The BBC/Labour strategy up to this point has been to create UKIP as a new SDP. The left now thinks they were out of power in the 1980s and most of the 1990s owing to the split in Labour and the emergence of Labour light. Mr Smith and Mr Blair eventually got them back into power by moving Labour more towards the SDP to make it electable. What better, they think, than to help stimulate a massive split in the Eurosceptic forces, so they can have Lib/Lab governments busily allowing the EU to complete its take-over of our country.
This week’s Council results should give them pause to think again about this strategy. It has worked in the sense that giving more airtime and support to UKIP as a political force has helped them speak up for many voters who do not like the current situation. It has set Eurosceptic Conservative against Eurosceptic UKIP brilliantly. However, it now turns out that UKIP has been able to garner more of the popular vote in the seats they contested than is comfortable for either Labour or the Lib Dems. UKIP has shown an ability to take some votes from the left, and to persuade former non voters to vote, in a way which has also damaged the two parties of the pro EU left as well as the Conservatives. Mr Miliband would be ill advised to deny the British public a referendum now, as he scrambles to get up to just 30% of the popular vote.
From here there is all to play for for all the main parties and viewpoints. The Eurosceptics have shown that if you add the UKIP vote and the Conservative vote they have the majority. Can they find a way at last of translating that into power, to change the EU relationship as we wish? Or can the left ensure the splits in Eurosceptic opinion get more bitter , so the Conservatives end up by winning fewer seats, leaving the field open for Labour? Could Labour succeed in winning a General Election whilst polling less than 30% of the popular vote? It would be rash to rely on that. Labour has to think about how it can change on issues like migration, dear energy, extradition and the underlying problem of the EU.
As someone motivated to seek a better life for UK people I want to get the UK out of the centralising bossy ill directed government of the EU that currently damages us. I am not sure whether to cheer or to weep at the last results. The optimist in me says at last people have spoken in greater numbers, to tell all the political parties they want a say on the EU and they deeply resent EU policies on borders, crime,energy and welfare, to name but a few. Surely now we Eurosceptics can weld this mood into a political force for change? The pessimist warns me that UKIP and the Conservatives may continue to attack one another to the point where they let Labour in, as some on the left anticipate.
If Eurosceptics are to seize the opportunity in these latest figures, two things need to happen. The Conservative leadership has to start rectifying the problem now, despite the Coalition. They have plenty of backbench MPs keen to do so. They need to act, not just to talk about acting. UKIP for its part has to use more moderate and friendly language about Eurosceptic Conservatives, seeing us as part of the solution, not wrongly defining us as the problem. We do have votes in the Commons, which is where we need them to change the UK’s relationship with the EU. UKIP still has none.