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The ongoing research into who the kippers actually are and whether they hurt LAB as much as CON

November 30th, 2014

The evidence, surely, points to CON being most vulnerable

On Tuesday night I was at one of my most favourite events – the annual awards dinner of the Political Studies Association where this year leading political scientists Matthew Goodwin and Rob Ford won a top prize for their study of the rise of UKIP “Revolt on the Right”. This timely work has set off a lot of debate particularly the suggestion the Farage’s party will hurt LAB as much as CON on May 7th next year.

That has led to some controversy not least because poll after poll has shown that many more 2010 Tories have switched than 2010 LAB voters. To look at this properly you’e got to analyse the overall kipper vote in a poll and work out where it comes from. In almost every case 2010 CON voters are a long way ahead of 2010 LAB ones. I’ve had a number of Twitter exchanges with Matt Goodwin on this.

So it was with particularly interest that I read a review of the Ford/Goodwin thesis by Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London and, Gareth Harris, author of the recent Demos report, Changing Places. This was highlighted by anotherDave on a previous thread. The following are extracts:_

“…On the face of it, Ukip should dent Labour more than the Tories. Ukip voters are, though not the most working-class, no less working-class than Labour. Surely Labour contains a more promising reservoir of potential Ukippers than the Tories?

Unfortunately for David Cameron, concrete evidence for this claim is hard to come by. Instead, the evidence is that culturally-conservative working-class Tories provide the bulk of Ukip defectors. The 2015 British Election Study (BES) internet panel surveys find that of those planning to vote Ukip in 2015, 40 per cent reported they voted Tory in 2010 against just 11 per cent who said they voted Labour. This is not just because people are sick of whoever is in office, which in this case happens to be Cameron. Around 20 per cent of those intending to vote Ukip in 2015 voted for Blair in 2005. Yet in that contest over 33 per cent said they voted for Michael Howard, a much larger slice than plumped for Blair

In short, ex-Tories outnumber ex-Labour voters within the ranks of prospective Ukip voters by a large margin.”..

The review goes on

“…..The BES and UKHLS confirm that Ukip voters come disproportionately from the middle, rather than lower, rungs of the income spectrum. They are more likely to be homeowners, employed and politically conscious than the average white adult. True, older voters, and younger voters without qualifications, are overrepresented in the party. But this points to status rather than class, culture as opposed to economic position, as the motor of Ukip support.

In the BES, 18 per cent of White British people intend to vote Ukip in 2015. Among the 5500 whites polled who have university degrees but are poorer than average, support drops to just 11 per cent. For the 7300 whites in the sample lacking university degrees who are wealthier than average, it jumps to 21 per cent. The archetypal Ukiper is a successful plumber, comfortable retiree or construction foreman, not an unemployed, deskilled casualty of globalisation. They are ‘left out’ of the status elite, and therefore resentful, but are not left behind by the modern economy. This is why economic palliatives will not lure them back to the mainstream. Finally, what distinguishes Ukip supporters more than anything else are their views on immigration and Europe, irrespective of class…”

To me the Kaufman description resonates.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble