Coffee House

Nigel Farage shouldn’t get Ukip’s hopes up for a win in Portsmouth South

24 April 2013

11:56 AM

24 April 2013

11:56 AM

Talk of a by-election in Portsmouth South has been growing, fuelled by allegations against MP Mike Hancock. And, in a speech to the parliamentary press gallery lunch yesterday, Nigel Farage claimed Ukip could win it. The reasoning is simple: Ukip are on the up, and they came within 2,000 votes and 5 percentage points of a win in Eastleigh, so surely they can go over the top in another Hampshire by-election where the Lib Dem incumbent has had to step down amidst a scandal.

Of course Ukip could win — but its chances may not be as high as that reasoning suggests. Indeed, Farage himself seems to think his party would be more likely than not to lose. He said ‘I would think that the odds on Ukip winning it would be 2/1, 3/1 at Ladbrokes and elsewhere.’ That prediction raises two questions: would the bookies offer those odds? And should you take them if they do?

The Eastleigh by-election provides a reasonable point of reference. When Chris Huhne resigned, Ladbrokes initially offered 6/1 against a Ukip victory, but immediately lengthened those odds to 12/1 when Farage declared that he wouldn’t stand. They went further out to 25/1 before tightening during the closing days back to 6/1 on polling day. Are there good reasons to think Ukip would be that much more likely to win in Portsmouth South than they were in Eastleigh? (Odds of 6/1 translate to a 14.3 per cent chance; 3/1 to 25 per cent and 2/1 to 33.3 per cent.)


Ukip do seem to have moved up slightly in the national polls since the Eastleigh by-election: the Polling Observatory aggregation put together by Drs Rob Ford, Will Jennings and Mark Pickup has them rising from 9.3 per cent on 1 March to 11.2 per cent on 1 April.

But even if the national picture is better for them when the by-election takes place, the demographics of Portsmouth South look less favourable to Ukip than Eastleigh’s. In particular, Portsmouth South is much younger than Eastleigh: the mean age is 35 compared to 39.5. In Eastleigh, over-60s make up 27.9 per cent of the adult population; in Portsmouth South they’re just 19.6 per cent. Partly because it contains the University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth South has 6,900 full-time students to Eastleigh’s 2,200. 38 per cent of the adult population is under 30, compared to 18.4 per cent in Eastleigh.

This matters because Ukip relies on older voters to greater extent than the other parties. In February, YouGov found that 48 per cent of Ukip supporters were over 60, while just 8 per cent were under 30. Of course, they’re helped by the fact that older people are much more likely to vote — especially in low-turnout by-elections. But we can expect the average Portsmouth South voter to be at least slightly younger — and therefore less likely to vote Ukip — than the average Eastleigh voter.

And, like in Eastleigh, the Liberal Democrats dominate at a local government level — they hold 17 of the 18 City Council seats in the constituency (the Tories have one).

So, rather than ‘Ukip nearly won Eastleigh, surely they’ll win Portsmouth South’, a more realistic framing might be ‘Ukip didn’t win Eastleigh, surely they won’t win Portsmouth South’. A Ukip victory is certainly possible, but I’d need much more generous odds than 2/1 or 3/1 to bet on it.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Will Bates UKIP

    WRONG WRONG WRONG. this is as many of the students are NOT REGISTERED to vote in portsmouth, moreover many of the younger people will NOT turn out. Many libdem voters in pmth voted dem to ‘keep the tories out’ they will loose these obviously and the votes of the students that do vote due to uni fees who will have no choice but to vote UKIP as the last 2010 lib dem leaflet said ‘labour can’t win here’

  • Smithersjones2013

    Ah once again the Coffee Houses resident anti-UKIP poster is out peddling his less than complete analysis of the situation.

