To get MPs at Westminster there are two main routes, which can be followed in concert:
1. Win a seat or seats at a general election, as per the Greens in Brighton, normally based on a strong local base on the council.
2. Win a parliamentary by-election and then build on that.
Method 1 is usually a darned sight harder than 2, but can be much easier.
The forthcoming Newark by-election presented UKIP with the only chance they’ll ever seriously get to go down route 2. Maybe they have a strong local candidate on the blocks ready to go who will win it. I doubt it. If they had thrown everything behind Nigel Farage, they would have probably won it.
But they are not going to do that.
That is because they are not interested in being a serious political party.
They want to make the single point that we should bring up the drawbridges at Dover. Fine. So they go down the MEP route but don’t actually back laws which will benefit the UK in Brussels/Strasbourg. But they’ll never bring us out of the EU because that decision is made at Westminster. As will be any decision about a referendum, which they won’t be in on, because they won’t be at our national parliament.
Strange that. They say the EU is useless, but pile up Parliamentarians there rather than at the place they say should have all the power, Westminster. Bizarre.
Update 1st May: Martin Kettle in the Guardian has said, more or less, the same thing, but a lot more eloquently.