Local election results 2014: Hatred of elected politicians has led to this outcome

 

Share

Sometimes a small volcano erupts in politics and there is little the main parties can do about it.

Over the next few days, many thousands of words will be written about the threat posed by Ukip and how the other parties should respond. In truth these elections illustrate the powerlessness of the supposedly powerful.

Mighty leaders tour the country with their entourage of nervy advisers. During the campaign, leaders announce new policies. Some make embarrassing cock-ups. A section of the electorate is determined not to listen. It wants to give them all a kicking.

As I wrote on Tuesday, Labour was in power until recently. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats rule now.  The only way to stick two fingers up to parties contaminated by the complexities of power is to vote for Ukip, a party with a charismatic leader who articulates familiar, long-held fears about “Europe” and “immigration”, terms that represent far wider insecurities.

On Twitter, a thousand pundits will tell Cameron to move even further rightwards or condemn the leaders of Labour and the Lib Dems. But we know what happens when Cameron tries to appease Ukip. He sought to do just that by offering an In/Out referendum on the EU. The consequence of his desperate move was an increase in support for Ukip. We also know what happens when a party leader does the opposite and challenges Ukip. Clegg took on Farage in two televised debates. Ukip’s support soared.

There will be a lot of waffle over the next few days from internal dissenters who seem wiser than they are: “We need to take on Ukip” or “We need to woo Ukip”. It has all been tried before and in the current anti-politics context, it makes no difference.

Read more: Full local election results

The loathing of elected politicians, and indeed other once trusted institutions, is a driving force. So are the specific circumstances. Lib Dems were doomed to electoral catastrophe after they moved from being seen as a party to the left of New Labour to one that formed a partnership in government with a party of the radical right, a Conservative party still in thrall to Thatcherism.


In 2010 Labour became diverted by an unavoidable leadership contest and left the field open to George Osborne to blame it successfully for the global economic crash. Although Miliband proposes policies and a philosophy that mark a leap from the orthodoxies of the past three decades, he lost long ago the battle about the recent economic past for which he and his party are blamed.

We have been here before with the rise of the SDP in the 1980s. For a time the SDP terrified both Labour and the Conservatives, although soon it became clear that the Tories would be the beneficiaries of the split on the left.

Next year it is still likely that Labour will be the main beneficiary of Ukip’s rise, even though it too looks on in near impotent fear as it loses votes to Farage. In terms of policy, Ukip is a party of the right, battling with the Conservatives in its focus on Euroscepticism and enthusiasm for a smaller state.


The haziest outlines of the next 12 months can be discerned from these results. Ukip will still be a force, but not as forceful as they are this weekend. The Lib Dems are in deep trouble and still will be so in a year’s time. Cameron or Miliband will be the next prime minister and neither of them, nor the rest of us, know which it will be.

There is no pattern across the country. After a frightening economic crash in 2008, with the Tory wing of the Coalition acting from 2010 onwards with impatient radical hunger, and in an era of youthful leaders learning and failing to learn the arts of leadership, the battle will not be resolved until polling day and perhaps not then.

For Cameron, Miliband, Clegg and their wary troops panic would be a mistaken response. Given the scale of the anti-politics mood, the conjunction with the European elections and the perceived contamination with power of the main parties, the surprise is that Ukip did not do better.

Read more: Labour and Tories left reeling
Coalition tries to shift focus
Labour takes Cameron's 'favourite' council
Farage: 'The fox is in the henhouse'
Ukip: London 'too educated and cultured' to vote for us
'I'm not resigning' says Clegg

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road