Ukip gains second MP in Rochester by-election
|Nigel Farage with Mark Reckless|
The career politicians of all parties from the Westminster “old boys club”, still do not understand what is happening in British politics today. Already, less than 12 hours after the result was declared, our television screens have been filled with politicians from the two main parties each seeking to outbid the others in their almost dismissive attitudes towards UKIP and their election win in Rochester and Strood. Within hours of the result, leading political figures, television pundits and the media, were dismissing the result with comments such as “well everyone knew that they were going to win” or “It is only a protest vote which is usual for a by election” or perhaps the most smugly preposterous comment of all that,” they did not do as well as they expected as their majority was very much lower than they were predicting”.
It is this arrogant and patronising attitude of the Westminster politicians, echoed by television presenters and repeated in the wider media, that has brought us to where we are today. It is clear that the British public have become completely disillusioned with the existing political classes and the way in which government has become distanced from the people generally. This has been evidenced with continually falling numbers of people belonging to or supporting any of the political parties. It is further reflected by the numbers of people voting in elections falling on each polling day.
Whatever we may think about UKIP and its leader Nigel Farage, we cannot escape the fact that this party has struck some kind of chord with large sections of the British electorate, drawing support from all sides of the political spectrum. It is all too easy to dismiss any by-election result where a party other than Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat top the poll as a protest vote. This may have been the case some 20 or 30 years ago, but it it would be very naive to believe that the results in Clacton and in Rochester and Strood, was simply a protest against the status quo of Westminster politics.
With the next general election now less than six months away attention will inevitably be drawn towards the prospect of UKIP having a significant number of seats in the next Parliament. There will inevitably be months of negative campaigning by the main political parties in order to prevent or at least alleviate voters turning to UKIP as a viable political party.
Already the Conservatives are saying that they are the only party that offer a renegotiation of the European union terms, and a vote for UKIP means that the British people will have Ed Milliband in 10 Downing Street following the next general election. The “Vote UKIP get Milliband” catchphrase is already scripted into any standard response from the Conservative party spokespersons being paraded in front of any passing journalist or television camera.
Grant Schapps and William Hague repeated this catchphrase within minutes of each other and pleaded for the return of a Conservative government in order to continue with the policies which they argue, is delivering “the recovery” to the British economy. As for the Labour party, Douglas Alexander was again wheeled out to face the cameras and repeat the now discredited two-year old distortion that UKIP, intend to make the NHS subject to insurance cover for patients thus paving the way for privatising the service. In last night question Time and again today on the Sky News morning program, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the “Independent” journalist, repeated this smear. Clearly, this is the shape of things to come.
British politicians have failed to grasp the simple truth. It is the patronising arrogance of politicians generally, and their collective belief that nothing exists outside the bubble of Westminster. People have become completely disillusioned with the old status quo where Labour and Conservatives have rotated government between them, based on a series of promises and pledges which have been discarded and forgotten the day after polling day.
The people of Rochester and Strood, have delivered a verdict similar to that delivered in Clacton only a few weeks previously, that British politics is now a very different place from what it was only five years ago. The career politicians in Westminster would be best advised to forget cliché, sound bite and empty promises, remove their heads from the sand and respond to the change in voting attitudes and intentions amongst the people of this country. They should not assume that the rise in voting for UKIP, will be restricted to the south-east corner of United Kingdom. The votes cast in the last European elections indicate that support for this party is widespread across the country and indications are that this support will continue to grow.