A Giant Leap for Ukip

Conservative MP Douglas Carswell Defects To The U.K. Independence Party

Depuis le succès des élections européennes de mai 2014, l’importance de UKIP ne fait que grandir. En effet, grâce à Nigel Farage, UKIP, parti europhobe, a réussi à obtenir 27,49% des voix aux européennes, soit 11 députés supplémentaires. Aujourd’hui, c’est grâce à un autre homme que le parti continue son envolée…

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More than twenty one years after its creation, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has made a giant leap forward. For the first time in its history it has put an MP in the Parliament of Westminster. On October 9th, Douglas Carswell won the by-election in the constituency of Clacton-on-Sea.

Douglas Carswell was a conservative MP until last August, when he decided to resign from the Conservative party. He claimed he was leaving the Tories because Prime Minister David Cameron is not determined enough to reform the European Union. Once Carswell became disillusioned with the Tories, he said he had but three options: quit politics, fight to change the party from within or oppose it. So he defected from the Conservatives to UKIP.

He campaigned energetically for “Brexit“, Britain’s exit from the European Union, and against immigration and won the by-election with 59,66% of the vote. He is “classic UKIP material”, according to The Guardian, i.e. anti-gay marriage, anti-humans rights lawyers, anti-Europe… but is in other ways quite surprising as he wants to be a “moderniser” and is obsessed with transparency and direct democracy.

UKIP gained a lot of momentum with its European election victory and relies on this victory to become a political force to be reckoned with in Westminster too. The next general election is due in six months. These six months will be arduous for the Prime Minister and he will have a lot to worry about. Indeed, an other Tory MP, Mark Reckless, has already imitated Douglas Carswell and joined UKIP. A by-election has been called on November 20th, at which Mark Reckless will stand as the UKIP candidate.

Mark RecklessMark Reckless

Not only does UKIP weaken the Tories but it is also said to represent a serious threat for Labour. Indeed, since 2010 UKIP has gained between 40 and 50% from former Conservative supporters but also between 15 and 20% from Labour voters. Moreover, the Labour party is in a dire straits: it has failed to persuade the country that it is fit to govern. Labour could lose several key constituencies to UKIP in May 2015.

farage milibandNigel Farage and Ed Miliband

Therefore, Nigel Farage thinks UKIP could hold the balance of power after the next general election as neither the Tories nor Labour are likely to have a majority. “If UKIP can keep this momentum going, we could find ourselves next May in a position where we hold the balance of power.”

He is also aware that they will have to convince a great amont of people if they want to succeed in spite of the voting system.  Indeed, Britain’s first-past-the-post system does not favour minority partiesSo the strategy is to target Labour’s neglected core vote and even immigrants!

UKIP could very well defy the odds once again in May and turn their first Westminster success into a significant breakthrough.

To be continued…

Manon BOUYAKOUB-MENUT & Anaïs VARAGO

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