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Nigel Farage's risky game

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Nigel Farage says exactly what we would expect of a man in his position.

But he is playing a dangerous game.

The UKIP leader is putting his faith in the theory that his voters will be made up of as many disillusioned Labour supporters as Conservatives.

But the risk he runs is that he splits the vote to such an extent that it actually allows Labour into Number 10 through the back door.

Undoubtedly Mr Farage is the most charismatic of all the party leaders.

He has a common touch with a personality that transcends the Westminster village and connects with ordinary people.

However, if the party is not successful in winning the seats that it is targeting, it could be that UKIP does its own cause more harm than good.

If Labour does win, or if it forms an alliance with other parties, it will not allow the referendum on the European Union that is UKIP's principle aim.

The party's supporters will feel cheated or that they wasted their vote.

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As things stand there is a real prospect that this country will be run by Labour propped up by the SNP.

There is little doubt that the Scottish Nationalists will exact a heavy price on English taxpayers for their co-operation with Mr Miliband.

A lot of Mr Farage's hope is that people will vote tactically, with disaffected Conservatives choosing UKIP in order to defeat Labour in some of their target seats.

The Conservatives will be hoping for the reverse, to bring back those voters they lost who have flirted with UKIP in the last couple of years.

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If UKIP does win a large share of the vote it could be a turning point in British politics.

Except that with the current voting system the likelihood is that whatever share of the vote UKIP picks up, it will not translate to seats in Parliament.

People will then wonder why they bothered voting UKIP at all.

The only other solution is to think very carefully in the polling station and grudgingly pick a side between the Tories and Labour and go with the old parties, neither of whom inspire more than a third of people to back them.

With the Tories there is what appears to be economic competence. With Labour there is a claim that things will be fairer.

Protest votes are all well and good in by-elections. But with the future of the country at stake people should think very carefully about what may and may not happen in the big picture.

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