UKIP isn’t helping Labour

With just seven months to go until the General Election, the electoral landscape has never been more unpredictable.

With just seven months to go until the General Election, the electoral landscape has never been more unpredictable

‘Do the Math’ is the phrase so often used in the United States. This morning, as the dust settles on what has been a truly historic night in British politics, strategists at Labour and Conservative HQ will be doing just that, probably with the Alka-Seltzer close by.


Whatever hyperbole gets used to describe it, the Clacton by-election was truly astonishing. Having defected from the Conservatives to UKIP, Douglas Caraswell managed to take what on paper was one of the Tories’ safest seats.

Having not stood in the seat in 2010, UKIP last night secured 59.75 per cent of the votes cast, with a majority of 12,404. To put that into some perspective, both these figures are higher than what Carswell secured when standing for the Conservatives at the General Election.

The Conservatives meanwhile saw their share of the vote drop to 24.64 per cent, a fall of 28.38 per cent. The remainder of UKIP’s vote came largely from Labour voters. Having held the seat’s predecessor until 2005, the party secured just 11.2 per cent of the vote last night, down 13.84 per cent on its performance in 2010.

The Lib Dems were also humiliated. Pushed into fifth place behind the Greens on 1.37 per cent of the vote (483 votes), the party that was once such an effective by election machine lost yet another deposit, with a fall in its share of the vote compared with 2010 of 11.57 per cent.

Attempts by Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps to scare UKIP voters by declaring that voting UKIP helps Labour won’t wash based on the Clacton results.

Heywood and Middleton

If Clacton was a predictable win for UKIP, Heywood and Middleton was the most surprising result of the night.

Whilst bookies had shortened the odds on a UKIP victory in a traditional Labour heartland seat, no one seriously thought that the Farage machine would realistically threaten Ed Miliband. Lord Ashcroft’s polling in the seat ahead of the vote put Labour on 47 per cent, 19 per cent ahead of UKIP on 28 per cent. Indeed, Ashcroft declared somewhat ominously that Labour was “on course for a comfortable victory in this week’s Heywood & Middleton by-election”.

What happened last night could not have been more of a contrast.

A night of high tension for Labour saw UKIP demanding a recount as it managed to slash Labour’s majority from the 5,971 secured in 2010 to just 617 last night.

Whilst Labour managed to increase its share of the vote from around 40 per cent at the General Election to 41 per cent last night, this is not the kind of increase that a Labour party headed to form a government on its own should be securing this close to May’s election.

UKIP on the other hand saw its share of the vote increase by just over 36 per cent.

Again, as with Clacton, Grant Shapps’ mantra that voting UKIP gets Labour cannot be supported by a result in Heywood and Middleton, which showed that voting UKIP nearly got the constituency a UKIP MP.

For Labour too, if they hadn’t got the message by now, this result should shake strategists out of the complacency they have wallowed in for too long and realise that UKIP doesn’t help Labour one bit.

All strategies at Labour HQ, if they have not already done so, should this morning be settling down and reading the Fabian Society’s excellent Revolt on the Left research, showing not just the threats posed by UKIP but also, crucially, how to respond in policy, communication and organisational terms.

With just seven months to go until the General Election, the electrical landscape has never been more unpredictable. UKIP and the SNP on the way up, the Lib Dems in near terminal decline, and both Labour and Conservatives stuck in a rut and unable to cope or understand how to respond to such a volatile landscape.

A hung parliament now looks more certain than ever next May and anything is possible.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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43 Responses to “UKIP isn’t helping Labour”

  1. SourFacedFromBeckenham

    Labour no longer represents the interests of the ordinary working man.

  2. JoeDM

    A party dominated by nerdy middle-class policy wonks and totally out of touch with normal British working-class people.

  3. SourFacedFromBeckenham

    Probably tricky to see that as they sip prosecco on the balcony in Tuscany.

  4. swat

    What kind of ‘win’ is it is Labour scrape across the line on the backs of UKIP and the Lib Dems? Its not the kind of win that I would be happy about.Better if the electorate were to vote positively for our Labour policies.

  5. Guest

    …Because it’s moved right.

  6. Guest

    And you support a party dominated by a Banker, who is outright out to touch the pockets of the normal British working-class people in bad ways.

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    Most of the voters interested in those policies are still with their current party, the Tories.