    1) Firstly the older nature of the UKIP voter is a logical result of UKIP support initially coming from former Tory voters. However with the arrival within the party of the likes of Diane James and Angharad Yeo (the 34 year old mother of one and daughter of Labour’s current NEC chair) attempting to dismiss UKIP as an old age right of centre party is becoming increasingly risible. Older voters were just the first to tire of the venal nature of the establishment parties. Others are beginning to follow.

    2) Eastleigh was in one way a watershed. For the first time UKIP demonstrated they were capable of seriously challenging for a seat. Portsmouth South is just down the road. They will be acutely aware of this should a by election be called. Voters who wish to snub the establishment can do so by voting UKIP. It has a larger Labour vote (in % share terms) than Eastleigh to run a ‘stop the coalition’ campaign and still a large Tory vote to plunder.

    3) If Hancock, who is far less well known and far less significant than Huhne, is forced to resign it will be for a far more distasteful reason than Huhne (there is no anti-establishment defence of Hancocks alleged activities) and will be the second occasion in rapid succession where a LibDem has been shown to be corrupt.Not only that but being less significant I suggest would mean he has less ‘celebrity power’ to keep the Libdem vote solid. A targetted campaign can paint the Libdems with the sleaze allegation. The Libdem vote should be significantly softer as a result.

    4) As a recent Ipsos Mori poll indicated UKIP voters generally are far more motivated to turn out than other voters. Given the circumstances: Libdem malfeasance, Coalition unpopularity, Labour being rejected and subsequently seemingly deserting the such southern seats (on the basis of their paltry efforts in Eastleigh ~ so much for one nation Labour) the situation is ripe for a populist 4th party to come in and take many votes.

    5) Generally UKIP’s electoral visibility and their communication of their message is growing exponentially. For the first time they are probably becoming visible to the majority of voters.

    6) There is a vast pool of voters across the nation (over 40% of the electorate in Portsmouth South in 2010 whereas Eastleigh was just over 30%) that have turned their back on the three establishment parties. UKIP have shown signs of being able to motivate some of that disaffected vote.

    The argument “So, rather than ‘Ukip nearly won Eastleigh, surely they’ll win
    Portsmouth South’, a more realistic framing might be ‘Ukip didn’t win
    Eastleigh, surely they won’t win Portsmouth South’”
    . is I feel less than genuine and given Jones’ previous hatchet job on UKIP just demonstrates his personal prejudice..

    The proper assessment I suggest is that UKIP stand a somewhat better chance (but by no means a certainty) of winning Portsmouth South should a by election be held than they did Eastleigh. The big consideration and big unknown is whether the May elections provide UKIP further momentum (and particularly how they do in Hampshire) or whether they undermine the progress so far. It’s all about maintaining their momentum. As for the betting odds I’ll leave that to those better acquainted with gambling but I would have thought they should be better than Eastleigh.

  • Colin Megson

    There is no single, more important policy needed than one guaranteeing our energy security. UKIP’s energy policy strongly supports nuclear power – good enough to get my vote.

    UKIP needs to get behind the GE Hitachi offer to burn our plutonium stockpile using their PRISM reactor, and rid us of our proliferation risks. It’s payment by results – no successful outcome, no charge on taxpayers. It’s costing £80 million a year to store, care for and guard this material.

    This political no-brainer decision needs making now – get behind it, Nigel.

  • Lord Palmerston

    This article is a rare piece of good sense in response to Farage’s nonsense, which has had no critical examination at all in the national press whenever he talks about Portsmouth. At the last local elections, UKIP had no candidates in the city. UKIP
    have only just got as far as setting up a branch here. There are no local elections here this year, which spares UKIP blushes about struggling to find candidates. If there were a by-election tomorrow, Farage would parachute in one of his pals again, just as he did at Eastleigh. Vote UKIP in Portsmouth and all you will help the Lib Dems.

    In Portsmouth we are all sick of Lib Dem maladministration of our council, sick of the embarrassment of Mike Hancock, and apprehensive at the prospect of Lord Rennard’s old No.2, Cllr Vernon-Jackson, taking over the Lib Dem candidacy. We need to get rid of the Lib Dems from Westminster and Portsmouth CC. UKIP have got no recipe for achieving that aim.

