Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Ukip & the popular vote

THE rise of the popular right in the local elections in the UK with Nigel Farage's UK independence party (Ukip) scoring against all the main parties is an interesting event.   It suggests greater political volatility in the run up to next year's General Election. 

The Ukip party made significant gains in Essex, where it gained 11 seats in Basildon to ensure it went from Tory to no overall control.   In the north it made inroads into the Labour vote which may make next year's general election difficult to predict.  Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats lost seats across the country, and this led to calls for Nick Clegg to step down; while the Labour leader Ed. Miliband is also being criticised for being out of touch with the British public.  Labour made some gains, around 300 seats countrywide, but not enough to give confidence of a Labour victory next year.

The Financial Times reported last Saturday: 
'In the north of England, Ukip showed it could pose a threat in the traditional strongholds of Ed Miliband's party, taking 10 of the 21 council seats up for election in Rotherham. Despite big gains, Labour’s performance was described as “not good enough” by Shadow Chancellor Ed balls.'

In the European  elections Ukip got 28% of the vote in Britain, well in front of the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.  This made it the first outsider party in modern British history to come out on top at a national election, and some papers were likening this to the rise of the Labour Party after 1910:  'The victory of the Euroskeptic party was the first time in 100 years that both the governing Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party failed to win an election' (FT).

It should be remembered though, that Ukip got less than a third of the vote in an election in which only about a third of the electorate turned out to vote.   And yet, some people like to embrace simply solutions such as those offered by Ukip, and it will still have consequences for main stream politics in the UK. 

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