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Politics no image

Published on January 21st, 2013 | by Katie Wetherall
Image © [caption id="attachment_11644" align="alignnone" width="566"] Taxi for Farage? (Ian Nicholson/PA Wire)[/caption] It goes the old saying ‘all good things must come to an end’. Never has that been truer in British politics – over the past 15 years we’ve seen the rise and fall of practically all of our leading politicians: remember Tony Blair’s victories, Cameron’s popularity in 2005 and that ever-distant period of Cleggmania? In 2013, it is Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP who looks to capture the feeling and the vote of the British public, but is this popularity set to last? The last few months and years has seen a massive surge of support for UKIP, thriving in opinion polls and achieving their best ever results in the Nov 2012 By-elections:  Coming second in Middlesbrough and Rotherham, where it  won 21.8% of the vote. This has led to speculation that UKIP could replace the Liberal Democrats as the third largest party in Britain. This rise to fame has been fuelled not only by the worsening state of the Eurozone crisis, but also scandals criticising the overbearing nature of the Conservative government. Notably, the scandal surrounding the decision taken by Rotherham Borough Council to remove a couple’s three foster children from their care because they belonged to UKIP played well for Farage – not only giving him airtime but allowing him to promote his party’s libertarian principles. One key indication of UKIP’s growth is that it has been a major factor in prompting David Cameron, wary of UKIP’s popularity, to make what will be the his toughest speech yet, on his view of the nature of the UK’s relationship with Europe. The outcome of David Cameron’s speech, which looks set to happen within the next week, will have a significant effect on how the public view UKIP. Interviews with the PM have suggested his speech will outline plans to begin to repatriate powers from Brussels, and if this is managed with the agreement of other European leaders, then the new settlement between the UK and the EU will be put to the public – not an in/out referendum. And these plans are by no means certain: the Conservatives would have to win a majority in the next election and complex negotiations with unwilling European leaders will have to take place. But – let’s say its 2018; we have a Conservative government who have managed to somehow ignore the Maastrict Treaty, clawed back powers of regulation as well as opt-outs from policing, criminal justice and some employment laws. Britain remains in Europe but have wrestled back powers from Brussels. If a harder approach to Europe is managed by the Conservatives, will the public still have an appetite for the UK Independence Party? Sunday 20th January’s edition of UK Polling Report revealed some interesting data. At the start of the month YouGov was showing people would vote to leave the EU in a referendum by 46% to 31% who would vote to stay in – figures that were pretty typical of YouGov’s polling on EU referendums for the last year. Last week those figures had shifted to 42% get out to 36% stay in. This week they have moved even further and now 40% of people say they would vote to stay in compared to 34% who say they would vote to leave.  Euroscepticism still exists – but polls suggest support for a complete withdrawal from the EU has declined. In my view, this has much to do with the media coverage surrounding David Cameron’s long-awaited speech.  The past few weeks has seen a multitude of both public figures and politicians speaking of the importance of Britain staying in the EU – people like Richard Branson, Ed Miliband, Vince Cable and David Cameron .  We have even had Washington involved: Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary responsible for European affairs, publicly advised that Britain's membership of the EU was "in the American interest”, and President Obama has said he wants a "strong" UK in a "strong" EU. So if we believe the polls and current support for complete withdrawal from the EU looks to be declining, then what relevance will UKIP have in the future? It is hard to imagine Nigel Farage or any other leader softening UKIP’s policies to make it more electable, and whilst UKIP does have a realm of policies and a full manifesto to offer, the electorate’s immediate association, by its very name, is the party’s principle of complete independence from Europe . If David Cameron succeeds where others have failed, in adopting a tougher stance on Europe, then outright support for UKIP could begin to slide. However – we are forgetting one vital thing: David Cameron has the europhile Liberal Democrats to contend with, and whilst the Conservatives remain in the coalition they have little chance of offering a referendum on the renegotiation of powers from Brussels. Therefore this gives David Cameron at least two years before he can truly begin to reveal a tougher stance – and by that time some voters may have defected to UKIP, bored with the PM’s inaction. What lies ahead for UKIP then? For a party once branded as ‘closet racists and fruitcakes’ by David Cameron, in the last couple of years UKIP have made a serious impact on British politics. Nigel Farage has succeeded in what the Liberal Democrats did once – providing an alternative to the conventional party system and ruffling the PM’s feathers.  Whilst the Lib Dem’s in previous by-elections succeeded in sweeping up protest votes against the government that, it seems, is a mantle that has been passed onto UKIP.  The question remains whether UKIP can translate the talk into real wins in 2015, something that can only be achieved by targeting seats during the election campaign.  Whilst Europe will always remain a severe issue for the Conservative Party and British politics in general, we may have to wait many years for UKIP to climb high enough to be able to fall.

2

When will UKIP falter?

