By Suraj Bhanot
PR Team Officer
A week ago, senior government minister Ken Clarke, described the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) as ‘clowns’. As the local council elections results come in, it appears as though the ‘clowns’ have it. UKIP has emerged as a serious threat to the main parties, which will inevitably send a shock to the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour. These votes have far too often been labeled as ‘protest votes’ which has stigmatized the electorate as making uninformed and thus in turn, wasting their vote. Political parties need to stop perpetuating this myth that a majority of these votes cast are as a protest to government policies. This may be the case for some votes, but it cannot be used as a way of deferring ownership to a poorly fought election campaign which has seen the electorate send a strong and clear message to Westminster.
These elections are not fought on the bigger issues of debt, deficit and interest rates. They are about local issues which constituents have real concerns about and it appears UKIP are answering those concerns for many who feel disconnected from the three main parties. The 140 seats gained by UKIP may be a drop in the ocean of the 10,000 seats fought, but it has spilt the Tory vote in largely traditional Tory strongholds, which may impact on votes at the next general election. This could lead to the same situation of 2010; where no political party had an outright majority.