Unless you have been hiding in a cave without access to any form of media over the last week you should know that we have had two by elections recently.
Clacton was one, Heywood and Middleton was the other.
Now Clacton was Douglas Carswell standing for re-election after having left the Tories to join UKIP, the result was expected to be a win for him based on his local popularity. Heywood and Middleton on the other hand was one of those safe Labour seats with a large labour majority and a confident local candidate and party.
Clacton was a crushing victory for Carswell, he took 60% of the vote compared to the previous 53% that he held the seat with as a Tory. The Tories managed 25%, Labour came in with just over 10% and the Lib Dems demonstrated that they are fading into the political twilight with less than 500 votes.
A Ukip / Carswell victory was expected but the scale of that victory was surprising and Call me Dave and his party are in complete denial mode as his comments on the matter reveal.
The other election in Heywood and Middleton was expected to be an easy Labour win. They held the seat in 2010 with a good sized majority, 40% of the vote went to Labour with the Tories on 27% and Lib Dems on 23%. UKIP came in with 3%.
Then the Tory vote more than halved, the Lib Dem vote dropped to a quarter of its previous levels and UKIP got the lot coming within 600 votes of taking the seat. Suddenly that safe Labour seat was looking more than a little wobbly.
I see what is happening as a positive thing in the long term. No I’m not turning into a Kipper but I see the rising of UKIP as being good for democracy and British politics in the end. Short term we are all going to suffer from it but long term it’s a good thing.
The Tories were, to put it bluntly, given a good kicking in Clacton. UKIP took a large Tory majority and turned it into a larger UKIP majority. The short term effect of this is already being seen as Cameron is publicly urged to move even further to the political right that he already is. Hardly something that is going to be good for everyone in this country that isn’t rich or a Tory politician.
Labour went from a safe seat to just 600 seats in the lead when barely a third of the electorate could be bothered to turn out and cast votes. With both Tory and Lib Dem votes in the area vanishing and seemingly all moving to UKIP that safe seat is suddenly very shaky. I am already seeing comments suggesting that Labour start moving into UKIP territory by making promises on immigration.
So over the next few months until the election is done both main parties are going to be trying to pull UKIP voters back to their parties.
The Tories have again and again refused to act on immigration and show no signs of doing so now. Instead they are pushing for the removal of Europe wide Human rights and promising to replace them with some fairly vague Tory driven bill of rights which will be flexible and arbitrary.
UKIP and its followers have a very real problem with the ECHRs and European Human rights legislation being abused to allow murderers, rapists or terrorists to remain in the UK often at great expense.
But rather than sensibly acting to prevent Judges using the rules to abuse UK law the Tories are following their ongoing campaign to turn the UK into a police state by removing all human rights legislation that they do not have control over.
Labour, who to be honest created the whole unlimited immigration mess in the first place are most likely going to swing to the anti immigration side of politics to try and stave off the loss of many vulnerable marginal seats. After all they came within 600 people of losing what was thought to be a safe seat so now nowhere can truly be called safe.
So I suspect that we are going to see a swing towards the anti immigration meme from New Labour.
Neither party seems to be able to stop and ask why voters are leaving them in numbers, because an 'in depth' look at that situation would reveal a few truths I doubt any modern politician wants to hear spoken out loud.
In reality the problem is not immigration, the immigrants are available to be blamed by people who find themselves struggling day after day to manage as wages fall, costs go up, benefits are cut and the gap between the stinking rich and everyone else gets wider. It’s not immigration though it certainly helps push down wages, rather it is a convenient scrape goat to blame when there is a difference between the living wage and the minimum wage and such things as zero hours contracts punish those who have jobs.
This is the short term consequence of these by elections. The political knee jerk as it were when parties and leaders unthinkingly push into what they think is UKIP territory in an effort to claim back those votes. We have another by election coming up soon, caused by Mr Reckless renouncing his Tory membership and declaring for UKIP.
