Well, that\’s a result, isn\’t it?

However, the Conservatives only took 25 per cent of the vote, while the Lib Dems managed to get 32 per cent and Ukip got 28 per cent. Labour came fourth with just 10 per cent of the vote – sparking major questions over Ed Miliband’s claim to appeal to southern voters.

Yes, it\’s a byelection. No, it\’s not a General Election.

But I do recall, some 6 months before the last euro-elections, a senior and significant psephologist telling the assembled nation that UKIP was over and they\’d be lucky to win any seats at all at the next euro-election. The Times even ran a report that the party was so wracked with dissent that it wouldn\’t even be standing.

Hmmm.

And now we\’ve got one of those South of England seats that anyone other than Labour needs to win to gain a secure majority turned into a three way marginal.

Yes, it is indeed a byelection.

Yes, GE results will be different.

However, as The Nigel himself likes to point out, it took the SNP some 50 years from foundation to winning their first seat: and now they\’re running the place.

Senior Conservative strategists last night sought to claim the party had been the victim of a protest vote and that many Ukip voters would return to the Tories in a general election.

One source said: “This was a classic by-election protest vote. Yes, it is bad but come the next election, the central argument will be about the economy. We have more than two years to turn the situation around.”

I think I recognise that argument.

Ken Clarke, a Conservative Cabinet minister, has openly compared Ukip to the Tea Party movement in America which has had a major impact on the Republican Party.

\”Because of economic distress it is not surprising that you get a large rather angry protest vote and that\’s what Ukip mobilises,\” he said.

Yes, yes I do.

For at those last euros we were all told that UKIP was just a flash in the pan over the MPs expenses scandal. And now it\’s tough economic times but the same flash in the pan.

And there does come a point when it is necessary to recognise reality. Continued flashes in pans are not simply irrelevant happenstance. They\’re evidence of something more fundamental. You know, like it might not just be \”events, events dear boy\”, but that a significant chunk of the population really doesn\’t like the EU and would like to get out?

Or if you prefer, continued protest votes might indicate that people aren\’t getting pissed off about a series of different things, but that they\’re pissed off over something more fundamental?

34 thoughts on “Well, that\’s a result, isn\’t it?”

  1. The Tea Party comparison is instructive. Their pressure, and the need among mainstream candidates to appease them drove the Republican Party so hard toward the lunatic end of politics that they squandered what should have been an easy Presidential and Senate pickup last year.

  2. Note that the Tea Party comparison is made by Ken Clarke, the only Tory stupid enough to still be pro EU.

    He wants people to make the assumption that following UKIP will be a disaster.

  3. The message I’d take from Eastleigh is the LibDems held the seat but got absolutely slaughtered in the process. 53% of the vote for centre-right parties? A LibDem hold because they managed to scrape up enough Lab votes to do so? Not exactly an endorsement for touchy-feely politics, is it?
    At root politics is about people not parties. Detest this right/left tagging because it so poorly reflects the way people really think but here & in the States there’s strong signs Joe Public’s moving to the “right”. Just having problems deciding how far & in what manner. It’s the politicians failing to meet the needs of the electorate. Worth remembering, a lot of Labour’s core vote is so far to the “right” they’d make the BNP wince. They simply vote red because they always have.

  4. JohnB – ‘Their pressure, and the need among mainstream candidates to appease them drove the Republican Party so hard toward the lunatic end of politics that they squandered what should have been an easy Presidential and Senate pickup last year.’

    But the point is, without the Tea Party pressure the ‘Republicans’ who would have been elected would have been Democrats by any other name.

    I don’t like Farage, but the one thing he said this morning which rings true is, there are three social democrat parties in the UK now and (some) people want an alternative.

    No matter how much bile is spewed about the ‘vile’ Tories and their ‘savage’ cuts, the truth is most modern Tories are basically interchangeable with Labour and the ilLiberal Democrats.

    Personally, whether here or in the States, I’m content for the social democrats to keep on winning until the point where everything goes utterly tits up, which it will, and then to see what happens.

