Politicians rarely make sense in the aftermath of a by-election. Neither Clacton nor Heywood and Middleton (9 October 2014) were exceptions. David Cameron claims that a vote for Ukip will put Ed Miliband in Downing Street. Nigel Farage suggests that voting Labour benefits the Tories.
When the banks wrecked the economy, people were angry: angry with politicians, bankers, and super-rich tax dodgers. Movements like Occupy questioned the very foundations of our global capitalist economy. Voters needed a party or a leader who would understand their anger, who would reject business as usual politics and teach the establishment a lesson. So what did that establishment need?
We must not be trapped in a narrative of overwrought claims if we are to understand and respond to Ukip's increased vote, says Jill Segger. She suggests the mainstream parties must show respect for the voters and humility about their own failures.
During the BBC’s local election coverage David Dimbleby described Nigel Farage as ‘the man whose hour has come’. Despite UKIP winning control of no Councils (and their share of the vote actually falling compared with 2013) the media and the party seemed determined to portray a small tremor in the political landscape as a UKIP ‘earthquake’. But I would suggest that if any cracks are about to appear, they will be in UKIP itself, not the political Establishment it claims to reject.
“They showed themselves weak in trying to frighten us.” My grandfather's words about the Blackshirts, born out of his experience of the conflict of Cable Street, have stayed in my mind. As a young child, I sensed their import, even though I had little understanding of the context or the meaning. I revisited his words with an adult understanding in the light of two occasions of weak and ugly behaviours from UKIP supporters over the last few days.
People who defend themselves by saying “My words were taken out of context” sometimes have a good point. It is possible to misrepresent someone, either deliberately or accidentally, by quoting their words out of context. However, a UKIP candidate in Portsmouth has stretched this defence to breaking point. He has also attempted some creative redefinitions of common English words.