    • Russell

      Many LibDem voters and Tory voters are sick of both parties. If the people in Portsmouth really want to make a difference to UK politics they should vote UKIP and shake the establishment to its knees.

    • AnotherDaveB

      Hampshire county council elections are on May 2nd, lets see how UKIP performs in those.

      • Lord Palmerston

        Why? Nobody in Portsmouth votes in Hampshire County Council elections! Portsmouth has been a unitary authority for years,

    • Chris lancashire

      I suspect you will find little support in this forum for your injection of sanity.

    • Stan_J

      Firstly, UKIP don’t exist to prop up the Tories. They’re two different parties. If they can’t win with a little competition then they’re clearly not offering the electorate what they want.

      Secondly, you accuse UKIP supporters of helping the Lib Dems WHEN IT WAS THE CONSERVATIVES WHO PUT THEM IN GOVERNMENT.

      Vote Tory, get Lib Dems.

    • Smithersjones2013

      I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that someone who uses a Victorian Tory Prime Minister as his nick comes out with that tired , hackneyed and discredited ‘vote x get y’ argument.

      Of course the irony is that in this case he says voting UKIP gets us the Libdems when at the last general election we all voted Tory and we got the Libdems!

      There are many things that the Tories can be accused of but originality and competent political strategy are not two of them.

      Thank you Lord Palmerston . You reminded me of how this clip reminds me of contemporary Tories:

      • terence patrick hewett

        Palmerston was never a Tory he was more of a Conservative-Whig-Liberal. He reminds me of Boris Johnson

        • Wessex Man

          Did youi know him then?

          • terence patrick hewett

            Boris Johnson reminds me of Lord Palmerston, both in his oratorical delivery and his popularity. Boris is popular because people feel he is on their side against the big battalions. Against those people who, as W S Gilbert opined “love every country but their own.” Or, as Palmerston neatly put it; against those who propagate the view that “everything that was English was wrong, and everything that was hostile to England was right.” The diverse peoples of London know that they are in no danger from libertarian Boris, but John Knox and his Merry Men are right to fear what he represents. He carries on a very English tradition like the very media savvy Palmerston and Disraeli.

            Palmerston at the age of 79 stood accused of seducing Margaret O’Kane, an actress and the wife of an Irish journalist Thaddeus O’Kane who claimed that his wife and the PM had made love on several occasions at Pam’s Piccadilly mansion, Cambridge House. Disraeli guessed, accurately, that the “absurd escapade” would boost Palmerston’s popularity and remarked that he thought Pam had done it on purpose.

            The joke went round the clubs, “She may be Kane but is Palmerston Abel?”

            Your current day politicos are mickey-mouse compared to them.

      • Lord Palmerston

        All you, and those others who have made a similar point, have illustrated is that you don’t understand the difference between the electoral politics of a general election and those of by-elections and city councils.

        Such blind obsession with “how dreadful the Tories are” is likely to end up with Lib Dems remaining in power in Portsmouth, and retaining Portsmouth South when the seat is next contested.

  • Magnolia

    Mr Farage needs to get a grip on his image because he is in danger of repelling younger cultured ladies by trying to appeal to a bit of manly old rough.
    Tweed jackets and wooly ties are part of normal country wear but look naff when a politician wears them all the time. The tweed jacket looks smarter and good with an opened neck plain white shirt and sensible jeans.
    No politician should openly admit to going to a strip club willingly without being prepared to lose many, many female votes. They might not make up for the male ones that he gains.
    I know it’s a man thing but no woman politician would make the mistake of admitting to watching the Chippendales. Too crude and earthy.
    UKIP have unbeatable policies which appeal to the low paid of both sexes, but particularly to poor women voters. Their stand on immigration will attract women voters because it reduces the competition for their jobs. Women who go out to clean will vote UKIP to keep immigration down, but not if they find Mr Farage repulsive.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Tweed jackets and wooly ties are part of normal country wear but look
      naff when a politician wears them all the time. The tweed jacket looks
      smarter and good with an opened neck plain white shirt and sensible

      Calm down dear and get yourself some new specs. Farage is not wearing tweed or a woollen tie in the picture above.

