Whatever happened to the UKIP of tomorrow?

4th March, 2015 8:35 am

Farage Miliband

The polls have been remarkably stable over the first two months of this year. In the end, the heralded “Green Surge” was as muted as a Natalie Bennett explanation of her party’s housing policy funding. It existed for about a week in January, and they never quite managed to reach the heady heights of usurping the Liberal Democrats’ hard-earned fourth place.

While Labour and the Conservatives have switched intermittently, the nearest we have come to any noticeable ‘shift’ has been a slight decline in UKIP support. Since the beginning of January, they have fallen about three points (working on a weekly, poll-of-polls average). While this is in no way major, the finely balanced nature of this election, in terms of both likely votes and seats, means that any movement of voters could have considerable effects on the result.

One of the most interesting aspects of UKIP’s emergence as a major political force over the past few years has been its potential to attract Labour support. In the short-term, I can see that costing Labour valuable target seats, while in the longer term, if they manage to establish themselves as a major opposition in Labour heartlands, there is the chance they could cause serious and unexpected damage to the party in coming elections. For a blueprint of this theory, see: Scotland.

The north west should be a major concern in this regard. There is recent precedent there for successful radical right messages to working class audiences; UKIP’s second place in October’s Heywood & Middleton by-election did not arrive completely out of the blue.

This was something I was mindful of when I spent a day on the road with Progress recently. I met them mid-way through their week-long 3 Seats Challenge tour.

The 3 Seats Challenge has been going for just over a year, and sees them organise canvassing sessions with three CLPs in a single day; whoever attends all three gets a plastic medal at the end. In February they took the challenge on tour, doing three seats a day, across the country, for seven days. Over that week, 5,105 contacts were made by 321 activists.

I joined the tour on an overcast Wednesday in the target seats of Crewe & Nantwich, Weaver Vale, and Warrington South. The seats, I was told, are chosen largely by what is feasible to do in a single day, but each of the 21 seats were also taken from the list of the 106 Labour targets.

Progress’ Director, Richard Angell, also made clear to me that there is no factional agenda to their campaign days. “We don’t just do this for candidates we’ve mentored,” he told me, “This is about getting as many Labour MPs elected in May as possible.” There certainly seems to efforts by Progress to live up to their ‘Labour’s New Mainstream’ slogan (January’s Operation Flight is another example) – and tours like this set them out as a far cry from groups such as Compass, who have renewed their call for tactical voting this week.

Turning regular doorstep campaigning sessions into ‘events’ is clearly an effective way of promoting and encouraging doorknocking. MPs Ivan Lewis and Mike Kane were on the knocker, and Stephen Twigg travelled around to each seat in the (white) Progress minibus. Bringing in a coachload of people can add a bit of buzz to a campaign, and that will be very welcome in an election that’s already starting to drag.

We canvassed terraced streets in Crewe, a council estate in Weaver Vale, and new build cul-de-sacs in Warrington South. With the former two constituencies being in the list of top 100 most UKIP friendly Tory seats, I asked local activists how that support looked. Tentatively, I heard the same thing: in Labour areas, UKIP support is noticeably receding. On a day when 635 contacts were made, I spoke to only one “Nigel Farage” voter. There is a real sense that what we see in the polls is being reflected on the ground, and to Labour’s advantage.

Should this be true, it will help to limit the short-term damage, but the long-term problems remain. If Progress continue with their new campaigning focus, and travel the country engaging Labour members outside of formal panel discussion formats, they will have a strong claim to bring valuable insights to the debate.

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  • David Pickering

    I think what people thought would happen is starting to happen, but on two levels.

    People hoped and believed that UKIP was a mid-term protest vote that would receded as the general election loomed. With the proviso that UKIP haven’t started any noticeable kind of general election campaign, the polls seem to be suggesting this is the case. That could, of course, radically change if Farage is thought to have won a TV debate.

    More broadly, Labour seems to be following the same arc as UKIP. They were popular mid-term, when there was no danger of them forming a government, but as with UKIP, Labour’s polling lead has receded as the general election looms, as people start to consider who they would least like to run the country.

    All of a sudden, the Tories have started to take a lead in polls conducted by a number of pollsters.

    • CoolJHS

      Get real, Yougov, Ashcroft and Comres, although both Yougov and Ashcroft alternate from Labour to Tories leads. I don’t see the evidence yet to support your statement.

      • David Pickering

        I think it’s generally accepted that there has been a cross over in polling.

        • CoolJHS

          Ah, those 2 Yougov and 1 Ashcroft polls, I’m afraid the evidence is not there and it certainly isn’t generally accepted. Sorry to bust your bubble but grasping at straws at the moment.

