In 1931 an Earthquake hit the Dogger Bank just off the North Eastern coast of Great Britain. A woman was killed and it was the largest british earthquake ever recorded. A small Tsunami hit as well. It was so strong that the head of the waxwork model of Dr. Crippen at Madame Tussaud’s fell off.
UKIP’s leader had promised a political earthquake of an even bigger magnitude and the European elections seemed to deliver that. Newark was supposed to be an aftershock in its own right. Yet the earthquake seems to have dissipated. Will heads roll?
UKIP were talking even last night on This Week, Andrew Neill’s flagship BBC political programme, that they could secure 30% of the vote. They were at least hoping to exceed their previous best in a Parliamentary election – their 27% in Eastleigh. They fell several percent short. It remains unclear whether they can marshal their resources carefully enough to win an individual seat in the 2015 general election. They need now to manage expectations. Instead, local papers have seen front pages saying all over the country that UKIP will target seats which they perceive to be vulnerable. In reality it will be hard to win more than one. The key is whether Nigel Farage’s personal following is enough to win a seat. Typically when MPs become party leaders their vote increases significantly, because of the airtime that they get. This could be the opportunity for UKIP.
Yet it is the other leaders who will be concerned. The UKIP vote around the country means that all bets are off. Most analysts are trying to fit a two party political worldview into a four party system. How will Labour fare for instance on May 7 2015? The traditional analysis is that Labour would need a massive poll lead now only for it to be whittled down and scrape a victory. It’s based a weltanschaaung based upon an outmoded way of thinking. The Tories will need to win by 7% to win an outright majority. Anything less and the Labour party will do well. Yet, the way votes stack up will be absolutely key. Labour’s problems may not be as bad as they seem (they won Newark outright in 1997). Having said that, it’s likely that the awkward squad in the Labour party will start asking some serious questions of Labour.
The earthquake may not look as seismic as it may have seemed less than a week ago but it’s clear four party politics is here to stay.
He was formerly Head of Policy at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). With degrees in history and economics from the Universities of Oxford and London, Jake is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a trustee of the European Association of Philanthropy and Giving and advises several governments on public policy. He also advises clients on CSR and philanthropy activities.
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