UKIP is polling better than at any time. Their rise is the unfortunate product of an understandable sense of disillusion.
Public frustration is driven by a number of factors. The public mood is not helped by the economic malaise, and the absence of quick solutions. Although the public has endured cuts with stoicism, austerity is not popular. But burdened as we are by a crushing national debt, neither are people convinced that more borrowing is the answer. In addition, the fact that living standards have been falling since 2006 encourages the feeling we may have long-term problems that cannot all be blamed on the financial crash.
Accompanying this is a crisis of public confidence in our political system. This is in large part due to our economic predicament, exacerbated by numerous crises, and the expenses scandal in particular. Almost all the pillars of the British establishment have been mired in controversy: parliament, police, the BBC, the press, the City and the NHS have all borne the brunt of public anger.
It is perhaps inevitable therefore that a party expressing anti-establishment anger and offering simple solutions to complex problems should garner a significant minority of support. But a vehicle for popular anger is not judged by the same standards as more credible parties, as UKIP will find out to its cost. Nigel Farage is riding the anti-politics wave by claiming he is the anti-politician. This is codswallop. He is a politician of the most controversial kind: promising a return to a time that did not exist, through policies that would not work, using money we do not have!
In 2013, after three bruising years of coalition government, unemployment, inflation and the deficit are all falling. Public services have undergone necessary and in places radical reform. Tough talk is cheap – it is the ability to deliver in the national interest that serious parties are ultimately judged on.