If you were in a political party that had just gotten its backside well and truly kicked, what would you be doing in the days and weeks following? The sensible answer is to have a quiet time of reflection and contemplation.
David Cameron, the British prime minister whose Conservative Party fared horribly in local elections this week, has taken this new mellow view towards the United Kingdom Independence Party, the party that successfully ran to his right. As I reported here, Cameron has been gracious in defeat.
Unfortunately, Cameron's cabinet wasn't paying any attention to their leader. Chancellor George Osborne, according to The Sun, tweeted a photo implying that UKIP members are clowns. Osborne’s tweet showed children dressed as clowns during a May Day parade in his constituency. He quipped, “No double meaning I promise.”
It gets worse. A senior Downing Street aide is also said to have called UKIP “life’s losers." Surely there was some sober reflection from those writing for ConservativeHome, a site that claims to speak for the “grassroots” of the Tory Party? Well, only if you consider statements such like the following as helpful:
“For Cameron's critics to condemn the Coalition shows a lack of mental balance.”
Another theme on the site is that UKIP’s supporters are merely using the party to express their anger at the mainstream parties, and that they will be back with the Tories in the general election. “Above all," one wrote, "UKIP's support is driven not so much by ideas as by anger — by the urge to put two fingers up to the entire political class.”
In the end the above reactions are only slightly more polite versions of the meltdown being experienced by UKIP’s critics on Twitter. It might be a useful endeavor for those sneering at the naughty voters to take a look at this analysis based on data from Survation: “Nonetheless, the basic argument seems to tally very strongly with subjective feelings that increasingly the party is taking its support from Labour, not the Tories. There are sound reasons why this should be so.”
Some pundit descriptions of the elections, even if they were over the top, win points for cleverness. How about "Faragasm" for a description of the election, after UKIP leader Nigel Farage? Alexander Wickham of The Commentator wrote, “Storm, earthquake, bombshell, explosion; across Westminster pundits have been consulting their thesauruses for a suitable word to describe UKIP’s triumph in the polls today. My personal favourite: ‘Faragasm.’”
The spurned lover that is Cameron and his Tory Party certainly wouldn’t like this word. But I suppose "Faragasm" is as good a description as any for the sudden rise of UKIP.