POLITICS
22/05/2014 04:20 BST | Updated 22/05/2014 04:59 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: The Ukip Moment?

Dan Dennison via Getty Images
CROYDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: A UKIP party poster outside Whitgift Shopping Centre in Croydon on May 20, 2014 in Croydon, England. Mr Farage was due to attend the UKIP mini carnival in Croydon High Street but pulled out at the last minute. Designed to show diversity within his party organisers said his no show was due to fears for his safety. (Photo by Dan Dennison/Getty Images)

Here's the one thing you need to know on Thursday 22 May 2014...

THE UKIP MOMENT?

It's election day. The Thursday we've all been waiting for. Well, er, maybe a handful of us. It's basically the final national test before next year's general election. For once we can actually measure public opinion without having to rely on the guys at YouGov.

So, is it going to be the moment Ukip breaks through? A victory for Nigel Farage and his totally non-racist friends? The Times seems to thinks so - and the polls seem to suggest so:

"Ukip edged just in front of Labour in the last poll before the European election today as the three main parties prepared for the voters to smash the established political order. A YouGov poll for The Times put Ukip on 27 per cent, one point ahead of Labour. The Conservatives look likely to come third with 22 per cent of the vote — the first time they would have failed to top a European election since 1994. The Liberal Democrats are set to fall into a humiliating fifth place with just 9 per cent, dropping behind the Green Party with 10 per cent. Labour fears that the elections for 73 seats in the European parliament and some 4,000 councillors in 161 councils, along with five mayors, could be a setback in the party's attempt to build momentum before next year's general election."

'Cameron: Trust me, no need to vote Ukip' is the headline on the front page of the Telegraph, which reports:

"David Cameron has appealed to "frustrated" voters not to back Ukip today, promising to salvage Britain's relationship with the European Union just as he had overhauled the UK economy... In his last public remarks before the polls open, Mr Cameron conceded that voters, including some who previously supported the Tories, would back Ukip... However, he insisted that only he and the Conservatives could deliver real change in the European Union. 'Just as we've turned the economy around, we can deal with the situation in Europe.'"

Is there a danger that we're getting carried away with Ukip-mania? James Balls has a perceptive piece in the Guardian:

"It is entirely possible that come this weekend – five years and a million column inches later, Ukip will have surged from second place in an irrelevant election in 2009 to … second place in an irrelevant election in 2014... And what of Ukip, just 12 months after its 16.5% triumph at the 2009 European elections? The party polled nationally at 3.1% and failed to secure a single seat."

Ukip have managed expectations pretty badly - if they come anything other than first place in the European elections (the results are unveiled on Sunday night), then they'll look like a failure. Which, to be fair to them, is kind of odd, given they'd still be ahead of the governing Conservatives and Lib Dems. Perhaps Farage and co should take a lesson from the Lib Dems in terms of expectations management - from the Guardian splash:

"An internal Liberal Democrat document reveals that the party is braced for a complete wipeout in the European parliamentary elections. As voters go to the polls for the European elections across the UK and local elections in England and Northern Ireland, senior party figures have been briefed to say that a failure to win any seats in the European parliament should be 'expected' at this stage in the electoral cycle for a governing party."

Poor Cleggie. Will the Lib Dems have the collective bone to replace their hugely unpopular leader ahead of another 'complete wipeout' in next year's general election?

On a side note, check out my HuffPost UK colleague Asa Bennett's profile of senior Ukip MEP and immigration spokesman, Gerard Batten, the politician who thinks the EU is a Nazi project, the Bilderberg Group is a "shadow world government" and the CIA won the EU referendum for the 'Yes' campaign in 1975. Batten is standing for re-election in London today.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch my semi-serious, 60-second video round-up of the week's Ukip news, from the LBC car-crash interview to the Croydon 'carnival of colour': yep, it's 'Mehdi's Minute Election Special'.

ON AN EVEN LIGHTER NOTE...

Check out how the pro-Ukip hashtag campaign, #WhyImVotingUkip, was hijacked by anti-Ukip comics and wags on Twitter yesterday.

AND IN 900 WORDS OR MORE

Matthew D'Ancona, writing in the Evening Standard, says: "We must expose Ukip as the racist party it really is."

Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, says: "I want to leave the EU. But should I vote Ukip?"

Martin Kettle, writing in the Guardian, says: "Theresa May has ripped up the Tory pact with the police."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com), Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com) or Asa Bennett (asa.bennett@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons, @asabenn and @huffpostukpol