  5. “there are three social democrat parties in the UK now and (some) people want an alternative.”
    Interesting isn’t it? For years. Most of last century. Politics has only happened on the left. Actual politics to the right has been almost non-existent. Voting Conservative & to a large amount Liberal was what you did if you weren’t socialist. Weren’t Political with a big P. Now with UKIP we’ve got Politics with the big P happening in a different part of the spectrum. That’s a big change.

  6. Am I missing something here? In what fucking sense are any of the three main parties in any way shape or form *Social Democrat*?..

    I mean, WTF are you guys smokin?!!!

  7. Tim,

    UKIP won’t win a seat at the next general election. Any rational person who wants the UK to leave the EU has got to go with Dave and his referendum pledge. It’s a long shot, he might not get elected, he might renege on his promise (he has previous here), but woe betide him if he did. Their only solid achievement has been to stop the Tories winning an outright majority at the last election, and so Dave has had to come up with the referendum pledge to get these voters back. But as for being an electable party, forget it.

  8. “Senior Conservative strategists last night sought to claim the party had been the victim of a protest vote and that many Ukip voters would return to the Tories in a general election.”

    I won’t be returning, but I won’t be voting UKIP either. Doubt I’ll vote at all.

  9. I think it’s your last option: people who defect from the Lib Dems in particular to Ukip are not doing it because they’ve got a deep-seated and principled antipathy to the EU! They’re doing it because they want to jab the main parties of government (which now includes the LDs) in the eye.

    Parties which build their support on the back of protest votes will never be more than one-term wonders, unless they can find some backbone and attract principled voters to stick with them. The Lib Dems are finding this out the hard way, and look unlikely to achieve the result. Ukip will find it out, too, if it cannot convert its protest vote into something more solid.

  10. Two things: the electorate seems not to care that the Lib Dems have more than their fair share of liars and alleged molesters; there’s more than the suspicion that Nigel would have won had he put up – he will now forever be thought a choker. Good.

  11. Tim, I cannot believe you are serious about supporting UKIP. Yes, Cameron is annoying. Yes, we would like to tell Baroso and van Rompuy to take a running jump. But……are you really in favour of voting for a party that wants to reduce taxes(Yippee), but doesn’t countenance any spending cuts of other than truly marginal significance and also wants to increase defence spending by 1% of GDP.

    If anyone else produced anything so fiscally and economically incoherent you would be doing to them what you do to the Murphmeister.

  12. >The Tea Party comparison is instructive. Their pressure, and the need among mainstream candidates to appease them drove the Republican Party so hard toward the lunatic end of politics that they squandered what should have been an easy Presidential and Senate pickup last year.

    I’m not so sure about that. The Presidential contenders were all awful, but that doesn’t seem to have been anything to do with the Tea Party. Romney was himself fairly centrist. And the Republicans are completely lost as a party.

  13. Romney, the left-leaning Massachusetts Republican, the guy who implemented his own version of Obamacare in his own state, was a Tea Partier? Eh, no.

    Like the doomed Tories, the US Republicans do seem determined to learn all the wrong lessons from the last election though. Good riddance to them both, we don’t need a fake Right.

  14. I’d be happier about this growing anti-EU sentiment being demonstrated in the ballot box if I thought it was motivated by a desire to tear down the whole corrupt and illiberal edifice… rather than (as I rather suspect) a desire to stop all them Bulgarians comin’ over ‘ere and takin’ our jobs.

  15. @Seth Am I missing something here? In what fucking sense are any of the three main parties in any way shape or form Social Democrat?

    Maybe a lazy term but I used it broadly to describe a political mindset common to the three main parties (and others, it seems broadly to be a modern politicians type of thing) that says it is right to extract ever greater amounts of money from the productive part of the economy (ie working folks in the private sector) and splurge it on the unproductive, and various other vaguely left-leaning, grands ‘social’ projets – wind farms, five a day co-ordinators, electronic tagging, anti racism campaigns etc

    In that fucking sense.

  16. We agree Something Must Be Done.
    This should be Done to Someone Else.
    But we are realists and fear that it might be Done to us.
    So we vote for the party that has the veto on Doing Anything.
    They won the by-election.