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    “The remainder of UKIP’s vote came largely from Labour voters.”

    This is absolute nonsense. You have *absolutely no evidence* whatsoever for this. Following the polling tabs, it is far more likely that the right have come out to vote, and the left have not. The low turnout means that this is an entirely possible scenario, far moreso than left-wing voters voting for a right-wing party.

    A hung parliament will happen if you keep moving right.

  9. Stephen

    It’s only a by-election on about a third of turnout. It may have been (and still probably is) a strong Labour seat, but also relatively strong for the BNP whose voters surely defected to UKIP along with many Conservatives raising their share substantially. This was probably not a defection from Labour but from other parties to UKIP, and only of the die-hards who vote in most elections. Come the general election on a much greater turnout, Labour will take this easily.

  10. littleoddsandpieces

    Labour has left behind millions of its core voters to poverty, starvation, a freezing winter, and a penniless old age.

    The hungry are mostly the working poor and low income self employed, benefit sanctioned or benefit losses of disabled / chronic sick even at 60 and delays lasting months of any food money at all.

    Backing the slavery of Workfare also does not help.

    The lie that people living longer has made the state pension unaffordable, when the ring fenced National Insurance Fund has been full for decades, not needing a top up from tax. As the NI Fund is not a tax, it cannot be emptied by government to use for general expenditure.

    Now is the time for Labour to do a policy u-turn and offer a better version of:

    – The Greens’ universal Citizen Income, non-means tested and non-withdrawable

    that would end most hunger and save lives from the winter’s cold.

    And for Labour to do something that no party is offering now:

    – Repealing Pension Bills 2010-2014
    – Payout women’s state pension at 60 in 2015
    – Payout women’s state pension in 2015 to those who turned 60 from 2013, who began the loss of payout for all women born from 1953, as a tax free lump sum
    – Equalise men’s state pension at 60 in 2015

    Income Tax is only a quarter of the tax from people to government.

    We are all taxpayers and therefore no-one on benefit or state pension is a burden on the working public, from the 75 per cent of tax from people to government coming from stealth taxes, we all pay, in or out of work and however long we live.

    If Labour offer these policy u-turns tomorrow, they will win any more by-elections in their safe seats by landslide victory and form a majority government in 2015, from a huge rise beyond all parties of voters coming back to Labour.

  11. robertcp

    That is the only sort of win that looks possible at the moment. Labour will need to show a lot of humility if it ‘wins’ in 2015!

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    Agreed, but the warning signs of the left staying at home because Labour is not offering them anything is there.

  13. Peter Martin


    We can’t know until someone does a survey but my suspicion is that the voting patterns are much more jumbled than is commonly supposed. Labour will probably have picked up most previous Lib Dem voters but will have lost almost the same number (in % terms) to UKIP. The rest of the anti Labour vote will have consolidated around UKIP.

    I would say its generally a mistake to assume that the average person thinks quite so much in terms of left-wing and right-wing as, perhaps, you and I might do. There’s a strong anti-Tory feeling in most Northern working class constituencies but , paradoxically, many who might express those very strongly, also express other opinions which would not at all define them as being ‘left-wing’. There’s a strong mixture of Nationalism and Socialism in the working class which can lead to some quite dangerous outcomes. Like voting UKIP or even for parties offering a more dangerous combination of the mix.

    Certainly agree that Labour moving so far to the right is the underlying cause of the present malaise in the party.

  14. The_Average_Joe_UK

    The Islington set have no idea of what ordinary people think. Their bubble precludes them from accepting uncomfortable truths.

    The party machine and the apparatchiks think in wonkish terms throwing around left wing this and right wing with abandon.

    The public have had enough of this crap and its walking away. Some will refuse to accept that Labour voters never vote UKIP, but this just underlines how blinkered / stupid they are. They only want to see things in their own myopic way. This myopia is the affliction that has driven UKIP for the LibLabCon think the same way.

  15. Chrisso

    Not ‘electrical landscape’ yet again 🙂 That’s predictive text for you.

  16. Chrisso

    Good point from Leon – “it is far more likely that the right have come out to vote, and the left have not. The low turnout means that this is an entirely possible scenario, far more so than left-wing voters voting for a right-wing party.” but I thing there are fewer ‘left-wing’ voters than we like to imagine. The Labour leaning but not Labour committed voter can be fickle and easily seduced by the easy rhetoric of Ukip. And the LibDem once-protest-voters may also have shifted that way now that the Lib-Lab-Con is almost indistinguishable. So Labour should be worried.