      • Magnolia

        I’ve seen photos of the offending garments.
        It is the normal attire of seventy year old + men where I live.
        It brackets him too much.

        • terence patrick hewett

          See you at Blandings Magnolia.

          • Magnolia

            Spouse is the expert on Wodehouse.
            I never liked it much.

            • terence patrick hewett

              The Heralds of the Red Dawn and Roderick Spode’s Black Shorts are at it again. Bingo Little has fallen for Charlotte Corday Rowbotham and Comrade Butt is not impressed. Bertie Wooster has been pushed by Aunt Dahlia into accompanying her to Marsham Manor so she cannpersuade Cornelia Fothergill to publish her latest novel in her magazine Milady’s Boudoir. However, she doesn’t tell Bertie that she wants him to steal
              a painting to accomplish this. Who is the mysterious Eulalie? Can Jeeves save the day? Apparently not!

    • thanksdellingpole

      You sound exactly like the type of person who’d vote for one of them main three parties.

      • Magnolia

        Never voted Labour.
        Voted Mrs T in 1979.
        Did not vote for JM.
        Voted Referendem Party in 1997.

        I would like to continue to support the decent Tory parliamentary backbenchers (John Redwood etc.) but my own Camacaroon clone MP has never rebelled, voted for gay marriage and has been caught asking planted questions at PMQs.

        I know that Labour are the enemy.
        I am free thinking and as comment is allowed here I do so.

  • Ray Veysey

    Liblabcon supporters have started the combined assault on UKIP, I smell fear, determined not to give up their exclusive club, in which they would rather have the completely hopeless lib dems than anyone else, and all looking for coat tails to hang on to. You have nothing but fear in you and fear to sell, let the people have a fair run at it? not while the Spectator and others can influence the result.

    • Andrew Parke

      “the demographics of Portsmouth South look less favourable to Ukip than Eastleigh’s”

      Ah, but there are also less postal voters than in Eastleigh. After all, more people voted for UKIP on the day in Eastleigh than for anyone else- it was postal votes that won it for the Lib Dems.

      • ArchiePonsonby

        Ah yes, postal votes! Remember: it’s not the votes that count, it’s who counts the votes.

    • ArchiePonsonby

      Same thing over at the Telegraph, with some particularly vapid nonsense being spouted over there. Hmmmm! The Speccer and the Telegraph. Now let me see, what do they both have in common…………………………………..?

  • George Igler

    I do so love these, “Why won’t UKIP just go away?” articles, when they appear in the Telegraph or the Speccie.

    • tele_machus

      Could not agree more
      UKIP is a wonderful magnet for the crazy end of the Tory vote
      Those attracted in the Tory marginals will give us a famous victory in 2015

      • Bickers

        And if Labour does win maybe it can clear up the mess it created and left to the Coalition. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tories have concluded that the mess is so great it makes sense to lose the next election.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Well, the Cameroons are certainly acting like they want to lose the next election.

        • tele_machus

          Thank god there will be time enough to ensure the damage to the NHS goes no further

          • Tony Quintus

            Enough time to dig the economic hole even deeper and prove to the population once and for all that Labour cannot handle power.

          • The Sage

            What damage? Surely, the NHS’ death camps can’t be damaged further. Let’s remember all this Staffordshire stuff happened under Labour’s watch and when Gordon Brown was fire-hosing money (sorry, investing in our key public services) at the NHS.

      • alabenn

        UKIP is a wonderful magnet for the crazy end of the Tory vote

        They are doing exceptionally well in South Shields, so which end of the Labour party are they attracting.

    • thanksdellingpole

      Especially right now, remember this after all the bother is over.

