Having occasionally paid attention to my lecturers, I can tell you that Psephology is the study of election results - it comes from the Greek word Psepho, which means 'pebble'. The ancient Greeks used to cast their votes by placing a pebble in a jar.
As election results go, it doesn't require the wisdom of Pericles to work out what happened at last week's local elections in the UK.
The Lib Dems were punished severely for being totally ineffectual, and Labour benefited from the predictable mid-term expression of disatisfaction with the government. The Leveson enquiry hasn't helped the Tories of course - let's be honest, we are all absolutely convinced that they offered support for Murdoch's BSkyB takeover bid in return for editorial support. Skinner was right - the posh boys are in trouble, and their underlings are being thrown to the wolves in order to protect them. I suspect they may run out of underlings before this one reaches its conclusion....
But what about UKIP? The party has never done well at local elections - it is a 'top-down' party, with little serious effort or investment at the local level. One might have expected, however, something more than a zero net gain, and a wipe-out in London.
The latter disappointed me somewhat, having done a lot of work on the ground there up until 2004. I had fully expected UKIP to win at least one seat on the London Assembly, but no, it was, as wipeouts go, total. Of course, we are talking about a party that could not even manage to present itself correctly on the ballot paper, and ended up with a derisory 1.96%. Who the bloody hell was responsible for that, I wonder? Only the BNP did worse - and not much worse either
The local manifesto was totally unsuited for local elections (nothing new there).How many times are wind farms mentioned in this piece of political illiteracy? In fact, opposition to renewable energy per se literally jumps out of the pages here. In a YouGov poll last year, 56% of those asked supported more wind power "than at present". So that's 56% of the electorate scared off straight away. How can any party possibly hope to form a majority even at local level when it is trying to appeal to 44% of the population at best? This is madness. Note that the Greens did marginally better than at the previous local elections, and managed third place in the London Mayoral election.
It is worth noting that in the same poll, 76% were in favour of more solar energy. UKIP does not touch this at all in its manifesto, instead it just keeps recycling the same lines about wind energy. I wonder why that is? In fact, UKIP's energy and environment policy has not been updated since 2008, and even then what is on the party website is a misrepresentation of the paper produced by the relevant policy committee.
I am told that the person responsible for the local manifesto is actually employed by a member of another political party. That might sound impossible in any other context, but remember - UKIP is the party whose leader actually donned a Tory rosette and urged voters to reject his own candidates at the last general election.
UKIP has been boasting that it is replacing the Lib Dems as the third party. To get this into perspective, UKIP has 9 councillors, and the Lib Dems - who suffered their worst results ever last week, have 431.
But if the party's maths are as good as its policy formulation, then what the hell!