Archive for the 'UKIP' Category


Growing in size Britain’s weirdest voting group: The Kippers who now think leaving the EU is wrong

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Over the last few months, as those who follow the site will know, I have been writing posts and tweets about the YouGov Brexit tracker which come which comes out two or three times a month. The actual question is “In hindsight do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the EU?”

The overall picture is that the gap between those who think the outcome was wrong has and those right has narrowed and for the last two surveys it has been level-pegging.

One of the features of this that always seems to get attention is the number of current UKIP supporters who declare that they think it is wrong in hindsight for Britain to have voted to leave the EU.

When this was just one or two percent it could be just put down to polling respondents clicking the wrong boxes as can happen with multi question online survey forms. In the most recent polling the UKIP numbers edged up and the this week’ YouGov polling has 7% of current UKIP supporters saying they believe it was wrong for Britain to vote LEAVE.

So I thought I would produce a chart showing how this is going and here it is at the top ofthe post. The numbers are, of course, small and this is measuring a subset with all the dangers that that entails but the fact that we see the pattern in the chart, I suggest, says something. I’m not quite sure what.

Mike Smithson


ComRes becomes the 3rd pollster in a week to have UKIP fourth

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

ComRes for Indy and S Mirror
CON 42
LAB 25
LD 12

Over the past week YouGov, Ipsos-MORI and now ComRes have found UKIP in fourth place. Partly this is down to the LDs advancing and partly to UKIP’s shares slipping.

LAB, meanwhile is now a colossal 17% behind in very serious trouble indeed. Things don’t look good for Corbyn’s team in the May round of local and Mayoral elections.

Since Corbyn was re-elected as leader last September the party’s plight has got worse and worse and they are now shedding support to the LDs. Mr Corbyn, however, looks unassailable because of the party’s rules.

Amongst other questions ComRes found its sample split over the Brexit process, with roughly equal proportions agreeing that Parliament should be able to veto the Government’s proposed Brexit vote as disagreeing (38% v 42%)

The poll found people more likely to agree than disagree that they do not expect Britain to complete leaving the EU within the current planned two year period (47% v 32%), although there is no clear majority.

The Government’s U-turn on an increase in National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed chimes with voters – more than half (54%) oppose the measure.

A worrying feature for the blue team is that a greater proportion of the sample agreed that Theresa May’s Government does not have the best interests at heart of ‘people like me’ (44% compared to 33%). This suggests that LAB under a decent leader would have something to build on.

Similarly, the public are more likely to disagree than agree that the Budget overall was fair (40% v 34%).

Mike Smithson


UKIP: circling the whirlpool

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

How does Nuttall save his party from irrelevance?

UKIP was very good for Brexit: if the party had never been created, Britain would almost certainly still be a member of the European Union.* Brexit, by contrast, has been disastrous for UKIP. Stripped of their two greatest assets – their mission and by far their most effective leader – UKIP has struggled since last July to find a purpose or a direction. Compounded by internal divisions, the estrangement of their major funder, and a gaffe-prone leadership, you might have expected that the inevitable result would be a major hit to their polling. In fact, it’s not quite as simple as that.

During the referendum campaign, UKIP was consistently polling in the mid- to upper-teens (with the exception of Mori), peaking at a 20% share reported by YouGov on 26 April 2016. Perhaps not coincidentally, that poll also reported the lowest Con share this parliament (30%) and the joint-biggest Lab lead (3%).

Immediately after their crowning triumph on 23 June last year, UKIP suffered an immediate drop in their support. In the month before the referendum, UKIP averaged 16.7%. That dropped to just 13.0% in July but by February 2017, the monthly average was still 12.6%: near enough the same given the different pollsters and methodologies. Since then, however, UKIP’s difficulties – exemplified by Nuttall’s difficult by-election campaign in Stoke Central – might finally have caught up with them.

