Is it me or has everyone gone a bit barmy over the MP expenses row?
It's something that I really find hard to get excited about, but it seems to be just about the only thing occupying the thoughts of not only the MSM but the blogosphere as well. I know it's an important issue, but it's not THE important issue and with a major election coming up I'm sure there are some important issues which are being overlooked.
Not least the fact of the EU. We're about to have a vote for the EU Parliament where expenses abuses and gravy trains abound far more than they do in our own parliament. There's the EU constitutional treaty to worry about and the various vague promises to hold a referendum on that disgraceful document.
Both the Tories and the Lib Dems have been remarkably quiet on the issue of expenses - hardly surprising as they are up to their neck in it as well - but they've not exactly been vociferous in debating the issues that this up coming election is all about either.
As far as I can see, although these revelations have been embarrassing they aren't going to change our voting preferences in any substantial way. All the main parties have been exposed by this, but they know damn well that they operate in a closed shop - voters will still vote Lib Dem, labour or Tory and they'll still dominate parliament come the next General Election.
It's time we started having a proper debate about the issues at the heart of this election - and the fact is that all three parties are once more operating a closed shop. There is no debate because they all agree. The expenses row actually gives them the opportunity to avoid talking about those issues and the fact that they do all agree - so, in a way, we're actually letting them off the hook.
With even a Tory grandee like Tebbit telling voters not to vote for the main parties, this should be a great opportunity for UKIP to make some political capital. Although he never mentioned them by name, his words are a clear indication that he is backing UKIP - I doubt they could get a better endorsement bar Margaret Thatcher wearing a UKIP rosette.
It's also being suggested that Tebbit will be expelled from the Tory party for failing to back the Conservatives. What an opportunity that would be for UKIP!
Personally, I've still not decided who I will vote for - if anyone - but if there is any party I suppose it is UKIP. They are, after all, the party which reflects my own views closer than any other, but I do find them utterly infuriating. They have such potential, but they fail to maximise it again and again. If UKIP could be as motivated, organised and direct as the BNP they could really make some progress. I really believe there is a huge untapped, disenfranchised, conservative voter base crying out for UKIP to make themselves more electable - but they always seem to muck up any opportunity that comes their way.
A lot of that comes from UKIP wanting to run before they can walk. They've failed to build the core support at the grass roots in the way BNP does and their electoral gains in 2004 went to their heads.
From what I understand, the UKIP share of the vote in the coming election is likely to collapse substantially - they will have only themselves to blame if it does. Whatever happens, UKIP must start to concentrate on building that core support in the way the BNP does. You may not like the BNP, but you have to admire the way they've built their share of the vote - slowly and determinedly.
UKIP must learn from that. Are they able to? I'm not sure.