However, the Conservatives only took 25 per cent of the vote, while the Lib Dems managed to get 32 per cent and Ukip got 28 per cent. Labour came fourth with just 10 per cent of the vote – sparking major questions over Ed Miliband’s claim to appeal to southern voters.
Yes, it’s a byelection. No, it’s not a General Election.
But I do recall, some 6 months before the last euro-elections, a senior and significant psephologist telling the assembled nation that UKIP was over and they’d be lucky to win any seats at all at the next euro-election. The Times even ran a report that the party was so wracked with dissent that it wouldn’t even be standing.
And now we’ve got one of those South of England seats that anyone other than Labour needs to win to gain a secure majority turned into a three way marginal.
Yes, it is indeed a byelection.
Yes, GE results will be different.
However, as The Nigel himself likes to point out, it took the SNP some 50 years from foundation to winning their first seat: and now they’re running the place.
Senior Conservative strategists last night sought to claim the party had been the victim of a protest vote and that many Ukip voters would return to the Tories in a general election.
One source said: “This was a classic by-election protest vote. Yes, it is bad but come the next election, the central argument will be about the economy. We have more than two years to turn the situation around.”
I think I recognise that argument.
Ken Clarke, a Conservative Cabinet minister, has openly compared Ukip to the Tea Party movement in America which has had a major impact on the Republican Party.
“Because of economic distress it is not surprising that you get a large rather angry protest vote and that’s what Ukip mobilises,” he said.
Yes, yes I do.
For at those last euros we were all told that UKIP was just a flash in the pan over the MPs expenses scandal. And now it’s tough economic times but the same flash in the pan.
And there does come a point when it is necessary to recognise reality. Continued flashes in pans are not simply irrelevant happenstance. They’re evidence of something more fundamental. You know, like it might not just be “events, events dear boy”, but that a significant chunk of the population really doesn’t like the EU and would like to get out?
Or if you prefer, continued protest votes might indicate that people aren’t getting pissed off about a series of different things, but that they’re pissed off over something more fundamental?