The 6% that Mori reported this week is, on the face of it, pretty awful but in fact Mori have published very low scores for UKIP for some months: they returned 6% in August and October 2016, and January 2017 as well. Even so, the most rosy interpretation is that the party’s treading water. Unfortunately, that seems less likely when set against the other polls this week: the first single-digit UKIP score reported by YouGov since February 2013 (which also reported UKIP back behind the Lib Dems), and the joint-lowest share with ICM since 2015.

That polling data is backed up in real votes too. UKIP has never been good at by-elections or local elections (and, to be fair, focussing on these was never intrinsic to the party’s mission in a way that it is for, say, the Lib Dems). Even so, this week’s by-elections saw UKIP drop two-thirds of their share in two of the four elections, poll only 5% in another and not contest the fourth – and while they may have been unusually poor results even by UKIP’s standards, they weren’t that atypical of recent weeks.

Where is this pointing? In the first instance, UKIP’s recent decline seems to have been good for the Tories. While the hackneyed cliché of UKIP as Tories-on-holiday was at best a gross simplification, there is a definite mirror to the graph of the Con and UKIP lines this parliament. So while UKIP’s support overall might be a lot more diverse than ex-Con, the movement that’s gone to and from it could well be primarily among Con-sympathetic voters. Certainly, current polling indicates that the great majority of UKIP lost support is to the Conservatives. Hence why UKIP’s March decline has propelled the Tories up into the mid-40s.

(We should, as an aside, note just how extraordinary that Con figure is, even before the context of fiscal restraint, botched budget PR and a difficult Brexit process is taken into account. The 44% that ICM and YouGov reported is a higher share of the GB electorate than Margaret Thatcher won in 1983).

All of which augers very ill for UKIP’s prospects in May. 2013 marked UKIP’s breakthrough in council elections, where they finished third in the national vote and returned a net gain of 139 seats. In many cases, local government hasn’t been a happy experience for the party adding to the problems at a national level. The likely result is a loss of a great many of these seats. The only saving grace for UKIP is that the losses probably won’t receive much coverage: the top-line political reporting will focus on Labour’s performance.

That, however, should be scant consolation. It is too soon to declare UKIP to be in a death-spiral. Political parties are resilient things and it takes a lot to kill them off. UKIP still has issues it can make its own – withdrawal from the ECHR, for example – and of course, the government could yet hand it a reprieve depending on what deal it strikes to leave the EU. Immigration also still has the capacity to attract voters to UKIP, though a hard Brexit and an associated economic downturn would likely reduce numbers. Indeed, short of a rejuvenating Soft Brexit, it’s hard to see the other parties consistently allowing UKIP enough space to thrive on domestic policy. Through the first decade of this century, UKIP tended to poll 2-3%. Given their failure to grasp their opportunities since last July, it’s not unreasonable to think that before long they might be back there.

David Herdson

* As with all alternate histories, it’s impossible to know what would have happened had Eurosceptic activists and voters remained with the main parties. The Conservative Party in particular would have been a different beast, with possible meaningful consequences from the 2005 leadership election onwards. Similarly, the 2010 election wouldn’t take much tipping to produce a different outcome and – consequently – a very different future for the UK. That said, even with additional Eurosceptic agitation within the Conservatives, it’s unlikely that an outright Leaver would have been elected leader before 2015, and then only in opposition. The best (for Leavers) that might have happened is some analogue to reality, with an In/Out referendum promised in order to resolve internal tensions rather than in response to the external threat posed by UKIP. More likely is that divisions over Europe would have so split the party that irrespective of who led it, the Tories would have returned to opposition and, hence, be incapable of implementing any policy. And even if the Tories were in government and did grant a referendum, Leave would have gone into the vote without the nucleus that UKIP in reality provided, making it much more likely that Remain would have won.


The Tory MP for Thanet South and his agent have been questioned under caution over their election expenses

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The Telegraph are reporting that.

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay was questioned by Police under caution last week over his election expenses, the Telegraph can reveal.

The South Thanet MP reportedly spent six hours being interviewed by officers over alleged overspending in the 2015 election campaign in which he beat Nigel Farage and Al Murray, the Pub Landlord.

