Well, here we are, a week after the momentous European and Local elections when UKIP did indeed deliver on the “political earthquake” Nigel Farage predicted. So, how do things look for at least some tremors in May 2015?
I’m going to base my analysis on the 5 “Ps”: Polls, Psephology, “Players”, Press and Politics. And then dare to do a Prediction.
The 2015 General Election opinion polls are both misleading and unhelpful to our cause, although they are very helpful to the Tory and Labour cause – some will say deliberately so. Most do not prompt for UKIP, and they currently average around 15%. Not only are they pessimistic but they reflect neither the hot nor cool spots for UKIP.
However, three Polls of late provide a far better source of reliable information for UKIP: those which have looked at how many of European election voters UKIP can retain in 2015. The three polls are:
- Lord Ashcroft Exit Poll – This recorded that 51% of UKIP voters in 2014 would vote for UKIP in 2015, with 14% Don’t Knows, so perhaps that might resolve to 60% on the day.
- ComRes/ITV Poll – ComRes interviewed 2,060 British adults online after the election. They found that 72% of voters would stick with UKIP.
- ComRes/Sykes Poll – UKIP’s big backer, Paul Sykes, commissioned a ComRes poll which asked the question differently in terms of certainty to vote UKIP in 2015, which returned 37% “certains” and 49% “likelies”: that makes 86%.
For my own analysis, I’ll stick with the one in the median figure –72%.
The OED defines this as “the study of trends in elections and voting”. Amongst my many interests, I’m an amateur psephologist. Numbers aren’t everything, but they are important realities. Having captured the European election data down at counting authority level (local councils), I am now in the process of capturing the data from both the 2013 and 2014 local elections. Resolving this into predictions for each seat is a non-trivial exercise too, as it also requires data on the relationship between Westminster seats and the count authority areas (for the European data) and for divisions and wards in respect of Council elections. These boundaries are not tidy ones, either, with many splits.
Today, I’m able to point to some top “chances” based on the European election results, but my mapping of boundaries has only been completed for the Eastern Region, so the certainty of my analysis is greater for that area than others. And that analysis is based, at present, solely on the European election results, factored by the median ComRes/ITV poll findings.
Before presenting my results, we must consider the key “players”. In respect of each constituency, they are our elected UKIP Councillors. Their individual and collective performance over the coming year will be crucial in winning votes in each affected constituency.
However, at this point, I can only take account of the numbers of councillors covering each constituency – qualitative analysis of the coming year requires a crystal ball!
The Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) is also a “player” in the local contest, but we know from our experience that if the candidate is from the “right” party for that part of the country even a monkey could be elected – not that I am suggesting any UKIP candidates are monkeys. Far from it, with the hostile press, we must ensure that our PPCs are smarter, sharper and more properly articulate than those of the other parties.
As already alluded to, how the Press (or media) handles us and how we handle them is crucial to our performance next year. This topic could fill a whole article in itself, but what we have seen is that their denigration of UKIP has helped divide voters – those who their smears have driven closer to us, and those who have been driven further away. Reducing the number of people “driven away” is a critical task, I suggest, which requires us playing a broader set of cards than immigration and the EU.
Nationally, how well UKIP presents its policies against the way the other parties present theirs is crucial. There is a severe danger of the Conservatives copying some of UKIP’s policies, or perhaps just gesturing to copy some. The other aspect is how well senior UKIPpers perform – in this respect, I am pleased that Nigel plans to appoint a mini Shadow Cabinet, presumably from amongst his MEPs.
Now, the moment you have all been waiting for. There are some health warnings on this:
- It is only based on the European election results by local council, and how many elected UKIP Councillors there are. I have not (as yet) considered local election results.
- It is based on the median result of 1 exit poll and 2 opinion polls (72% stay with UKIP). For the two opinion polls, I have used the proportions of which party 2014 supporters not voting UKIP in 2015 have opted for: 18% Tory, 9% Labour, 1% Lib Dem.
- I have also made assumptions on 2015 voting intentions for people who voted for “small” parties. For example, I guess that the majority who voted for “An Independence from Europe” would vote UKIP in 2015, given many did so in error.
- Those who vote in General Elections only are complete unknowns, of course.
- Other seats not mentioned may well be close to a win based on present data, and may be able to pull themselves up to a winning position by 2015.
So, here’s my rather loose prediction of potential UKIP General Election wins within those caveats, grouped by region, where the predicted UKIP votes (as adjusted by the factors above) in the council areas that counted Euro results would indicate wins in the co-located constituencies, graded Excellent, Probable or Possible.
So, that’s 12 “Excellents”, 4 “Probables” and 6 “Possibles”. However, it’s based on the state of (European) election results and opinion polls today. There are a lot more seats not far behind those listed above, but the table represents the ones supported by the best numbers.
And, remember this: a week is a long time in politics, and a year is an aeon!