Well has there been a political earthquake? UKIP would certainly want you to think so and now with representation in Scotland and Wales as well as England it can certainly claim to be a ‘national’ party. It’s the first time in a century that both the Conservatives and Labour have been defeated by another party. Labour did well in London but its performance beyond the capital was lack-lustre and does not suggest that Miliband will be prime minister in 2015. The Conservatives did quite well given that euro-elections are generally seen as a time to give the governing party a good kicking. The Lib-Dems were annihilated with only one MEP and an election strategy that was, however principled it was, proved disastrous. Saying that you’re the only party to take on UKIP may be true but it demonstrates political naivety when it was clear from the outset of their campaign that the electorate had no sympathy with what you were saying. Nick Clegg will continue to lead the party—who would want to pick up his poisoned chalice anyway—into the valley of death in 2015, something that all Paddy Ashdown’s bluster will do little to prevent. The explanation for the strong showing of euro-sceptic parties on the continent—it’s all to do with the recession silly—won’t do in Britain where our economy is reviving and, if the figures are right, reviving strongly.
The message from the main parties seems to be: it’s not the general election and people may have given their vote in UKIP in 2014 but they’ll see sense and come back for the election next year. This may have been the case in the past and UKIP will undoubtedly lose ground in 2015 but such is people’s disillusion with Europe that a focused electoral strategy could well see UKIP MPs being elected…and don’t forget we have the Newark by-election imminent. This poses a major dilemma for all the parties. For the Lib-Dems it must now be clear that its pro-European policy is no longer tenable in its current form—yes, argue for Europe but argue for Europe from a position of strength by agreeing to a referendum on the issue and stop treating the electorate as if we’re idiots, something the other parties need to stop doing as well. The, were the politicians and we know what’s best for you no longer holds water…the essence of democratic politics is the art of persuasion and the three parties aren’t persuading anyone. There’s nothing new about this but for the first time that I can remember the people have, in significant numbers, had enough of the patronising, posturing of Westminster’s elite. Despite all the weasel word statements by mainstream politicians that they are listening and about letting the people decide, many appear still to believe that they have the only solution to the country’s problems and will push ahead whatever the consequences…something that the elite in Brussels will almost certainly do as well. Politicians in Britain have yet to learn that they were elected to do a job on our behalf and it’s a temp job at that.
Political earthquakes come and go and few are in retrospect little more than slight tremors but on this occasion, at this time that is not the case. The future direction of the EU is something that is too important to be left in the hands of self-serving politicos. I was one of those who campaigned for the EU in the 1975 referendum and would campaign in favour of a reformed and smaller EU in 2017 if I get the opportunity. The essence of this earthquake is that it may lead to the reversal of EU policy on closer integration—something that as far as I can see few outside Brussels actually want—and the restoration of the EU to its founding economic principles on which most people still agree.