From the Labour heartlands of Rotherham and Hartlepool to the Thatcherite strongholds of Essex, UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) has secured a victory in the European elections that has sent shockwaves through the British establishment.
For the first time in over a hundred years a national election has not been won by the Tories or Labour. The Daily Mail describes UKIP’s election as the largest British party in the European Parliament as an ‘earthquake’ and so it is. This result will have far reaching consequences for British and European politics.
Why has UKIP succeeded? Here are 3 reasons
1. UKIP represents the voice of the ordinary man and woman in the street
The political establishment in the UK and Europe has been socialist for over half a century, whether it’s calling itself Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem or Green. But this consensus has become increasingly out of touch with the concerns of the ordinary person on the street.
For many years the ordinary person has felt disenfranchised by all major parties who have failed to ’listen’ to their concerns about unbridled immigration, law and order, dislike of European coercion, and their pride in being British. As a UKIP supporter told Deutsche Welle
"Only UKIP is actually saying we want to represent the British people, and to do that we have to be fully sovereign. And that means we can't be part of the EU. The EU wants to be the United States of Europe, and it certainly isn't in the interest of the British people to be part of something which ends up looking like the USSR potentially."
2. Appeal across all age groups
The British media has painted UKIP as a party of old fogies much in the same way as the NZ media paints NZ First. Here's what the independent polling company YouGov found.
Polling by Yougov ….shows that the youngest age group (18-24) is now often the second largest supporter of UKIP after the (indeed inevitable) 65+ group. If this really were a movement completely dominated by the concerns of the over 60s, it seems extraordinary that the very young should be gravitating in quite such numbers to the party or not simply rejecting/ignoring it. The figures from Yougov also bear out the fears of Labour that UKIP is taking votes from across the spectrum.
The Spectator asked some new recruits why they'd joined UKIP.
Like many of Ukip’s newest recruits, Dayle comes from a working-class Labour family. He was firmly on their side as a boy, until he came to the conclusion that Labour had ‘deserted their core voters’. He turned to Ukip and has never looked back. He’s now a regional chairman of Young Independence, the party’s youth wing. Young Independence was founded seven years ago and is growing fast: it has some 2,000 members and 20 university branches. It represents about 5 per cent of Ukip’s overall membership.
3. Democracy wins over biased media
Given the rabid media pounding taken by UKIP and the media’s concerted effort to label the party as racist the victory is even more astounding. Here’s what Jeremy Seabrook in the Guardian has to say.
The media's failure to neutralise Ukip can only be good for democracy. The media’s ineffectual attempts to destroy Nigel Farage's party show the growing fragility of the management of 'the national conversation' by the media The intrusive power of the media, their capacity to lay waste the lives of ordinary people and celebrities alike, has been much aired, before and after Leveson. But there is another form of power, exercised with far greater discretion. This is the ability of the media to shape – and to limit – discussion; a capacity which has in recent weeks become conspicuously transparent, thanks to their efforts to discredit Ukip in general, and Nigel Farage in particular.