UKIP Daily has been privileged to receive an advance copy of British Future’s “State of the Nation 2015” survey, which captures the way that people think and often disagree about identity, immigration, integration and opportunity. It is all thanks to UKIP’s Gawain Towler, and Sunder Katwala, the Director of British Future. We make no apologies for it being a long article, but it is well broken up with graphics, and it will be an important tool in each UKIP activist’s toolkit.
British Future is firmly independent and non-partisan, but the report is based on a poll conducted for them by ICM, who surveyed 2,285 adults between 28-30 November 2014. However, the number of interviews with respondents in Scotland was boosted to 400 (about double a normal Scottish sample) and it is unclear how the weightings to get the right distributions were applied to this.
Some of the opening words in the report set the whole tone:
“After decades with a rather predictable two-party set-up, made even less exciting as the two parties converged on the centre ground, it feels like we’ve regained some buzz in our politics.
Our new ICM poll for this year’s State of the Nation report finds that most people think a Conservative-led government is more likely than a Labour-led one. Yet it remains tight. No party has more than 17% of the public saying they’ll ‘definitely’ vote for them…
…In an election which may well be dominated by questions about immigration and Europe, not everyone is confident that we can emerge from the debate unscathed, with social and community cohesion intact. Our poll finds that only a quarter of Britons believe we can come through the 2015 election campaign secure that we can have good community relations across our multi-faith and multi-ethnic society… uncertainty about the outcome of an election is a good thing in a democracy. Uncertainty about whether we can handle having the debates, however, is not.”
In terms of UKIP, their scene-setting remark is:
“For UKIP, this election is the party’s big moment in the spotlight. It could be their chance to shine and to show that they are a credible, mainstream party. But spotlights show up people’s flaws. UKIP politicians, including the party leader, have overstepped the mark in past campaigns. “
Additional general advice that UKIP could heed came with this comment:
“Voters expect political leaders who want to govern our country to talk about all of the big issues facing Britain, not just those where their party is more popular.”
While this is a year of uncertainty, British Future are confident that in the 75th year since the historic defeat of fascism in the Battle of Britain, it can be shown once again that “our values of democracy, free speech and tolerance will prevail”.
Who will win?
This is the key question, and this graph shows what the electorate would like the answer to be:
The graph represents their personal preferences, and it can be seen that UKIP has a high “toxocity” rating, albeit not as bad as the Liberal Democrats. However, when it comes to a less partisan view from the voter, this graph showed a less unfavourable position for UKIP:
Who has decided?
Canvassers, and those formulating leaflets, need to know how firm voter’s choices are. Here’s the answer:
“Many people are passionate about the election choices available – just over half of the country is already 100% certain about how they will vote in May – but in quite different ways. They each make up a series of minority electoral tribes. The hardest thing for these partisans may be to understand why the voters who they need to persuade don’t already see the world as they do.”
Many people actually vote for a Prime Minister, rather than a party or local candidate, and this graph shows an interesting response:
I’ll quote their analysis of it:
“One in three (35%) of those who are certain to vote UKIP predict that Nigel Farage will be standing waving on the steps of number 10 Downing Street as our next Prime Minister. These ‘definitely UKIP’ voters make up a tenth of the electorate. If only a (sizeable) minority of them anticipate Prime Minister Farage, most (78%) of the committed UKIP vote believes that UKIP will be in the government after May’s election.”
First Time Voters
There are 3.3 million first-time General Election voters this time. 31% of them are certain to vote (compared to 77% of the over 65s) and 31% may do. So, how do they see the world, compared to those older voters:
“Immigration still features as an electoral issue for this generation of voters, but less prominently than for their elders… young voters are not persuaded by arguments that a tough immigration policy is the solution to their education and employment problems.”
This graph shows that the young are less certain about their vote than older people. So, while UKIP polls low amongst younger voters, it seems 63% of them have an open mind on it. It is worrying, however, that 47% of older voters would “never” vote for us.
