In the dizzying heights of last year, some brave journalists attempted to cash in on the media’s hysteria surrounding UKIP by predicting that they could win up to 128 seats (thankfully, the article points out that it would likely be nearer 25 if they get lucky). We can look on at this today and admit that they were wrong; not even the most ardent UKIP supporter (even those from Pakistan) would expect anything over about a dozen seats for the party. However, I am surely not the only one who has noticed that this general election campaign has started rather sluggishly for UKIP. Is this due to a fall in support, a sudden realisation that their efforts might be fruitless [never stopped the Greens, that] or is it a deliberate ploy by Farage?
The answer - it’s rather hard to say. It certainly hasn’t been that the UKIP bandwagon has been on its tracks since Parliament was prorogued; his comments during the leader’s debates criticised and pulled apart, and at times to such an extent that they are the opposite of what Farage actually said. As the leader, and, far more so than with most other parties, the most quoted and most figurehead-esque, Farage has in essence been running this General Election campaign since the European elections last year.
There is a quote from Farage which would go to suggest that the third hypothesis is correct, and that UKIP are biding their time rather than sprinting too early in this (seemingly never ending) marathon. According to him, ‘the public will not start paying attention to this campaign until after Easter’. Is it possible that the party, so desperate to be seen as different from all the others, is effectively starting its campaign deliberately later than the others?
As the more observant readers will have noticed, we have now gone past Easter, and UKIP still hasn’t blown us away with its, well, anything. The most prescient story of recent times has been that an English teacher uploaded a photo of a ‘corrected’ [grammar wise] UKIP leaflet and it went viral. Which leads us to discussing the first hypothesis, that UKIP has suffered a fall in support. This is such a subjective hypothesis for so many reasons, but in short we must ask “what are the original figures that UKIP could fall from, and what figures have they fallen to?” The answer, to both those questions, is a resounding silence of uncertainty. If we take UKIP’s performance at the last election, it would take a minor miracle for them to fall below the 3.1% which they received. If we take last year’s European elections, it would take an epically proportioned miracle for UKIP to receive above 26.6% of the votes at the General Election. So we can’t really say whether UKIP have gained or lost support, but that their sluggish start to this electoral campaign isn’t due to their support base.
Have UKIP suddenly realised that their efforts are pointless? I think we can all agree that if political parties acted in such a manner, there would only ever be two parties in the system. This brings me to the highly unsatisfactory conclusion that UKIP’s slow start is inexplicable, but that the most likely outcome will be that they will pick it up, and massively so, in the next few weeks. It would appear that UKIP are trying to consolidate their ‘safe seats’ on a local government level, so that they will be safe from a Lib Dem style washout should that occur. That would, of course, give UKIP seats in much the same way as other smaller parties like the Greens and the Respect Party.
Whilst attacking UKIP, the larger parties have left themselves vulnerable to admitting that, whilst they were in power, they made mistakes, which UKIP is now picking up on. Miliband apologised for the actions of the previous Labour government, Clegg had the infamous ‘I’m sorry’ video and Cameron can’t apologise in the same way but can blame the Lib Dems [which is, to his own party, an apology as to why he did things that perhaps weren’t conservative enough for the Conservatives]. The Green Party has proven itself to be even crazier than we thought; some of their policies include no longer applying Inheritance Tax only to the dead, applying new taxes on resources such as wood and minerals, promoting alternative medicines, legalising being a member of a proscribed terrorist group, leaving NATO, ending the special relationship with the USA, turning military bases into wildlife reserves and abolishing the monarchy. If UKIP want to take us back to the 1950s, the Greens want to take us back to the 1050s with their policies. And don’t get me started on the Respect Party.
If you do want to vote for change, which of course not all of you will, and you don’t want to vote for breaking up the UK, bankrupting the country or being racists [applies just as equally to Respect as it does to the BNP], then vote UKIP on May 7th. Don’t just dismiss anyone’s arguments, because (as has happened with UKIP), it can come back to bite.
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