What are the implications of the collapse of the anti-EU party?
On June 10th 2004 in the last European elections, UKIP received 2.7 million votes and gained twelve seats in the European Parliament. Their national vote share of just under 17% put them in third place ahead of the Lib Dems and all the talk was of the party doing terrible damage to Michael Howard Conservatives in the ensuing general election.
When that vote came, just eleven months later, the party received a paltry 618,000 votes which amounted to less than 2.4% of the national vote. It did not win any Westminster seats although it’s argued that the performances of their candidates in key marginals cost the Tories a clutch of seats.
Earlier in 2007 the party was making the headlines again when two former Conservative Lords defected. Lords Pearson and Willoughby de Broke said they felt Cameron’s Conservative Party was not producing policy to support their beliefs.
Today, Julian Glover in the Guardian reports that in the latest poll published this morning UKIP did not register at all. Not a single respondent said the party would be their choice.
UKIP, like other smaller parties, is suffering from the increasing polarisation of big party politics. The question is whether this will have an impact on the number of seats changing hands and if so how should punters factor this in? For the UKIP element does not figure in the standard seat predictors except in so far as a part of the decline in support might mean switching to other parties.
We saw in the ICM marginals poll on the weekend that Gord called off the election that the Tories were doing well in the key seats. In that survey five people said they would vote UKIP.
All this is why in my commons seat spread betting I’m now assuming that the Tories will do a little better than the Baxter and Wells seat predictors suggest. When you have Â£100 a seat positions the odd five gains or losses either way can make a big difference.
Meanwhile on the Betfair general election “most seats” market the Tories have moved into the favourite slot once again.