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The Tory/UKIP Clash Is Nothing for the Left of Centre to Be Happy About

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The most interesting thing coming out of the local elections today is the Conservatives, and their surrogates in the media, spinning the results. It's called 'Kool-Aid Drinking' in the States. And plenty has been consumed today.

From Eric Pickles, former chairman of the party, soothing hard working councillors who lost their seats; to Michael Gove coining a new word à la Boris, you can hear the sound of slurping throughout the land.

Funny thing: there haven't been very many people on the airwaves who actually voted for UKIP telling the rest of us why. I guess it's because they're just 'ordinary people'. Better to have their 'betters' explain it to us. Journalists interviewing journalists; number crunchers analysing stats; party leaders pontificating. I'm with Ukip voters on one thing: I'm sick of all of this.

Nigel Farage has changed the political landscape fullstop and we really don't need the BBC/Sky/ITV/C4 to tell us. Over and over. Let's hear from the people.

The other thing that we don't need them to tell us is that for the next two years the Tories will have to watch their backs.

And no, Cam, no good tinkering with your Queen's Speech next week (in case that went through your mind) in order to make it more hardcore rightwing. That isn't your brand. Anyway, you won't be believed by your fellow Tories. Again.

Some of the stuff on Conservative websites, comments coming from people who were lifelong Party members, has got to be pretty chilling stuff for all of those now in the Tory Bunker, I mean Tory HQ, to hear.

These are real people talking: the grassroots, the people who work their backsides off for policies they don't really believe, promises made to them that were not kept. But they went ahead and worked and worked anyway... And then they lost.

Yet those of us on the left shouldn't be rubbing our hands in glee.

We have our own troubles. Labour actually didn't do all that well. Plus the electorate just aren't that convinced by Miliband/Balls. And I'm being polite here. The bottom line that Ukip voters have delivered today to the Big Three is: the people are tired.

And in the midst of all this, there is a full-blown centre right crisis going on. The brilliant Tory MEP Daniel Hannan gets it. His hashtag #UniteTheRight is a clarion call to his fellow righties to look and see what's happening. Before it's too late.

And notice, please, that I didn't write 'rightwing'. Anyone who confuses 'rightwing' and 'centre right'... well, fill in your own comparisons. We on the centre left, for sure, always interchange the two. It's really time to stop that. Now.

The Republican Party in the US and the UMP in France provide the reasons that we on the Centre Left have to know and understand the difference.

The Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, of Eisenhower and Reagan, is fighting for its life against an assortment of rightwing forces. Centre right intellectuals like George Will, bloggers like Andrew Sullivan, are being subjected to constant fire from their own side.

The life and death struggle within the GOP really came to the attention of the rest of the nation during the election of 2008. Then the veteran senator John McCain, the Republican Party's candidate for President, in an act of supreme cynicism and desperation, chose the Alaskan ("I can see Russia from my house") governor, Sarah Palin. She burned bright for a while. Then gradually she became an oasis for those whose entire existence consists of not much more than reacting to a succession of rightwing/far right hot buttons. She's no longer part of serious media. By her own definition, a 'buck up or stay in the truck' type.

Republican congresspeople are boxed-in by the rightwing Tea Party, a conglomerate ranging from anti-immigrant/evangelical Christian/Second Amendment fundamentalists to people who are stockpiling for the End of Days and way beyond.

Any right of centre politician who dares support the POTUS on anything is labelled a RINO - 'Republican In Name Only' and cast into outer darkness. Last week, a bill to mandate background checks on guns, a bill supported by the majority of the American people and the Senate, too, was defeated. It was defeated because, as one Republican senator admitted: "In the end it didn't pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president... "

In France, the centre-right opposition party, the UMP, is riven by internal struggle, the road the Conservatives are heading down. The UMP could not control the anti-marriage equality marches/riots that erupted recently in France. It is incapable of heading off the challenge from the Far Right National Front, led by the charismatic Marine Le Pen. She has evolved the FN from a Holocaust-denying vote-machine led by her papa, Jean-Marie, into a housewife-friendly force to be reckoned with. 'Bleu Marine' does 'normal'. Her niece sits in the National Assembly, a hardworking, smart charismatic young woman. Recently, Marine and the powerful leader of the far right Dutch Party the PVV, Geert Wilders, met in Paris 'pour déjeuner' in order to 'unir leurs forces'.

Meanwhile, the centre right - like almost everywhere now - has no answers for people on the right.

Here in the UK, Nigel Farage tells us that the BNP and the EDL etc have no place in Ukip. I believe him. The fellow travelers from those two movements who are using Ukip as a flag of convenience won't be there for long. Too much light is being shown.

But the Tories who have given up on the Conservative Party, they're going nowhere for the moment.

Yet, David Cameron is right to fight to keep the Conservatives in the middle ground. Right to fight to keep it an inclusive party. Right to hold off those who want to take it further to the Right.

Because if he fails, the UK will become like the US and France where the centre right is fighting for its legitimacy, its very existence.