We all know by now that UKIP attracted most votes in the elections for the EU parliament, but there appear to be widely contradictory views as to what this means in national terms and in particular what it means for next year's general election.
Although I'm a keen UKIP supporter, I'm also a pessimist, and find it hard to believe that what happened in the recent election will be repeated next year. I feel that any meaningful prediction is virtually impossible as there are so many unanswered questions.
The main result seems to be that the LibDems have lost a lot of ground both in the local and the Euro elections. This, I suspect, is because people have realised that the LibDems were trying to be all things to all people and you can't do this when you are in power and actually have to be party to real decisions. Until now, it didn't matter if they promoted a different policy in Penzance than in Newcastle because no-one noticed, but once they came into power, they had to make choices which were bound to upset a lot of people.
The Tories and LibDems clearly lost out to UKIP because of their EU policies. Although Cameron has promised a referendum if his party is re-elected, this is dependent upon "renegotiations" and he has made it clear that he wishes to stay in. I don't believe this policy will attract voters unless he provides far more details of what he expects from the renegotiations. For all we know he might secure an exemption allowing us to sell Coxes apples by the pound rather than the kilo and claim that he has secured a great victory! I suspect those Tory voters who are Euro-sceptics prefer the straightforward position of UKIP.
When it comes to Labour it seems clear that many traditional Labour supporters are not attracted by current policies. Contrary to the perceived view, my impression when working as a site engineer and talking to, presumed Labour supporting, site workers was that they were probably even more opposed to the benefits scroungers and immigrants than many Tories. I suspect that Labour is out of touch with the real working class whom they claim to represent. However, as the people I describe are unlikely to ever bring themselves to vote Tory, it is possible that many could be persuaded to vote foe UKIP, and Farage's image of the "man in the pub" won't do him any harm, especially when compared with Miliband.
We then come the "wasted vote" category. Up to now, many have considered a vote for UKIP is a wasted vote and so have voted for one of the other parties. This could change significantly now that it has been shown that voting for UKIP does not result in a wasted vote.
Finally, we come to the non-voters. Only about a third if the electorate voted in the Euro elections whilst about double that number vote in a general election. The main parties like to assume these voters will support them at a general election, but there seems no logical reason for such an assumption. It could be argued that many can't see any real difference between the two main parties and thus don't bother to vote. Perhaps they might see UKIP as something different which could bring changes.
So, I'm still unable to make any logical predictions about the future, other than that there are two events which will undoubtedly have considerable influence. The first is the Newark by-election where UKIP will deploy all the resources at their disposal. Even if they don't win (which I believe is unlikely), a "near-run thing" will do the Tories a lot of harm. Will the Labour supporters vote tactically for UKIP knowing that their candidate is unlikely to win?
The other event is, of course the Scottish independence referendum. As an Englishman I would like an independent Scotland if only because it would bring us nearer to an independent England, although as a Unionist, I believe we should stick together. I've been unable to find any reasoned arguments as to how independence would affect Westminster politics other than the fact it would severely reduce the number of Labour MPs.
I await with interest next week's by-election and look forward to politicians and the media trying to explain what has happened!
+ Selections Tonight +
3 hours ago