Kent Police are expected to meet with the Crown Prosecution Service next week to discuss a possible prosecution, it is understood, after the force concluded a series of interviews with Conservative staff and politicians about the alleged overspend.

Both Mr McKinlay and his agent Nathan Gray have denied any wrongdoing.

Over the weekend former Tory Party Co-Chairman Grant Shapps dropped Nick Timothy, Mrs May’s Joint Chief of Staff, further into with this investigation with this intervention. (A non pay-walled version is available here.)

I expect Grant Shapps will have enraged Mrs May with this intervention, whilst people shouldn’t assume because someone has been questioned under caution that either charges or a conviction will inevitably follow, however this does present a huge problem for Mrs May, even before we consider the size of her majority. Sometimes in politics perceptions matter more than the facts, and if one of her top aides embroiled in this scandal, it will impact on the running of her government. A few weeks ago The Times ran a story that said “One source close to No 10 said the [election expenses] subject was “occupying as much as 20 per cent of non-governing head space.””

But more MPs are condemning the handling of the investigations by the party.

Does she really have the ability to conduct Brexit negotiations whilst Nicola Sturgeon is pushing for a second independence referendum and fighting by elections and with Nigel Farage looking to break his duck in becoming an MP, only Churchill probably had such a complicated in-tray upon becoming Prime Minister.



The persistence of kippers – looking at where post-referendum UKIP is now

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Most polls still have the purples in double figures

They are routinely derided by others.  The press loves to print stories of their wackier examples.  They are marginalised.  Their public figures are held up to ridicule.  Yet they make up roughly one in ten of the adult population.  I write, of course, of UKIP supporters.

Who are these people?  Where do they come from?  And why, eight months after Leave won the referendum and with the vote being implemented in a hardline version by a Conservative government, do they continue to see a need for a purple perspective?

On the face of it, UKIP’s purpose is complete.  It was established to get Britain out of the EU, and that is now in train.  It campaigned arguing that restricting immigration should be the priority, and the Government is now making that its touchstone for Brexit.  Nigel Farage himself has said that “I can hardly believe that the PM is now using the phrases and words that I’ve been mocked for using for years. Real progress.”

Nor can it be said that UKIP benefits from impressive leadership.  Since the referendum it has tripped over its own shoelaces repeatedly.  It has crammed in two leadership elections, with Diane James managing just 18 days in the role, probably the shortest tenure ever of a permanent leader of a political party with Parliamentary representation since universal suffrage and only twice as long in the top spot as Lady Jane Grey managed.

Her longer term replacement Paul Nuttall has already been turned into a figure of fun among those politically unsympathetic to UKIP with his apparently loose relationship with the truth. The first of these leadership elections included a fistfight at an MEP meeting that hospitalised one of the candidates.  The second leadership election threw up a candidate who claimed that a gay donkey tried to rape his horse and who owned a fortified compound in Bulgaria: he got 18% of the vote.  Meanwhile, UKIP’s chief funder is threatening to stand against UKIP’s only MP.  Without Nigel Farage, UKIP’s representatives look a complete shower.

Yet despite all this, UKIP remains surprisingly strong in the polls.  With the exception of Ipsos MORI, every opinion pollster has found that it continues to record at least 10% poll shares since the referendum result.  So it must have some continuing appeal that the other parties cannot meet. Let’s look further.

Drawing conclusions from the cross-breaks of opinion polls is always fraught with danger, particularly when dealing with small samples.  This risk can be reduced, though not eliminated, by looking at different opinion polls.  So I have looked at the tables of the latest polls from each of ICM, YouGov and ComRes.  The broad picture that they paint is sufficiently similar to give some confidence.

All three pollsters find that the great bulk of UKIP’s current support comes from their 2015 voters.  UKIP has, it seems, succeeded in hanging onto the largest part of those voters – all three pollsters find that it is retaining roughly two thirds of its 2015 vote, give or take a few percent.  To put that into perspective, the Lib Dems had lost two thirds of their vote in 2015 and have actually retained fewer supporters from that date to now.  The kippers seem to have built a brand to last, at least with some voters.

