But there, it is not interested in my advice though I do have something useful to suggest. As I said before, it is preposterous that they should not be able to beat the ridiculous Lib-Dims even though the EU, the euro and all the attendant problems have been front page news for months. At the time of the Feltham by-election I blamed UKIP's reluctance to challenge the Boy-King over his phantom veto. Other people talked of their lack of strategic thinking that manifested itself, not for the first time, in an inadequate candidate. If UKIP wants to do better now and in the next general election, it will have to start thinking a little more strategically. Hint: making pubs full of smoke again is not a very popular policy.
Let me start with real politics that we are seeing on the other side of the Pond, where the presidential election has kicked off in real earnest with the Republica caucus in Iowa yesterday. (Yes, I know President Obama has been campaigning for months but the real fight starts now.) As we know, the outcome was odd: Mitt Romney, as expected, came first by only eight votes, ahead of Rick Santorum. Despite hysterical screaming from his supporters, Ron Paul came third. Oddly enough, having been told that this caucus is of supreme importance (something I never really believed) we are now being told by the same people that it is of no significance whatsoever.
Be that as it may, I was interested to read this analysis of how the votes went and who voted for whom. Without going into all the details, of interest only to some voters in the US, I can confirm that the Paul supporters (or Paulbots, if that is the way you are inclined) tended to insist that what the blogger calls paleolibertarianism was of no importance and we should pay no attention to those pesky newsletters, Paul's weird foreign policy stance or his links to some unsavoury groups in the United States. While his views on matters fiscal and the US Constitution are very attractive, it is, in my opinion, very dangerous to assume that a politician speaks the truth only when he voices opinions you happen to agree with,
An interesting point about the way voters behaved that comes out of this posting and from other sources is that close to a third of them did not make up their minds until the last day. While some comments I have seen suggest that this might say something about Americans or, at least, Iowans, I suspect that this is more common than politicians and campaigners would like to admit. Indeed, there must be quite a number of people who do not make up their minds until they are in their respective voting booths. Only then do they decide that they rather like the way X does her hair or they prefer Y's opinions on some issue or other to Z's.
It seems to me that this should finally be accepted and factored into the strategy and UKIP, as the party that has most to gain from some strategic rethinking, should turn their attention to it. At the next election, be it local, London mayoral or a by-election, they should consider doing some different exit polls from the usual ones. Instead of asking people as they leave the voting station for whom they had voted, ask them why they voted for X (no need to name that person), when did they make their decision to vote for X and what was the reason for that decision. I suspect that some very useful and interesting data would emerge. But then, UKIP is unlikely to listen to me.