26 May 2014

Euro elections: ‘ignored’ voters hand Ukip victory

Most Ukip voters feel ignored by politicians and are nostalgic for the 1980s and early 90s, a period most of them believe was a better one in which to bring up children, a poll shows.

The YouGov poll for Channel 4 News gives a detailed picture of the people who handed Ukip a historic electoral victory. The party won the European elections; the first time a national vote has been won by any party other than Labour or the Conservatives in a century.

The Liberal Democrats were the night’s main losers, retaining only one of their 11 MEPs and dropping to sixth place, behind the Greens in fifth. Nick Clegg has consequently faced calls to resign as leader.

Labour came second, narrowly beating the Conservatives as Nigel Farage claimed to have pulled off the “most extraordinary result in British politics for 100 years” at their expense.

In all, Ukip had 24 MEPs elected and gained a 27.49 per cent share of the vote, up more than 10 points on 2009. Labour finished with 20 MEPs and a 25.40 per cent vote share, the Tories got 19 MEPs and a 23.93 per cent share. Below them were the Greens, with three MEPs and a 7.87 per cent share of the vote, while the Lib Dems managed a solitary MEP and 6.87 per cent of the vote.

Among the notable results was the election of Ukip’s first Scottish seat in European elections, with the party picking up 10.4 per cent of the votes north of the border. This compares with its 5.2 per cent share in 2009.

You can’t lose all of your MEPs bar one and pretend that nothing has happened. Martin Tod, Liberal Democrat

Ukip’s winning candidate in Scotland,David Coburn, who lives in Kensington in London, said that he would use his membership of the European Parliament to highlight what he called the “daft schemes they’re cooking up” in Brussels and to make himself redundant by getting Britain out of the EU.

He said: “On the bigger picture, Ukip has done well on the British stage as a whole and the fact that we’re winning in Scotland and got such a good score in Scotland – getting up to 14 per cent in some areas – is something we’re very proud of.”

‘Staggeringly disappointing’

In Wales, the Lib Dems lost their deposit and finished in sixth position. The mauling led to fresh criticism of Nick Clegg’s leadership, but senior figures came out to support him.

The party’s president Tim Farron said the deputy prime minister should not face a leadership challenge despite a “staggeringly disappointing” result.

He said that the Lib Dems had “paid the price” for the positioning itself as the natural alternative to Ukip’s anti-EU stance, campaigning on the virtues of the union. But he told Sky News that Clegg should be praised for having the backbone to take an unpopular position confront Ukip’s “threat to British cultural values”.

But Martin Tod, a councillor and member of the party’s federal executive, was scathing about the Lib Dems’ chances while Mr Clegg remained at the helm.

He told the BBC that voters would not back Mr Clegg: “What seems to be clear coming out of this is that they are not prepared to listen to our leader and that’s a really serious problem.

“It’s a problem that I think we need to address. You can’t lose all of your MEPs bar one and pretend that nothing has happened, that your strategy is perfect and you just need to carry on as you are and carry on delivering the leaflets and saying what we said in our leaflets this year and everything will be fine.”

In his acceptance speech after topping the poll in the south east, Mr Farage promised: “You have not heard the last of us.”

He said the party “bit very hard” into the Labour vote in northern England, almost topped the poll in Wales, gained a seat in Scotland and said “we are genuinely a UK Independence Party”.

He told reporters: “The message is people have had enough of not being told the truth and not being given the opportunity to express their opinion.

“Five years ago the Conservatives won, giving us a cast-iron guarantee of a referendum they didn’t deliver. We have had the Liberal Democrats and Labour over the years making these promises and there’s a very strong desire in this country to have a different relationship with Europe.”

Between now and the next election, I’m only going to be talking about my goal, which is all-out Conservative victory, and I believe that is achievable. David Cameron

According to the YouGov poll for Channel 4 News, Farage’s supporters were predominantly older than those of the other parties, with people aged over 60 plus their best demographic.

Ukip also did better in the C2DE social grades than the Tories and Labour, which relied on votes from people in the ABC1 bands. The party’s supporters were also more likely to be male.

In an interview with the BBC, Farage said that successive encouraging results in local elections gave Ukip a good grounding to win seats in Parliament.

He said: “We have proved in county council elections last year, district council elections this year, that we can win in the first past the post. Perhaps the most significant thing for us in the course of the last few days is we have built up clusters of local council seats and areas and that’s the model the Liberal Democrats used in the 1990s to build up in parliament.”

He left the door open to a pact with the Conservatives for next year’s general election, although he admitted it was unlikely. And that door was promptly slammed shut by the prime minister, who said he was only willing to discuss the possibility of a Tory majority.

Read Political Editor Gary Gibbon’s blog: David Cameron joins Nigel Farage attack on politicians

David Cameron joins Nigel Farage attack on politicians – See more at: http://blogs.channel4.com/gary-gibbon-on-politics/#sthash.EovxAiSc.dpuf

“I’m going to be very strict on this one,” he told BBC Radio 4’s the Today programme. “Between now and the next election, I’m only going to be talking about my goal, which is all-out Conservative victory, and I believe that is achievable.”

He dismissed Mr Farage’s anti-politics image as “a normal bloke in the pub”, describing him as “a consummate politician” and adding: “We have seen that with his expenses and his wife on the payroll.”

‘One man band’

Labour leader Ed Miliband said his party would resist calls to promise an in-out referendum on the European Union in response to Ukip’s victory.

While he admitted the result showed that there was a “desire for Europe to work better for Britain” among the public, he said his party would only back a national vote if a further transfer of powers to Brussels was being proposed.

In future, it will be less of me and more of them. Nigel Farage

Speaking on Monday, Farage said he planned to reshape his party ahead of the general election to stop it being perceived as a “one man band”.

“I think the British public in the run-up to a general election want to see a team,” he said. “We’ve had some very able men and women elected overnight, and what I’m going to do is put in place spokesmen for the NHS, for defence, for immigration and jobs, and I’m going to make sure I have the right people in place who will get on top of their briefs.

“In future, it will be less of me and more of them.”

Mr Farage accepted that Ukip had suffered from “some failures” in its vetting process for election candidates, but blamed the media for highlighting gaffes from his party while ignoring nearly 20 councillors from other parties who he said had been arrested during the campaign.

“There’s a fair bit of media bias against us,” he said.