Been too busy to think much about the Eastleigh by-election result until now - even though I've done a few interviews on the subject, and am on Radio Wales soon after 8.00 in the morning. I do not believe it is a game changing result - even if it's quite interesting. Ironically, I reckon a Conservative victory would have been much more destabilising for the Coalition. But I did not like being 3rd. In a few days time, the by-election will be forgotten. But I do not want to forget about it. I hope we learn from it.
It was a bad night for all the three mainstream parties - even if less obviously so for the Lib Dems. It is frankly ridiculous of Nick Clegg to describe the Lib Dem success as a "stunning" victory. The Lib Dems lost half their vote! But at least they did had a victory to console them. The Conservatives didn't. We lost a big chunk of our vote as well. The result was big-time disappointing. It was also pretty disastrous for Labour, which made no progress at all despite unpopular decisions having to be taken by the Coalition and favourable mid-Parliament polls.
The big winners were Ukip, and the "stuff the lot of you party". My view is that if the campaign had lasted another week, Ukip may well have won. If Nigel Farage had had the gonads to stand, Ukip might have won. Whatever it was a very good night for Ukip. We do not know how long this success is going to last, but I simply do not think it is much to do with Ukip policies. Have no doubt that its in part a 'protest vote - despite what Ukip says. Ukip is not seen as a serious governing party and offers a convenient way for voters to express unhappiness and displeasure. This is not to suggest I don't take the Ukip threat seriously. Where mainstream parties lose the confidence of the voters, non serious parties take over the space. The recent Italian elections inform us of what can happen - and it could happen in Britain.
Personally, I think a big part of the problem is that voters do not think they are being listened to. Its not just that the Government does things the voters disagree with. That's always been the case. Its just that it sometimes seems to me that voter's opinions are dismissed out of hand. In Montgomeryshire, we see this with the wind farm debate. The majority of voters are utterly incensed by the Gov'ts intentions (both at Westminster and Cardiff Bay) to destroy our landscape with many hundreds of pylons and turbines. We have tried everything to try to get a hearing. But every word coming out of the Welsh Gov't and DECC equates to "Dear Voters - Get Stuffed." Its like shouting in the middle of the Sahara. The voter's message from Eastliegh is "Please listen to us. Give us hearing. Don't talk down to us. Use language we can understand." Oh how I'd like to think the Eastliegh election result could be a turning point - inspiring us to grab a victory out of the jaws of defeat.