Tuesday 3 June 2014

The UKIP opportunity.

The results of last month's European elections have caused quite a stir in the UK, since they are the first elections in more than 100 years in which neither the Conservatives nor the Labour party have won the greatest number of votes. As UKIP rose, it was generally believed that the Conservatives were the ones who would suffer most as UKIP's anti-EU, anti-immigration message would appeal most to their supporters, but then UKIP started to siphon off votes from the equally xenophobic base of the Labour party. As Steve Fisher, Associate Professor in Political Sociology and the Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Trinity College, University of Oxford, pointed out:
What seems to have happened is that between 2010 and 2012 UKIP took votes mainly from the Conservatives, but between 2012 and 2014 they have had more success in attracting Labour voters. The net effect is that the UKIP rise from 2010 to 2014 has been at similar expense to Labour and the Conservatives.

This is certainly a story that fits the main pattern of change in the general election vote intention opinion polls. The narrowing of the Labour lead over the past two years has been mainly due to a Labour fall and UKIP rise.
This of course isn't the whole story - it should be pointed out that one party's collapse in the
voting share at the EU elections seemed almost total, and seems very likely to be due to UKIP. It is that of the far-right extremist British National Party, which received 943,598 votes in 2009 but only 179,694 in 2014.

My personal take on this is, if the anti-EU, anti-immigrant section of each of the main parties, as well as the support base of the far-right BNP, choose to assemble themselves under one flag, then finally the main parties will be able to run against them without having to upset their own base. Moreoever, at the same time as UKIP has assembled an electoral machine that allows them to capitalise on anti-immigration and anti-EU sentiment in the UK, they have been losing the argument amongst the British people, who are steadily becoming more pro-EU and pro-immigration.

No comments: