When you look ahead to 2014, it is hard to escape the conclusion that two insurgent parties are making the political weather. The two big votes of the year are the European Elections, where Ukip may well top the poll, and the Scottish independence referendum, a product of the SNP’s Holyrood majority.
The SNP and Ukip are both nationalist parties but they come from very different parts of the political spectrum. But what they have in common is that they have no desire to be part of a ‘consensus’ or be lauded as ‘responsible and respectable’. Instead, they stand passionately for what they believe in, unbothered—energised, even—by the contempt in which they are held by the other parties.
Part of the reason that Ukip and the SNP are doing so well at the moment is that the other parties seem content for them to have a monopoly on passion. They try to rebut their emotional arguments with a series of technocratic points; an approach that is unlikely to enthuse people.
These insurgent parties have thrived because the political class has left room for them to flourish. A more passionate, less cautious and bigger politics from the Westminster parties would make it much harder for them to succeed.