What an absolutely unbelievable result for Timo Soini's True Finns political party in Finland. His Party has gone from having 6 seats in Finland's Parliament to 39 overnight. Having met Timo, I am extremely pleased for him. He is an extremely switched on and down-to-Earth politician who proudly displays his love for Millwall Football Club and is in every sense the political class' worst nightmare.
The True Finns and UKIP have both at some time demonstrated that the underdog can shock and maim if it has sharp enough teeth, as was demonstrated in the UK when UKIP went from having 3 to 12 seats in the European Parliament in 2004 and when the written-off Party beat Labour in the European Elections in '09. These were all examples of how we should never lose faith: the public will eventually get sick and tired and back a different horse. It can happen very quickly indeed as the True Finns have sensationally demonstrated, like a runaway train that the politicians cannot reign back and control once on its way, smashing the government consensus into pieces.
But this doesn't just happen by luck. The alternative has to be able to do more than criticise - it needs a credible face and figure head, it needs money to campaign effectively and it needs to make its arguments in a serious manner that gives the impression of a Party worthy of taking and using power productively, rather than one which seeks to spend a lifetime in glorious opposition.
So-called fringe parties may be a joke to some in the establishment, but I'm sure the True Finns are no laughing matter to those in Finland tonight. Sadly, while Timo Soini could now well become a big international player, Nigel Farage somehow still leads a Party without a single MP despite winning nearly a million votes last year. While the electorate's reluctance to switch from voting for tried and tested establishment parties can be infuriating to those of us who want something different from what those in Westminster offer, we should all be reassured that hard work can pay off, that change can come and that the onus is on the new alternative to show itself credible without giving up or doubting itself.
One final note: though the headlines will be about Timo Soini's views on the EU's bailout of Portugal and the True Finns' stance on immigration, it is very important to note a fact that the BBC has reported on. The True Finns have not achieved a surge of popularity purely by talking about asylum seekers or immigration, but have massively expanded their appeal by addressing concerns and offering solutions to bread and butter problems people face in their everyday lives like pensions and work. In other words, for parties like UKIP to breakthrough - it's the economy, stupid.