3 May 2013

Farage sinks a pint… and a party’s hopes?

Nigel Farage sank his first on-camera drink of the day with great speed. For those monitoring when the first drink tends to pass the Ukip leader’s lips (the Spectator spotted him nabbing a red wine off the train drinks trolley the other day at 1108) this particular pint of bitter slipped down at 1130 am.
That 26 per cent of the poll figure that Ukip are averaging so far poses hefty challenges for the Tories. In the equivalent English county seats in the 2009 local elections, Ukip managed about 15 per cent of the vote. In the general election, that got squeezed down to around 5 per cent.

If there was an equivalent squeeze on the Ukip vote in the general election (no foregone conclusion) that would only bring them down to 15 per cent and given half their support is thought to come from ex-Tory voters that would be very punishing to Tory MPs defending marginals.

That said, Labour’s surge is not yet looking sufficiently strong to make you run out and put money on a Labour overall majority at the general election. Labour at first glance looks like it might be losing more support to Ukip than was previously thought or witnessed. If Labour doesn’t win Lancashire it could be due to Ukip. It could be that the Lib Dems in some seats drained away more support to Ukip than previously expected.

In a seat like Harlow in Essex, Labour doesn’t seem to be doing as well as you might expect in normal mid-term opposition terms. On the basis of last night’s results, you could imagine the Tory MP holding on in Harlow if he could squeeze Ukip’s local election tally down.

Michael Gove has warned Tories thinking of rebelling against David Cameron that it would be “barmy” and “bonkeroony”. Some Tory MPs have been approached as recently as the last few weeks to see if they’re up for a coup attempt against David Cameron. But one of those approached said he got the distinct impression the air had gone out of that particular balloon.

Another told me the appetite for a full-scale revolt had “definitely dissipated” in the last couple of months. Another Tory backbencher with his finger on the pulse said he thought the moment for a coup was probably in the two months after these elections (the post-European parliamentary elections panic, already in the diary for many Tory MPs, would be too late to replace the leader some feel).

That Tory MP thought the odds were now “70-30 against” any sort of challenge against David Cameron in the coming weeks and “probably even lower than that”.

Overall, you come away from these results thinking the chances of a hung parliament after 2015 look stronger. The BBC sample of key wards suggests that since 2009 the Ukip vote is up 18 per cent, Labour up 7 per cent, the Tories down 9 per cent and the Lib Dems down 11 per cent.

That would only put Labour, on average, a nose ahead of the Tories in key wards and if (big “if”) the Tories could squeeze the Ukip enthusiasm on general election night you can see how that would be too tight for comfort for Labour.

Nigel Farage suggested on Radio 4 this morning that his historic role was like the SDP in the 1980s and just as the SDP pulled the Labour party to the right, he would pull the Tories to his agenda. Some would say it is already happening. But some might say that the real lesson of the SDP in the 1980s was that it splintered off from Labour and helped the mother party lose the 1983 election in monumental style, nearly coming third in share of the vote.

We asked Lewis Baston to have a crunch through the council results in some English marginals to see how Labour was doing.

In South Derbyshire, where the local authority and the parliamentary constituency are the same, Labour actually came second to the Tories on share of the vote, 36 per cent to 35 per cent. In Harlow Labour won by 33 per cent to 30 per cent over the Tories – Labour was 27 per cent ahead of the Tories a couple of years before the 1997 general election here. In Worcester, another weather vain marginal, Labour is 1 point behind the Tories, 34 per cent to 33 per cent. In Nuneaton, Labour is 37 per cent to a Tory 36 per cent on the basis of yesterday’s vote.

These are seats Labour held throughout its time in government under Tony Blair. Assuming the Tories can squeeze anything out of the Ukip vote from last night (and the Tories’ private polling suggests to them they can) these particular seats don’t give Labour any particular encouragement just now. 

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15 reader comments

  1. Me Here says:

    UKIP is not the same as Conservative. UKIP is a distillation of sense from the other parties, which has encouraged even people who haven’t voted before to put their “X” next to the purple and gold.

    If the Conservatives go down the drain, tough – people should vote for what they think is right. Lab & Lib are also losing votes to UKIP.

    I will keep voting UKIP, thank you. The others are not trustworthy, and don’t offer what I want.

  2. Tony Hatfield (@tonyhatfield) says:

    Why would anyone 2 years from general election, go out and put money on labour to win an overall majority? it’s a straw man.

  3. Mark Stephenson says:

    The General Public have expressed their displeasure and distrust of the main political parties and particularly to those in Government.David Cameron’s arrogance and disrespect for parliamentary democracy in brazenly attempting to redefine marriage without a mandate to do so has been soundly rebuffed at the ballot box. Will he listen? I don’t think he will! As a result, UKIP are here to stay!

  4. Richard Cain says:

    1. What connect is there with the headline, other than what Winston Churchill, the UK’s saviour, got up to? Certainly, the body text of your article makes no reference.

    2. The worst form of journalism is posing loads of questions, answering none, and leaving all readers hanging. So top of the class for that.

  5. Liam Marley says:

    I wonder how many of the people voting for them have genuinely looked at what their policies are? Worrying to say the least.

  6. HORST BISCHOF says:

    I must have lost my comments a few minutes ago, possible computer glitch. Just briefly, as a retired MD of an internationally known laserlamp manufacturer, living in the UK since 1967 I noticed a political marketing similarity between UKIP an the Nazi Party. Both parties needed a demon, the Nazis picked the Treaty of Versailles and UKIP picked the EU and Brussels. People were bombarded with unpopular facts, ridiculous statistics and jingoistic jargons. It worked a treat, and history tells us how a party of extremists can rise from literally nowhere to power, irrespective of a manifesto which is mainly based on popular right wing comments backed up by some of the tabloid papers.

