The day after election day and UKIP did reasonably well, gaining 139 seats. Less reported is that Labour gained 291 of them. It’s not surprising, given that Nigel Farage has been all over the BBC for the last few months without really being questioned. UKIP have been whining that the newspapers have started looking more into some of those candidates, including the bloke who was trying to stop someone taking photos of him pretending to eat a plant, and James Delingpole’s brother behaving like a Dick photoshopping himself into a photo of a dodgy Austrian character with a silly moustache.
Now comes the tricky bit for UKIP. They’ve got something of a reputation as a protest vote and Nigel Farage has a very low attendance rate in his role as an MEP, 75% in the session 2004-09. However, with a total of 147 local council seats, they will now be expected to do things. The BNP used to be something of a right-wing protest vote as well, but their councillors had a habit of not bothering to turn up to meetings. In a lot of cases they were shunted to committees where they could do no harm, like street cleansing or refuse collection. What next for UKIP then? Will they turn out to be as useless as the BNP, or will their councillors do something useful? Farage has said his party machinery hasn’t had enough time to vet all the UKIP candidates so I imagine there will be a few skeletons in the closet coming out in the next few months or so. It’ll also be interesting to see how the candidates cope when they find out what exactly being a UKIP councillor means, whether they decide to remain involved with the party or if they go elsewhere.