The answer to this question is, of course, that some people do (members of UKIP presumably) but I ask it rhetorically to make my point. Perhaps the real question should be: “Do those who voted for UKIP in yesterday’s local elections want Nigel Farage as Prime MInister or were they merely lodging a protest vote knowing there is no chance of him ever winning a General Election?”
Protest vote or not, many disenchanted members of the electorate have switched their vote to UKIP: something about the party must appeal to them. So what is it?
Could it be that UKIP have provided a non-racist Right-wing alternative to the BNP? In 2009 the BNP took 20.5% of the vote in one UK ward. In this election, in the same ward, it got a mere 3.9%. When UKIP was first formed many thought it was full of ‘closet racists’ but they certainly seem to have shrugged off that image now. This despite the media’s best efforts to find members who were posting photographs of themselves giving Nazi-style salutes.
Another possibility is that people are so disenchanted with the Coalition that they are looking for any reasonable alternative. Let’s face it, the Liberal Democrats are at risk of becoming politically irrelevant if the South Shields by-election results are anything to go by. They were reduced to a miserable seventh place: not good for a party in government. Many are angry at the slow pace of reform and the Government’s failure to cut taxes for the middle classes.
The electorate may well still be angry with Labour for the debt it got us into whilst last in power. They may not really enjoy Mr Miliband’s style of politics. I have seen at least two Labour MPs interviewed today uncomfortably defending their leader and his methodology but surely Labour Party members, as well as MPs, are beginning to doubt his ability to lead them into government at the next General Election.
Maybe it is just that people have grown tired of ‘middle of the road’ politics where nobody stands out as having anything radical to say or implement. The difference between parties appears to many as minimal. Is British politics stuck in a ‘grey muddy puddle’ where anyone who attempts to escape is thrown back into the mud by the whips?
Any of the above suggestions or any combination of them may be true but I personally believe much of it comes down to personalities. Like him or loathe him, Nigel Farage comes across as a man speaking his mind. He doesn’t reel off line after line of party policy. He seems to speak with a conviction, whether you agree with him or not, that many find lacking in others. Cameron, Clegg and Miliband are like ‘party leader clones’. They are all middle class, white , male, middle-aged, middle-of-the-road, posh, suited and apparently spectacularly out of touch with the ordinary voter (if there is such a thing).
In order for one of the mainstream parties to win the next election outright I think they need a leader with some charisma not a clone. Whoever they pick needs to speak more ‘off the cuff’ and quote less from the party manifesto. They should not be scared of upsetting those that voted them in but have the confidence and conviction that they are doing the right thing for this country.
I am not a member of any political party so I don’t get to vote for a party leader but those who do should take note of yesterday’s results and see it as a wake up call for the future.