How UKIP could stop Labour winning in 2015

4th October, 2014 5:03 pm


A new Fabian Society report highlights the dangers UKIP will pose to Labour at the next election. It finds that the outcome of over 200 seats could be affected by UKIP in May next year, potentially costing Labour victory.

Revolt on the Left, written by the Fabians’ Deputy General Secretary Marcus Roberts and published yesterday, builds on the research of Ian Warren (who writes on psephology at the @election_data blog) and Rob Ford (co-author of Revolt on the Right) to look at which seats could be specifically affected, what certain Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) are doing to deal with threat, and how Labour can tackle it nationally.

Roberts outlines five Labour seats at threat from UKIP, 16 seats that Labour could lose to the Conservatives because of UKIP, and four target seats that Labour could be prevented from gaining off the Tories. All of these prospects are rated as “critical or very serious”. These do not include the swathes of seats rated at “moderate” danger from UKIP.

The five seats UKIP could take from Labour: Great Grimsby, Dudley North, Plymouth Moor View, Rother Valley, Rotherham.

The sixteen seats Labour could lose to the Tories because of UKIP switchers: Southampton Itchen, Great Grimsby, Walsall North, Plymouth Moor View, Telford, Dudley North, Halifax, Wolverhampton North East, Birmingham Edgbaston, Blackpool South, Walsall South, Leicester West, Nottingham South, Southampton Test, Birmingham Northfield, Wakefield.

The four seats Labour could fail to gain from the Tories because of UKIP switchers: Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, Carlisle, Lincoln and Ipswich.

This report is among the first to look closely at the indirect effect UKIP could have next year – something that has been largely overlooked in many analyses of the UKIP threat. Many assessments of the right wing party that dismiss the level of its impact seem to place too great an emphasis on the difficulty UKIP will have to win seats in the First Past The Post system, and the likelihood that its support will drop from current polls. While both of these things may be true, the role a smaller party can play in shaping an election result without winning should not be ignored.

The problems caused for the Tories by UKIP are not ignored either (the report concludes that seats where the Tories are hit outnumber Labour ones by around 30), but it does serve as a corrective to much of the media discussion on the topic that focuses largely on the problems Cameron faces from Farage.

Roberts looks at where the UKIP problems lie, who the voters are, and why the it has occurred – but does not stop at analysing the situation, moving on to suggest Labour’s response in three areas: policy, message and organisation. While his suggestions in these areas may well prove useful in the long-term, in the more immediate future what we can hope to gain from this publication is a consensus that the threat exists. As the introduction states:

“For every academic detailing the psephology by which UKIP threatens Labour, an unnamed senior party source can quickly be found in the media confidently prediction that UKIP will divide the right, and help Labour to victory.”

The ‘unnamed senior party sources’ are not alone – when LabourList surveyed readers back in August, 48% may have felt that UKIP would harm the Labour vote, but almost as many (44%) thought that they would not.

You can read the full Revolt on the Left report here.

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