  17. BiS (5)
    Thatcher’s government was Political with a capital P, wasn’t it? And a bit right wing too.

    I don’t think “I am a pragmatist, you are an ideologue” advances the argument a step.

  18. >theres more than the suspicion that Nigel would have won had he put up – he will now forever be thought a choker

    I am no great fan of UKIP, and especially not of Farage, but this really is clutching at straws.

  19. DAMN APOSTROPHES, and the apostrophy-stealing of Timothy.

    Romney is centre-right and would have won the election on that platform. Because of Tea Party, he had to pretend to be far-right, unconvincingly, and then had to pretend to be centre-right again, even less convincingly. Which is why he lost.

  20. Maybe, but I am not really that convinced. But I dont suppose the fag-end of a comment thread here is a place where we can analyse this properly.

  21. @Philip Walker, isn’t the whole point of UKIP to be a one-term wonder? Quite possibly a not even full-term wonder?

  22. Good analysis, poor conclusion.

    “Continued flashes in pans are not simply irrelevant happenstance. They’re evidence of something more fundamental…continued protest votes might indicate that people aren’t getting pissed off about a series of different things, but that they’re pissed off over something more fundamental?”

    Yes indeed. But it doesn’t follow that the fundamental issue is Britain’s membership of the EU. In my view, the fundamental issue is a general disillusion with the existing political class, and the search for a radical alternative. Hence the 25% vote for Beppe Grillo in Italy. Was the Italian electorate choosing his policies over others, or seeking to give the existing political establishment a bloody nose? I suspect the latter.

  23. It seems to me the current situation is that you have on dominant, relatively coherent political creed (the new left, PC, whatever) generally adhered to by the ruling class, and lots of people who disagree (in many cases very strongly) with it, but don’t agree with each other about what to have instead.

    So that means, you don’t get a coherent oppositional bloc forming, you just get a lot of “not this” votes.

    Since the Americans were mentioned, take that example; the Republicans don’t stand for anything, other than being the “Not The Democrats Party”. Hence, you get these candidates who are either ludicrously feeble (McCain) or simply baffling (Romney) who stand for nothing beyond not being members of the Democrat Party.

    Here in The People’s Republic of Ukay, you’ve got your back to the future traditionalist tories, you’ve got your raving neo-liberals, you’ve got your economic libertarians, your social libertarians you’ve got your quite left wing but I don’t like this nanny state rubbish folk, and so on, and that motley crew can’t all form an oppositional bloc because they disagree about everything. So you end up with David Cameron. Who stands for nothing. And various protest votes, full of sound and fury signifying, well, probably not very much at all.

  24. Steve: he went from being a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-government-healthcare, pro-gun-control Rockefeller-ish Republican as Massachusetts Governor, to claiming to oppose all of these things in the primaries, to vaguely trying to oppose and support them at the same time in the actual election.

  25. Romney did look like a hopeless, opportunistic flip-flopper with no convinctions. But that was 0ne of the things that brought him down. Voters in the middle stopped trusting him, and the Tea Party right never really believed in him either.

  26. It isn’t just that most of the population don’t like the EU. If it was only that UKIP probably wouldn’t win elections because people, correctly, don’t normally vote on just one issue. It is that UKIP have a whole range of policies on which it is clearly sane while the LabConDem cartel are clearly both insane & indistinguishable – mass immigration, windmillery, pushing up energy prices, overgovernment, ecofascism.

    The one argument the Tories have been using – that they are the mahority “eurosceptic” party and thus voting for anybody else has now been falsified and perhaps inverted. whjy would anybodt sensible vote for anybody else.

  27. “we need less government intervention” / “we need the government to forcibly prevent foreigners coming here for work”. Totally sane and consistent there.

  28. John B,

    Not really inconsistent. One can argue for reduction of the number of spheres of government interference while arguing for greater interference in particular spheres. That is, reducing government to some core functions (foreign policy, war, border control, legal system etc) while arguing against it in, say, windmill building.

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