UKIP: On a Roll?

by Andrew Stuttaford

Talk to Timo Soini, the smart and forceful  leader of the Finns Party, up until now the EU’s most effective euroskeptic party (check out the Finnish collateral deal over the bailouts), and he will stress the importance to any new political party of building a local base. That’s particularly true in the UK, where ‘first past the post’ voting means that it is exceptionally difficult for an insurgent party to actually, you know, win any seats.  That’s one of the reasons that Britain’s UKIP has done well in elections for to the EU’s parliament (which is elected by a system of proportional representation) but so poorly at home (it has no MPs, for example).

That makes this Daily Telegraph report interesting:

It has attracted more than 20 council defectors from the Conservatives since the beginning of the year – a rate of more than one a week. It has also taken councillors off the several Liberal Democrats and some independent parties. On top of that, the party has made more net gains than Labour in council by-elections, according to the Political Betting website. Last night, it won a seat on North East Lincolnshire Council, adding to recent gains in Surrey, Cheshire and Greater London. One of the party’s biggest coups has been winning round Roger Arthur, a senior Tory district councillor in Horsham – the constituency of Cabinet minister Francis Maude.

The growing success for Ukip on councils is an omninous sign for the Tories, who are launching their local election campaign this weekend.

Indeed it is. And it’s yet  another sign of the failure of Cameron’s cunning plan to head off  UKIP with a referendum ploy so transparently farcical that Mr. Magoo could see through it.  The prime minister’s in trouble.

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