Taxi for Farage? (Ian Nicholson/PA Wire)

It goes the old saying ‘all good things must come to an end’. Never has that been truer in British politics – over the past 15 years we’ve seen the rise and fall of practically all of our leading politicians: remember Tony Blair’s victories, Cameron’s popularity in 2005 and that ever-distant period of Cleggmania? In 2013, it is Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP who looks to capture the feeling and the vote of the British public, but is this popularity set to last?

The last few months and years has seen a massive surge of support for UKIP, thriving in opinion polls and achieving their best ever results in the Nov 2012 By-elections:  Coming second in Middlesbrough and Rotherham, where it  won 21.8% of the vote. This has led to speculation that UKIP could replace the Liberal Democrats as the third largest party in Britain.

This rise to fame has been fuelled not only by the worsening state of the Eurozone crisis, but also scandals criticising the overbearing nature of the Conservative government. Notably, the scandal surrounding the decision taken by Rotherham Borough Council to remove a couple’s three foster children from their care because they belonged to UKIP played well for Farage – not only giving him airtime but allowing him to promote his party’s libertarian principles.

One key indication of UKIP’s growth is that it has been a major factor in prompting David Cameron, wary of UKIP’s popularity, to make what will be the his toughest speech yet, on his view of the nature of the UK’s relationship with Europe.

The outcome of David Cameron’s speech, which looks set to happen within the next week, will have a significant effect on how the public view UKIP. Interviews with the PM have suggested his speech will outline plans to begin to repatriate powers from Brussels, and if this is managed with the agreement of other European leaders, then the new settlement between the UK and the EU will be put to the public – not an in/out referendum. And these plans are by no means certain: the Conservatives would have to win a majority in the next election and complex negotiations with unwilling European leaders will have to take place.

But – let’s say its 2018; we have a Conservative government who have managed to somehow ignore the Maastrict Treaty, clawed back powers of regulation as well as opt-outs from policing, criminal justice and some employment laws. Britain remains in Europe but have wrestled back powers from Brussels. If a harder approach to Europe is managed by the Conservatives, will the public still have an appetite for the UK Independence Party?

Sunday 20th January’s edition of UK Polling Report revealed some interesting data. At the start of the month YouGov was showing people would vote to leave the EU in a referendum by 46% to 31% who would vote to stay in – figures that were pretty typical of YouGov’s polling on EU referendums for the last year. Last week those figures had shifted to 42% get out to 36% stay in. This week they have moved even further and now 40% of people say they would vote to stay in compared to 34% who say they would vote to leave.  Euroscepticism still exists – but polls suggest support for a complete withdrawal from the EU has declined.

In my view, this has much to do with the media coverage surrounding David Cameron’s long-awaited speech.  The past few weeks has seen a multitude of both public figures and politicians speaking of the importance of Britain staying in the EU – people like Richard Branson, Ed Miliband, Vince Cable and David Cameron .  We have even had Washington involved: Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary responsible for European affairs, publicly advised that Britain’s membership of the EU was “in the American interest”, and President Obama has said he wants a “strong” UK in a “strong” EU.

So if we believe the polls and current support for complete withdrawal from the EU looks to be declining, then what relevance will UKIP have in the future? It is hard to imagine Nigel Farage or any other leader softening UKIP’s policies to make it more electable, and whilst UKIP does have a realm of policies and a full manifesto to offer, the electorate’s immediate association, by its very name, is the party’s principle of complete independence from Europe . If David Cameron succeeds where others have failed, in adopting a tougher stance on Europe, then outright support for UKIP could begin to slide.

However – we are forgetting one vital thing: David Cameron has the europhile Liberal Democrats to contend with, and whilst the Conservatives remain in the coalition they have little chance of offering a referendum on the renegotiation of powers from Brussels. Therefore this gives David Cameron at least two years before he can truly begin to reveal a tougher stance – and by that time some voters may have defected to UKIP, bored with the PM’s inaction.

What lies ahead for UKIP then? For a party once branded as ‘closet racists and fruitcakes’ by David Cameron, in the last couple of years UKIP have made a serious impact on British politics. Nigel Farage has succeeded in what the Liberal Democrats did once – providing an alternative to the conventional party system and ruffling the PM’s feathers.  Whilst the Lib Dem’s in previous by-elections succeeded in sweeping up protest votes against the government that, it seems, is a mantle that has been passed onto UKIP.  The question remains whether UKIP can translate the talk into real wins in 2015, something that can only be achieved by targeting seats during the election campaign.  Whilst Europe will always remain a severe issue for the Conservative Party and British politics in general, we may have to wait many years for UKIP to climb high enough to be able to fall.

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About the Author

Katie Wetherall

Katie Wetherall, 17, is studying A-Level Politics. She is especially interested in the renewal of democracy in UK and Europe. She writes on issues concerning civil liberties, human rights and the influence of the media on politics. Katie is a strong believer that political participation is the key to democracy and is an ongoing theme within her blogs. She is currently working towards promoting politics to young people through journalism and her local community. Katie is hoping to pursue a degree in Politics and International Relations and continue to write on current affairs.



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