Elections are much ado about nothing

HAVE we just lived through an earthquake in British politics? Did the earthmove for you?You would hardly think it from the outward calm of Tony Blair and hisLabour colleagues at Westminster, but the whole House could be about tocome crashing down around them.

HAVE we just lived through an earthquake in British politics? Did the earth

move for you?

You would hardly think it from the outward calm of Tony Blair and his

Labour colleagues at Westminster, but the whole House could be about to

come crashing down around them.

Of course it may be that behind the scenes the party is rioting like

Most Read

drunken England fans on the Algarve. It may be there is private plotting to

ditch Tony, even as they politely applaud him in public.

On the other hand, it may be they just can't get the two-party-politics

blinkers off. And for Labour's leaders the party's lowest share of a

national vote EVER comes with a silver lining. The Tories also scored their

poorest performance since Queen Victoria was a bright young thing. So

that's all right, then.

Of course, most elections since 1832 have not been fought on a multi-party,

multi-candidate basis with voting slips the size of a tabloid newspaper.

I reckon I'm reasonably politically aware, yet when I went in to vote in

the European election there were parties on the list I'd never heard of.

(Like Conservatives Putting Britain First - when did the Tories change

their title to that curious mouthful?)

You can hardly calculate a swing when the votes lost by all the big parties have been scattered over such a wide field of smaller ones.

And if you're hoping to call the result of next year's likely General Election, you can't read too much into last week's results.

I put my mark down for one of the minority parties, because it seemed that by the incomprehensible system used to pick Euro MPs there was just a

chance such a vote might not be a wasted one. Other people undoubtedly used the occasion to register a protest against the Blair administration.

Come the next Westminster election, I expect I shall revert to voting for one of the bigger parties. And I'm sure most other people will do the same.

I very much doubt, though, whether we will see any further movement towards that grim bunch of grumpy old men who call themselves the UK Independence


The UKIP's relative success surely can't last once people see who they actually are - a ramshackle ragbag of elderly white male has-beens and


Their triumph was surely down to a combination of protest voting and the half-hearted racism of those who would vote BNP if it wasn't so vulgar. (The

very xenophobes, in fact, that the Tories were trying to woo by Putting Britain First.)

Top has-been, of course, is a failed former Labour MP who was sacked from his job as a daytime TV presenter for making racist comments.

I heard Robert Kilroy-Silk on Radio 5 the morning after the results came in, and it was the most rambling, incoherent public performance I have ever

heard from a politician. Well, an English politician anyway - it wasn't quite down to GW Bush levels of gibberish.

It sounded rather as if he'd been up all night drinking his new party's health. Perhaps he had been.

He claimed, on the basis of a 17 per cent share of the vote, that his party's one and only policy was "what the majority of the British people want".

Actually, it seems to me that 83pc of those who cared enough to vote at all voted against the UKIP, not for them.

Kilroy was at least clear on what the UKIP members actually intend to do in the European parliament. Wreck it. So that's constructive then.

He explained: "Our job is to go there and say, 'Look, this is how they waste your money, this is how they go on the gravy-train and spend their time

in restaurants and the rest of it'."

Perhaps he could start by exposing the party whose sitting MEPs all claim their £65,000-a-year allowance despite having the worst attendance record

in the parliament. The party whose MEPs have managed to ask just one question in five years.

The party whose former research officer quit because he got tired of covering for the chairman "when he failed to turn up for appointments because

he'd been out on the tiles all night".

Guess which gravy-train-riding party that is? You got it in one. The drinking party just voted for by 17pc of Britain's deluded voters. Just put my

bubbly on the expenses, Mr Kilroy.

n A NEW study by researchers at Bristol University has revealed a remarkable medical fact. It seems the longer a woman's legs are, the less risk she

has of getting heart disease.

Now you know what to do to protect yourself from heart failure. Grow longer legs.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter