But other results from across Europe show that this is not a purely British phenomenon. In France, President François Hollande’s socialists won just 14% of the votes cast, compared to 25% for the winning Front National (FN), normally said to be of the ‘far right’, even though its policies are decidedly leftist in many ways. Like UKIP, the FN is not as straightforwardly anti-immigrant and racist as dominant liberal-left opinion would like us to believe, though UKIP has declined to enter a partnership on the basis that it is.
Right across Europe, the pro-European centre left is failing to convince, whether in government or opposition. That appellation ‘pro-European’ perhaps offers a pointer here, for we widely mistake being ‘pro-Europe’ with being pro-EU (one of the serious problems I had with Labour’s MEP candidate selections). Europe is a geographic area, while the EU is an institution, a gigantic, bloated leviathan of bureaucracy that according to UKIP gobbles up £55 million of British taxpayers’ money every day. They are completely different things, and while disliking the institution will annoy quite a few Europeans, these election results show how it is not quite as straightforward as that. Certainly this shouldn't be our only consideration as we consider our future in or out of the EU.
Euroscepticism is on the march all over the Continent, and this has been drawing howls of disappointment and derision, and absurd warnings about how we are about to descend into a pit of fascism.
I see it more as national democracy reasserting itself against the unaccountable leviathan of the EU, a project for ‘ever closer union’ that has gone too far and lost a sense of its reason for being - as indeed so many of our institutions have over time.