Today’s Independent is carrying a news item that should not come as a huge surprise. Apparently the Conservatives are likely to warn voters that vote for Ukip (United Kingdom Independence Party) could allow Labour to retain power.
At the last general election Ukip scored an average of 2.9% of the vote where it. Analysis of the results by John Curtice, professor of politics ad Strahclyde University, suggests that Ukip inflicted much more damage on the Tories than it did on Labour and may have prevented the Tories winning up to 16 seats. Tories performed 1.7 percentage points worse where Ukip did well, while Labour dropped by only 0.6 points. This suggests that for every vote Ukip secured from Labour, it won three from the Tories.
The "Ukip effect" meant that Labour may have held on to 11 seats that would otherwise have been lost to the Tories while it may have helped the Liberal Democrats to win an additional four seats which would otherwise have gone Tory (to me this is no huge surprise. Ukip looks like a party that would appeal more to disaffected tories).
Ukip seems to have had some good news recently: it gained its first two peers while two maor tory backers (Stuart Wheeler, and Lord Kalms), have more than hinted that may vote for Ukip. The party is expected to announce a big donation from a former Tory backer shortly.
The news that Ukip may have allowed us to hold on to some in 2005 is not a huge surprise (isn’t it just vote splitting?). The Referendum Party helped us a little in 1997 too. I am sure that the votes gained by the Referendum Party in Romford in 1997 turned a “close run thing” into a victory for Eileen Gordon (Shame she lost to Rosindell in 2001 but she is very proud she had the chance to represent Romford in parliament but I digress) . At the moment Cameron seems to be resisting internal pressure to take a more eurosceptic line but if Ukip siphons off a few major donors and has a better showing in the opinion polls I wonder how long it will take him to change his stance?