Is the Westminster bubble about to burst?

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It was the second Conservative defection to UKIP in less than a month and could be yet another sign of the growing disillusionment with the current Westminster brand of politics.

Mark Reckless, who ditched the Conservative party in favour of UKIP this week, described the Tories as being “out of touch” with the British public. Mr Reckless said the Conservative Party leadership was “part of the problem that is holding our country back.”

The former Conservative MP also argued that the three mainstream political parties are failing and said he feels that UKIP symbolise optimism and a fresh start – not only for him but also the British public.

Mr Reckless claimed that voters feel “disconnected” from Westminster and politics in general, saying: “In fact, ‘disconnected’ is too mild a word.”

He went on to say: “People feel ignored, taken-for-granted, over-taxed, over-regulated, ripped off and lied to. MPs, with some honourable exceptions, act not as local representatives, but as agents of the political class. Too many focus, not on championing their constituents’ interests at Westminster, but on championing their parties’ interests in their constituencies.”

This type of populist politicking has led to UKIP making huge strides in the political world. Many argue that this progress is down to the fact that for many, they represent an alternative to the three main political parties.

Whatever people think about UKIP’s policies on immigration and the EU, they seem to be striking a chord with voters and have been successful in stripping away support from Labour, the Conservatives and even the Liberal Democrats. And what’s more, they’re not the only ones.

Speaking after his landslide victory in Bradford, the Respect Party’s George Galloway said:  “If a backside could have three cheeks then British politics is that three-cheeked backside.” He argued that his party’s victory proved that people were sick of the same old rosettes.

The Scottish referendum was another glorious illustration of the deep-seated dislike towards Westminster politics. Clearly, some Scottish voters who voted Yes in the referendum did so as a vote against Westminster. Others say they voted No in the hope that more powers would be taken away from the London monopoly over time.

According Jon Snow, who was in Scotland ahead of the vote, many Scottish voters now regard Labour as ‘Red Tories’ and commentators have been speaking for weeks about Labour’s potential demise in previously safe Scottish constituencies. The Conservatives and the Lib Dems are expected to do as badly as ever – if not more so.

With the unpopularity of the main political parties, another coalition government is a very real prospect next year. Beyond that, the future of British politics looks much harder to predict. The resurgence of fringe parties could be a flash in the pan and we could well be saying “Nigel who?” by the next general election.

Or, the British model of politics could move more in the direction of Holyrood, where perhaps the most successful fringe party of recent times – the SNP – just became the third largest party in the UK as a whole. Regardless of what happens next, these are exciting times for British politics.

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