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Why a Euro victory for UKIP would give Labour & Tories alike cause for concern

farage with demon eyesI’ve previously written about the drift of working class voters to UKIP and argued that, whilst in the short-term it would harm the Tories more than Labour, it was a serious longer-term threat to Labour. Phil Burton-Cartledge has also written more recently about what lies behind this threat and how to respond to it. Yesterday, Lord Glasman in an interview in the Sunday Times (£) rightly asks whether Labour can expect these voters to return in the same proportion that the Tories seem to expect of theirs:

This is a long-term trend since 2001, in terms of the working-class vote just declining quite dramatically. The Labour middle-class vote held up [in 2010]. It was the working-class vote that died. These are often people who are earning, who have jobs, but they don’t see Labour as representing their interests. There was possibly an assumption at first that [the rise of UKIP] would just work against the Tories. But there is a view that says that after the European and local elections are over, there could be a swing back to the Conservatives of UKIP voters. But will there be necessarily a swing back to Labour from the UKIP voters?”

David Edgar, in a review in Saturday’s Guardian of the excellent book Revolt on the Right by Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin, injects some sensible caution about all this analysis of UKIP voters is based. He quotes the BBC’s political research editor, David Cowling, on the subject of working class voters voting for parties other than Labour:

In Labour’s safest seat in the country at the 2010 election, 28% of voters still supported other parties. This is not because Liverpool Walton is peppered with enclaves of bankers and stockbrokers; it’s because a substantial section of the working class has always voted for parties other than Labour and now that vote is going to Ukip.

He also points out that the polling evidence on which this analysis is based is largely about people who intend to vote UKIP rather than the smaller numbers who have voted UKIP especially in general elections.

This weekend’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has some alarming figures about UKIP voting intentions. As many as 17% of those who voted Labour in the 2010 general election (excluding don’t knows and non-voters) intend to vote UKIP in the Euro elections next month. Admittedly that compares with 24% of those who voted Lib Dem and a staggering 46% of those who voted Tory (the poll puts UKIP in the lead over Labour for the Euro elections by 31% to 28%).

The poll’s figures for general election voting intentions are not as bad but still not good: although the headline figures are Con 31%, Lab 36%, LD 9%, UKIP 15%, of those who voted Labour in 2010, 9% are said to be intending to vote UKIP.

This is all about intention. Although people who say they intend to vote UKIP also appear to be more intent on voting than those who say they’ll vote for mainstream parties, we don’t really know whether they will. Certainly far more of them are habitual non-voters.

We could really do another few years of Lord Ashworth’s enormous polling data sets! But in the meantime, a victory for UKIP in the Euro elections should give us as well as the Tories plenty of cause for concern.



  1. Dan says:

    UKIP voters should be deported.

  2. David Pavett says:

    I just watched the Labour Party political broadcast for the EU elections (24/04/2014). In five minutes it doesn’t mention the EU, or anything to do with it, once! Is this Labour’s way of fighting off the Farage challenge? It seems both mindless and cowardly to me. Labour just doesn’t know what to say on Europe. UKIP, on the other hand, is all too clear. Labour thinks that be endlessly saying “cost of living crisis” it can push the issues it doesn’t want to speak about of the agenda. It can’t and it won’t work.

  3. swatantra says:

    Ed should debate with Nigel, as a warm up for a debate with Dave. Nothing like a bit of prep.

  4. David Ellis says:

    I agree with you David. Milliband is trying to avoid the issue and is doing the party’s chances no good in the process.

    Labour should be taking a principled line that neither bows to the neo-liberal EU juggernaut nor the chauvinist, isolationists of UKIP. Milliband should be saying that whilst Labour are not in principle against the EU, in fact, in principle, they are for it, they do not agree with the fundamentalist free market, cutthroat principles on which it is currently based. Milliband should be clear that there will be no in-out referendum under a Labour government because we are for the EU, Labour is the party of Europe, but we want, in alliance with labour movements throughout the EU, to renegotiate its founding treaties which are currently tearing it apart in accordance with our own socialist principles such as an EU-wide living wage and EU-wide full employment. He should also go on to make it very clear that until these renegotiations have taken place a Labour government will not be enacting any anti-working class EU directives such as health privatisation.

  5. Robert says:

    yes but if Ed came out with any of that he’d not be able to change his mind later off, better to say little or nothing now then you can change your view a little later on.

  6. David Pavett says:

    I read Miliband’s speech launching the EU/Local Election campaign (just one month before the vote) today. In he manages to say “cost of living crisis” eighteen times but has virtually nothing to say on Europe. The PR people seem to be in control of political discourse.

    1. Rod says:

      Conclusions should be drawn from this is truly amazing neglect of such a pressing concern.

      Miliband is revealing himself to be incapable of leadership.

    2. Robert says:

      PR people I think you will find that’s the Progress spin doctors, they are doing over time at the moment.

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