UKIP poses challenge to traditional triumvirate- new study
Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 9 March 2011
New academic research on the UK Independence Party, which finished second in the recent Barnsley Central by-election, reveals that the party is well-placed to gain Eurosceptic Tory voters.
Using the first academic survey of UKIP’s general election candidates alongside responses from over 2,000 UKIP general election voters, taken from a YouGov survey, researchers from the University of Leicester analysed the performance of the party that emerged from its Spring Conference in Scarborough with talk of replacing the Liberal Democrats as the third party in British politics.
Drs Philip Lynch and Richard Whitaker, from the Department of Politics and International Relations, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, said UKIP were capable of taking votes from each of the three main political parties with its potent mix of anti-establishment, Eurosceptic and anti-immigration messages.
“Our research shows that UKIP are largely a party of the centre right and that, in the medium-term, they are well-placed to pick up votes from disgruntled supporters of David Cameron’s Conservatives,” said Dr Lynch
“We have found that UKIP candidates mainly see their party as being on the centre right, as distinctive in terms of its ‘hard’ Euroscepticism, and as taking a tougher line on immigration than the main parties but not than the British National Party (BNP). This fits with UKIP’s attempts to position itself as distinctive from the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats, not only on Europe but also on the salient issue of immigration, while shunning the extremism of the BNP.”
Dr Whitaker added: “Evidence from the 2009 European and 2010 general election suggests the party has more to gain from Conservative supporters than others. Roughly half of its voters at the 2009 European elections (in which UKIP finished second) went on to vote Conservative in 2010, indicating that some Tory supporters took up Nigel Farage’s invitation to ‘lend us your vote’. Information on tactical voting at the general election also suggests UKIP could gain from the Conservatives.”
The researchers add: “The 2014 European elections will give Eurosceptic Conservatives the chance to express dissatisfaction with the Tories for ditching their manifesto commitment to repatriate policies from Brussels and any perceived failure to oppose EU economic governance and rulings by the European Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights. But the advent of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition also gives UKIP the opportunity, in domestic elections, to exploit popular concerns about immigration and crime, as it appears to have done successfully in Barnsley Central and in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, where UKIP finished fourth.
“As a party that attracts protest votes, UKIP is well-positioned to benefit from those who might have given such a vote to the Lib Dems in the past but who no longer want to since the party has been in government. Those who dislike the BNP but are unhappy with the three biggest parties may also see UKIP as worthy of their protest vote.”
Note to newsdesk:
For more information, please contact:
Dr Philip Lynch
Tel: +44(0)116 252 2712
Dr Richard Whitaker
Tel: +44(0)116 252 2756 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The research is funded by the Leverhulme Trust (grant reference: F/00 212/AD), one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing funds of some £50 million every year. For further information about the schemes that the Leverhulme Trust fund visit their website at www.leverhulme.ac.uk