UKIP’s success in the European and local elections 2014 is not about Euroscepticism. In fact the UK is becoming increasingly pro-EU.
UKIP’s success in yesterday’s European and local elections is not about Euroscepticism. UKIP have done well, because people are unhappy with the mainstream parties and Nigel Farage has tapped into a powerful anti-establishment message. But, UKIP’s victory is not down to any overwhelming Euroscepticism within the country. In fact the country is becoming increasingly pro-EU.
Here are six reasons why UKIP’s victory isn’t about Euroscepticism:
1) The electorate has become more pro-EU
Polls have shown that the electorate has become more pro-EU membership in recent years. An Ipsos-Mori survey showed support for staying in the EU at its highest level for 20 years. As many as 54% of Britons would stay in the EU, as opposed to only 37% who would vote to leave. The argument that Britain is becoming more pro-EU is also supported by a recent Pew Research poll, which showed that 52% of people in the UK are in favour of the EU – a rise of 9% on last year.
2) People are supporting UKIP, because of other factors
UKIP, generally outside European elections, didn’t do very well, scoring only 3% in the 2010 General Election. That was in the middle of the Eurozone crisis. This suggests that most people aren’t really that keen to get out of the EU or else they would have voted for an explicitly anti-EU party when it mattered most. What has changed since the General Election is that UKIP have gotten hold of an anti-immigrant and anti-establishment message, which is popular with the public. But they haven’t got more popular, because the EU has got less popular. The EU has got more popular.
3) UKIP is helped by the low turnout
The opinion polls have shown throughout the European election campaign that UKIP supporters are more motivated to vote than supporters of the parties that are more in favour of the EU – in fact controlling for the differential of certainty to vote is the main reason why different pollsters have come up with different poll figures. This means that people who believe in Europe need to do a better job of getting our vote out. If more of the people supporting pro-EU parties were more certain to vote then UKIP wouldn’t do so well.
4) Europe is an issue of low importance for Britons
But trying to get more people voting for the European elections will always be difficult, because Europe is an issue of low importance for most voters. Most people are in favour of being in the EU, but don’t think it is of huge importance to their lives. On the latest Ipos-Mori figures Europe was the 12th most important issue for Britons. This means that even for a lot of Eurosceptics, Europe isn’t that important as an issue.
5) Only 2% of people said it was the most important issue facing the country
When only 2% say that the EU is the most important issue facing the country you can’t reasonably say that there is a great mass movement demanding us to leave the EU. People are more concerned about the economy and immigration. When people say that immigration is a problem due to EU – well it’s not. We negotiate in Europe, to ensure there’s a level playing field. That’s why there are 1 million Brits living in Spain, 330,000 living in France, 100,000 living in Germany. This is both massively important to the individuals who live there and also to the wider UK economy.
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