  • Guest

    UKip might have peaked in terms of opinion polls @ 17%, which may in turn give them 50-70 new council seats on May 2nd. But the knives, which are being keenly sharpened in the shape of imminent television exposes of UKip, may lower their popularity in the coming months.

    • AnotherDaveB

      What knives? Hostile press? Been done. Smears from political opponents? Been done.

      UKIP’s support keeps rising.

    • The_Missing_Think

      Any anti-political debate tactics used, are going to be risky for the anti-Ukippers, as the impatient punters want political solutions to large political problems, not more deja vu character assassinations.

      And going to any lengths to avoid open, honest debate of ‘the main issues’, hints towards concealed motivations, rather than helping to navigate towards the, ‘we’re all in it together’, sunny uplands.

    • Smithersjones2013

      What is Calamity Clegg going to call UKIP supporters ‘swivel-eyed’ or is Dave going to repeat his ‘fruitcakes’ comment or is Warsi going to make snide BNP hints again? is Miliband going to chunter on about who UKIP may or may not associate with in Europe (overlooking the appalling associations that all three establishment parties

    • terence patrick hewett

      Abuse almost always backfires. When Kaiser Bill called the British Expeditionary Army “a contemptible little army” they called themselves the Old Contemptibles. When the Soviets called Mrs T The Iron Lady it was used as a term of admiration. I rather think Daves’ Fruitcakes, Loonies et al will come back to haunt him to extinction.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        I want the ‘T’ shirt.

    • Ray Veysey

      I have seen this exact comment somewhere else under another name, beware troll in the house,

      • terence patrick hewett

        I am afraid it it is a humble comment but all my own.

        • Ray Veysey

          Not you, “guest” you must have a guilty conscience !!!

          • terence patrick hewett

            ‘Twas Christmas Day in the workhouse
            The snow white walls were black
            Along came the Workhouse master
            With his suit cut out of a sack.

            In came the Christmas pudding
            When a voice that shattered glass
            Said: “We don’t want your Christmas pudding
            So stick it with the rest of the unwanted presents”

            The workhouse master then arose
            And prepared to carve the duck
            He said: “Who wants the parson’s nose?”
            And the prisoners shouted: “You have it yourself sir.”

            The vicar brought his bible
            And read out little bits
            Said one old crone at the back of the hall
            “This man gets on very well with everybody”

            The workhouse mistress then began
            To hand out Christmas parcels
            The paupers tore the wrappers off
            And began to wipe their eyes, which were full of tears.

            The master rose to make a speech
            But just before he started
            The mistress, who was fifteen stone,
            Gave three loud cheers and nearly choked herself

            And all the paupers then began
            To pull their Christmas crackers
            One pauper held his too low down
            And blew off both his paper hat and the man’s next to him.

            A steaming bowl of white bread sauce
            Was handed round to some
            An aged gourmet called aloud
            “This bread sauce tastes like it was made by a continental chef”

            Mince pie with custard was the next
            And each received a bit
            One pauper said: “This mince pie’s nice
            “But the custard tastes like the bread sauce we had in the last verse!”

            The mistress dishing out the food
            Dropped custard down her front
            She cried: “Aren’t I a silly girl?”
            And they answered: “You’re a perfect picture as always Ma’am!”

            “This pudding,” said the master
            “Is solid, hard and thick
            “How am I going to cut it?”
            And a man cried: “Use your penknife sir, the one with the pearl handle”

            The mistress asked the vicar
            To entertain his flock
            He said: “What would you like to see?”
            And they cried: “Let’s see your conjuring tricks, they’re always worth watching”.

            “Your reverence may I be excused?”
            Said one benign old chap
            “I don’t like conjuring tricks
            “I’d sooner have a carol or two around the fire”

            So then they all began to sing
            Which shook the workhouse walls
            “Merry Christmas!” cried the master
            And the inmates shouted: “Best of luck to you as well sir!”