Well, one thing is clear: with 349 votes and a lost deposit, the Liberal Democrats are no longer the party of protest. Of course, they’re not, because they are a party of government and the junior partner in the coalition. What is happening to the Lib Dem vote is highly predictable and no surprise – look at countries like New Zealand where coalition politics is the norm and see what happens to the junior partners.
As a number of people have mentioned this morning on Twitter, at least we know who the core, against all the odd, support is in Rochester – all of whom have shown enough commitment to make them excellent members! Alternatively, it looks like the candidate managed to get his Facebook friends out to vote for him and not many others. Still, what a thankless task it, to be a Lib Dem by-election candidate these days.
So, looking at Liberal Democrat history to provide a model of a party coming from nowhere into Government, UKIP are cock a hoop. A party of protest, ridiculed and patronised by mainstream parties builds first one, then two, then enough seats to fill a car eventually where they are holding the balance of power in a coalition government and KER-CHOW!! (as Lightning McQueen might say) our membership of the EU is binned in spectacular fashion. Or perhaps even the threat of UKIP holding the balance of power is enough to get the Tories to come up with the idea of binning the EU themselves.
If we buy the proposition that this is not just normal by-election sabre rattling by the electorate and this really is the first steps towards a completely new political landscape then UKIPs new supporters, drawn from all the mainstream parties should be aware that Nigel Farage is no man of the people, he is drawn from the same establishment pool as all those other establishment politicians that the public love to pour scorn on. His alma mater is Dulwich College, one of the top nine private schools in the country with a reputation for producing, like Eton and Westminster, political leaders. He is a very talented communicator whom we should be very wary of because UKIP polices are really very nasty. It’s not just immigration and the EU, they want to bring in a form of workfare, withdraw from the UN Convention on Refugees, increase military spending by 40% and create a national curriculum which is pro imperialist and denies climate change. The reason they are always having to apologise for their candidates is not that they pick the wrong ones, it’s because their candidates are actually reflecting UKIP beliefs about the sort of country we want to be.
So, I am hopeful that this is not a new dawn of politics and that UKIP will not be able to follow the Liberal Democrat model into Government because , with the exception of the Tuition Fees debacle (which should never, ever have been a Liberal Democrat policy, let alone a key pillar of the campaign) the Liberal Democrats have policies which have been opened up to proper scrutiny; some people like them and some people hate them but we know what they are not least because the have been written down. But we know very little about UKIP policy, which changes on the whim of Nigel Farage and that when looked at more closely, favour the rich and invincible and do very little to help the type of people who are voting for them now. I think we should let UKIP have their day in the sun and know that when placed under scrutiny the British voter will see them for what they are.