All three pollsters also find that UKIP is attracting a reasonable number of new supporters.  All three find that between a fifth and a quarter of current UKIP supporters voted for a different party in 2015.  Now this is not one way traffic.  All three pollsters find that far more 2015 UKIP voters have headed for the Conservative party than vice versa, and, contrary to received wisdom, the net flow of voters between Labour and UKIP only is only a trickle rather than a flood.  Nevertheless, this is not the polling of a party yet in terminal decline.

So what’s driving this?  YouGov and ICM both found that roughly a fifth of Leave voters are planning to vote UKIP.  (ComRes, oddly, do not look at their respondents through the prism of the referendum vote.)  Indeed, YouGov didn’t find any Remain supporters at all who were backing UKIP.  Essentially, it seems, that UKIP have become a party for Leave supporters who don’t trust the Government to follow it through.

Viewed in that light, I have two observations.  First, the continuing lack of trust of many Leave voters in the current Government is striking.  Even UKIP’s most loyal supporters would be pushed to suggest that it has given a good account of itself in recent months, yet despite UKIP’s very public shambles it still represents a more attractive proposition for a fifth of Leave voters than a Government that is pushing through a hardline Brexit with reasonable efficiency.  This suggests that Theresa May is right to worry about her right flank.  If Brexit softens or flounders, UKIP could revive in the polls sharply as the May violets that she has currently won over might return home again.

Secondly, if a hard Brexit is seen to be implemented, that’s a large cache of votes that the Conservatives might be able to draw upon, even if they lose votes on their Remain flank.  There’s no particular reason to assume that the Conservative vote share in the polls has yet peaked.

Alastair Meeks


Arron Banks v Douglas Carswell. Let’s get ready to rhumble.

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

In yesterday’s Independent Arron Banks, the UKIP donor, said he would definitively stand against Douglas Carswell in Clacton at the next general election, so Paddy Power have a market up on which of those two will receive the most votes at the next general election.

If I had to choose I’d go for Carswell to win this bet, because he is very popular in his seat, as evidenced by Carswell holding his seat at the general election unlike the other Con to UKIP defector Mark Reckless who so memorably lost his seat at the general election.

On the Arron Banks side of this bet, his bark seems to be worse than his bite when it comes to Douglas Carswell, last summer Arron Banks accused Douglas Carswell helping the Tories to defeat Nigel Farage in South Thanet, and sent a letter to the police with those allegations. So far that complaint has gone nowhere, as we say in Yorkshire, when it comes to Carswell, Banks is all fart and no follow through.

Additionally it is entirely possible Carswell at the next general election stands as Speaker seeking re-election, which could complicate this market further. All I can think of right now is Sir James Goldsmith’s performance in Putney at the 1997 general election. This market could effectively become a three year interest free loan to Paddy Power, I can think of bets with better odds that pay out a lot sooner than this market, so I’m sitting out this market for all of the above reasons.

It says a lot about UKIP that after the referendum victory instead of enjoying a metaphorical post referendum cigarette instead, like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.



Another way of looking at how the parties are doing – how successful they are at fundraising

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

LAB drops to 3rd


For a party with less than one MP UKIP sure knows how to hog the headlines

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The big difference between Clacton MP, Douglas Carswell, and just about anybody else who has run for parliament for UKIP is that he’s shown that he can succeed under first past the post – the electoral area where UKIP has been an almost total failure.

If it comes to a fight between Banks and Carswell in what becomes of the Clacton constituency after the boundary changes then Carswell should do it even if a CON candidate is on the list. He’s got the name recognition and FPTP campaigning expertise as his performance in the 2014 by-election and GE2015 showed. The Tories threw an awful lot to try to regain the seat at GE2015 but fell quite a long way short.

Carswell understands data and my guess is that he and his team have a pretty good idea of his support base – the basic requirement in an FPTP election where it could be tight. The provisional boundaries plan has Clacton being linked to Harwich where Carswell was first elected an MP.

It might, of course, be that Carswell rejoins the Tories before the next election or maybe just stands as an independent.

Mike Smithson