I have had a few words in the past in several ways. I for one thought the UKIP would become a much larger player, this did not happen, but is that fact totally true?
You see, when we look at the very nice full election map the Guardian made available (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2015/may/07/live-uk-election-results-in-full), we are shown an interesting option, not when we look at the winner, but when we select ‘vote share UKIP‘. Now we see the view I had, which is to be honest a minority view. The purple map show one true dark spot (the one area they got), but we also see a fair bit of purple all over Britain. Hartlepool, Haywood & Middleton, Rotherham, Boston & Skegness, East of London and North-West of Birmingham. All areas that have clear UKIP representation, and even though not a winner, the European events as they are unfurling could make these new powerbases. But that is not for the immediate at present. The Conservatives could diffuse the situation and see how the minds of these areas can change, because Nigel Farage is down, but he is in no way out at present. You see, in all these areas UKIP came second and in some cases only by a small minority that this loss became fact. This means that in those areas trouble will brew for whomever held that constituency.
There is another side for the Guardian, that map they produced (which would not work during the elections for me), is still an amazing source of information, so I hope that they will release it as an app for mobile tablets as the information will be useful to many people who keep an eye out on British politics.
So how wrong was I? That is the question I ask myself. I felt comfortable with my predictions and the map (as well as the numbers) show that UKIP could have been much more powerful, but why that did not happen is less easily answered. You see, as we focus on Nigel Farage, we need to consider how well and how well supported Jane Collins was for Rotherham. The same question counts for John Bickley in Heywood & Middleton as well as Philip Broughton in Hartlepool. Three politicians who got close to make Nigel cry out loudly. UKIP seems very happy with the amount of votes they got, so as the Liberal Democrats move into the basement office space, UKIP is on the way up. This is not me poking fun of the Liberal Democrats, I tend not to kick a man when he is down. If that person is a militant extremist, I might shoot that person in the head, but this is politics, not a warzone (even though the difference in a week before elections is really hard to tell).
You see, when you look at the vote share map, but now, when we look a Liberal Democrats, an odd situation occurs. I am not talking about the massive losses they led, but wherever the Liberal Democrats have a decent footholds, UKIP tends to have near zero influence. This is exactly what I mean when I said ‘the Conservatives could diffuse the situation’. It is almost like the Liberal Democrats are a conservative buffer, keeping UKIP even further from any chance of being a contender. Perhaps there is the difference, but also the danger. If we accept that those moving away from the Conservative, or not entirely ready to be conservatives are Liberal Democrats (or UKIP), then it stands to reason that the Liberal Democrats could be the new power base for UKIP if they can get their acts right. If too many of the LD goes towards UKIP, the initial prediction I made would be exceeded by a lot, which also means that the Conservatives will have to start wooing the LD in a few ways from day 2.
Now that Nick Clegg has resigned (not sure if that was a good idea), we need to consider two parts.
The first part is that the data seems to imply that the Liberal Democrats had a two sided battle, one not moving to either Conservatives or UKIP (remember that UKIP had a massive addition of votes, but not victories), second to move the party forward. In this I actually like the headline the Telegraph offered (who would have thunk that!), which read ‘History will judge Nick Clegg more kindly than the voters have‘, I think I can second that to some degree. In my view Nick Clegg was not a true leader as I saw it, more of a follower of the Conservatives for as far as it benefitted the Liberal Democrats. It is not much of a standpoint, but it is a valid one. The pilot fish does not traverse the oceans on his own power and as long as the conservative and Liberal Democrat path are in the same direction it is not a biggie.
Yet, I must state that I never saw Nick Clegg as a leader, but was he a decent leader of the Liberal Democrats? That part remains, because who can take over? The four names that usually follow are Danny Alexander, David Laws, Lord Ashdown and Tim Farron. We can leave Lord Ashdown aside, he is the man who gave serious life to the Liberal Democrats, a youthful youngling, born slightly before 1950, originally from New Delhi. Former diplomat, intelligence officer and long-time MP for Yeovil, in the county of Somerset. My initial thought? I do not think he will return as the leader of the LD, but he will be there, as a man behind the curtains, the party orchestrator holding the strings and pulling those (read: advising) that will lead the Liberal Democrats back to strength.
