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The Great UKIP Public Relations By-Election – What does it really mean?

The corporate PR world can be dull - no really. Come ride with me as we take a weekly sideways glance at the world of PR in the lofty world of big business, from someone who has been there, done that, and was mostly fired.

Nigel Farage with Mark Reckless

Right now, as you read this, Nigel Farage will no doubt be doing his “I’m a tiger” Alan Partidge-esque warm-up routine ready to start beating the drum of “change”. Yes, you guessed it, it is by-election time in Rochester and Strood and whilst the political media and associated hangers-on get hugely excited, I think I am fairly well qualified* to say the general public does not actually give a fig (Christmas reference shoe horned in – I thank you).

Yes, whilst us, the chattering classes, continue our debate about Adele falling out with Bob over his noble desire to get rid of Ebola, and the erstwhile pub convo of whether the John Lewis penguin beats the Sainsbury’s nostalgic war-advert (of course the penguin wins), somewhere in the central London and Manchester media war-rooms, some very excitable political reporters are getting hot under the collar over an entirely predictable by-election campaign.

Of course UKIP are going to win, despite Dave making the trip over there to show his face five times in recent weeks. I suspect Dave does not really care either way. His very switched on team know that they have bigger fish to fry later down the line in 2015 but for now they have to show face and pretend it matters.

The fear for the Conservatives is apparently that this may spark more MP’s to defect to UKIP. The reality is that we are getting danger close to the trigger being fired on the 2015 election battle and those defecting at this late stage may find the full force of the Tory election machine being fired in their direction. This kind of threat is something that could put those who are more serious about keeping their career, off that particular move right now.

Labour supporters in the area are going to pile into voting for UKIP, not just to give the Conservatives a bloody nose, but also to show just how little faith they have in lame-duck Millibland.

The biggest losers today are not actually going to be the Conservatives, I predict that Labour are going to get trounced and this could well be the final nail in the coffin for the most unpopular brother in politics since well, erm, ever.

Our nasal-leader of the opposition (maybe Bob could sing a song for a cure to those blighted with an over-active nasal-pipe) has kept very quiet about the by-election, probably because he is arm-wrestling with his own detractors but come the weekend the story could be about the search for a new Labour leader rather than UKIP’s so-said “historic” victory.

But why oh why are we in this state? Fear not, I shall answer this for you… As has oft been said by far wiser folk than myself, the UK political scene has been met with growing indifference by the general public because it is hard to find a great difference between the two main-parties any more. UKIP has come along like the pretty new person in the office and caught everyone’s eye because they have presented themselves as different. The reality may be that the new person in the office is a bunny-boiling yoghurt stealer (those starting out in your office career - always label your yoghurt in the office fridge) but they will still attract attention.

UKIP has a rent-a-quote leader, a garish eye-catching logo, and a set of ideals that resonate with a worryingly large chunk of the UK. The Conservative and Labour “they are a bunch of racists” grenades that they lobbed into the UKIP bunker are starting to come back with vigor and no one appears to have found a way to stop the UKIP media juggernaut from winning more and more headlines.

I thought for one minute, around August/September time that the Conservatives had took the sensible route of just leaving UKIP to it, enabling them to hang themselves with their own stupidity and sound-bites. For a while this seemed to work as it brought more scrutiny upon Farage and the wider UKIP team. This by-election though has fired up the tit-for-tat comments, sledging and negativity that seems to blight every election that goes on. We are back at square one.

The Conservatives are struggling to get their message across, the Labour Party is in-fighting and the Liberal Democrats, are they still a thing? Whilst UKIP seemingly continues to go from strength to strength.

Come the end of January, start of February 2015 though, when the election machines start firing up, I suspect the big guns will come out firing. It will be interesting to see if UKIP can not only cope, but actually survive under the kind of scrutiny and story-leaking that would sink a Prime Minister, let alone a rent-a-quote, mate-next-door-wannabe Farage type.

For now though, lets watch the live-broadcast brigade try and whip us up into a frenzy.

*I did A-Level politics, I think I got a D (maybe).

As ever, all abuse is best directed via The Twitter, @10Yetis

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