At the time of writing, leaders of the UK's three main political parties were reported to be crafting their 'responses' following the UK Independence Party's dominance in the European elections and creditable tally of new councillors in the local elections.
Ukip's comprehensive victory led to a record 24 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), ahead of Labour's 20, the Conservative's 19 and just one for the Liberal Democrats (down from 11 in the last election).
The political 'earthquake' promised by leader Nigel Farage erupted in spectacular fashion, despite widespread, and mostly negative media coverage related to allegations of being racist due his party's anti-immigration and anti-European Union stance.
So why - or how - did this cigarette puffing, beer swigging, virtual one-man band win against the well-oiled campaign machinery of the three main parties?
Was it because he listened to and spoke the language of the ordinary man and woman (even though David Cameron insists that Farage is a 'consummate politician' with big expenses and was only pretending to be a 'normal bloke down the pub')?
Was it because Farage was the 'underdog', demonized by mainstream politicians and the press for standing up for his country's sovereign rights against uncontrolled immigration and greedy, controlling and unaccountable European bureaucrats?
Or was it because Ukip offered the prospect of something fresh, new and exciting in British politics, rather than the predictable 'two-and-a-half' party, first-past-the-post electoral system?
My take on this is that, in his public persona, Nigel Farage appeared to be more 'authentic' and less 'contrived' than other politicians. Many of the 'photo opportunities' for which he posed, pint in hand, were probably 'stage managed', but they seemed to not jar as much as they would have done with any of the other party leaders.
There are other notable - some may argue 'imperfect' - politicians who embody characteristics which, in these days of the 'cookie cutter' political classes, shouldn't really work, but they do...and very well.
In Nigel Farage's case, many of his views are considered repugnant; London Mayor Boris Johnson is renowned for his blustering style of delivery and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has had well-publicized battles with his addictions. These men are polarizing individuals who have faced down their harshest critics and attracted a loyal following big enough to force their political rivals to sit up and take notice. As this article in the Media Intelligence Partners suggests, "authenticity is all".
Perhaps it's time for politicians - particularly national ones - to ditch the hubris, embrace their 'core' and speak from the heart, rather from a prepared script, peppered with headline grabbing sound bites and empty rhetoric.
Whatever the reasons, it will take a lot of head scratching, teeth grinding and hair pulling among Tory, Labour and LibDem strategists to work out how best to respond to the rise and rise of the UK Independence Party.
From a reputation point of view, they need to go back to basics, keep it real by ditching the 'politico speak' and start to properly consult and connect with voters on the issues that really matter.
They'd better hurry.
The clock is ticking and the 'bad boy' of British (and European) politics has promised more of the same in the UK national elections next year.
It should be interesting.
P.s. A heads up for my forthcoming book, 'How To Turn A Bad Reputation Good & Make A Good One Better'. It's scheduled for release in ebook form in the next few weeks. There will be a free preview of selected chapters for readers of this blog or connections onTwitter,Facebook or LinkedIn.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.