Is the Ukip bandwagon slowing down? Today’s Sun reports that Ukip has lost a quarter of its voters since November, from an average of 16.75 per cent in polls last November to 12.25 per cent in March. As the chart below shows, Ukip’s share of the vote, according to YouGov, has been the slide since the heady days of the Rochester & Strood and Clacton by-elections:
Nigel Farage has even admitted that the march of the people’s army has stalled. But when asked by the Telegraph this afternoon if he was ‘panicking’, he responded ‘good Lord, no!’, claiming the Sun’s figures are a little out:
‘Well – firstly their poll of polls is wrong – the poll of polls is 14.6 not 12.25 as The Sun said. Secondly we are exactly where we were last August, exactly where we were having won the elections, we were 14 and a bit per cent.’
Farage went on to point out that the by-elections were a one-off and the party has plenty of opportunities to remain relevant:
‘What I am saying is this – we won the European elections, we found that level, we did have a rally in the Autumn through the remarkable events, first of Clacton and then the Rochester by-election…yes we have slipped back a bit, since then. There are 30 days to go and I think the issues that Ukip is campaigning on are back in play.’
Even if Ukip headline polling numbers have slid back, the party is still comfortably in third place. Between each European and general election over the last few cycles, Ukip’s vote share has more than halved in the past. If Ukip manages to achieve anything above six per cent on May 7, it will be a record for the party, having more than doubled its share. Few are expecting them to achieve much less than that.
The immediate parts of Ukip’s 2020 strategy — winning in South Thanet and bagging half a dozen seats — are not affected by its national vote share. In the middle of this Parliament, some in Labour were briefing that if Ukip gained eight per cent at the election, it could be a disaster for the Tories in some marginals (this remains true). Ukip are now down to 12 per cent and may slide even further. but it’s still a significant rise from a force that barely registered in 2010. Farage and co are still taking votes from across the spectrum but despite momentum of the two main parties, it’s too early to write off the impact of Ukip.