It is now widely accepted the results of the European election was an earthquake that has to a significant extent redrawn the political map of Britain. We now have four established parties.
But once the earthquake has subsided, it will be interesting to see what impact the aftershocks have on the three main parties.
Until last weekend, the received wisdom was that UKIP only hit the Tory vote. Yes, Nigel Farage’s party took some votes off Labour. But it was the Tories that had to worry.
Not any more. Ed Miliband has a problem. How does he win back Labour’s core working class vote in the Midlands and North that seems to have deserted his party in their droves?
There will be many senior Labour MPs, and not so senior backbenchers, who will be calling on Miliband to rethink the party’s offering on a referendum. The party’s line is currently a fudge. If the terms of Britain’s relationship with the EU changes, the public – you – will get a vote. Of course, what constitutes a change in that relationship that triggers a referendum is that multi-million Euro question.
I predict there could be some movement on this issue. Ed Balls is acutely aware that Labour is missing out and I predict there could be some movement on the question of Labour offering a referendum guarantee. How far they go remains to be seen. I would also expect Yvette Cooper to come up with some sort of policy announcement when it comes to immigration controls. They will not want to be painted as soft by Ukip and the Tories.
For the Tories, Cameron will not want an official deal with Ukip to be made public. But Ukip voters are, according to sources within the party, more likely to return to vote blue, than they are to vote red. Cameron has gone as far as he can when it comes to a referendum offer and controls on immigration. He has nowhere else to go in this parliament.
Of course, the Tory manifesto will be filled with pledges and promises to appeal to voters tempted by Ukip. But, I also expect there will be some backroom deals done with Nigel Farage. The Ukip leader has to land the killer blow next year and secure at least two or three MPs. If he fails, it will take the wind out of his sails and we will start to wonder whether he can really be a main player.
Now of course, just as Ukip takes votes of the Tories, the Tories take votes off Ukip. I imagine both parties could draw up a shortlist of five to ten seats where the Tories agree to soft peddle when it comes to campaigning. In return, Nigel Farage will concentrate his fire away from Tory seats which are vulnerable to Labour if Ukip put in a concerted effort. Watch this space.
And a final note for the Lib Dems. The weekend was disastrous for the party. Nick Clegg now needs to regroup and show his party members and activists that he can turn it around. It is not too late but the Liberal Democrat leader faces an uphill struggle. His job is of course safe. The coalition would collapse if he was ousted and that is not in David Cameron’s interests, not least because the Tories are more likely to take Lib Dem seats if Nick Clegg is at the helm.