Reading this morning’s press I am inundated with reports about the latest “UKIP car crashes” and the mainstream press now questions first whether UKIP will win Thursday’s poll and second, if it does win, how soon the bubble will pop. About the only person calling this right is Tim Stanley in the Telegraph.
I write this as someone now almost 99% certain NOT to vote UKIP, more on that later.
The “car crashes” are in reality nothing of the sort. Some chap in Gloucester has made a comment about shooting a “pooftah” to get the others to turn straight, another fellow in Sussex seems to have an unusual degree of sympathy with the Third Reich and both are standing in the local elections for UKIP. So what, there are a few fruitcakes in UKIP. What’s new?
Nigel Farage was given a good duffing up in an LBC Radio interview. He lost his temper as did his PR man and he sounded a little less clear cut than usual. The interviewer ruffled him. But again so what? 99% of the population did not listen and since Farage was banging on (yet again) about immigration one suspects that his general theme probably played well with many anyway.
What Tim Stanley flags up is something those inside the political and media bubble in Westminster just do not appreciate. The great unwashed, that is you and I and the other plebs and peasants, are sick to the back teeth of a wealthy political class who grubbily fiddle expenses still and appear to be incapable of telling the truth. Most of us are pretty pissed off with Europe and so facing a Mickey Mouse election (the Euros) why not vote UKIP?
Stanley draws the parallel with the short lived rise of Pat Buchanan in the 1996 Republican Primaries. Folks were pissed off with what the establishment Country Club Republicans had to offer (Big Government, higher taxes, etc) and so lent Pat their vote in early contests knowing he’d fizzle out. Ahead of the New Hampshire primary an increasingly scared political and media class unleased a fire storm of dirt on Pat. Dredging the records they found ancient quotes showing he could be depicted as a sexist, racist, homophobe who killed fluffy bunnies and believed that little green men from Mars were secretly controlling the planet. Ok I made the last two up but you get my drift.
Pat won New Hampshire by a landslide. The bubble did then burst as folks realised it was a serious contest and treated it as such. But that is UKIP in 2015. The Euro’s do not matter. 40% of votes have been cast already by post and my guess is that UKIP voters are more motivated to vote than those of other parties. UKIP will win and it does not matter if the next scandal IS Nigel Farage being found in bed with Jeremy Clarkson. The floors could be strewn with sex toys and fiddled European parliament expenses forms and the two men could be enjoying a post coital read of Mein Kampf. It would make no difference. Farage and UKIP will still win on Thursday.
Does that mean anything? Again using Stanley’s analogy UKIP is like a shark, it must keep moving forward to survive and how can it move forward after the Euros? The next test is the Newark by-election caused by the sitting Tory MP being forced out in a sleaze scandal (money). If UKIP wins then the shark moves forward and we may reconsider the situation. If it does very well but comes only second (and that is what is likely to happen with – in this case – early use of postal votes counting against it as the establish parties use their local infrastructure) then the political and media class will paint this as a disaster “Already the Euro success is shown as a bubble.” And that will hurt a bit.
For as we enter the last 12 months ahead of an election that matters the narrative from the bubble will be ”oaky you had tour fun kicking us in the Euros but in May 2015 this is a serious contest and only 2 parties can win it (Labour or the Tories).
Tribal loyalties will kick in. UKIP will do better than last time but struggle to win a seat and will be beaten into 4th place by the Lib Dems. But that is for next year. In 2014b UKIP will describe the result as an “earthquake.” Hmmm. It will make a lot of noise and will damage some badly (does Nick Clegg survive if the Lib Dems win zero seats?) but earthquakes change the Landscape forever. The 2015 Mickey Mouse Euros are not going to be an earthquake.
Incidentally a recent study showed that less than 10% could name two of their Euro MPs. I managed to name one here in the South West but since he is a Lib Dem after Thursday I will not be able to name any. How many of yours can you name? Exactly. Now tell me this is not a Mickey Mouse election.