UKIP's Support Has Surged And This Is Everything You Need To Know About It
Early results show that Nigel Farage's party is doing very well.
1. The nationwide surge in support for UKIP is real, it's happening and the party is taking votes from absolutely everyone.
2. UKIP is now the main challenger to Labour in many major northern towns. And the party proved that it can win.
The party came from nowhere to batter Labour in Rotherham, taking 10 of the 21 council seats that were up for election and recording more votes on the night than any other party.
This proves UKIP can give Labour an absolute kicking in northern towns where Ed Miliband's party has had an easy ride for generations. These are the sort of places where voting Tory is socially unacceptable and Lib Dems don't even bother standing candidates anymore. Nigel Farage and his party, however, seem to fit the bill.
In short: it's time to drop the image of UKIP as a party of disillusioned southern Conservatives. They're just as threatening to Labour.
3. UKIP is still struggling in London, where Labour has cause to be optimistic.
4. The Conservatives have lost support to UKIP in working class areas and hope it's just a protest vote.
5. Lib Dem support continues to plummet and the party is also losing out to UKIP.
6. Incessant attacks on UKIP didn't stop people voting for the party.
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.
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.