Well we beat the Lib Dems in South Shields! Our brave candidate, Lady Dorothy Brookes won 711 votes (2.9%). The Lib Dem vote fell by to just 352 votes (1.4%).
The rise of the UKIP protest vote is, however, the most significant factor:
The Conservative vote fell by 10.1% and the Liberal Democrats by 12.8%. Despite a campaign to expose the Thatcherite nature of UKIP the British National Party vote fell by 3.6 per cent.
Whilst this was far from the wipe-out that many predicted it does show that we must do more to educate the public about what UKIP is beyond their populist slogans.
We believe that the UKIP vote is largely a rejection of the Political Class rather than a positive endorsement of their Party manifesto.
UKIP are currently hoovering up the ‘none of the above’ vote the Lib Dems used to attract, as well as the patriotic, nationalist group which has previously been distributed among the Tories (and to a significant but lesser extent Labour).
It’s not that surprising, given the unprecedented situation we now face in which all three mainstream parties have been in government within the last three years, presiding over a period of political and economic crisis.
Nor is it hard to understand that the public believe that the three establishment Parties don't care about ordinary people.
UKIP have been presented as "acceptable" and "respectable" by elements of the media.
Farage, their leader, has been given many puffs by the establishment media. This has been a deliberate Labour strategy aimed at undermining the Tories.
UKIP have been hyped by those in the media sympathetic to Labour in the media. Only toward the end of the campaign, when it was realised that UKIP might take a significant number of Labour votes did the media start to turn on them.
Too late as it turns out but UKIP will now be the subject of withering attacks on the lines of those the BNP has been subjected to for years.
How their supporters will react to this pressure will be interesting to see.
UKIP have also benefited from Tory dissidents promoting them in the media in order to put pressure on Cameron to change tack on the European Union.
When the media turned on UKIP, toward the end of the campaign, they made silly attacks rather than putting a reasoned case against their negative policies.
Many of their attacks simply created the impression that UKIP was not the same as the other Parties, a little edgy and very un-PC. Labour mercenaries like Hope Not Hate campaigned intensively against the British National Party but were inactive against UKIP.
UKIP are breaking the voter loyalties of the electorate.
They are creating a more fluid, unpredictable politics. They are also part of a process where discussion of issues like the EU and immigration becomes more mainstream and acceptable.
The British National Party is still in the game and we will work to entrench ourselves and build hard core support.
Great opportunities will present themselves to us as the establishment grip on Britain weakens and we will be ready to seize on that.
The full results are below.