The UKIPs: wait it out.
People are not supporting the UKIPs for their specific policies, mainly because apart from getting out of the EU they don't have any, or at least none that would much appeal to those who have flocked to their anti-establishment banner. Their bedrock of support is built around what you could call the angry, embittered older man vote, if that is you wanted to further disparage a perfectly legitimate view of the world. I'd wager all of us have one or two acquaintances who fit the bill: generally personable, but never happier than when complaining about something or other, whether it be the miserable attitudes of others (oh irony), the appearance of the youth of the day, or say, immigration. Most don't use overtly racist language and instead are merely xenophobic. Regardless, any suggestion that what they're saying is unacceptable is just grist to the mill, and provokes accusations of attempting to impose political correctness or censorship rather than engage in debate, which is precisely why UKIP's support seems to be increasing rather than falling away.
Call it a loathing for the political class, a general malaise about what's happened in recent years at Westminster, or what was merely once angry, embittered apathy, it now appears transformed into something with a massive potential impact. It's built around grievances, some legitimate, others not, and unless you haven't noticed, grievances are pretty much all politics seems to be about of late.
It's also a world view which has been fed drip by drip by the tabloids, even if they for the most part eschew UKIP and Farage themselves. Sunny in an otherwise well argued post says the media have ferociously attacked the party, which is only true in the sense they've mocked the candidates, went on about Godfrey Bloom and laughed at Nigel Farage's German wife being the very best candidate to work as his secretary. When it comes to why the UKIPs look set to sweep the board come the 22nd of May, it's because they've done just as much as the party to push their overview. We had months of scaremongering about millions of Romanians and Bulgarians coming here at 0:01 on New Year's Day (politicians from the main three parties also joined in, it must be said), and despite their failure to materialise, the damage was done. On the front pages today is the story of a multiple murderer getting just less than £1,000 in compensation for negligible damage to some of his possessions, while inside you can guarantee there'll be at least one outrage owing to perceived political correctness or barmy EUrocrats. This dislike of modern Britain hasn't just come about organically: much as it is down to a sense of inexorable, unchallenged change for the worse, it's been best articulated not by Farage or Nick Griffin but the Mail, Express and Sun. It's no coincidence the UKIP's spin doctor is former Express hack Patrick O'Flynn.
As for how you tackle this insurgency, the answer might be to just wait. At the moment much of the UKIP's momentum is based on the coverage they continue to get, despite not having a single MP. Caroline Lucas and the Greens would kill for such attention. Taking them on in argument is unlikely to work even if someone with more of an idea of how to do battle with Farage than Nick Clegg takes up the challenge, such is the level of mistrust, not to mention the strength of conviction many of their supporters have about where the country has gone wrong, things that simply aren't going to be reversed. Farage's biggest worry should be if, after all the hype and thousands of words predicting a victory in the European elections, his party then fails to win the largest share of the vote. Such a result would bode extremely ill for the general election, when the most realistic hope is to get Farage into parliament and do damage to both Labour and the Tories. The UKIP's support is definitely more broad-based than the BNP's was, but that doesn't mitigate against a similar collapse should the expected breakthrough not materialise. This obviously doesn't deal with the underlying reasons for why UKIP has surged, yet it might require its withering away before the big three can start the proper, vital conversation with the voters they've abandoned.