The New British Politics

What the UKIP Victory and the Scottish Referendum Have in Common

Newly elected United Kingdom Independence Party MP Douglas Carswell arrives at Parliament, October 13, 2014. Stefan Wermuth / Courtesy Reuters

It has been less than a month since the United Kingdom’s domestic politics captured world headlines with the landmark Scottish referendum on independence. However, yet another (somewhat smaller) political earthquake rippled through the British electoral landscape on Friday with the news that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has won its first seat in the House of Commons in Clacton, southern England. 

UKIP, a party built around a policy of British withdrawal from the European Union, claims that the victory signals a “shift in the tectonic plates of British politics.” And, indeed, it could be a precursor to another UKIP victory in the November 20 by-election in Strood and Rochester, which is also in southern England.

To be sure, some dismiss UKIP’s success last Friday as an electoral flash in the pan. But that ignores the party’s earlier success in May, when it won the European Parliament vote

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