By a complete landslide the party which I was part of but for whom I did not vote won the Euro elections. I was a member of the 65.8% of voters who declined to participate to send any more MEPs to what is a very lucrative (for those elected) but largely pointless Parliament.
Much though instead is being made of the party which came a very distant second - UKIP. It does demonstrate the utter pointlessness the Euro elections have for UK voters, and contempt for domestic parties in general, that not only did most not bother to vote, but of those who did many were prepared to vote for a party which has no policies...at all.
By dismissing the 2010 manifesto as "drivel", yet failing to produce a new manifesto in its place and to have no EU exit plan, UKIP officially has no policies by its own admission. Voters' are effectively dismissing the Euros as irrelevant by lending their votes to UKIP safe in the knowledge it won't actually change anything.
Therefore the Euros are rarely a guide to how parties will fare in general elections. UKIP won 4,352,051 votes, nearly 4½ times its 2010 general election vote. Experience shows that when it comes to the more serious business of general elections the UKIP vote will undoubtedly be squeezed hard. For example in 2009 it won 2,498,226 votes in the Euros which then dropped to 919,546 in 2010.
But while being the Official Monster Non-Policy Policy Party will have little effect on its performance in the Euros it will pose a very significant and potentially damaging problem for UKIP in 2015.
Leading up to the Euros UKIP came under a great deal of inevitable smearing regarding alleged racism, homophobia and anything else the papers could conjure up (or received as briefing from the Tories forensically searching social media sites). Clearly though the tactic didn't work and it's rather nauseating to see the rapid about turn in newspaper editorials as a result, particularly this from the Mail:
Instead of addressing voters’ genuine concerns on mass immigration and the corrupt, power-hungry EU machine, the big three parties believed they could defeat Nigel Farage with smears and lazy accusations of ‘racism’.The smears though did have some effect, albeit one that is probably marginal according to UK Polling Report:
The Mail – while, we repeat, carrying no torch for Ukip – warned that such arrogant, cack-handed tactics would backfire, and so it proved.
Together those two [polls] make it look pretty conclusive that the attacks on UKIP did damage perceptions of the party. More people think the party and Farage are racist. However, it does NOT necessarily follow that it damaged their vote – it could just have served to further entrench negative views amongst people who didn’t like UKIP anyway.As a consequence of the limited damage done, we can now anticipate that there will be a change of tactics, assessing instead the performances of newly elected UKIP councillors and highlighting the lack of substance within UKIP policy.
Here the real danger lies - a party of no substance will be quickly exposed and will be damaging. We have already seen the consequences of this with Suzanne Evans' recent incoherent interview over UKIP policy (or lack of) on UK exit. We suspect that a number of newly elected councillors, representing a party without policies, will fare little better under more intense scrutiny either.
Meanwhile as Richard North notes despite what the "citizens of the EU" say the march of integration continues. Nothing amply demonstrates this better than the Lib Dem Andrew Duff losing his seat. Duff was the co-author of the Fundamental Law of the EU - the next step forward in EU political integration via a new Treaty. Losing his seat will have no bearing on the progress of this. Barroso says as the results were being declared:
"It is now of the essence to have a clear understanding on political priorities for the next political cycle, so that a proper institutional transition according to the treaty rules demonstrates the Union's capacity to act".In other words it's business as usual for the EU. As Complete Bastard observes:
The people are no closer to the levers of power, and we are no closer to leaving the EU.UKIP's lack of policies will ensure this will remain the case.