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Coffee House

Revealed: Nigel Farage’s path to Parliament

3 May 2014

10:00 AM

3 May 2014

10:00 AM

Now that Newark is a no-go, Nigel Farage will be turning his thoughts to where he will stand as an MP. He said this week that returning its first MP will be a huge breakthrough for Ukip, so choosing a seat that he can win is vital. After declining to stand in the 15 by-elections that Ukip have contested since 2010, it looks as if Farage will wait until 2015 to run for Parliament.

Coffee House understands that, ideally, Farage would like the seat to fit three criteria. Firstly, it needs to be a marginal seat. Secondly, he wants to have some local connection — he feels his lack of any roots in Buckingham caused him problems when he stood there in 2010. And thirdly, there would be no incumbent MP, lessening the challenge among the local community. Here are seven seats that either fit, or come close to fitting, Farage’s criteria:

South Thanet

Marginal: Yes — Tories took seat in 2010 with 7 per cent swing
Local connection: Yes — Farage lives in Kent
No incumbent: Yes — Laura Sandys (Con) is standing down
Electoral Calculus prediction: 66 per cent chance of CON hold

Is South Thanet the perfect choice? Once held by Jonathan Aitken (now a Ukip supporter), this seat ticks all of the boxes for Nigel Farage. It’s a two-way split between Labour and the Tories; the latter party took the seat at the last election for the first time since 1997. Ukip managed to poll 5.5 per cent in 2010, well above the party’s national vote of 3.1 per cent. As a Kent man, Farage knows the area well.

Dover

Marginal: Yes — Tories took the seat from Labour with a 5k majority
Local connection: Yes — Farage is a Kent man and an MEP for the region
No incumbent: No
Electoral Calculus prediction: None – 50% LAB gain/50% CON hold

Dover is the most marginal seat in Kent, and as the Electoral Calculus prediction shows, it could go either away at the next election. Like South Thanet, Farage has strong links to the area. However, there is an incumbent MP — Conservative Charlie Elphicke. Although he has yet to be reselected, there are no signs Elphicke will stand down.

Cannock Chase

[Alt-Text]


Marginal: Yes — Tories took the seat from Labour with a 3k majority
Local connection: Unknown
No incumbent: Yes — Aidan Burley (Con) is standing down
Electoral Calculus prediction: 58 per cent chance of LAB gain

The outgoing Tory MP Aidan Burley caused his party significant headaches over a Nazi-stag party he attended. The constituency ticks many boxes for Farage: an MP leaving in inauspicious circumstances, it is a marginal and he’s a frequent visitor to Staffordshire — he was there two weeks ago canvassing the anti-HS2 vote. However, it’s unknown whether he has any stronger links to Cannock Chase.

South Ribble

Marginal: Yes – Tories took the seat from Labour with a 5k majority in 2010
Local connection: Unknown
No incumbent: Yes, Lorraine Fullbrook (Con) is standing down
Electoral Calculus prediction: None – 51% CON hold/49% LAB gain

The Conservatives took South Ribble from Labour at the last election, who had held it since 1997. Ukip managed to just out perform their national vote, gaining 3.7 per cent in 2010. The incumbent Tory Lorraine Fullbrook cited personal reasons for standing down after just one term. It’s very marginal — Electoral Calculus currently aren’t calling it either way. Although Farage visited the seat in January, it’s unknown again whether he has any particular connection to the area.

South Cambridgeshire

Marginal: No
No incumbent: Possibly — Andrew Lansley (Con) may stand down
Local connection: Unknown
Electoral Calculus prediction: 89 per cent chance of CON hold

Although Andrew Lansley has yet to make his intentions clear, he is the bookies’ favourite to be the next EU commissioner. If he steps down, it’s one of the seats that Boris Johnson apparently has his eye on. It also works well for Farage: no incumbent, the previous MP is heading off to Europe and Ukip already have a strong presence in Cambridgeshire — Farage gave a speech in the market town of St Ives just two weeks ago. The Electoral Data blog suggests that Cambridgeshire South is one of the seat that has a favourable demographic for Ukip. Although South Cambridgeshire is Tory through and through, it’s worth noting that the Lib Dems took 34 per cent of the vote in 2010. If their vote drops significantly, it might be of interest of Farage.

Thirsk and Malton

Marginal: No
Local connection: Unknown
No incumbent: Yes — Anne McIntosh (Con) has been deselected
Electoral Calculus prediction: 93 per cent chance of CON hold

The incumbent MP Anne McIntosh has fallen out with her local party, who refused to reselect her. It’s unknown whether she will stand as an independent candidate, which could split the Tory vote. Electoral Data believe Thirsk and Malton has the second most favourable demographic for Ukip in the country. In 2010, they polled 6.6 per cent — more than double their national vote. Although it doesn’t meet Farage’s criteria, there is a lot of local anger. As one resident told the York Press, ‘If Ms McIntosh stands as an independent it will be wide open, and a mix of blue and red could well see someone wearing purple prevail.’

South Suffolk

Marginal: No
Local connection: Unknowm
No Incumbent: Yes — Tim Yeo (Con) deselected
Electoral Calculus prediction: 89 per cent chance of CON hold

With all the fuss over Tim Yeo’s deselction, Ukip could benefit from the anti-politics sentiment in the area. Farage addressed a packed-out crowd in South Suffolk last year – so look out if he returns to the area again. His party polled seven per cent here in the 2010 general election and Patrick O’Flynn, the party’s prominent head of communications, is standing in the county as an MEP.​

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