Is UKIP on a roll?

The data suggest that the UKIP performance in EP elections may have an impact on General Elections.  Would you say that UKIP is becoming better positioned to impact also the outcome of the General Elections or not, and why? Read few comments.

Robin Pettitt, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Kingston University

Yes, UKIP will most certainly impact the general election. I suspect they will not get as high a share of the vote as the current opinion polls suggest. Because of the way the British electoral system works they are unlikely to get any MPs in the general election. They are therefore someone people *say* they will vote for in an opinion poll to express how unhappy they are with the three main parties. However, when it comes to actually voting in the general election people will think more about who will be in government, and under the current electoral system that is not going to be UKIP.

However, they will certainly do much better than last time, and those votes will come from the other parties. So, Labour and the Conservatives are very worried about losing voters to UKIP which could mean losing seats to their opponent. So, UKIP will have an impact on the general election, not by winning seats, but by changing the competition between Labour and the Conservatives. The big question is where UKIP’s voters will come from, and it looks likely that both Labour and the Conservatives will lose out. Labour will lose white working class voters in deprived areas who are worried about competing with immigrants for jobs. The Conservatives will lose right wing eurosceptics. The Conservatives are likely to suffer more than Labour, but Labour is not going to get away without UKIP inflicted damage.

In short, with the rise of UKIP support, with the first coalition government since 1945 coming to an end, and with the opinion polls suggesting no single party will win an overall majority (as in 2010) the 2015 general election is looking to be one of the most uncertain for a very long time.

Bill JonesAdjunct Professor of  Politics,  Liverpool Hope University

Yes, UKIP has shaken up the political world of UK in the last few years.

Its main appeal is to older, dissatisfied voters, nostalgic for a time when Britain was mainly white, ethnically homogenous, and ‘unliberated’ by the sexual and anti-deference revolutions of the 1960s and 70s.

It began in the early 1990s as a single issue party trying to get UK out of the EU but morphed into a political party, initially with no electoral impact. But the first decade of the new millennium saw a growing dissatisfaction with the EU and a belief that it is: undemocratic, wasteful and allows low paid workers from Eastern Europe to flock into the country to take jobs and live on our relatively generous benefits. Whether such immigrants do is another matter of course but the idea has proved increasingly attractive, especially as recession made times so much harder. The rightwing press- Daily Mail, Telegraph, Sun, Express, Times have supported the anti-EU mood and Nigel Farage, the party leader is a gifted populist who plays up to the role of the guy you’d love to have a chat and a pint with in the pub.

They now lead the polls for the euro-elections and should win a shed-load of new MEPs. This will add momentum to their hope of winning seats in next March’s general election. Currently it does not have any seats in the Commons. With our first past the post voting system small parties can have 20% and more standing in the polls but still win few seats as thy must concentrate support to win enough votes to take a constituency. In 1983, for example, the SDP-Liberal Alliance won 27% of the vote yet only gained 3.4% of the seats. Such a fate could await UKIP but I do think they will win at least a few seats next year.

How many? Impossible to say but if we have another hung parliament maybe enough to help determine another coalition government. Its key role might be to take Conservative votes in key ‘marginals’ (Con seats with small majorities) and thus deny them maybe scores of seats thy would otherwise have won. This explains much of Cameron’s anti-EU stance as he tries to convince anti-EU voters Conservatives will pursue the better policy on the EU. UKIP could also take key votes from other parties too, especially Labour as UKIP attracts many working class lower educated disillusioned voters from the major parties.

Mark Shephard, Senior Lecturer, Department of Government, University of Strathclyde

If UKIP do well in the EP elections and it looks like they might then there might be some momentum for the General Election in 2015 and this could arguably hurt Conservatives in marginal seats the most. However, depending upon the degree of support for UKIP, the Conservatives might try to counter-challenge the threat through manifesto pledges that try and puncture UKIP support. We already see aspects of this over EU and immigration positioning.

Nicholas Randall, Senior Lecturer and Head of  Politics, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology University of Newcastle

Clearly, UKIP are in the ascendant in the opinion polls at the moment. However, this is accompanied by heightened expectations, particularly in the media. They will need to perform very well across the European elections, local elections and in the Newark by-election if they are to have the momentum they need going into next year’s General Election. Looking ahead to 2015 the big difficulty for UKIP remains the UK’s electoral system. They will face extraordinary difficulties in winning Westminster seats; they lack any real strength in local government, they don’t have a clear geographical base and they lack well-organised party organisation on the ground. However, UKIP don’t need to win seats to have an impact. The British Election Study data shows that those intending to vote UKIP in 2015 disproportionately voted for the Conservatives in 2010. If UKIP are able to take significant numbers of votes away from the Conservatives in key marginals in 2015 then David Cameron’s prospects will be significantly damaged and UKIP will certainly have a claim to having impacted on the outcome of the 2015 election.

Benjamin LeruthPh.D. candidate , Politics and International Relations, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

All recent opinion polls show that UKIP is likely to make a major breakthrough in the European parliamentary election. However, due to the nature of the UK’s electoral system, I highly doubt UKIP would also impact the outcome of the General Elections. A first-past-the-post voting system, as used in the UK for parliamentary elections, enables well-established parties to secure a majority of seats in the Parliament. As such, this study showing that “57.6% (of the people) intending to vote for UKIP in the May 2014 European Parliament election also intend to vote for UKIP in the 2015 general election” does not mean that UKIP would play an important role in Westminster. It would if the UK Parliament had proportional representation, then the political system would be completely different and many parties would be able to enter coalitions. In fact, the Liberal Democrats would have had around 150 members of parliament under proportional representation in 2010, while with first-past-the post, they “only” got 57: this makes a huge difference.




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