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Is this the Tory right’s stick to beat Cameron with?

January 30th, 2007


    Why is UKIP failing to improve its poll ratings?

By any standards it’s been a big month for the United Kingdom Independence Party and its outspoken leader Nigel Farage. For during January the party has seen more coverage than at any time since June 2004 when it pushed the Lib Dems into fourth place in the Euro Elections.

    For UKIP has taken on a role much bigger than just opposing Britain’s membership of the EU – it’s now become the stick for the Conservative right to beat David Cameron with. If the leader wanders too far “off message” then they threaten to switch to Farage’s party.

So it has been over the past few weeks with the defection of two Tory peers and the former Thatcherite economist Tim Congdon. On top of that there’s been the declaration of possible support for UKIP by two millionaire ex-Tory donors and the relentless day by day support in the Daily Telegraph.

With all of this you would have thought that there would have been some progress for UKIP in the polls. And if something was going to register then you would have expected it to have been picked up by YouGov – the pollster that first detected the huge surge for the party ahead of June 2004 elections.

    But it didn’t happen. The change in the party’s fortunes has been almost zilch. UKIP is still finding it hard to extend its appeal beyond white males in their late middle age

Some analysis of what’s been going on shows the scale of the problem. For the data from the month’s three published polls should make worrying reading for those who believe that a boost for UKIP will keep Cameron’s Conservatives on the straight and narrow.

Populus recorded a drop from 2% to 1% with five out out of the seven supporters (not percentages you should note) being male.

ICM discovered that 11 people in its survey said they had voted UKIP at the 2005 General but only 3 were ready to do so now – all of them male.

YouGov found an unchanged 3% UKIP support level – the same as it has been for several months with the men, as ever, outnumbering women.

Another trend in the polls is that what support there for the Anti-EU party is not coming from the younger age groups with very few of those under 35 saying they are supporters. There is also an almost total lack of response to the party in Scotland.

How frustrating this must be for the Simon Heffers of this world. Unless UKIP is seen to be increasing its support and is a threat to the Tories then their main anti-Cameron weapon is just about useless. Judging by the January polls that’s the way it is going at the moment.

Mike Smithson






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