You could call it a protest vote, yes

However, No10 sources dismissed Ukip’s success as “a protest vote”.

The question is, how many people in how many places are going to protest for how long?

Labour’s Andy Sawford yesterday took 17,267 votes, a lead of 7,791 over the Tories’ Christine Emmett.

Margot Parker, the Ukip candidate, got 5,108 votes, while Jill Hope for the Lib Dems got 1,770.

If these results hold as a percentage of votes cast across the country then that\’s pretty much it for any possibility of a Tory government ever again. Of course, they won\’t hold like this in every constituency across the country.

But even if the percentages don\’t hold up but the actual numbers do (for example, say UKIP voters are more motivated to actually vote, so percentage wise the number is flattered in low turnout by elections) that\’s still a serious problem for the idea of there being a Tory victory.

And as to what the protest is actually about: half the Tory party shares exactly the same concern. Membership of the EU. Indeed, the latest polls seem to suggest that more than half the electorate share the same concern.

To use an analogy, let us compare being subject to a \”protest vote\” as being akin to being hit by a moving vehicle. It really does make a difference whether it\’s a pram that nips your ankle or a 40 tonne truck that hits you head on, doesn\’t it? The Tory party is making out that it\’s the former: the national opinion polls showing likely GE votes anywhere in the 6-10% range (depends who, when, how they asked) upgrade it rather.

Is UKIP going to have an absolute majority of the Commons after the next GE? Nice to think so but I rather doubt it. But it can certainly stop the Tories having one. As, arguably, it significantly contributed to their failure last time.

9 comments on “You could call it a protest vote, yes

  1. UKIP generally perform well in by-elections, local elections and European elections but always cock up at the generals, presumably because likely voters see the alternative (a Labour government) and don’t want to take that risk. I don’t expect this to change any time soon. TBH I don’t know why the Tories don’t carve out some sort of strategic arrangement with them based on this dynamic. Pride? Concern about leaking support?

    If No 10 want to be worried about something, it’s the collapse of their erstwhile coalition partners.

  2. TBH I don’t know why the Tories don’t carve out some sort of strategic arrangement with them based on this dynamic. Pride? Concern about leaking support?

    Because under our first past the post electoral system, such an arrangement would be politically damaging to both parties.

    It’s accepted that single issue protest parties can and will play tactical games at general elections, hence no one will bat an eyelid at this new NHS Alliance party or whatever they’re calling themselves, and if you want to be seen as a mainstream party you can get away with making electoral pacts to fight both of the big two – Tory and Labour – but cutting pre-election deals with either of the two main parties will inevitably been seen as ‘not playing the game’ and that tends to play badly at the ballot box.

    It would be different under PR, where coalition government is almost always guaranteed, but under FPTP, if either the Tories or Labour to cut deals with minor parties before an election, this would be taken as a clear admission of failure. It sends a simple message to the electorate – we know we can’t win – and neither the Tories or Labour will want to send that message before an election.

  3. Mmmm, fair point. Didn’t see it from that perspective; I’d have assumed that a small bit of wheeling and dealing would be passable though that might have more to do with my overwhelming cynicism.

  4. “but cutting pre-election deals with either of the two main parties will inevitably been seen as ‘not playing the game’ and that tends to play badly at the ballot box”
    How about some evidence of this? Actual cases with numbers.

  5. UKIP didn’t make enough difference last time. That was Cameron and Osborne’s doing.

    The two threats for the Conservatives are UKIP and the collapse of the LDs. The LDs aren’t just seeing a reduction in votes and polling that is mid-term blues. I think that LD supporters had that whole hopey-changey going on. That they were somehow different to the other parties. But, the coalition has shown that they have to act just like other parties and make unpopular choices.

    What this means for the Conservatives is that the anti-Conservative vote is going to become more tactical than it already was. That means that a lot more marginal seats will go Labour at the next election as LD voters switch to Labour.

    Some of UKIPs vote was about using a vote in a by-election that doesn’t affect the electoral numbers. People vote in odd ways in by-elections. But I still think they’ll do better than last time because all the people who thought that this would be a small government party with a veneer of one-nation Conservatism are realising that ain’t the case.

  6. UKIP all the way, definately need a name/image change. There’s a fine line between what the economy needs and looking like a psychopath. Sort of like Reason.com vs Samizdata.net. Obviously its the same message but whenever people see me reading the latter I think they assume I’m a Norwegian suicide bomber

    I reckon if UKIP worked on the image a bit, more social liberalism and more on Jeremy Clarksonism/ Michael O’Learyism it would easily be a kingmaking party.

  7. Al,

    if all the UKIP votes in May 2010 had gone to Tory then Cammoron would have a majority in parliament

    Nope. The UKIP vote exceeded the majority vote in only 21 seats in 2010.

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