"An earthquake in British politics" is how the press described the globe shattering upheaval in Clacton. The ground moved for Nigel, and he's got that gaping grin on his face to prove it. It was monumental, astounding, breathtaking and a lot of other words that came up in the Thesaurus.
Minds were boggled and stupefaction abounded. It was as though no one was expecting it. Ukip's win in that desperate, grey, spume flecked boil on the backside of Essex was greeted as the first sight of a solar eclipse must have been received by a cave man. We were not expecting THAT.
But we were. Everyone knew it would happen months ago. We were aware of the result the moment that Douglas Carswell put Clacton, if not on the map, then at least in our minds. For the first time since the invention of cheap foreign holidays, more people had thought of Clacton than actually lived there. And we thought one thing: how marvellous it is to not be in Clacton.
Clactonites are furious. This is understandable. Look where they live. Without the benefit of actually going there, I can state without a doubt that it is a depressed and moribund place, full of depressed and moribund souls. People for whom the world has gone by. It went by them in approximately 1976, when punk rock heralded the modern era and disco stuck its glitter ball up the planet's fundament.
Luminous hair and gyrating younglings were in...and a tired sea-side resort no longer held allure. It started a gathering of the old and the poor and the infirm, just like most of the rest of the coastline of Britain, and that is where they stayed, quiveringly furious that the world had moved on without them. Or they might have been just shivering. The winds don't half come in hard off the North Sea round those parts.
The demographics of Clacton are a perfect hunting ground for Ukip. They are angry that politicians are not listening to them any more, whatever that means. When did politicians ever listen to the electorate? Politicians are on permanent transmit mode. At the very most, they want to transmit the notion that they are listening, while doing whatever they intended to do in the first place, regardless of what the electorate is saying.
This is sometimes sensible, because the electorate is saying a great many things, all of it conflicting and much of it mad. However, the notion that people are not being attended to, like they were in the old days, is enormously attractive. As is the wistful imaginings of what life used to be like back then.
Back then, everyone was friendly, the sun always shone, there was always somewhere to park, a house cost thrupence h'apenny and you could leave your door open all day and night. This is what we are led to believe by people who claim to have a perfect memory of it. And it is true, as long as they mean that everyone was as friendly then as they are now, in direct proportion to how friendly you are, the sun shone as often as it always has, there were parking spaces because no one had a car and you could leave your doors open as long as you liked, it is just that your house would be stripped bare when you got back.
Houses were cheaper though, that much is true. Everything else was more expensive. Do you recall that people used to rent their televisions and washing machines? That is, if they could afford to. The selection of foods available was rudimentary to say the least, and people's options for entertainment were much more boring than they are today. Anyone really want to live like that any more?
Well, yes is the answer. Or rather, people would like to live in a stylised imagining of what the past used to be. And that is where Ukip comes in, the Why-can't-things-be-like-they-used-to-be Party. Things were never as rosy as they are recalled but that does not stop the yearning for a recovery of our perky and fecund youth.
That is what Clactonites voted for, a return of the good old days when the country was run by kindly men with the best interests of the citizenry at heart, when people were honest and the land was bathed in the warm glow of a summer sun. You know, like in the films.
What is weird is that this "earthquake in British politics" was caused by a local election in which just half the voters could be bothered to turn out, and those that did voted for the exact same man they did last time.
If that is an earthquake, I am a banana. One of those straight bananas that Kippers think the EU insist we eat.Suggest a correction