By John Charles Dyer, UK Correspondent
3 May 2010. This week the UK demonstrated one old political maxim - all politics is local -- and one new one -- all spin is national.
In yesterday's local elections Conservatives and Liberal Democrats suffered significant losses.
Now for the spin.
Conservatives, who lost most, “got the message.” And the message? The Conservatives are right, of course. The electorate want what Conservatives are doing. The electorate are just “impatient” for it. Never mind the losses, the government just needs to do a better job messaging. Time to put UKIP under "scrutiny."
Pundits had a field day. The only thing better than egg on a politician's face is a story of dramatic political change.
Their "big story” was UKIP’s performance
UKIP did well and better than predicted. It certainly is a story that should be told. UKIP’s share averaged 25 percent, a substantial increase from last year's 7% in national polls or the 13% reported in the Sun poll this morning.
More importantly, there are now four Stallions in the corral with the mares.
UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage, claims a “C-change” in UK politics. Many pundits agree. Others say it could be the start of something big. Maybe they'll prove right. But maybe it's overcompensation for not taking UKIP seriously enough in the past.
I agree most with Channel 4’s Gary Gibbon. Gibbon said the one thing clear to him is there's increased potential for a hung Parliament.
But there was another story
The progressive Labour and Green Parties also made gains. In fact, at 291, Labour picked up more than twice as many seats as UKIP. Green also gained. But the story commentators told was Labour disappointing expectations by some measure or another.
BBC further turned speculation into news. BBC reported their projection of what the results would have been nationally if it had been a national election, which it wasn't, and if UKIP's share remained constant, which is dubious, as if this projection was somehow news. BBC ignored Chuka Umunna's point that most of yesterday’s races were in previously Conservative jurisdictions. How does one turn a gain twice UKIPs in previously Conservative jurisdictions into a Labour disappointment? If UKIP’s victory was a potential C-change, it seems more than odd that results nearly twice as large only disappointed.
Why is this important?
This is important because politcos and the electorate now consider the election's political and policy implications.
Commentators who only the day before failed to predict the outcome spent the entire day today telling the public what those implications are. Some argued Parties will have to shift to the Right. Others argued that at the very least Parties will have to address UKIP’s focal issues differently. Many questioned whether one could consider Labour a true contender to take power in 2015. While Labour’s success rose throughout the day the story line remained essentially unchanged.
It seems premature to me to come to such conclusions.