might just change things,and give the electorate the chance to change things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Low voter turnout doesn't concern political apologists when their own imprinted establisment party does well in the electoral system. As uncomfortable as this may be- people voted UKIP because they have been badly let down by government under the leadership of last 3 prime ministers- Lab, cons & liberal political elite out of touch and even seem to ignore their natural supporters on key issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    @161 vcl1962

    Why are so many people so misinformed about the European Convention on Human Rights? It is a Convention which came into force in 1953 (sponsored in the UK by Winston Churchil and the then Conservative government) before the founding of the Common Market in 1956 and is independent of the EU. Its direct roots are in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 by the UN

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    I do admire Farage's ability to consume pints of bitter while being interviewed. Looking at the UKIP ever changing manifesto I think he must have drafted earlier versions after particularly big sessions.

    the key thing is, will people eventually get round to reading the full UKIP manifesto?

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    UKIPs message on europe is loud and clear but they need to be shouting about their other policies too.

    They have some very interesting/good policies, but much more information is needed to take an informed view.

    I don't fully agree with some of there policies but the same can be said of all the other parties policies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    A well written article Nick.
    I don't believe any of the three parties can change as much as the electorate need them to, they live in their own deluded world's too much.
    Now is the time for UKIP to begin to set out common sense policies for the people who have supported them and the onlooking public of Britain, otherwise they cannot expect to be taken seriously.
    Careful planning is required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.


    It is opinions like yours that are pushing people to UKIP & the right. A reasonable debate on the UK's immigration policy, or god forbid even criticism of the UK's immigration policy, does not make you a racist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    PutneyCommon, I fail to see how it is racist to be concerned about immigration which is a political and social issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.


    "simplistic dualistic left/right, good/bad, right/wrong world view"


    What we are talking about is not the morality of a position or where it fits in in the political spectrum but whether the opinion is being represented
    The number of seats won by UKIP is sizeable & represents the protest vote of many
    The political class show their contempt for the voter by belittling his choice

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    UKIP has just made racism acceptable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Too many u-turns - even on the insults! An honourable gentleman would apologise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Past and present governments' failure to deport terrorists such as Abu Qatada who are afforded protection by the European Union's convention on human rights and failure to control immigration and other unnecessary interferences by the European Union will continue to drive voters to the UK Independence Party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Being passionate about your opinion is great. Assuming that your passion equates to you being part of some "large portion" or "silent majority". I think you'll find that there are people out there who hold different views to you, very passionately, who do not identify with the simplistic dualistic left/right, good/bad, right/wrong world view. Do they constitute a "large portion"? Who knows?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Having listened to the reaction of the three main parties' leaders and spokesmen to UKIP's success the main conclusion has to be - they just don't get it! And that of course goes some way to explaining UKIP's success.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    A split right of centre vote indeed, but this could be followed by a Tory/UKIP coalition instead of a Labour/LibDem one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    To the leaders of the Labour and Conservative party:
    Stop lying.
    Leave off tinkering with the NHS.
    Cease thrashing the people with yet more cuts.
    Invest in the country.
    Ditch ALL those who you pay to present some sort of 'image' of yourselves - simply be yourselves. It works for most of the rest of us.
    Then, just perhaps, you will get back some credibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    let me put this into perspective

    Labour screwed us all over while they were in parliament
    Conservatives and lib dems are just liars and are scared to stick up for their own country.

    UKIP- will get this country out of recession. FACT

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    "Interesting analysis - so who are the good guys?"

    The ones who at least have a seat in the Commons. ;)

    Comments allowed on 2 concurrently running NR stories on council election results for the Tory Party's awkward offspring, yet none invited for several articles on the passing of one of the most iconic political figues in recent times.


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