1. The nationwide surge in support for UKIP is real, it’s happening and the party is taking votes from absolutely everyone.
Early results show that UKIP has taken a substantial share of the vote in major UK cities such as Birmingham and Sunderland, leaving the old mainstream political parties in shock.
Nigel Farage’s party is set to be the big winner of this round of local elections, receiving enormous support in cities where it had almost no presence just a few years ago
The results of the European Parliament elections, which were also held yesterday, will not be revealed until 10pm on Sunday night when voting closes across the whole of the European Union.
But these early council results suggest UKIP supporters can start to dream of victory.
3. UKIP is still struggling in London, where Labour has cause to be optimistic.
Early results from London boroughs suggest UKIP did not make a breakthrough in the capital, while Labour took control of boroughs such as Hammersmith & Fulham and hopes to make gains elsewhere.
Analysis by BuzzFeed has previously showed that London’s younger, more multicultural population does not lend itself to UKIP support, something the party itself has admitted.
4. The Conservatives have lost support to UKIP in working class areas and hope it’s just a protest vote.
Early results show areas of Essex, Kent and the Midlands where voters are switching from Tory to UKIP, meaning Conservatives lost control of several councils. But it could be a lot worse for the Conservatives, who would expect to lose council seats after four years in government.
The party’s real fear will be whether the ex-Conservatives who voted for UKIP this time can be won back when it comes down to the 2015 general election. This will have a major bearing on the winner of the next general election.
5. Lib Dem support continues to plummet and the party is also losing out to UKIP.
Five years ago the Lib Dems had over 4,000 councillors but early results appear to confirm internal fears that this could dip to just 2,300 as voters continue to desert the party after it joined the coalition government.
The Lib Dems lost control of cities such as Portsmouth as a result of the UKIP surge, although it’s not necessarily a disaster since they managed to shore up support in some areas where they have MPs, such as Eastleigh.
UKIP has had a very tough time from the media. Every council candidate, donor or supporter has had their past raked over.
As a result we’ve had two months of candidates being accused of racism, exposed for taking part in soft porn photoshoots with dubious tattoos and organising disastrous racial diversity carnivals.
And yet people have still turned out to vote for UKIP, whose poll lead has barely been dented by any of these scandals. For all the headaches it’s allowed the party to portray themselves as the victims and for their supporters to enjoy the feeling of being an outsider battling the orthodoxy.
7. Nigel Farage’s man-of-the-people appeal is very real and is working.
BuzzFeed/YouGov polling has previously highlighted how more people view Ed Miliband as out of touch and elitist than Farage.
People don’t give a damn that he’s a public school educated former financial trader. He says something different, he has a clear message on immigration and people feel they can relate to them. Especially older, poorer people in small town Britain.
8. These results don’t mean UKIP will win MPs. But they make it much more likely.
Nigel Farage’s party is copying the tactics that the Liberal Democrats used to build their support in the 1990s and 2000s: focus on getting local councillors elected and then use them as footsoldiers in the battle to win votes at general elections.
UKIP’s ever-increasing success is cutting through the supporter base of all the old mainstream parties. But Britain’s electoral system means that getting a little bit of support in a lot of places is no good: if the party wants MPs then it has to build up a substantial support base in just a few areas.
Winning even a single seat would be considered a major success for the party but today’s results are another step towards that.
One thing’s for certain: predicting the result of the 2015 general election with four major parties splitting the vote will be very difficult. Everything’s changing in British politics and the old models don’t really work.
We’ll let UKIP candidate Winston McKenzie sum up the party’s performance.
“The UKIP fox came along and feathers are rustling tonight, there are feathers everywhere.”