Whatever the result is when the votes are counted, there’s no doubt who has dominated this campaign: Ukip. From the Farage-Clegg debates to the discussions during the past few days about Romanian neighbours, it has been the other parties that have been responding to Ukip. A party that has no MPs and received a mere 3 per cent at the last general election has managed to set the agenda for a nationwide election.
To try and understand how Ukip have done this, I went out on the road with Nigel Farage. One of the things that marks Farage out from the other party leaders is that he relishes debate. When a group of Politics A-Level students came up to him in the pub and told him he was disgusting, he didn’t simply walk away but stayed to talk the matter through with them. There is something deeply refreshing about this.
The other striking thing about him is his language. It is plain, simple and direct—you don’t need a degree in reading between the lines to understand what he’s saying.
I suspect that this European Election will be the high-water mark of Ukip’s support. But Farage’s success shows that the opening in politics now is for a leader who wants to engage in debate not control it.