Danny Alexander has a new ghost to fight, as former MP to Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, he faces other demons (one named SNP), no matter how LD minded he is, the link that would be drawn between the LD and the SNP are too dangerous to allow them to be voiced too often. There is also every chance that the SNP will woe this capable politician down the road, that is not a given, just a possibility. David Laws is another matter, so I will skip him for a moment, which leaves us with Tim Farron. My vote would go towards him for one wrong reason, which is the fact that David Laws and Lords Ashdown are both Yovillians. David pretty much took over from his lordship leaving us with a student mentor relationship, whether true or false, this is how it looks ant that can be deadly in politics. There is no doubt that David Laws will remain the power player in the LD, but I fear not that of leader. There are other members that could rise to the occasion, people like Gerald Vernon-Jackson that could rise to it all if the right push and mentor for higher office comes around, but for now my focus remains Tim Farron. The fact that in the past he was able to sway Tories to vote his way only gives weight to his ‘fighting’ spirit. Will my view pan out to be the correct one? I dare not say, but I do know that the Liberal Democrats have less than a week to make a decision, because the members of a party without a leader tend to go shopping as soon as possible for the ‘leader’ that will represent their issues the best and there is absolutely no chance that they are all considering the Conservative party.
For now, the UK remains conservative and I hope that they will get the deficit and the total debt down, because the reality that Greece is about to bring to the table is not a nice one and the UK better be prepared for what follows, because the Guardian had one article that smouldered sarcasm called ‘nine reasons to be cheerful’, in it there is mention on how Farage lost his constituency, which is unfortunate for Nigel, but the one that does truly matter is the one quoting “Someone at the Treasury gets to write a hilarious ‘I’m afraid there is no money’ note to themselves this morning“, yes, that is true, but let’s not forget that this is mostly due to the failings of Labour, which got the Conservatives re-elected. The nation and nations at large are facing the consequences of previous governments overspending by so much that European Austerity is here to stay for at least two administrations that are to come, this one not included. So, when you consider the ‘no money left‘ issue, then also realise that above all that Greece will need an additional 30 billion (perhaps even more), an amount of which the UK gets to pay a share, the economy has been misrepresented on a European level and the economists at the Guardian have no clue as to why the predictions are so far off. Here we see the exact same as the wrongful ‘hung parliament‘ prediction, the people are no longer believing the unrealistic promises that came from Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, with the added part that they were almost on the side of Nigel Farage, but found him a little too extreme and above all, the press is no longer trusted with the ‘predictions’ they make, especially economic ones.
So as I feel that UKIP is down but not out, there is a real danger that many places will consider UKIP to be the choice next time, many did, but not enough to sway electorates, the fact that they got in second in too many places is downplayed for now and will become an issue down the road, because the upcoming decade of Austerity is not a nice one. The Greek issue should have been slammed down hard, but those relying to survive on Status Quo are too powerful for now, that is until the next European general elections that will impact the UK, which will be France in 2017. They will very much consider the EU referendum and the tantrums of Greece are not helping. On the other hand extremism has an advantage, the fact that the not so ‘clued in’ father of Marine Le Pen (Jean-Marie Le Pen) is sinking her advantage by opening his mouth is good for the National Front opposition, but it is in no way a guarantee that National Front will not sweep the nation. Should they do so than Europe will face a Euro without France, at which point the UK will not be left with any options but to enforce ‘Brexit’ any way possible. So the tactical choice of holding the referendum AFTER the French elections makes perfect sense, but that reality is now completely depending on the actions and success of National Front, which means that there is no half way option left.
Again, I could just be totally wrong!