    Peter Martin’s post is spot-on.

  17. Cole

    A load of rubbish. Labour did actually win the by-electiin, you know, and slightly increased their vote.

  18. Cole

    A complete joke that Ukip is somehow deeply in touch with the British people. Farage is an upper class twit, and more Tory than most Tories.

  19. Leon Wolfeson

    Peter, travel between parties is shown in every polling breakdown – go over to UK Polling Report, and click on some of the links in the main text. (I’d link you direct, but moderation filters, so…)

    They don’t measure “wing”, true, they measure Party, but when you look in turn at the polling for policies which could definitely be considered left-wing like – to name two – council house building and railway renationalisation – they have broad support. (In fact, they have broad support *outside Tory voters*).

    “There’s a strong mixture of Nationalism and Socialism in the working class”

    One, wording. Two, no, really, no evidence for there being that much socialism. The 1945 Labour government is an example of a left-wing, not a socialist per-se, government which commanded wide support.

    Neither is it valid, as you are claiming, to extrapolate from your views to more general ones, that’s called an “anecdote”. Let’s stick with the data! (I want a Federal UK as well (heck, I’ve noted we could have Federal regions in Cornwall and London), but that doesn’t actually poll all that well in England)

    (I myself am from working class SE, where Tory is the default. Ugh)

  20. Keith M

    Amazing how he dupes people into thinking he’s a regular lad.

  21. Keith M

    I think the elites in all parties are tarred with the same brush.

  22. Keith M

    Well said.

  23. The_Average_Joe_UK

    You keep believing that. Please, sincerley I hope you do.

  24. The_Average_Joe_UK

    Agree, all of them members of the metropolitan prickocracy.

  25. Phil Hove

    Vote UKIP and get Labour – but only just by the skin of the teeth in Heywood and Middleton.

    Just like the BBC, this article trumpets the Labour slight increase in vote share, but fails completely to mention that Labour saw a decrease of nearly 7,000 of those voting for them compared to the 2010 Election!

    After this political earth quake It is very much looking like Miliband’s chances of sneaking into Downing Street by the back door, due to Conservative UKIP wars, is no longer an option. Since Farage has conclusively proved now to a an awful lot of Labour supporters how very badly they have been let down.

    I am even now starting to believe gone are the days when some Labour voters would auto vote for a donkey wearing a red rosette. The real life experience of their neighborhood Muslim pedo abusing, raping of droves of non-Muslim girls, beheadings, Trojan Horse Madrases, FGM all imported here by the million under Labour auspices and protected by
    same through slating all dissent Islamphobia, might at last not be best for their own daughters:

    There are also too many other buzzwords around to remind them of the inevitable Labour reality when and wherever they are
    in power, i.e.:

    Vote Labour and get NHS Wales
    Illegal IRAQ – Lies WMD – Resulting ISIS
    EDUKASION – slipped from top 10 to 30s in world.

  26. martinhoran

    rue, Ukip is not helping labour–in the slightest. I don’t see why they aren’t. After all, labour’s done more to help Ukip than any party. Nixt to the Glib DIms, Labour has done more to build Ukip than all the liblacons put together.
    Now, I don’t want to give the idea that I’m a Ukip supporter. I’m not. But they are no worse than any of the others and at least are honest in what their views are. Those views would not be so prominent in Britain today if the liblabcons hadn’t created them. The buch stops there.

  27. martinhoran

    Youi sound like a snob. ALL the upper class are twits, are they? And you wouldn’t mind if the other kind of snob from yourself spoke as if all working folk were yobs? If you would–and your comments show you would–why are you such a hyocrite?

  28. martinhoran

    Don’t you mean pinkocracy?

  29. martinhoran

    What’s your point? It depends on what you vote. (And I don’t vote.) Some people will think you’re trying to point out that there are a lot of stupid people who get the vote.
    Voting numbers prove nothing–other than Einstein’s definition of insanity.

  30. Leon Wolfeson

    You’re generalising from specific points. That’s Political Correctness.

  31. Guest

    “Some will refuse to accept that Labour voters never vote UKIP”

    There is of course some crossover. A very small amount.
    There is polling data for this. Not your pronouncements, data.