The Big Issue
This graph tells us what the big issues are, for all voters, and the young:
Older people focus on the NHS and Immigration, while younger voters, while still seeing the NHS as important, also focus on Unemployment and Education. The report also looks at how voting intention affects their ranking of the issues:
In addition to our key messages on Immigration and Europe, which will appeal to Tory converts, we also need to broadcast our positive message on the NHS and “Living standards” to appeal to swing Labour and Lib Dem voters. Take note of their words here:
“Immigration ranks first for UKIP voters and second for Conservatives, but fifth for Labour voters, and as low as 12th for Liberal Democrats. While UKIP voters rank Europe second to immigration, and Conservatives place it fifth, it was the ninth and tenth priority for Lib Dem and Labour voters respectively”
We must be careful with the immigration issue, as it is one where there are two opposing camps of voters. 38% think that UKIP is a “dangerous and divisive party” risking bringing prejudice into debates about immigration, mostly feeling less should be discussed on immigration. 29% see it the other way around, seeing UKIP as “an important new voice just saying what most people think” and mostly wanting the debate opened up.
I would suggest that more of Douglas Carswell’s line is needed, that UKIP is “for all Britain and all Britons, first and second generation as much as every other.”
How well will UKIP do?
UKIP’s supporters have wildly varying degrees of optimism (and pessimism) regarding our chances. They range from a significant percentage who see Nigel as the PM, to a minority who feel UKIP will never be in government. The report talks about two types of UKIP voter, the “committed core” and “considerers”:
“This committed UKIP core is against all immigration – and would cut student migration and skilled migration from inside and outside the EU, and is deeply sceptical about the allegiance and loyalty of British Muslims. However, those who are ‘UKIP considerers’ don’t agree on any of those points and instead share the views of the moderate majority that immigration brings pressures to manage as well as benefits to Britain.”
The views of UKIP’s strongest supporters could be a headache for UKIP, for three reasons:
- Our Strongest supporters may be among UKIP’s most vocal champions on social media
- We need to reach out to the ‘moderate majority’ (the anxious middle) voters from the “left behind” base, as characterised in this pie chart:
- Voters who would leave the EU, but are not firmly decided, are considerably more moderate on immigration than the UKIP core.
The graph used here also introduces the term “the anxious middle” who are moderate voters, worrying about balancing multiple issues, and wondering who to vote for. Capturing them will be crucial for the winner in each constituency and across the nation
Other Key Questions
The report asks if Scotland will decide future of the UK? There is a strong chance that SNP could be part of the next government. The report has a whole section on whether there will be a sequel to the “Scotland and the Union” debate.
For Wales, there was a BBC Wales poll in December 2014, which showed UKIP leading Plaid Cymru by 18% to 12% in a striking margin across Wales. UKIP’s gains were over the course of just one year, mainly at the expense of Labour.
The report also asks if the Liberal Democrats can survive and even recover? A larger proportion say they would never vote Lib Dem, more so than for UKIP. There is a also similar level of actual and potential support for both the Green Party and the Lib Dems, at 8%. The Lib Dem strategy will be to defend the seats that it already holds, with incumbent MPs. That means it will be a tough fight for us in places like Eastleigh.
Could the Greens beat the Yellows in terms of seats? A much higher proportion of younger voters support them, but will they turn out to vote in concentrated numbers in any one constituency?
The question was asked of voters who they might consider voting for. The results of this are reasonably encouraging for us, showing UKIP as a potential choice than the Lib Dems or Greens, but Labour is a choice for more people than any other party.
The EU question
The survey also looks past the election, at the potential EU Referendum. A lot of people are undecided, only a third certain of their vote, but of those firmly IN or OUT, or leaning that way, give us encouragement:
This more detailed graph shows the IN/OUT preferences by some different groups of people:
The wind is taken out of our sails though, by their comment that: “the ‘out’ campaign would need to tackle the possible toxification of the eurosceptic cause by it’s most public champion.” (UKIP). This graph illustrates that perception of toxicity:
Those favouring voting for “IN” are extremely negative about UKIP, with the “dangerous and divisive” view.
Section 11 talks about the Muslim integration debate. Given Nigel’s recent input following the Paris killings, British Future have this advice for UKIP:
“The State of the Nation findings show why the idea of a fifth column will have resonated with UKIP’s strongest supporters, but also suggest that it would not be in UKIP’s interests to stoke-up issues of Muslim integration. Beyond principled objections about the risks of doing so, it is also clear that this would be more likely to narrow the party’s appeal than to extend it.”
However, we do have a positive figure in widening this debate to those who do not see a fifth column:
“Other voices in UKIP, particularly Communities spokesman Ajmad Bashir, have struck a more constructive and nuanced tone in discussing British Muslim identity and integration. It would make an important difference if more of his party colleagues were to join him in this.”
This is a crucial poll and survey that all UKIP activists should read from cover to cover. It’s available online here, in full.