          • treborc1

            Well we will see not long to go, but if I had to bet a £1 I’d say the Tories will start to get better now as the election draw close.

            labour is struggling to have anything real to offer people they stand to close to the Tories Blue labour is way to close to being small C Tories.

            Why vote for the copy when the real thing is already in power.

          • David Pickering

            The trends are clear, and have been clear for a good while. You’ll see from my other comments that I expect the Tories to enter the short general election campaign with a poll lead. I believe this is the first sign of that lead developing.

            You are, of course, free to disagree with me.

          • wolfman

            I don’t want to disagree with you. Just want you to sling it back where you be long on Conservative home.

            I love the Labour party and I’m sick of having to read gloating Tory morons like you rubbishing it every day on here !!

            Just get lost !!

          • David Pickering

            Another day, another attack from Wolfman for pointing out the obvious. Don’t every get tired of being angry?

        • Monkey_Bach

          Not really. Polling seems to be wobbling about within the given margin of error is all: the Conservatives have been four points ahead in the polls before and fallen back. More than likely we will see Labour will draw level or be one or two points ahead of the Tories in future polls. Things really could break either way or, more likely, proceed too closely to call until the ballot.

          eek.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Not a modicum of intelligence and sense coming from Monkey? What’s the world coming too?

    • CrunchieTime

      It looks like UKIP’s campaign has kicked off this morning,with Farage choosing to start with immigration policy.

    • treborc1

      The TV debates are now aimed at a week before the election so any damaged would not have time to alter voting attitudes, unless one of two made a real mess, but with so many people in those debates it will be like listening to Turkeys at a turkey farm. all noise and not much sense

      • David Pickering

        Ah, I wasn’t aware of that. Thanks.

    • BenM_Kent

      For once I agree with David here.
      The Tories are ahead with YouGov, Ashcroft, ComRes and – most importantly – ICM.

      Last 3 are important as they are phone polls, historically seen as more reliable.

      • David Pickering

        Yes, and ComRes were very accurate at the last election.

        • wolfman

          Tory troll thinks the Conservatives will win …..Stop the presses.

      • CoolJHS

        When were the Tories ahead on ComRes? Please provide your evidence and ICM poll was 2 weeks or so ago. Labour were 4 up on last week’s Ashcroft, I rest my case.

    • Doug Smith

      “Labour’s polling lead has receded as the general election looms”

      Labour’s polling approval began to slide when Labour adopted the Tory, self-defeating austerity agenda.

      Even a sensible, Nobel prize winning economist like Krugman believes “Europe as a whole desperately needs to end austerity madness.”

      But the muddleheads of the LibLabCon are ideologically driven and prefer to turn a blind eye to reality.

  • bikerboy

    Never mind about your suspect canvassing. Check the bookies.

  • Doug Smith

    ” efforts by Progress to live up to their ‘Labour’s New Mainstream’ slogan”

    Can’t fault Progress on that.

    Certainly, as far as policy goes, the Labour Party and Progress are identical: pro-TTIP, pro-austerity, pro-Trident.

  • treborc1

    “This was something I was mindful of when I spent a day on the road with Progress recently. I met them mid-way through their week-long 3 Seats Challenge tour.”

    The Progress party, interesting.

    BBC Wales

    More Welsh voters think David Cameron would be a better prime minister than Ed Miliband, according to a new poll for BBC Wales.
    The ICM survey found 34% rated the Tory leader and 23% his Labour rival.
    UKIP leader Nigel Farage was preferred by 8% and Lib Dem Nick Clegg 5% – although 21% answered “none of them”.

    I think that matters because when people think about whom is best they do look at the leader before they put the X in the box, of course in Wales that Tory Box takes a massive amount of pressure to put that X in the Tories box for me it would mean me then ending my life.

    But in Wales I will be voting labour in the real election for me the one in 2016, I understand the issues with labour and back it in refusing to take extra powers until the funding issues are sorted out, so I will be voting in 2016.

    I just cannot be bothered voting to have a Progress party in power.

    • CoolJHS

      Sorry but 34% is crap and will have no advantage to the Tories. Put simply 66% think Cameron is crap, so tell me how that is going to help him in any way??????????

      • treborc1

        No 66% do not think that 23% think both are a waste of time.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          An approval rating of 34% is no blo*dy good to him.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    There is a discernible trend in recent polls with the Tories now edging ahead of Labour. Projections from forecasters all point to the Tories now being the largest party in seats and votes but not with an overall majority. UKIP are only likely to pick up a few seats, but not enough to exercise any power in a hung parliament.

    The biggest problem for Labour is Ed Miliband. Polls in England, Wales and even Scotland show he is less popular than David Cameron. The electorate do not see Miliband as being the PM. Another problem is that Labour politicians are now calling for Labour voters in Scotland to vote Tory to oust the SNP which just increases the chances of more Scottish Tory MPs. Now that is what I would call shooting yourself in both feet.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Evidence?

      • barry

        3 March YouGov Con 36 per cent Labour 34
        2 March You Gov Con 35; Lab 32
        2 March Ashcroft Con 34; Lab 31
        Of course, three polls don’t make a whole picture (we have to await the polls at the end of the week). But they’re extremely concerning. The evidence that EM is less popular in the polls than DC is well established but happy to provide those.

        • CoolJHS

          What about Populus and Opinium, you forgot those two!!

          • Malcolm McCandless

            Trends matter.

          • CoolJHS

            What all of 2 days and with only 1 pollster! give me a break

          • Malcolm McCandless

            Long term show a marked downward trend in Labour support, short term trend shows the Tories edging ahead. Even the Guardian are now forecasting that the Tories (276 seats) will end up with more seats and votes than Labour (271).

          • CoolJHS

            No one is dis-agreeing that Labour’s poll number have dropped significantly but the point is that this is not because the Tories had done any better and that is still the case today.

            My argument has always been and still is at the moment (things could still change of course) that the Tories has not shown any poll improvement in the last 4 years, until that happens significantly they are not in a good place.

          • Marco

            That’s statistically sound. Labour has gradually slipped from a double figure lead two and a half years ago to no lead at all, or a point or so behind the Tories. And that’s all before we look at the likely effect of Miliband’s numbers r.e. leadership and the economy. There’s every reason to expect a further fall in Labour numbers – personally, I expect them to plummet on election day by a good six to eight points. But that’s just a guess.

          • Monkey_Bach

            “… I expect them to plummet on election day by a good six to eight points.”

            That would make history if it happened as far as I know.

            Has anything like that ever happened in this country before?

            Eeek.

          • Marco

            Rather than use the word ‘plummet’ I should have said that I expect a gap to open up between the Tories and Labour – rather than a fall in Labour support. Sorry – I was careless in my expression. For an example of this, see the Scottish referendum. Compare the results to the final polling – a ten point difference.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            It’s more than a guess. It’s a great big speculative punt without a shred of evidence or sense to support it.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Trouble is that 276 seat is 50 seats short of a majority. Even if the Tories win that many seats in the next general election they will be very hard pressed to garner enough support from other political parties to form another coalition, or run a stable minority government, and would have no chance of getting the awful programme they have been talking about implementing through both houses of government; six or twelve months later and another general election would probably end up being called.

            Eeek.

      • Malcolm McCandless

        Election Forecast site, (LSE, UEA & Dur Uni) number of projected seats.

        Tory + Lib Dems + DUP + UKIP = 322

        Labour + SNP + SDLP + Plaid Cymru + Greens = 320

        If Scotland were to return more Scottish Tory MPs because of tactical voting, inspired by Scottish Labour politicians encouraging Labour voters to vote Tory to oust the SNP, then that magic number of 323 is well within sight and could see another Tory led coalition being formed.

        • CoolJHS

          Only result I’m interested in is May 7th 2015, end of!

          • Malcolm McCandless

            Your worried, I understand, but don’t stick your head in the sand. What would you do to make certain of a Labour victory?

          • CoolJHS

            Worried? I think it’s you that is worried with all this nonsense you have been spouting. I am supremely confident of what is going to happen, I can assure you of that.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          Here are the polls for the last week:

          YouGov/S Times (20/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
          Opinium/Observer (20/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
          Populus (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
          Ashcroft (22/2) – CON 32%, LAB 36%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 11%, GRN 8%
          Survation/Mirror(23/2) – CON 28%, LAB 34%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 19%, GRN 4%
          ComRes/Mail (23/2) – CON 34%, LAB 32%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 8%
          YouGov/Sun (23/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 7%
          YouGov/Sun (24/2) – CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 7%
          YouGov/Sun (25/2) – CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
          YouGov/Sun (26/2) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%
          Populus (27/2) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 6%

          Labour is ahead in 5 out of these 11 it’s evens in 3 and the Tories are ahead in 3. How does this justify the claim:

          ‘There is a discernible trend in recent polls with the Tories now edging ahead of Labour. Projections from forecasters all point to the Tories now being the largest party in seats and votes but not with an overall majority’.
          BTW: UK polling report says Labour will be the largest party.
          Typical lying CyberNat methinks. Anyway I agree with CoolJHS the only poll that matters is the one on May 7th 2015.

          • Malcolm McCandless

            Why is the latest polling not included?

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            It’s up to last Friday.

            Anyway it shows that the statement; ‘There is a discernible trend in recent polls with the Tories now edging ahead of Labour. Projections from forecasters all point to the Tories now being the largest party in seats and votes but not with an overall majority’ is, in fact, a load of cr*p.

          • ebc12

            Thanks for these. Very interesting when seen together.

          • wolfman

            Definite trend there for sure…If you’re a Tory troll !!

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            I think he’s a Cybernat.

        • Monkey_Bach

          Minority governments like that wouldn’t last twelve months.

          Eeek.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            ‘I really can’t imagine the Liberal Democrats going back into coalition with the Tories or tamely voting to pass much Conservative legislation proposed by a Conservative minority government’.
            You obviously don’t pay any attention to what Danny Alexander says then because that is precisely what the f**kers are intending to do.

          • Monkey_Bach

            The pipes, the pipes are calling for Danny Boy. Not bagpipes but sewer pipes which will, hopefully, carry the smirking little sh*t out to sea and out of mind. Amongst a menu of truly awful things, hidden under a veil, that Osborne wants to do are merciless attacks on the lives of disadvantaged young people and children which only UKIP would likely agree to be party to. I do not believe for a moment that the Lib Dems could/would support the Conservative’s full programme nor that Tories themselves would allow Cameron to survive as their leader if he attempted to reform the current coalition.

            Eeek.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            ‘I do not believe for a moment that the Lib Dems could/would support the Conservative’s full programme’
            But no evidence to support this belief- right?

          • Monkey_Bach

            No more than you have evidence to suggest that they would.

            Eeek.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Check this link for the views of some of the people you supported in 2010:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24109633

            The bias is towards the Tories.

            And here’s what the Daily Malicious reckons Cleggy will opt for:

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2421054/Lib-Dem-party-conference-Glasgow-Nick-Clegg-angers-activists-hint-new-Tory-coalition.html

            Danny Alexander has hinted that the Fibs will go with ‘the party that has the momentum’ in the election not necessarily the party with the largest number of seats. Look:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02kl34q

            Check it out from 7:40 onwards.

          • Monkey_Bach

            Anecdotes do not constitute evidence. Eeek.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            There’s no evidence to support what will happen in the future. However, there are indications as to what might happen. You seem to be pretty certain of what the Fibs might do. Conversely, I think they’ll support the Tories ‘to finish the job’ (‘finish the British people’ more like) as calamity Clegg and Danny Alexander have suggested they will.

    • Doug Smith

      “Labour politicians are now calling for Labour voters in Scotland to vote Tory”

      Labour and the Tories worked together during the referendum campaign so no surprise that they’re working together in the general election.

      Perhaps there’s more to Labour MP Gisela Stuart’s LabCon coalition proposal than many realised.

  • Robert_Crosby

    None of the people I’ve seen out canvassing need tacky plastic badges to demonstrate their credentials… they just get on with it. Obviously even one contact per canvasser is welcome, but this is on average fewer than sixteen each!

    I don’t like “parties within parties”. We have rightly expelled people (notably in the mid-80s) for doing it

  • Monkey_Bach

    What will be interesting is, now that UKIP has come out of the closet and revealed itself as a deeply conservative right-wing party eager to get behind and support Osborne’s slash and burn plan in respect to deficit reduction, whether Labour defectors to UKIP’s tattered standard will return to their former political party of first choice or stick with UKIP.

    Eeek.

  • paul barker

    Averaging the last 4 polls gives a Tory lead of 1.5%. Of course as you add in more polls that lead falls, for the last 8 its down to 0.2% but you have to add up the last 13 polls before you get a Labour lead, of 0.1%. That looks like a trend to me – not just a fall in Labour support (while the Tories flatline) but an accelerating fall.

    • CoolJHS

      Nonsense, go back to the drawing board

      • Steve Stubbs

        Yes, less of the facts and more of the wishful thinking please.

    • Monkey_Bach

      The margin of error on most of these polls is ±3% for goodness sake! Eeek

  • Steve Stubbs

    Oh for goodness sake can we please stop having these continual orgasms over one individual poll, and look at real trends, based on not less than 3 weeks polling results, before rushing into print to argue over percentages of points.

  • UKIP Kiddie

    The only poll that matters is on May 7th, and on May 8th you in the LibLabCon will be licking your wounds. It will be the culmination of years of contempt you have shown the electorate of this country.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Sorry to disappoint you but no.

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/9278

    Eeek.

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