Nerves break in Tory ranks as UKIP makes gains in local elections. Eurosceptics call for referendums and knifes sharpened for Cameron’s back. Farage celebrates his newfound respect as an important political player with a pint, but will it last?
The words of UKIP’s conquest of Britain is highly exaggerated. Yes they have made good gains in the local election and will do very good in the Euro-elections, but the British parliamentary system so cleverly designed to prevent new blood in Westminster might as well break UKIP.
In the press we can read page in and page out on how Nigel Farage are sacking the Tory voter base as the Gauls sacked Rome. There is no secret the press likes a good hype, but it can as easily end up as just that, a hype.
The success of Farages party has opened more floodgates for Eurosceptic MPS to demand a referendum before the 2015 election. Former chancellor and Tory grandee Nigel Lawson broke the zeal with an article in the Times calling for the UK to leave the EU. The open opposition against their party leader and Prime Minister is obviously weakening David Cameron, but the rebels still lacks sufficient support to anything near their goal.
UKIP rides a wave of disillusionment and anger against the government and the entrenched party system. Observing the three established parties and their squabbles in Westminster, it is easy to understand why people turn to something else. The Government continuous to hammer on with their unpopular politics and Labour won’t give their alternative before a few months before the election. Cameron, Clegg and Miliband all lacks charm, charisma and touch with the world of the electorate. Nigel Farage talks the talk many conservative voters wants to hear, picking groups to blame for whats wrong, appealing to pride and playing on the mistrust against the political elite. Farage has found a niche and the other parties don’t know how to respond.
So are UKIP a movement for ground breaking change or just another short lived protest party?
Rather than demanding a new Britain, UKIP wants to restore version of the nation. It was better back in the old days, before immigration, gay marriage and smoking bans in pubs, goes the UKIP mantra. When asked by a newspaper if there was anything they where proud of in Britain, UKIP voters answered “the past”. As the going gets tuff and the people squeezed, dreams of glory days long gone emerges in many a heart. What these glory days actually consisted of or what exact time in history it can be found, is clouded in mystery.
With over a hundred new councilor seats won in last weeks election, UKIP will establish itself as a player in local politics, but will their new politicians be eaten by the big machine? Angry rhetoric won’t get you far in the consensus seeking local administrations.
Some political enemies of UKIP has joked that the best way to halt their advance is to make people read their party manifesto. It is written to score ideological points and put up important goals, not to make sense or be clear about the means.
Key points in their manifesto includes a witdrawal from the European Union, cap immigration at 50,000 a year, increase defence spending by 40%, cut taxes, allow smoking in pubs and bring back grammar school. As they are taken more seriously by the establishment, more time will be spent trying to shot them down, using their seemingly inconsistent politics as ammunition.
The political elite haven’t exactly offered any reassurance that their are fit for command, as the financial sector went bananas on their watch and dragged the economy down with it when the bubble burst. Neither have they come up with any good methods to get things on track again.
As the party wins more support, the influx of new members is not always a blessing. With it comes new voices and strong opinions of how the party should be run. It is common for protest movements that find s themselves transforming into a political party to face internal strife. Once UKIP runs out of momentum, civil war may break out between emerging factions. Time will show.
Expectations are now that UKIP will top the polls in next years Euro-elections and send a legion of anti-EU politicians to Brussels.
Peter Kellner of YouGov, the pollster, writes in the Guardian that a British EU exit is unlikely. He says that although the polls currently shows that 43% wants to leave the EU, the gap tends to close when EU membership tops the political agenda and debate.
In a case of a 2017 referendum, all three major parties will campaign for continued membership, and big business will most likely join them, forming a incredible obstacle for UKIP and the eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party.
Clowns in Westminster
A study by Electoral Calculus claims that UKIP would fail to win a seat in parliament in 2015 unless it wins at least 24 per cent of the vote. The first past the post system may block nearly a fourth of the electorate from getting any representation, if the vote is to spread out across the country. But with focused campaigning in selected seats with a solid UKIP base support, like Buckingham or Skegness and Boston, we might see several purple MPs in Westminster in 2015. How the Green Party won a seat with only 0.9 per cent of the national vote is a reminder of UKIPs potential.
The transformation from protest to established party might halt the Kippers as the waffle of everyday politics and potholes takes their tole. In the end the “anti-politics” Spirit will witter away, as the new UKIP politicians are absorbed into the fold of the elite, in a way that is so quintessentially British.