Revolt on the Right

7 August 2014

Exploring the 'Boris Effect' on Ukip

With Boris Johnson having just announced his intention to pursue a seat in Westminster, one obvious question that arises is what effect might Boris Johnson have on support for Ukip? His speech yesterday was laced with what academics call "soft Euroscepticism"; lots of calls to reform the European Union and make it more efficient, while stopping short of embracing the "hard Euroscepticism" that is offered by Nigel Farage and Ukip. Would such talk and, say, more strident opposition to mass immigration be enough to quell Ukip's insurgency (or what Boris today described as a "peasants' revolt")? I took a look at some of the data for the Guardian, and explored what Ukip voters think of Boris.... 

5 August 2014

Peak Ukip?

The latest contribution to the debate over the future of Ukip, this time from the Economist, which paints a rather depressing picture.

UKIP, which wants Britain to leave the European Union, is riding high after its triumph in the European elections in May. But it no longer feels like an insurgent: YouGov polls put its support at 12-13%, down a little from earlier this year. At best, the party will win a small handful of seats in Westminster in the May 2015 general election—probably fewer than the Democratic Unionist Party, which has eight, and perhaps fewer than Plaid Cymru, which has three. That is hardly a political earthquake. And UKIP can be outflanked. The Conservatives and Labour are doing their best to talk tough on the issue of immigration, which especially agitates UKIP supporters; the Tories are also loudly pointing out that they would give people a vote on whether to remain in the EU.Like the Scottish nationalists, UKIP will soon run into some nasty headwinds. If the Liberal Democrats are turfed out of government in 2015, as seems likely, they will start to hoover up “none of the above” protest voters—something that UKIP alone has been able to do for the past few years. As the economy recovers, voters will become less grumpy, which will hurt the party. UKIP feeds on the sense of unfairness even more than Scottish nationalists do. 
And in the long term UKIP’s prospects look even worse. Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin’s terrific book, “Revolt on the Right”, shows that the party’s supporters are disproportionately old and working-class. By their reckoning, 55% left school at 16 or younger. Almost all of the party’s supporters are white, too. In short, UKIP is on the wrong side of every demographic and social trend in modern Britain.

Readers might also find this post interesting.

4 August 2014

Youth politics on the Westminster Hour

Last night saw a feature on Radio 4 Westminster Hour on youth politics and Ukip. You can listen to the full clip by clicking the image and skipping to 41 minutes 12 seconds.

Why did I choose those five Labour seats?

The Independent has published my research on Labour seats that are most vulnerable to Ukip in 2015 (here is the news story and my accompanying comment piece). In the coming weeks I will be publishing a similar piece on Conservative seats that are most under threat in 2015. The piece on Labour seats should be read against the backdrop of a debate in Labour about how seriously to take Ukip. I probably would not have written the piece had I not read the views of some Labour researchers in The Telegraph, who claim the left "has a lot to gain" from the advance of Ukip.

Ukip might not be about to win over a large swathe of Labour seats in 2015. But in a cluster of seats Nigel Farage and his party could mobilise a far more serious challenge than many on the left recognise. While Labour researchers remain fixated on the outcome in 2015, many Ukippers tell me that they see the 2015 contest much like they saw the 2014 elections; as a stepping stone toward building a far more serious rebellion. Pushing hard in a cluster of Labour seats would lay the ideal foundation for a longer-term challenge under an unpopular post-2015 Labour government. With this in mind I have identified five seats that are the most vulnerable to a strong Ukip insurgency in 2015: Rotherham, Dudley North, Ashfield, Plymouth Moor View and Great Grimsby. How did I arrive at these seats?

Ed Miliband warned of Ukip threat to Labour...

Some research that I have been working on the past couple of weeks has been published in the Independent today. You can read the news piece here and my accompany comment piece here.

1 August 2014

Is Ukip really a busted flush?

Earlier in the year one of the popular assumptions in the Westminster village was that support for Ukip would crash immediately after the European Parliament elections. Ukip is a modern day poujadist movement, many argued; it is nothing more than a flash-in-the-pan. 

I have long argued that it is not. And there is now mounting evidence to suggest that the picture might indeed be far more complex. For example, we have already drawn on some new data from the British Election Study to show how a majority of those who voted for Ukip at the recent European Parliament elections intend to stay loyal to the party at the 2015 general election. But now a similar picture can be seen in YouGov's latest update to their domestic election voting intention tracker. 

This came out today and can be accessed right here. The headline message is clear: Nigel Farage and UKIP averaged 12% in the first three months of 2014, then 13% in April, 14% in May and June, and 12% in July. Far from crashing, support has actually only dropped by two points to return to the (then-record) levels of support in the pre-European election period; and 12% is more than enough for this insurgent party to do damage in 2015.

19 July 2014

Ukip, old style politics and what it means...

How do you campaign against a party like Ukip? This is the question occupying Labour and Conservative strategists as they prepare for the 2015 general election. One place they could start is by recognising the scale of political inequality in modern Britain and that a large number of voters feel utterly disconnected from our political process. To demonstrate the scale of the challenge I have drawn on some data from the Electoral Reform Society (thanks to Chris Terry). Take a look.

