Posts Tagged ‘Newark by-election’

We’ve passed peak Ukip but Labour has yet to hit rock bottom

06/06/2014, 11:57:55 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Two lessons are clear from the Newark by-election result, one for Ukip and one for Labour.

First, we’ve passed peak Ukip. Despite the blitz of media around the European elections and the dutiful trotting out of tropes about “political earthquakes” by the likes of the BBC, Ukip failed in Newark.

They weren’t even close. Forget earthquake. Losing by almost 20% to an unpopular incumbent government doesn’t count as a tremor or even an HGV rumbling down the road.

Newark has exposed Ukip’s hopeless lack of ground organisation and the extent to which their brand was toxified in the recent European election campaign.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Ukip’s momentum was clearly reversed during the Euro-campaign; from a poll high of 31% before the racism furore, to 27.5% in the European election itself. And from a starting point of 23% equivalent national vote share in last year’s local elections, they fell to 17% in this year’s contests.

Despite the breathless media coverage that greeted Ukip’s results, their direction of travel was down at the point voters went to the polls. The Newark result confirms that they are still on this trajectory.

The enormous disparity between male and female voters in Survation’s final constituency poll – 36.8% of men backed Ukip versus 16.8% of women – illustrates the extent to which Ukip has a major problem with women and is indicative of how they are now seen as an angry, boorish, prejudiced party.

For the 80% of Britons who live in cities, for young people, for women and for anyone from a minority community – be it religious, ethnic or LGBT – Ukip are increasingly electoral poison.

At the general election next year, Ukip will discover that there simply aren’t enough old, angry white men for them to break through.

But in a sense, this was always going to happen. Ukip were and remain in large part, a media construct. When voters go to the polls at elections where they expect something from their representatives – as opposed to the European elections – time and time again, they have shown that they do not trust Ukip.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Farage fears UKIP can’t win a ground war

30/04/2014, 03:23:09 PM

by Kevin Meagher

So Nigel Farage has decided to act strategically rather than tactically by not putting himself forward for the Newark by-election.

He knows two things only too well. The first and most obvious is that because he’s so publicly the face of UKIP, he cannot damage his own brand – and by extension the party’s – by standing and losing.

Second, he knows his party’s organisation isn’t yet strong enough to take on the other parties polished by-election operations in a tough fight.

Announcing his decision on Radio Four’s Today programme this morning to accusations he was “frit”, Farage described himself as “a fighter and a warrior but I am determined to pick my battles”.

To continue the military analogies, Farage knows that he’s successful at hit-and-run tactical opportunism and runs a good air war, using his media profile to good effect to rain down rhetorical bombs on the Tories’ crumbling fortifications.

But when it comes to the ground war – where elections are won and lost – Farage’s troops are still raw recruits, while his boots are more used to treading the manicured lawn of College Green than Newark High Street.

UKIP seemed genuinely put out at Labour’s postal vote operation in the Wythenshawe by-election in February, with Farage claiming: “I have been on benders for longer than the opening of the nominations and the start of the postal ballots. This has been a farce.”

If he doesn’t understand how the postal vote system works in elections, then he really isn’t ready for close electoral combat.

But UKIP is learning.  Building membership and organisation, getting tough with errant candidates, learning political tradecraft and raising enough cash to keep the show on the road is the boring bit of politics. But without it, UKIP has no chance of making a breakthrough.

Farage knows this. He is biding his time, hoping that he turns his barmy army into crack shots in time for next year’s general election.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon