British Tremors

If you get bored with the U.S. midterm election cycle that according to some ancient traditions really begins today, there’s always British politics, where a mandatory parliamentary general election to be held no later than next May is already being described as a potential “earthquake.” It’s looking like a preliminary tremor will occur in an October by-election in which the anti-EU, anti-immigrant UKIP party is very likely to secure its first parliamentary representation, per this HuffPost article:

David Cameron looks set for a by-election humiliation at the hands of Ukip following former MP Douglas Carswell’s defection, according to an opinion poll.

Mr Carswell’s decision to join Nigel Farage’s party and trigger a by-election shocked Westminster and the poll of voters in the Clacton seat predicting a massive 44 point lead for Ukip will add to the prime minister’s discomfort.

The Survation study for the Mail on Sunday put Ukip on 64%, with Mr Carswell’s former party on 20%, Labour on 13% and the Lib Dems on 2%.

A UKIP victory of that magnitude could tempt other Tory MPs to defect, while increasing pressure on Cameron’s government to pander further to nationalist sentiment. It looks like the promise of a post-election referendum on EU membership may not be enough to squelch UKIP, which along with the collapse of support for the Tories’ LibDem coalition partners, has become a real threat.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.