The United Kingdom Independence Party has its sights set firmly on the upcoming EU MEP elections in 2014 after their stunning second place in the Eastleigh by-election.
Many politicians and pundits connected to the Lib/Lab/Con complex are already trying to dismiss UKIP’s recent rise with the usual claims of ‘protest vote’, forgetting that elections are usually lost when the voters ‘protest’ by voting for the other side.
But this excuse just doesn’t cut it. UKIP has beaten two of the three long established parties and almost pipped the third at the post in a very hard fought election.
Here’s the full results:
- Mike Thornton (Liberal Democrat) 13,342 (32.06%, down 14.48%)
- Diane James (UKIP) 11,571 (27.80%, up 24.20%)
- Maria Hutchings (Conservative) 10,559 (25.37%, down 13.96%)
- John O'Farrell (Labour) 4,088 (9.82%, up 0.22%)
- Danny Stupple (Independent) 768 (1.85%, up 1.56%)
- Dr Iain Maclennan (National Health Action Party) 392 (0.94%)
- Ray Hall (Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party) 235 (0.56%)
- Kevin Milburn (Christian Party) 163 (0.39%)
- Howling Laud Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party) 136 (0.33%)
- Jim Duggan (Peace Party) 128 (0.31%)
- David Bishop (Elvis Loves Pets) 72 (0.17%)
- Michael Walters (English Democrats) 70 (0.17%, down 0.30%)
- Daz Procter (Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts) 62 (0.15%)
- Colin Bex (Wessex Regionalist) 30 (0.07%)
Turnout was estimated at about 53% which, although lower than the 69% at the 2010 general election, is still considered high for a by-election.
The UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, said that many people who had not voted for decades had come forward to make their mark at the ballot box pointing towards possible political routs for the Lib/Lab/Con cohorts at elections over the next few years, if UKIP keep hammering their message home.
But, as Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove aptly demonstrated on BBC News this morning, the message is still not getting through. He said that his party would ‘analyse’ the result but would not change course on policies seeming to put the result down as a mid-term protest vote. Maybe he thinks that it will be back to two and a half party politics as usual at the next elections.
A strange reaction from a party that just got smacked into a very distant third place whilst its coalition partner was purring, preening itself and appearing quite complacent. But Nick Clegg can rest easy for now, his party won despite the very recent ‘inappropriate behaviour’ crisis within its ranks as well as the blame for the country’s economic woes rubbing off on them. But will that last until the next elections when more cuts bite and our borders are opened up to more potential immigrants?
Talking to the BBC Nigel Farage said:
"If the Conservatives hadn't split our vote we would have won."
"What happened here in Eastleigh was not a freak result. Something is changing.
"People are sick and tired of having three social democrat parties that are frankly indistinguishable from each other," he added.
"If you want to have a managed migration policy, you cannot remain a member of the European Union.
"My prediction is that over the next year or two, as the European debate gathers pace in this country, the issue of immigration and border controls will become the absolute key to the whole thing."
And with the borders of the UK opening up to Bulgaria and Romania next January then who will say he is wrong?
One thing that UKIP could do to enhance its message is to bring on a full ‘shadow’ team into the limelight as the party is more than just its leader. Perhaps that’s why former Tory MP now UKIP National Executive Committee member Neil Hamilton was on Question Time last night pushing the party’s agenda.