“A Battle for Britain’s Political Mainstream”
The Washington Post, November 20, 2014, p.A9
“It would be hard to find a place more quintessentially British than Rochester, a handsome river town framed by a spectacularly ancient castle and cathedral. … Economically, demographically and politically, Rochester closely mirrors the rest of Britain. And yet, on Thursday, voters here are poised to do something that would have seemed radical just months ago: elect a member of the U.K. Independence Party to represent them in Parliament. … The expected win would be the second for the anti-Europe, anti-immigration party in two months. But unlike the first victory, in the economically depressed seaside town of Clacton, a triumph in Rochester will probably be seen here as proof that UKIP can win middle Britain. … Less than six months before the next general election, both major parties are struggling to set the terms of debate. UKIP is filling the void with its promises to ditch the European Union and vastly reduce a flow of immigrants that in recent years has brought millions of new residents to Britain. … Labor, too, has something to fear from UKIP. Many of Labor’s traditional working-class voters are lining up behind UKIP’s message at a time of stagnant wages and diminished opportunities for those without university degrees. … Prior to the campaign, UKIP had rated Rochester its 271st-most-winnable seat out of 650 in the House of Commons. Unlike other areas where UKIP thrives, the population of Rochester is reasonably well educated and has not suffered unusually high unemployment. … Nor does Rochester have a particularly large number of immigrants. But that doesn’t stop people here from fearing the wave of foreigners that is a mainstay of the tabloid news media’s reporting.”
Quickie Analysis: Vladimir Putin must be very pleased.