As Albert Einstein (quite when and where Malcolm doesn’t recall) had it:
The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.
Admittedly, his pre-eminence in bumptiousness is a close run thing with Alex “Wee Eck” Salmond, but if there is one bumptious individual in Britain well assured of his “worth” is it the egregious Nigel Farage of UKIP.
Suddenly we have a whole swathe of commentators suggesting that, had Farage been the Kipper candidate at the Eastleigh by-election, on Monday of this week he would be taking a seat in the Commons.
For all the froth, Diane James — by all accounts, an excellent candidate — polled 11,571 (27.8%) for UKIP. Mike Thornton for the LibDems managed 13,342 (32.06%).
So, to the question: would Farage have parachuted in and pulled a further 2,000 votes, say — another 5% or so of the poll? Malcolm feels that is extremely unlikely:
- The Labour vote was unchanged — it has been squeezed to its die-hard core by tactical voting (not ideology) on the decent principle of AIBAT (anyone but a Tory).
- Yes, there was considerable defection, compared to 2010, among both LibDem and Tories — again, had UKIP the clout to squeeze that further?
- That leaves only the option of UKIP engaging with and motivating the Don’t Knows and Stay-at-homes. And they didn’t — unlike the imported LibDem hordes — have the feet-on-the-streets and the local knowledge to achieve that.
Einstein had another thought — it was on a plaque in his office at Princeton — we could apply to Farage as the electoral wunderkind:
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.