by Enza Ferreri
“An earthquake” is how the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) described what happened Thursday May 22 when all Britain voted to elect its share of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and various parts of the country voted to elect local councils.
While the results of the Euro Elections were not announced until Sunday to wait for the results of the whole European Union, where some countries voted later, the local election results were known immediately, and were pretty much as Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, described them: an earthquake.
In a country with a three-main-party system (Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats), the UKIP became firmly established as the fourth party. It didn’t gain overall control of any local council, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Labour won 338 more councillors than it previously had, the Conservatives were down 231 councillors, the Liberal Democrats took a bashing losing 307, as many as 40 percent of their councillors, and UKIP went from two to an astonishing 163 councillors, turning from a fringe, tiny party into a serious contender for government.
But it was last night, at the European Elections, that UKIP got a real triumph. Not only did it top the polls with more votes than all other parties for the first time in its history, but its victory also marked the first time in which a nationally-held election has not been won by either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party since 1906.
This historical event upsets all the current paradigms of British politics. For a start, it makes it much more difficult to predict future election results, including the 2015 general elections for the British Parliament, the “real” polls that will decide who’s going to govern the UK.
A three-party system is easier to understand and forecast than a four-party one. Without UKIP, Labour might have been cast as the next British government, benefiting from the dissatisfaction from the supposed “cuts” and “austerity” measures that the present coalition of Tories and Lib Dems in government had to enforce to heal at least in part the ruinously irresponsible economy and welfare policies of the past Labour administration.
Something similar happened in other parts of Europe, hence the BBC’s headline, “Eurosceptic ‘earthquake’ rocks EU elections,” in reference to the parallel result of Marine Le Pen’s Front National which won a record victory in France.
Back in the UK, the Liberal Democrats were almost wiped out from the European Parliament, being left with just one MEP of the 11 they previously had. This is Catherine Zena Bearder, standing in the South East, the largest region in the UK, where my party, one-year-old Liberty GB, got 2494 votes.
These results show a clear shift in public opinion towards a decidedly anti-immigration, anti-European-Union stance.
The reaction of the (previously) three main parties and of the liberal media is interesting because it shows that they simply don’t get it.
They cling to justifications, rationalizations, excuses, pedantic nitpicking, like “it hasn’t been an earthquake because UKIP has no control of a single council” or “it’s just a temporary protest vote. They’ll come back to us.”
The Lib Dems project onto the UKIP’s future what happened to them. The Lib Dems, never genuinely contemplating the possibility of being in government, were ruined by their experience in power, where they didn’t keep their utopian promises to the electorate. In an act of wishful thinking the Lib Dems predict that the same will happen to UKIP.
My favorite is the reaction of Labour. Faithful to their Marxist heritage, they explain everything away with the economy. People on the doorstep tell us that they are not concerned about immigration per se, Labour says, but only about its economic consequences for jobs, wages, housing and so on.
We’ll sort these things out, they continue, the usual Labour way: by wasting more of public money and increasing taxes.
They don’t realize that no people “on the doorstep” will tell any Labour representative that they don’t want immigration for reasons of culture and identity, not just economics, lest they be considered racist by the aforementioned Labour person.
And UKIP took votes from all parties, including Labour, whose traditional base of working-class voters got progressively dissatisfied with it.
People who until now voted for the mainstream establishment parties — and people who didn’t vote at all — have decided to stop being silent and take action by choosing a party that says many of the things they think but cannot express.
We all take great hope and encouragement from this trend.
It took UKIP 20 years from its foundation to get to this point, and it struggled for recognition for a very long time.
There was a time when a vote for UKIP was considered wasted, but it turned out to be instrumental in putting pressure on the Tories on the issue of leaving the European Union. There will be a time when voting for Liberty GB will put pressure on UKIP on the issue of the threat of Britain’s Islamization, on which Farage’s party has so far been persistently silent.
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