    UKIP is the Tories, doubling-down on their right wing. In a cult of personality with remarkably little internal democracy. Farrage is establishment, through and through, a Banker.

  32. Leon Wolfeson

    To add – The average person, I agree, simply sees little difference between the Tories and Labour, and less every time Labour makes a major announcement.

    There is, however, a lot of support for many policies which would be considered left-wing when polled for seperately (except among Tory voters). I also argue, strongly, that the left should focus on policy and not ideology.

    As you say, a lot of people who would vote for moderate-left policies don’t consider themselves left-wing, and ideology tends to divide the left sharply even when (as we usually can) we like or can live with other left winger’s policies.

    There is, however, not the crossover to UKIP you’re claiming. They’re not voting, or voting for local candidates in significant numbers. What UKIP are doing is energising the right wing, and people who *have* defined themselves as such. (If you map their strongholds with areas where the BNP did well…)

  33. Leon Wolfeson

    “LibDem once-protest-voters”

    …are mostly not voting, and some I know have lost faith in democracy altogether :/

    I can’t blame them.

    “The Labour leaning but not Labour committed voter can be fickle and easily seduced by the easy rhetoric of Ukip”

    Why? What do they offer to the moderate right? The Tories are the competitors for their vote, not Labour.

  34. Guest

    The usual catalogue of things which are far too good for you, as you enumerate how much worse you have planned for the UK, and you talk your rhetoric, ignoring the low crossover between Labour and UKIP, let alone crossover between UKIP and the left!

    Keep fighting Britain.

  35. Phil Hove

    LOONEY ALERT!! LOONEY ALERT!! this Leon fellow again talking absolute nonsense and making no sense whatsoever!

  36. The_Average_Joe_UK

    Do you talk this16-17 year old left wing shit hoping that some young groupie will give you head?

  37. Peter Martin

    You could be right. A lot of my evidence is anecdotal about former Labour voters who say they are going to vote for UKIP. I’m not sure they really want to vote UKIP but they do feel that the EU isn’t working in their interests at present. They are right about that IMO. The EZ is a an economic disaster are which is dragging the rest of the EU down with it.

    They won’t vote Tory though but they might vote UKIP. Rationally we can argue that doesn’t make any sense. But there’s a strong aversion to voting Tory, so the rational argument doesn’t necessarily hold up at the emotional level.

    So I do think we may get that crossover if Labour doesn’t get its act together and quickly. An agreement that there needs to be an EU referendum is step one. Surely the hierarchy are getting that message from its focus groups?

  38. Leon Wolfeson

    An “agreement” for a referendum could easily cost Labour a vast chunk of their vote, and would certainly cost the UK – very arguably in the tens of billions range.

    I certainly could not consider voting for them regardless of their other policies if they stepped to the right of Thatcher’s arguments against referendums.

    The proper place for that is at the general election. Atlee and Thatcher’s views on that were the same, and if Labour strays outside those bounds, I think British democracy is done, toasted and over in at most the medium term, if not the short term.

  39. Guest

    Keep warning people about yourself, as you label all views not like yours as “nonsense” and “no sense” – and you invent far right, totalitarian, social darwinist “mental health” tripe.

  40. Peter Martin

    So the Scots can have a referendum. So does that put them to the right of Thatcher? The Catalans and Basques too must be very right wing if their desire for a referendum so defines their politics.

    Was Harold Wilson to the right of Thatcher for calling a referendum in 1975? Did that decision cost them “a vast chunk of their vote”? Why would it have done?

    The Danish and Swedes were the only ones to have a referendum on the adoption of the Euro. They both sensibly rejected the idea. They too would have been told that the cost of their rejection would have been “tens of billions”. Would their politicians have made an equally sensible decision?

  41. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah, so Attlee is irrelevant to you. Well, there you go – he’s extremely important to a lot of ex-Labour voters who are no longer interested in the party, as it’s abandoned them.

    It’s a shame Left Unity has proven so disinterested in representing the wider left (among other failings), but there is and remains a lot of support for the Spirit of ’45.


    “Were the Lib Dems to the right of Thatche”

    It’s blatantly obvious stuff like this, where if you need to *ask*…

  42. Peter Martin

    You should re-read what I wrote about Attlee.

  43. Leon Wolfeson

    You’re simply objecting to my answer, which is not the same thing.

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