After #GE2015… UKIP “We are legion…”

One way to think of UKIP is as a bunch of Elizabethan freebooting privateers, who are now revelling  after having sailed into northern and Midland ports and lain waste to Labour‘s formerly secure golden hoard of working class voters.

As Gerry Lynch spotted on election night, the figure which gives you a real indication of what has happened to UK politics is that the combined percentages of Conservatives and UKIP add up to 49.5.

The broad assumption always was that UKIP was a right wing affair and would only negatively effect the Tories and that Labour sitting safely (not to say smugly) on the left would move in and pick up the pieces.

In fact what happened was two fold.

First, UKIP helped cripple many Liberal Democrats who had been sitting comfortably above the flood line of the much hated First Past the Post system by striking at the base of their vote thus bringing them below the level of FPTP viability.

Second the party has now amassed large seat totals in traditional Labour strongholds demonstrating that the party’s  populist messaging has an appeal right across the country.

Whilst Farage failed to win Thanet South, UKIP took control of Thanet District Council on gains from Labour. Such gains at council level give UKIP representative and party structures much closer to the ground just in time for the Referendum.

Tim Black on Spiked Online captures this aspect:

As William Cash, UKIP’s candidate for Warwickshire North – Labour’s No1 target marginal – put it: ‘The reason the Tories have won the key battleground of the Midlands is that UKIP came to their rescue. We rode into the flanks of the white working class and captured them [from Labour].’

And this is a key insight…

Where the focus-grouped messaging of Labour’s policy wonkers falls flat, UKIP resonates. It talks in a recognisable language, and it addresses not just people’s economic insecurities, with immigration to the fore, but also their cultural insecurities, too.

UKIP addresses the all-too-recognisable sense that society seems to be being remade in another’s image, the sense that longstanding social traditions and informal rituals, from marriage to smoking in a pub, are just so much material for state-driven, EU-justified reform.

Where Labour speaks at people, UKIP, with Farage to the fore, speaks to them.

Yes, quite. And it is a point that we on Slugger have made here before. Black closes with an important comparison, ie with SNP in Scotland.

Each may differ in their attitude towards the EU, but they are both on different issues concerned with the politics of culture and separation. The UKIP creed is also far more populist than the SNP, but their messages are similarly reductionist and simple to consume.

They both operate in non linear populist ways which are much more in line with the fracturing public space than the stayed (and careerist) London Labour machine. For both manifesto takes second place to a big and uncomplicated idea capable of moving large swathes of public sentiment.

Closer to home David McNarry, the party’s only MLA in Northern Ireland, has a point when he says that the party’s chances are pretty good in Northern Ireland. Not least because the Eurosceptic voice is generally in tune with sentiment on the Unionist side of the house.

South Down and East Antrim all provide opportunities for a UKIP breakthrough in next year’s Assembly election, and ahead of an in out Referendum, where transfers from other Eurosceptic parties could bring others through.

And what of Nigel’s phantom resignation? Well, every populist cause must have its icon and its leader. To UKIP and its legion of fans, Farage is Fidel and Che all rolled into one. No Nigel, no UKIP. Simples.

Roll out the barrel for 2017

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  • Dan

    “No Nigel, No UKIP”
    Nonsense.

    It’s good he’s to return as leader of UKIP though.
    Cameron won’t relish having to debate with Farage before any referendum. He won’t be able to run away from that.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I listened to David McNarry yesterday evening on the radio and he has stated that looking at the recent NI Westminster Election Results he reckons there is 6 to 7 UKIP Candidates that can be elected to the NI Assembly in 2016. I just don’t see it from the results, he claims that he is also a number cruncher ! maybe he is looking at it from the angle of more Unionist Horse Runners in each constituency field and the transfer off votes. There is no doubt that the Kippers will get a substantial number off transfer of votes from the other Unionist Parties but they need also to get a good share of first preference votes to collect that treasure in the first place, but I am sure David will say Game On ! they do bring another form of Unionist Voter out to the NI Political Tea Party !

  • Nevin

    Mick, I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned UKIP’s focus on the Barnett formula. It may have been intended to put manners on the Scots but it could have serious ramifications for all of the devolved administrations.

  • Robin Keogh

    I can only see two seats for UKIP in the assembly; Strangford, East Antrim and maybe Upper Bann for a possible turd. So I dunno what numbers he is crunching. However, I do think there is a possibility that UKIP overall share of the vote in Ireland could increase given that the question of EU membership will be a hot debate topic going forward.

  • mickfealty

    South Down? Got to fancy Reilly getting pulled in in a four way fight for two unionist seats. They are undoubtedly following an expansionist strategy.

    Next year they will have the Referendum to bowl at too, something they can viably claim is entirely their doing…

  • mickfealty

    Maybe, but maybe not. They aren’t trying to win power. They are trying to put a rocket up the establishment. That keeps things nice and simple. The broad swathe of NI might be worried, but those most p!ssed with the idiocies of Stormont politics will just love that kind of thing.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    A surprisingly well argued piece as the usual UKIP fare tends to on the extremes, at best. I didn’t hear calls for Ed and Nick to return to the fold post their resignations. It will be interesting to see how UKIP develops in NI. As it appears to be non religious it could attract a vote from the conservative unionist and nationalist alike who are completely fed up with sectarian headcount politics. Pro union, non sectarian, conservative and anti EU – I, for one, will be having a closer look at them.

  • Robin Keogh

    Ya I saw that but Henry would have to finish somewhere between the UUP and the DUP on the first count, it will close enough alright

  • mickfealty

    If John McCallister is standing, and he gets the transfers from enough places, I don’t see why he couldn’t do it.

  • mickfealty

    Why’s he back then? Nigel is culturally totemic. As is the pint of beer.

  • Robin Keogh

    Another exciting election maybe, imagine if the Euro ref was on the same day….Holy Smoke Balls !!

  • notimetoshine

    “As it appears to be non religious it could attract a vote from the conservative unionist and nationalist alike…”

    Well if they want to do as you say they will most certainly need to get rid of henry Reilly and his ilk.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    It’s early doors for UKIP and the nutters are usually weeded out in due course – natural selection. Is he any more “nutty” that your average DUP’er?

  • Dan

    He’s back because he is a good leader and their executive recognises that.

  • mickfealty

    In other words, what I said? 😉

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Yep, 6-7 is an exaggeration; but three (East Antrim, Strangford, South Down) is a realistic goal.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Thanks Nicholas – I did not see 6-7 from the results either, however like I said in my post maybe David was looking at the overall Unionist Votes when he was number crunching but then you move from mathematical calculation to optimistical calculation.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    From 2.6% of the vote to 6-7 seats out of 108 is a rather heroic leap!