The results are… sort of in! As things stand, with 32 of 35 voting councils declared, the picture is pretty much what was expected, minus that dash of sensationalism over UKIP’s potential fortunes. A projected general election vote share puts them on about 23%, behind Labour and the Tories on approximately 29% and 25% respectively. The Liberal Democrats are consigned to a delicious 14%, adding further ridicule to their leaderships‘ recent, absurdly denialist statements of vitality.
To the figures! Labour’s current addition of 260 seats is barely a performance after their 2006-9 catastrophes. Two councils, South Shields and the two mayors gained will be considered a hazardous minimum. The Tories might be slightly relieved not to have suffered far worse than ten councils (all but two to No Overall Control) and 320 councillors lost, considering they retain an overall majority in councils. Still, it’s a sorry metric for success and more a stern indictment.
Liberal Democrats have typically relied more on “grass roots” council level elections to maintain national influence and the loss of at least 106 councillors and a massive reduction of the vote share could push them into crisis mode, long overdue as that is. Otherwise, the Green Party gaining but one seat and the BNP losing their remaining three is an afterthought. UKIP, adding upwards of 136 councillors to the original eight, is clearly the new “further to the” right wing player.
Farage has reacted, perhaps for the first time with an inkling of legitimacy, in typical fashion to any and all gains or even lateral movements for the party in the last five years. To paraphrase, “UKIP are now on the scene as a major party and will shape the face of this nation’s politics in a substantial way.” He’s a goofy little optimist in that sense and probably an honest one, despite the other half of his world view being consumed by fear of anything beginning with Euro.
But it turns out that the answer to the crucial question of whether or not the England and Wales council elections carried any true significance is, no. Not really. This general election projection is a curiosity at best, and distorts these results. They should be regarded as checking the pulse of the nation, and presently that pulse reads dangerously for the three established parties. But between the present and the spring of 2015 is a meaty chunk of what we humans call…. “time”.
Time, granted, in which the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats could prove incapable of recalibrating their collective sense of basic competency and political focus. In that regard it wouldn’t displease me to see the heads of messirs Clegg, Farron, Balls, Miliband and Osborne upon ye olde Westminster spikes. Cameron remains an oddly wet non-entity at present, avoiding the implicit chop that nonetheless is being steadily prepared by his blonde nemesis.
However I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the whole lot still shackling their parties down with so much toxic association come the general election. Solutions will likely be sought elsewhere although I don’t imagine the main three will have to be too creative. UKIP gave us just a little glimpse in the run-up to these elections of what lies in store for them, and toxic associations in the form of BNP and EDF dabblers aren’t the least of their concerns. They are not prepared.
Part of this is down to Farage’s curious insistence that his members not be whipped into unity in terms of policy. Without anything resembling a comprehensive central party policy all this has achieved is confusion when trying to relate UKIP’s cohesive mission statement to the public. They have somehow achieved a pitfall most commonly associated with liberal politics, despite the supposed anti-EU glue of the UKIP world.
Scratch beneath the surface of the perfunctory stump speech in this area and there is disarray. Email exchanges between the party’s leadership show this as much as any challenge to any of their number on something as essential as tax policy. This pathetic excuse of not having a respectably complete platform for want of a looming general election, is something any party vying for the responsibilities of government should be eviscerated for.
And UKIP have been around for a while now. Discussions of purchasing a platform from right-wing think tanks, at this point, is so laughable you can fairly argue that this party’s ability to only achieve the anticipated degree of success in these elections, in what is an abysmal political environment for the main three parties, shows that scepticism for the protest vote is already in healthy supply. I anticipate they won’t gain a single parliamentary seat in 2015.
Labour’s overall rise in the vote share clearly demonstrates that social democratic values aren’t particularly threatened by UKIP, with most of the actual right-wingers’ share being taken from the Tories and Lib Dems. And most importantly, UKIP failed to take control of a single council, highlighting the common feature of a fringe-turned-protest cum embryonic/ephemeral beta main party – a dispersed and ineffective voting base.
I’m only concerned in-so-far as the moderate political establishment does indeed have a pressing priority in getting their ships in proper order and pulling back the votes, as failure to do so leaves the door open for the sideshow that UKIP intrinsically and unavoidably are. They have two years to achieve this and I have a fleeting optimism that if there is any force that can adequately corral these buffoons, it’s a tangible threat to their political careers.
Well… at least the fleeting optimism will be back to its full anaemic state after my gag reflex settles. I’m turning off the news before I see another adult politician fawn over UKIP and their triumph of the day. Have some goddamned self-respect.