    As a retired business man I am impressed by the UKIP strategy, but at the same time extremely concerned about the future of EUROPE in terms of INWARD investments in the UK and most of all the unlimited freedom of people to move and work within the EU.

  7. darrell says:

    lets play find the scapegoat.The country suffers years of recession-blame the immigrants
    Lets swing to the right.Why not play armchair nazis while were at it.
    UKIP.The party for morons who read the daily mail,the sun.Need i say more.probably not,
    The stupid dont listen anyway.

  8. Philip says:

    UKIP voters are partly voting for “none of the above” for obvious reasons & some are clearly right wingers who expect more from a Conservative Government (forgetting that teh Conservatives don’t have a majority). But with their position apparently cemented as the fourth party, their policies will come under a lot more intense scrutiny – not least a whole series of public spending increases and tax cuts, funded by an impressive total of public expenditure cuts. Expect these to be given very close scrutiny. UKIP has also inherited the LibDem mantle of not having been in Government (& not expecting to be), so it can make populaist promises that appeal to many people. That said – none of the other parties has been doing much for the British people. they seem more concerned about their own future (i.e. enjoying the reins of power) than that of the vast majority of the electorate. They remain addicted to spin, misleading use of statistics (up to & including lies) and “examples” and secrecy. I still predict that the party that is prepared to apologise for past mistakes, to be open, to avoid spinning unwelcome news, to seek to help the many rather than the few will still have a…

  9. bill zee says:

    From the reactions I have heard so far from the tories regarding the UKIP surge it would seem that they will largely ignore the warnings of disatisfaction of voters thus ensuring ukip’s continued rise.

    Also, Camerons apparent climbdown from his rhetoric about UKIP is only partial. His comments were reported that he now respects UKIP have been misrepresented. What he actually said that he respects the voters who have voted for UKIP, something quite different.

  10. Moonbeach says:

    The 3 main political parties simply don’t get it! Democracy used to be about the will of the majority. But the Tories, Lib Dems and the Labour Party have ridden roughshod over what they know to be the views of the majority of the electorate.

    All of them are now waxing lyrical about controlling immigration. Yet none of them has had the guts to say that this can only be done if we withdraw from the European Community.

    Whilst they avoid the obvious, why should we believe any of them? The bunch of ‘clowns’ that govern us have found it impossible to deport terrorists and criminals. To call those of us who voted for UKIP ‘clowns’ and worse, really is breathtakingly arrogant. The idiot Clarke, the Europhile, would have taken us into the euro and was such a ‘clown’ himself that when Secretary of State for health, continued to smoke!

    The Prime Minister last night, indulged in a bit of ‘perestroika’. But how many of us actually believed what he said? Why has it taken a successful campaign by UKIP to bring about his change of heart when he knows that the electorate’s views on immigration from Europe and elsewhere have not changed since Labour was in…

  11. Moonbeach says:


    Remember the ‘crocodile tears’ and feigned indignation at Gordon Brown’s response to a concerned Labour supporter, Gillian Duffy. He called her a bigoted woman! (Continued below)

    Given his promise to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights (a promise that he has broken since being Prime Minister) David Cameron will be remembered as the man who forced gay marriage on the UK when it was not in his manifesto but who ignored most of the things that were.

    Angela Eagle may want to show the UKIP performance as a shift to the right in British politics but she, like her colleagues, will be making a major mistake. The votes for UKIP came from all areas of the political spectrum.

    My wife and I are well-educated people from a working-class background and we find it extremely offensive when politicians, most of whom have never had a decent job, call us clowns, bigots and racists. We are none of these things but have concerns about the way our politicians are ruining our country.

    For me, a European super state will simply allow untrustworthy politicians to ride a gravy train that we, the poor downtrodden voters will pay for. See how many socialists have eaten…

  12. Yorkshire Lass says:

    I take it that all the previous posters have been from “Darn Sarf”. Draw a line between the Humber in the east and the Mersey in the west (geography included for (southrons) and you will find that although the Conservatives LOST 35 seats, 33 of these have gone to other parties than UKIP. We northerners don’t like UKIP as they promise nothing for us that we aren’t already getting. I suggest that news media look at all of the country, not just “Darn Sarf” before wetting their pants.

  13. anon says:

    Another thought, in the complex world of the current political scene a vote for UKIP is straight forward and without confusion. A vote for UKIP is a vote for your own, it is simple like supporting your country in a cricket or football match.

    This has an appeal when so many policies have not been followed through successfully. This may be simplistic , but it certainly seems to be true. Their supporters know exactly what they are voting for. The complications of budget etc have largely been understated. It is all rather frightening.

  14. Philip Edwards says:


    With a mouth like that Farage would be able to empty a canal.

    As for UKIP, long term they will end up with the tories, which is their natural xenophobic place. They are the SDP of the Right – and bound for the same fate.

  15. Jon Wood says:

    Without FPTP, the major parties would split and governments would be a coalition of two or three of similar leanings. Fox Davis May and Tebbitt would lead the right wing end of the tories and absorb UKIP, who are basically Farage having the charisma to attract protest votes. Remember how downhill they were heading with anyone else at the helm, life will be more difficult whe they have to introduce the makings of a whole cabinet team and a whole set of policies. Cameron could be more at ease leading pro-Europe Conservatives, LibDems roughly where they stand, Labour could divide anywhere, Abbott/Livingstone/Skinner to the left wing minorities or maybe a more equal bisection between Blairites and Brownites.

Comments are closed.