I wonder how many of the thousands of English and Welsh voters who voted for UKIP and elected 161 councillors, to add to the 139 the party won in council elections in 2013, have asked themselves that question in the last few hours? (I am writing this before the EU election results are out). The party does not control a single council in England or Wales but it's success in some parts of England in particular, has denied Labour control in one or two areas where they were expected to win handsomely. As there were no local elections in Scotland, the results in England and Wales will have only an indirect effect up here but may well impact on the EU elections. The SNP is confident of taking a third Euro seat and "freezing UKIP out of Scotland". I have already commented on the abuse to which UKIP has been subjected in recent weeks but it seems to have had little effect on the votes the party has gleaned in the local elections, with anticipation of a similar result being recorded in the Euro elections.
The kind of abuse UKIP has had to take over the past few months, is unfortunately typical of the treatment doled out to any "third" party which challenges the hegemony of the established, so-called main parties. Any one who was in the SNP in the 1950's, 1960's and to a lesser extent, the 1970's, will be well familiar with the accusations of racism being thrown at UKIP because it is exactly what was thrown at the SNP. The sneering, the accusations of idiocy, the animosity of the media and the establishment in general, the lies perpetrated by the BBC, the lack of coverage; any SNP member or ex-members of my generation have seen it all before and the irony is that the SNP and its supporters have been as guilty as the rest. It is an attitude they may well regret. I could not help but be amused at the reactions of the various spokespeople of the major parties, as the results started to come in. The sneering and disdain continued, even as they were losing seat after seat to UKIP. The fact the party had won 139 seats in English and Welsh council elections in 2013, seemed to have been forgotten, as they continued to emphasise, "They don't control a single council," "Will this translate to votes in the Euro elections or a general election?".
Great interest was being expressed in where Nigel Farage will stand at the general election, or if he will stand. There were references made to the coming by-election at Newark and everyone was agreed that unless UKIP won the seat or, come close to winning, the bubble will have been burst. At the general election in 2010, the Tories polled 27,590, Labour 11,438, Lib/Dems 10,246 and UKIP 1,954 so if UKIP were to win, the establishment really would be in trouble. In fact, the establishment was willing to discuss just about anything except the fact they were being gubbed, the length and breadth of the country, by a party they have done their best to dismiss as fruitcakes, loonies or racists. As the results rolled in, all of them bad for the Lib/Dems and with varying degrees of harm for both Labour and Tory parties, there was finally a belated admission that perhaps the "disconnect with politics in general" among the electorate, was far greater than had been recognised or acknowledged previously.
The one issue that did not receive as much attention as might have been expected, was the issue of immigration and when it was raised, there was little acknowledgement that many of the fears which have been expressed by people in England, have had some substance. Immigration is not an issue to the same extent in Scotland for the simple reason we have not experienced the same level of influx as has been the case in some parts of England. Nevertheless, the latest opinion polls show that a majority of Scots do not favour the SNP's "open door" policy and at least 32% of Scots would vote to leave the EU now, before any debate has been heard. It is surely significant that the latest immigration figures were published on the day of the poll and showed significant increases of Net immigration, when the claims have been that immigration has fallen. In the run-up to the council elections, it was widely claimed that the number of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants registered in the UK had actually fallen by over 4,000 over the past year, when the true figure showed an increase of over 50,000 and the increase from Bulgaria and Romania was 19,000 in the first four months of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013. Similarly, it was claimed that Net immigration had been reduced to just over 100,000 when the actual figure was over 212,000 in the past year, an increase of 22% on the previous year. It is little wonder there is a disconnect when people are lied to so consistently.
Now the results are in for the Euro elections, UKIP has defied every prediction in Scotland and won their first seat of any kind up here. Alex Salmond's EU policy is now looking increasingly threadbare, having failed to "freeze UKIP out of Scotland" and completely underestimated the degree of anti-EU feeling there is in Scotland, as there is throughout the EU. I have been telling people on various internet sites for several years, about the degree of Euro-scepticism that exists in the various countries of the EU, including some of the newest members, only to be called every name under the sun for doing so. Perhaps the Euro results will force people to listen to what is being said right across the EU, about the degree of opposition to greater integration, closer political union and lack of accountability. Yes campaigners and SNP supporters have insisted we should wait until after the referendum before making a case for coming out of the EU and accused me of undermining the drive for independence. If the SNP had even made the concession that they would have a referendum on EU membership, UKIP would not have had the same traction for their argument that the main parties (SNP is the dominant party in Scotland) just do not listen. That is as true of the SNP as it is of the others, as far as the EU is concerned and there is gross hypocrisy as well as arrogance to insist on a referendum for independence but deny it for another Union which, if the Euro fanatics have their way, will be just as incorporating as the Union of 1707.
The next blog will be on the EU, looking at the economic realities for several members who are suffering unemployment of 25% and little prospect of that situation improving, but the result of the elections in France and Greece should be a wake-up call for the Europhiles in Scotland. Salmond and the SNP have been insisting that one of the main reasons for independence is that the people of Scotland have different priorities from those of the English and that UKIP, with its anti-European, (it is anti-EU) and anti-immigration attitudes, have no place in Scotland. Well, that has been shown to be wrong but of much greater importance, is the question of whether the SNP is prepared to argue it would rather share an electoral chamber with the FN from France and the Golden Dawn from Greece, than Holyrood with UKIP? Right wing parties in Europe tend to make the Right wing in the UK look pale by comparison and people have been warning for some years that the inability of the EU, to deal with economic instability brought about by the imposition of the Euro, would lead to a rise of the "Right". The answer coming from the Euro fanatics is "more of the same" which means more centralisation of power, less democracy and the eventual creation of the United States of Europe. It is too early to say what effect the election of UKIP will have on the referendum but the people responsible for giving it a helping hand, is the SNP, because like the others, it just refuses to listen.