27/05/2014 13:08 BST | Updated 27/07/2014 06:59 BST

Ukip Wins - It's the Non-Voters' Fault!

On Sunday Ukip won the EU elections. No doubt about it, it was the biggest increase in support, the first time a party other than Labour or the Tories had won a national election since 1910. They came out with 4.35 million votes or 28%, a third of the MEPs. Their campaign was a success, and no matter what was revealed about the candidates, crazy policies or none, they were all elected to office.

To fearlessly not represent anyone in the European Parliament.

Nevertheless they will collect their salaries and allowances, and already one new MEP has said he has no intention of attending. They will vote against and abstain every motion they happen to be there for anyway, no matter if the issue would benefit their own constituents or others in the community. And this is what their voters want.

A lot of 'LibLabCon' and 'lefty' commentators in blogs have been trying to come to terms with this, how could a far-right populist party like Ukip get so much support? How could people fall for the shell-game again?

So some blame the established party leadership. True, Nick Clegg's days are rightfully numbered but he isn't to blame for this. Nor is Cameron or Miliband.

Blame has been laid squarely at the door of the 31million people who did not vote. Bizarrely, some tweeters started hurling abuse at Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) after his recent outburst on Question Time and subsequent 'manifesto' of revolution through non-participation. But it is highly unlikely that a significant proportion of the electorate decided not to vote for that reason.


The 31million is also being quoted as evidence that despite a far-right party winning the election, they remain a minority as they only got 28% of the vote and that is only on a turnout of 34% of eligible voters; or 10% of the electorate. True that most people did not vote for Ukip - but that is not the way democracy works. In proportional representation, the party that wins the greatest proportion of the vote is the winner. Adding non-voters into this mix is nonsensical; an abstention is just that. In this case Ukip would have a more valid claim to these non-voters, as they obviously regard the European Parliament as irrelevant.

The fact remains that Ukip did win - and while the social-media savvy middle class think that the war was won, that the mask had not slipped but been torn off Farage and his cabal, the majority of voters didn't know or didn't care. They probably didn't know that in Bradford they've elected an MEP who was arrested under suspicion of exploiting illegal immigrants in his restaurant, or they have re-elected Roger Helmer - the scientific genius who authored the UKIP environmental and energy document that believes global warming is a myth and CO2 actually 'greens' the planet.

The average turnout in general elections over the last forty years is 70%, but there is no reason to believe that Ukip could not repeat such a result. Ukip has, it seems, unlimited resources for campaigning and a charismatic Teflon-coated leader.

But this isn't the main thing that should be concerning those of us on the left of politics. The Tories in particular lost out to Ukip, and Ukip has the potential for splitting the Tory vote - to the benefit of Labour. The most extreme right-wing Tory government we have ever had (including Thatcher's) has just been told by the electorate that they aren't right-wing enough. What we will see over the next few months is a shift further to the right, and the Tory manifesto will probably be the most hard-line we have ever seen.

Labour also lost out to Ukip, particularly in their traditional heartlands. They too now have to make a choice; either jump on the band-wagon and take the position of moderate Tories - 'Tory lite' - in order to target the middle ground; or swing back to traditional Labour values in order to recapture their base.

And the way things have been going, it looks like they will make the wrong choice.