LONDON, May 7, 2013 ( – In Britain, local council elections are seen as a window into the political future, and last week’s surge by Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party has the ruling Conservative Party deeply worried. 

UKIP has been attracting former Tories – both voters and MPs – disillusioned with Prime Minister David Cameron’s “modernizing” efforts that have included a bill for “gay marriage” and broken promises on a European referendum. 

Nigel Farage is said to be “jubilant” after Friday’s poll results that saw UKIP electing 147 councillors, of whom 139 were gains. He called it a sign of a “sea change” in British politics and declared that UKIP is now the “official opposition.” This was literally true in Lincolnshire, where UKIP totally replaced the Conservatives in 16 seats. By comparison, Labour, the official Official Opposition party, said it was doing “reasonably” having won 35 local seats.


Despite Tory accusations that UKIP is nothing more than a reactionary party of “clowns and fruitcakes,” Farage warned the Prime Minister that his party is not “just some little pressure group that will go away if someone in No 10 starts singing the same song.” 

UKIP gained 23 percent of the vote, compared with the Tory share of 25 percent and 335 seat losses. 

Peter Bedford, a Conservative councillor who lost his seat to a UKIP candidate, told the Guardian newspaper, “It was a protest against central government’s polices – it's disappointing but we'll bounce back.”

The BBC estimates that the results of last week’s local elections are the biggest surge by a fourth party in England since the Second World War. Ukip averaged 26 percent of the vote in council wards where it stood. 

Farage, who is one of the most outspoken of the Eurosceptic MEPs, warned Cameron that his party would clean up in next year’s European Elections, where UKIP usually performs well. He said Cameron could be “toppled” as Prime Minister if the Conservatives do not pick themselves up in time for the European poll. Farage predicted that voters will have “had enough” of Cameron’s party by the 2015 general elections.

Conservative MPs this weekend demanded an urgent response from their leader, calling for a referendum on Britain’s continued membership in the European Union.

Tory MP David Ruffley said, “David Cameron has to have a clear, sharper message on Europe because most people are not aware of his referendum pledge.” 

“This would be a concrete vote showing that Conservatives are serious about getting a referendum. It is about focusing minds. This Ukip insurgency is real and it's serious. Twelve months from now we will have another dose of this [at the council and European elections]. We must act now.”

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