What Nick Clegg and his Lib-Dem colleagues should have learned from their poll disaster is that hard and fast political dogma is suicidal in the changing fortunes of time.
Their steadfast support for the UK's European Union membership, in spite of all popular opinion polls showing negative views of the EU, sealed their fate.
Some readers may recall last October I wrote of this very eventualityhttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dan-ehrlich/uk-democracy-a-semantic-a_b_4108133.html. I predicted UKIP would be the new third force in British politics.
But as my blog went, the importance here is more about democracy in its true sense than being about the EU and immigration. The British in this election has let it be known they aren't happy about what their leaders have done and are doing with the country. And they see UKIP as the only party promising to reverse the federalization of the EU.
When Clegg debated UKIP leader Nigel Farage, his sole argument for EU membership was economics...the money and jobs Britain would be losing if it left the Union. He never addressed Farage's challenges on the undemocratic nature of the EU and why the British people should be offering everyone in Europe a free lunch.
He also ignored the UKIP leader's charge that the UK Parliament and its decisions were being trumped by EU law. These are the 'real here and now' things that concern much of the electorate, not the distant and vague possibility of economic hardship brought on by leaving the EU.
Yes, this election was a protest vote...by electing 24 Euro-MPs the electorate has given notice it either wants radical change in the UK membership and/or a long promised referendum without delay.
And, it also illustrated a lack of grass roots trust in Prime Minister David Cameron, with much of the UKIP support coming from disaffected Tories.
The ebbing trust in political process here has been brewing for some time with the population sensing that there's less and less difference between the main political parties. Much of this is due to the changing nature of society. The diminishing union membership and the inability of Labour to create loads of jobs has brought Labour closer to the Tories in terms of what it can and will do.
The Tony Blair years, which some consider a closet Tory government, has left much of the electorate looking for new alternatives. Now UKIP may very well be one. The problem for UKIP is can't hope to become a domestic parliamentary force with one protest issue. It has to develop a manifesto and enlist candidates to fight next year's general election.
Its first test will be next week's Newark by election. What will happen is someone asks the UKIP candidate Roger Helmer what his party's fiscal policy will be? Will he give an educated response or will he just fall back on anti-EU rhetoric?
For too long Farage has appeared to be a jovial one man band. This will have to change quickly, as will the name of the party itself if its initial goal is ever met.
If Farage and Co can mould together a decent popular manifesto and field respectable non loony candidates, as I said in my previous post, UKIP could wind up in a coalition with the Tories. Hopefully such a scenario would be all the better for British democracy.Suggest a correction