My article on the UKIP phenomenon has been adapted and reproduced at Souciant:
Two weeks ago, Roger Helmer of UKIP was trounced by the Conservative candidate at Newark. It seemed to go against everything the media has told us about the UKIP threat. Many had claimed the gains UKIP made in May would be transformed into a fourth party presence within Parliament.This was not a claim of the right-wing press, or at least not just the right-wing press. Even the BBC and the liberal broadsheets succumbed to this message. In late May, The Guardian reported a poll finding that 86% of those who voted for UKIP in the European elections said they would do so again in the 2015 General Election.
The leap from 13 UKIP MEPs to 24 UKIP MEPs since 2009 set off the British media to announce their well-cooked conclusion: it’s a political earthquake. The results are interesting. Labour came in second at 25.4% to UKIP came out with 27.5% of the vote, translating to about 9.3% of the electorate. The Conservatives fell by 4%, Liberal Democrats by over 6% and the BNP by 7%. UKIP increased its vote by more than 10%. The Green Party lost a little under 1% and gained three seats beating the Lib Dems with nearly 8% of the vote. Voter turnout was around 33.8% for the European elections. It goes without saying that the fringe right-wing parties do better out of low turnout. It was predictable that the ruling parties would face a drop in support.At the local elections, UKIP’s vote fell from 22% to 17% and picked up 160 seats (but no councils) which was less than the Lib Dems who have been relegated politically toxic. UKIP may have eaten into the votes of Conservative candidates enough for them to lose overall control of several councils, but not enough to gain control of any councils itself. The media has claimed the results are ‘disastrous’ for Labour even though the Party gained 330 council seats and a net gain of five councils. The threat of UKIP is to establishment parties in its potential to divide the vote on sore issues like immigration. This matters as we’re about to go into an election. The Conservative Party have never fully recovered from the defeat inflicted on John Major, the worst since 1832, while Labour has still not filled the void leftover by Blairism.Newark was not to be the first victory of the Farage Party. It should have been obvious from the beginning that the first seat in Parliament would not be offered to Roger Helmer with all of his obvious weak-spots. Helmer himself said that the absence of Farage hurt his chances in the by-election. It may have been a shrewd move by Farage to let Helmer take the fall on this occasion. He made it clear he had no interest in putting himself forward. Perhaps he had already gauged UKIP had little chance. Better to focus on the European and local elections, so let someone else test the waters for the UK Parliament. But that’s not where it ends.