The results of the by-elections held on 9 October 2014 are predictably being over-hyped in the media. OK, UKIP won in Clacton and came a close second in Heywood and Middleton. But I don’t think these results are as significant as some would claim.
Concerning the Clacton result:
(i) By-election protest votes are not unusual, and the coalition government are pretty unpopular now
(ii) The UKIP candidate was well known in the constituency, being the previous MP, so he may have benefited from votes from those who liked him as their MP, as well as actual UKIP supporters.
Concerning Heywood and Middleton, UKIP pushed Labour hard, but they still didn’t win the seat. I think that pattern will be reproduced in the General Election next year. UKIP may get some close seconds, but few actual wins. We’ll see if I’m right!