Ukip is a party dwelling on its past glories rather than its future this afternoon. The party’s leader Paul Nuttall has very few crumbs of comfort from the results so far: Ukip has lost every single one of the seats it had previously held. It has, just moments ago, snatched a single seat from Labour in Lancashire. Yet even the most optimistic Kipper would struggle to put a spin on the performance so far. The line that there are still results to come through is rapidly wearing very thin.
Instead, when Nuttall broke his silence earlier he talked of the party’s ‘electoral success over recent years’ and how the party had forced the Tories to ‘embrace’ their cause. He went on to say that Ukip were ‘the victims of our own success’. Others were less kind. ‘It’s over’, tweeted Douglas Carswell, who has been describing himself as the party’s first and last MP. That description may be cruel on the party which took Carswell in yet it’s difficult to doubt that the erstwhile MP for Clacton won’t be proven right.
The party’s moneybags Arron Banks was even more brutal in his assessment. Under Nigel Farage he said, the party had been a racing car. Now, according to Banks, Nuttall has crashed that same ‘car at the first bend of the race killing driver and spectators’. It’s clear that the knives are back out for the Ukip leader (did they ever go away?). To be fair to Nuttall’s critics, the Ukip leader’s summary that ‘there is nothing they (Ukip representatives) could have done in the face of a big national swing to the Tories’, sounds like a man who is running short on ideas.
Many are already loudly proclaiming the death of Ukip. This is an exaggeration. People are still voting for the party: in Hartlepool, where the vote for the Tees mayorality is under way, the party remains in a tussle for second place with the Tories. Ukip will also, for now at least, have representation on councils that weren’t up for election this year. How long that lasts only time will tell. Yet from today’s performance it seems safe to say that Ukip’s days as the thorn in the side of the Tories are at an end.