UKIP present a major challenge to the political elite.
Firstly to a Conservative party with grumbling activists, and in particular an activist base that rather wanted that referendum on the European Union that Dave has never quite got round to.
For the Lib Dems, UKIP present a challenge on three levels. Firstly both parties are biggest in the same region - the South West. Secondly the Lib Dems, the most Europhile of parties, really do not want a big debate on an issue - Europe - where so many disagree with them. Finally, before entering government, it was the Lib Dems who got all those protest votes. Now they go to.....UKIP.
For Labour, and those to the left of Labour, UKIP may yet became an achilles heel. For as long as I can remember, the convention on the left has been that those with the smallest slice of the pie in this society, are expected to share it with all comers. You have the same right to get your kids into the school next door as a Roma family from Slovakia who have just arrived in the community. Of course for the far left, this is addressed by the rallying cry that we should all work together to campaign for more resources. Good luck with that in a recession. UKIP, despite its claims to be libertarian, is protectionist, something that will increasingly appeal to many working class voters - of all colours.
So, something must be done about UKIP. Over at Notes From the Borderland, David Pegg casts a critical eye over one response to the rise of UKIP - a series of hit pieces in the national media. Two players can be noted here - Conservative Central Office and an anti-fascist organisation closely connected to the Labour Party - Hope Not Hate. Both of these actors have had UKIP in their sights before (although in Hope Not Hate's case, when editor Nick Lowles was at Searchlight magazine).
NFB has combined its current and historical research into UKIP here. I commend it to you.