In 2010 the Tories gained 50% of the vote, Labour gained 28% and the Lib Dems 16%. Given that half the Tory vote and three quarters of the Lib Dem vote in Heywood and Middleton went UKIP it will not take much for UKIP to take this borough as well. A fact that both main parties are aware of.
Given Cameron’s comments about voting UKIP and getting Labour, with the fact that UKIP came so close to beating Labour in Heywood and Middleton it can be said that voting Tory got Labour elected since the Tory minority denied UKIP a win.
So we are looking at ever harsher steps by both main parties to try and attract the UKIP vote while ignoring the fact that it is their own voters who are leaving. More repression of human rights, more effort to stop the ECHRs having any effect in the UK, more anti immigration rhetoric or action.
Nothing that will address the real problem and a lot that will negatively impact 99% of the population.
This and many other constituencies are close or winnable by UKIP, simply because UKIP is motivating its voter base and drawing in thousands of people who are turning their backs on the main parties by either voting UKIP or by not voting at all.
Short term the panic caused by UKIP (and by the increasing number of people who are no longer motivated enough to vote) will leave us with more problems. Politicians are about the worst people ever for long term planning, they don’t care past the next election and if they expect to lose they just don’t care anyway.
So until the next election and possibly into 2020 its going to be a problem.
But in the long term, if UKIP can push themselves into politics and if the Greens can take advantage of the Tory lapdogs, oops sorry I mean the Lib Dems imploding then we can see true multi party politics in Britain.
For too long we have lived with the binary swing between Tory and Labour, modern politics is a choice, which do you hate the least.
Hold your nose against the stink of corruption, nepotism and the rank smell of out of touch career politicians moving around in tight herds of inbred animals.
Far too many people are what is called ‘Tribal Voters’, they have always voted for that party, their parents voted that way, everyone in the street votes that way. The attitude that says the working class (which ceased to exist other than as a state of mind long ago) votes Labour (who are a bunch of public school educated millionaires) and that the home counties who are all posh middle class types (they aren’t) vote Tory because the Tories support the middle classes (another joke in a long line of political jokes that are too tragic to be funny).
Far too many people do not vote on politics or agendas, they do not vote on the past performances of the candidates or how often they have lied or failed to keep promises. They don’t vote based on the politics or the people, they vote for the tribe, the party, the colour.
That is what we need to smash, the safe seats, the tribal voting, this is what must be stopped long term and this is hopefully what UKIP and perhaps the Greens can start to do.
If we can get to the point where people no longer vote automatically and instead have to have their votes earned them we should see politicians stopping the lying and cheating and behaving as if the electorate are worthless other than in the few months before an election.
But this takes choice and that means multiple parties. The Lib Dems don’t count and never have, they are part of the old system, old school career politicians just as out of touch as the rest and in some cases more out of touch than even the Tories.
That a Labour safe seat came within 600 votes of being lost is a good sign, because the labour vote collapsed, Miliband cannot count of those voters to vote for the tribe or even to bother to vote at all. So he needs to find out what they want rather than telling them what he thinks they want.
Political engagement, politicians and parties having to earn the votes that put them in power and people having a wide choice. Past crimes and lies remembered rather than forgiven because the choice is between Labour and Tory and lies can be forgiven since the other guy is worse.
Despite the fact that many of the UIP people are ex Tories and that their agenda is further to the right than the Tories, in the long term if UKIP can break open the cosy two party system and create gaps that other parties can use to get a foot in the door so to speak they will have done well by British politics.
So I hope UKIP continue to do well, I hope they take more seats and they go on to break the stranglehold that the Tories and Labour have in the two party system. I hope they break things apart and lead to us having half a dozen parties or more.
Yes coalition governments tend to be less powerful and less able to make major changes, but then when it comes to politicians making a mess of things I feel less is better.
So go UKIP, win more MPs, shake up the situation, break the status quo. Short term it’s going to hurt but long term I think it will be good for Democracy and British politics.
Down with the two party system, long live democracy!