However, No10 sources dismissed Ukip’s success as “a protest vote”.
The question is, how many people in how many places are going to protest for how long?
Labour’s Andy Sawford yesterday took 17,267 votes, a lead of 7,791 over the Tories’ Christine Emmett.
Margot Parker, the Ukip candidate, got 5,108 votes, while Jill Hope for the Lib Dems got 1,770.
If these results hold as a percentage of votes cast across the country then that’s pretty much it for any possibility of a Tory government ever again. Of course, they won’t hold like this in every constituency across the country.
But even if the percentages don’t hold up but the actual numbers do (for example, say UKIP voters are more motivated to actually vote, so percentage wise the number is flattered in low turnout by elections) that’s still a serious problem for the idea of there being a Tory victory.
And as to what the protest is actually about: half the Tory party shares exactly the same concern. Membership of the EU. Indeed, the latest polls seem to suggest that more than half the electorate share the same concern.
To use an analogy, let us compare being subject to a “protest vote” as being akin to being hit by a moving vehicle. It really does make a difference whether it’s a pram that nips your ankle or a 40 tonne truck that hits you head on, doesn’t it? The Tory party is making out that it’s the former: the national opinion polls showing likely GE votes anywhere in the 6-10% range (depends who, when, how they asked) upgrade it rather.
Is UKIP going to have an absolute majority of the Commons after the next GE? Nice to think so but I rather doubt it. But it can certainly stop the Tories having one. As, arguably, it significantly contributed to their failure last time.