7 July 2014

The problem with Ed

It is no secret that Ed Miliband has a problem. While the latest polls suggest that his party remains on course to return to power, they also reveal that one of its major obstacles to achieving a wider breakthrough is Miliband himself. Voters are just not warming to Ed. We have explored the challenge that the Miliband team face by looking at some new data from the latest British Election Study... 

24 June 2014

How Labour is failing to grasp Ukip's appeal to angry white voters

Drawing on some new data from the British Election Study, we demonstrate some of the challenges that are facing Labour when it comes to the Ukip insurgency. Have a read.

6 June 2014

How can the Tories fight Ukip?

With less than a year to go until the 2015 general election there is much debate about what (if anything) David Cameron and the Conservatives can do to fend off the Ukip insurgency, especially in their key marginal seats. The way I see it, the Conservatives have three basic options when it comes to Ukip. And none of these options look particularly convincing...

30 May 2014

Who will stay loyal to Farage in 2015?

Over at The Guardian Comment Is Free we have drawn on some of the new British Election Study data to look at who is planning to stay loyal to Ukip at the 2015 general election and who is planning to defect to another party. Take a look.... here.

29 May 2014

How loyal are Ukip voters? More loyal than you think...

We've explored some new data on Ukip voters to examine how likely they are to stay loyal to the party after the European Parliament elections. Read the piece here.

27 May 2014

What Labour's been reading ....

Ed Miliband has given a speech today on immigration -inevitable given Ukip's growing support and their results at the weekend. It is a notoriously difficult issue for Labour but one that they will have to move on before the 2015 general election, not least because by then it is likely to be the most important issue for voters as concerns over the economy continue (?) to subside. Anyway, amidst the coverage of the speech we stumbled upon this...

Three pieces on Ukip you should read right now...

Inevitably, Ukips' 'earthquake' at the local and European Parliament elections has breathed new life into the debate about the party and its support. Some have even made a list of books that Westminster commentators who are puzzled by the rise of Ukip should read. Oddly, the list does not include the one book that has examined support for the party in detail. Anyway, here are three pieces about Ukip that are based on actual research....

1. An initial analysis of Ukip's local election results- Dr Steve Fisher at the University of Oxford. The piece directly challenges the long held assumption that Ukip's rise is only hitting the centre right and provides some new evidence that Farage is widening their appeal.

2. Drawing on data in our book and some new mapping of the latest election results, Robert Ford and Ian Warren outline in the Telegraph how Ukip is significantly impacting on party politics.

3. And -surprise, surprise - this essay by myself in the Guardian, drawing on a range of data to explain why support for Ukip is now unlikely to crash as it did following the European Parliament elections back in 2004 and 2009.

Ignore the hype, enjoy the actual evidence....


4. This piece by Tom Clark (also in the Guardian) is another good, evidence-based summary


26 May 2014

Top 10 Ukip hotspots in the European Parliament elections

A very 'quick and dirty' look at the Top 10 hotspots for Ukip in both Conservative and Labour areas at the 2014 European Parliament elections (my thanks to Michael Thrasher for some of these data). This is by no means perfect given boundary issues but it gives readers a sense and also a pattern that regular readers of the blog will be familiar with. Lots more analysis to come..... 

25 May 2014

The idea that UKIP is not hitting Labour is political fantasy

'Like most small insurgencies UKIP may be hot air'. Those were the words of journalist Michael White. Ten years ago. As a political force UKIP has long been dismissed. Yet albeit with some stutters its revolt against the established parties has trundled onwards, attracting new voters, some 38,000 members and an increasingly intense debate. This week the European Parliament and local elections are providing us with the latest opportunity to examine the evolution of this revolt on the right. We have already outlined the challenges that faced UKIP in these elections, and mapped their local candidates. Now, let's take a look at the results of the local elections and why -contrary to conventional wisdom- UKIP is not just hitting David Cameron and the Conservatives.

24 May 2014

An MP and the Ukip database

Today, at the spring conference of Conservative Home, I found myself in a room with a handful of people who share an intimate knowledge of UKIP. Lord Ashcroft had just released his new polls from the most marginal seats in the country, which indicate that UKIP could win as much as 18-20% of the vote in these crucial seats (more on that later). Also present was Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton -a constituency in the East Coast region of the country that we already identified as ripe territory for a UKIP incursion.

16 May 2014

Ukip has divided the left, cutting Labour off from its old base

This blog originally appeared in Ukip Matters, over at Comment Is Free.
According to conventional wisdom, Ukip has "divided the right". By targeting Europe, immigration and politicians in Westminster, Nigel Farage is tearing off a section of the Conservative base that David Cameron desperately needs if he is to triumph in 2015.
But while it is true that Ukip is currently winning over most of its support from people who voted Conservative in 2010, this actually tells us less than commentators often claim.

10 May 2014

Is Britain's electoral system Farage's biggest challenge?

An interesting blog here from Jim Pickard over at the FT:

It is the Lib Dems who complain most vociferously about Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system.
If Britain had PR (proportional representation) the yellow party would have had 150 MPs in the current Parliament. Instead, they picked up 57 seats.
That may explain why Lib Dems are apostles of electoral reform.
But in 2015 they may appear beneficiaries of the voting system – at least in comparison with Ukip.