James Forsyth

Westminster still expects Ukip to win

Westminster still expects Ukip to win
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The polls are all over the place this morning. Ukip is either on course for a thumping victory, going to be edged into second by Labour or has fallen into third place depending on which is your preferred pollster.

But all three Westminster parties are operating on the assumption that Ukip will win, as I say in the Mail on Sunday. Certainly, Labour are getting their excuses in early. Those close to Miliband are quick to point out that Tony Blair never won a European Election and that the party machine will be concentrating more on Thursday’s council contests than the European Elections as having a strong council base will matter more in 2015 than who has the most MPs.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that Labour should be winning these elections—and with relative ease. No party has ever gone from opposition to government having not won the preceding European Election. Combine this with the national polls and you can see why so many on the Labour side are worried and why the Tories are increasingly confident.

For his part, Farage is already looking ahead to the general election. He knows that the real challenge for Ukip is to convert support in the European Elections into seats at Westminster and prevent the party from sliding into irrelevance as it did in 2010 after a strong showing in the 2009 Euros. Tellingly, his big campaign stops thhis week are in Thanet and Eastleigh—both places that are on his shortlist of possible seats to stand in come 2015.