Following on from the local elections and the results for UKIP, we have Cameron looking shell shocked and without actually saying the words, apologising for calling them fruitcakes “Well look, it’s no good insulting a political party that people have chosen to vote for”, he then goes on about the need to show respect for those who have supported UKIP and that his party is going to work really hard to win them back.
Poor old Ed Miliband didn’t look much happier either. His party did gain a few extra councilors, but not the increase he had hoped for. As usual on such occasions it was all upbeat (You’re only kidding yourself Ed). And then we had Nick Clegg (I’m sure he’d been crying) with that silly look on his face telling the camera that the Lib Dems were on a journey. Yes Nick you’re right, you and your party on are on the road to nowhere. I think with or without UKIP the result for the Lib Dems would have been the same.
Isabel Hardman in the Spectator quotes Nicks Tory friend Peter Bone as saying “They (UKIP) are now the third force in British politics, the question we’ve got to ask now, when it comes to the leaders’ debates next time, clearly it must be the three main parties: so it’ll be David Cameron, Ed Miliband, and Nigel Farage”.
There has been a lot of talk about the reasons why so many people voted for UKIP, many putting Nigel Farage’s personality, as a chain smoking, straight talking, beer drinker squarely in the frame. One of the main points made about the election was the fact that UKIP polled 25% of the total vote. However, there was only about 31% turnout of voters. The BBC's projected national share of the vote (if everyone had voted) put Labour in the lead with 29% of the vote and the Conservatives in second place with 25%, UKIP in third place with 23% of votes and the Lib Dems fourth with 14%. BBC political editor Nick Robinson said the vote shares confirmed four party politics were at play in these elections, but it was still unclear if this would carry through to a general election.
This is all very well and good, but at the end of the day, the fact is 69% of the electorate couldn’t give a shit and didn’t bother to vote. And I think that says as much about what’s happening in the country as the election results. The main parties do not engage with, nor do they represent the views of much of the electorate. I know it is usual for such low turnouts between main elections, but somehow it’s accepted as OK. We Brits are noted for our apparent pleasure in discussing the weather whereas our continental friends appear to prefer to engage in political debate. It seems to me we are quite happy to leave it to the press to decide on the country’s future government. Getting back to the 25% of those (just 31% of us) who bothered to vote, why did they vote UKIP and why is it having such an effect? I don’t think it is all down to immigration and membership of the EU. I find that when talking to other people about what’s happening to, and in the country there is a sense of frustration with politicians. As far as the election in question is concerned it should have been about local issues. Unfortunately, national politics were dragged into it. For my money we have heard too much of the same old stories. It’s Labour what got us into this financial mess (we know it was and still is a worldwide problem). Two million new jobs have been generated (we know they are mostly part-time in supermarkets on low rates of pay). X million people have been taken out of paying tax (we know they have also had their benefits cut so they are worse off). We are reducing the benefits bill (we know the majority of people affected by this are low paid workers), and so it goes’ on. There is still a lot of mileage in the old saying about fooling some of the people all of the time etc.
And what is Labour saying, what are they going to do? We have to wait until the next general election before they can cobble somethingtogether. Farage and UKIP didn’t make any promises that they couldn’t keep. They just stated the obvious which struck a chord with many people. Now it’s happened we will have to wait and see how it all plays out. All these new UKIP councillors will now have a steep learning curve to climb (as will many new Labour councillors). Farage and his top guys are now at the mercy of a lot of untried and untested individuals. Cameron has a lot of thinking to do. It’s all very well him saying he understands why people have voted the way they have and his party will have to work very hard to win them back. How can he address the concerns of ordinary, hard working voters and at the same time ensure the rich continue to get richer? This bland, middle of the road politics from each of the three main parties is where Thatcherism has left us. Will there be a move to the right? Will there ever be a voice from the left. Will workers ever be represented by working class politicians again?
Is this a wake-up call to our politicians? To paraphrase one of Maggie’s famous speeches, you kip if you want to; this country is ripe for turning.