Recently at the UKIP Conference, newly re-elected leader Nigel Farage stated that after coming second in the Barnsley Central By-election, that UKIP's goal was to claim third place from the Liberal Democrats.
While the goal is ambitious I fear it may be over-reaching for UKIP for a number of reasons;
1) While UKIP achieved fourth in number of votes cast at the 2010 General Election, they trail the Liberal Democrats by 6 million (They can't all be students) which would take a huge effort to replicate in 2015 for UKIP
2) In terms of Commons seats UKIP ranks 13th on the League table (table includes speaker) having no seats but having the highest number of votes for a party with none. To take third from the Liberal Democrats would require a gain of 58 seats for UKIP (assuming Libdems didn't lose any)
3) UKIP holds no seats in the Devolved Celtic Fringe. The Liberal Democrats have 16 in Scotland, 5 in Wales and if you include their Sister party, Alliance, 7 in Northern Ireland.
4) UKIP holds supposedly 23 seats in councils across the UK the liberal Democrats currently sit on 4011
Realistically UKIP should attempt to become the Legitimate fourth party of the UK and try to break the Lib Dems place as sole Kingmaker in Parliament. To do this here is what I suggest;
1) UKIP should target seats in the Celtic Fringe, They did manage to achieve one of the four Welsh European seats in 2009 and in 2007 they came 6th in terms of party results (7th overall if including Trish Law) so perhaps Wales would be the place to get some Celtic Seats.
A potentially interesting side note is that due to the electoral system of Wales, Labour may end of one or two seats short of overall majority, perhaps presenting a new option besides the LibDems or Plaid Cymru for Labour to enter Coalition with.
In Northern Ireland, UKIP though running their own Candidates could perhaps strike some sort of deal with the TUV who they have a good relationship with (Offers opportunity to develop a Unionist link-up that if succeeds provides ammo to use against the Conservatives following the disaster of UCU-NF)
2) A Huge effort should go into the Council election that are also happening at the same time as the Celtic elections (English and Northern Irish Council election) a term that was used during the Irish General election was 'Gene-Pool'. The UKIP genetic soup is somewhat limited to a small crop of 12 MEPs and cache of councillors. As a target for councillors in May I would suggest 120, or to put it another way, larger than the DUP. They are the current 4th place holders with 8 Westminster Seats and have 4 Lords as opposed to UKIP's 2.
3) Should AV pass UKIP should attempt to develop some kind of transfer arrangement with smaller parties to try and break the big three deadlock (TUV in Northern Ireland would be prime candidate off the bat)
4) Aim for between 15-20 MEPs in the 2014 European elections. Euro elections are UKIP's bread and butter and they need to try and achieve a more solid second place (they tied with Labour last time around) Not only would it be a huge achievement for UKIP but would also increase their Gene-pool (God I love using that term) for the General election in 2015 as any MEPs hoping to hop houses would have had a lot of publicity within a year of going to the polls again.
Should everything go well UKIP could see themselves in a prime position to enter the House of Commons, but in the time between now and then a millions things could happen.
Any thoughts? leave a comment