The rise of UKIP?
UKIP won a district council seat in Tunbridge Wells from the Conservatives at the May elections and came second with 33.7% of the votes in a Gravesham election in October. This week the party gained almost 18% of the vote in a town council by-election in Southborough. In Southborough the Conservatives gained the seat from Labour with a slightly increased percentage of the vote. The Liberal Democrats cames last, behind an Independent, with a derisory 4%.
The important point is that the results have given UKIP momentum and confidence.
Each result can be explained away by the other political parties, but what is motivating people to vote UKIP?
One factor is that the Liberal Democrats are now in government and therefore not likely to be the beneficiary of ‘protest’ votes. The Labour Party has not recovered from its period in office. The recent publicity concerning the travails of the eurozone and the referendum vote in the House of Commons has informed the electorate that the only anti-EU party is UKIP.
The problems faced by the three major political parties is enabling UKIP to improve its electoral performance at local government level. This should assist UKIP to develop its membership and organisational base.
There is a perception that UKIP is the refuge for ‘traditional’ Conservatives who cannot stomach Cameronism. This finds expression in articles such as this:
However, the following link is to an article which propounds the view that UKIP is supported also by ex Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, by people the author describes as the ‘reticent majority’.