When a party goes up or down in the polls there is inevitably speculation as to why. Sadly it’s not normally very good speculation… there is always a temptation for people to follow the logic of I think issue X is very important therefore issue X is the cause of the recent shift in the polls. Inferences from polls are not always much better than that – people who are supporting party Y are more likely to think X, therefore X has caused the increased support for that party. It sounds okay, but what about issues A, B and C which weren’t asked in the poll?

Daily polling does at least give us an idea of when movements in public opinion have happened, and therefore make inferences about what events may have caused them. The graph below shows a five day rolling average of UKIP’s support in YouGov’s daily poll since the end of 2011.

You can see there are two big increases – the first was the Budget in 2012, nothing to do with immigration or Europe or any of those issues we associate with UKIP, the thing that co-incided with an increase in UKIP support more than anything else was the budget. My guess, given the demographic make up of UKIP’s vote, that the granny tax and the messages it sent out were the most important factor there. UKIP’s support then faded away a bit, had a couple of lumps and bumps during the autumn and then shot up again during November when there was an almost perfect storm for them – the run up to the EU budget summit, a decent performance in the police elections, the Rotherham fostering row, the speculation over a Con-UKIP pact and finally the solid by-election performance at the end of the month, all combining to produce far more news coverage than the party could normally dream of. It is possible that the gay marriage issue since then has helped keep their support up.

All of this is still a far cry from proving what causes the ups and downs in UKIP support, after all, correlation does not prove causality. There could have been other events at the same time that got less attention, but it is normally a fairly good pointer.

Note also the biggest drop in UKIP support, back at the end of 2011 at the time of David Cameron’s veto in Europe. As I wrote the other day, Europe isn’t actually the main driver of UKIP support, so if the Conservatives suddenly became more anti-European UKIP would not vanish like magic… but it is an issue that plays to the sort of values that drive UKIP voters, so neither is it irrelevant.

223 Responses to “The ups and downs of UKIP”

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  1. There is a certain amusement value in the fact that the Conservatives may well be shafted in 2015 by the FTTP system that they hold so dear,

    11.14 and not Dead Yet Yipee!

  2. @Crossbat11 – “1992 proved, sadly, that negative campaigning can be very effective and no doubt Karl Rove and Lynton Crosby watched and learned intently! ”

    I’ve always felt that Labour have been too frightened of ‘negative’ campaigning against them. 1992 was a very good example of this, but it only works if it chimes with public perception.

    It’s well worth remembering that Major ran almost exactly the same campaign in 1997, but got slaughtered. This was the year of the ‘demon eyes’ poster, and they also reprised the ‘Labour Tax Bombshell’ theme – both universally derided and ultimately more damaging to Tory prospects than Labour’s, precisely because no one believed them.

    Essentially, your fate is largely within your own hands. If you leave negative thoughts with sufficient of the electorate, your opponents hits will score. If you craft a less threatening facade, such attacks will fail, or worse, help you by undermining the credibility of those throwing the mud.

    Much of the Crosby legend in this country has come from the mayoral elections. Many Londoners can’t stand Ken – he is a divisive figure, Mr Marmite if you will – ideally suited to a Crosby type approach.

    If Milliband and Labour continue to become less unpopular and craft some reasonable policies, the idea of attacking them for who they are becomes more and more risky for the Tories.

  3. @Steve – “11.14 and not Dead Yet Yipee!”

    It’s just gone half past and I’ve just seen 4 horsemen go past my window. I think they’re heading for Stockton, but then the world ended in Stockton sometime in the 1970’s, so I’ve been told.

  4. I just read Andrew Farmer’s article on the poll regarding the benefit charge card idea.

    “Scots are least enthusiastic about the charge card with 43% supporting the measure compared to 52% in the North and London, 54% in the Midlands and Wales and 60% in the South.”

    What he fails to add is that people in the North are the most unenthusiastic regarding the charge card idea:

    “Out-of-work benefit payments should continue to be paid by giro or into bank accounts, people should be trusted to make their own decisions on how to spend their money”


    UK: 34%
    London: 34%
    RoS: 30%
    Mid&Wal: 35%
    North: 40%
    Scotland: 37%

    Of extra note is the fact that the ‘Neither’ option is far higher in Scotland:

    UK: 5%
    London: 5%
    RoS: 4%
    Mid&Wal: 3%
    North: 4%
    Scotland: 11%

    Which begs the question, what do 6-8% of Scots want instead? A non-Westminster solution? A non-plastic solution?

    In fairness if said 6-8% is added to the ‘against’ section, they still come up short of the other regions in the 49-51% realms.

  5. Edit: Swap ‘against’ out and insert ‘for’.

  6. Statgeek

    It could also be the case that the DKs could be persuaded one way or another, if evidence or assertion was employed in the debate, (I’m not asking it from you, I hasten to add!)


    @”End of the world would be another Lib Dem/Tory coalition from May 2015 ? I think even Colin would agree with that.”

    It is a question of priorities & best options for Con supporters.

    So right now End of the World would be a Labour Government, compared with which the next vaguely conceivable option -another LibDem/Con coalition is heaven on earth !

  8. For the last day of all human existence, I was expecting more unrestrained behaviour from people living out their last chance fantasies.

    But no. I went to the launderette and back completely unmolested.

  9. Alec:

    Stockton has some really areas.

    Actually, come to think of it, none of them are actually IN Stockton.

    Redcar and Middlesbrough are definitely must-go xmas destinations though

  10. Dunno what time the end comes comes but I don’t feel very well today.

    Off to GP at 5: be ironic if th end came immediatey following a successfu diagnosis and I coudn’t even share the irony with my chums – well chum to be fair – on UKPR

  11. There’s a new narrative developing around Plebgate.

    “David Cameron has known for almost three months that at least one member of his own élite protection unit may have fabricated parts of the Downing Street police log about the confrontation with Andrew Mitchell, The Independent understands.”

    So far it’s just the Guardian & Independent, but this might make that breach between PM and footsoldiers a smidge wider.

  12. NICKP

    I think the footsoldiers are well & truly focused on the Police.

    They aren’t calling it PlodGate for nothing.

    I understand TM is bringing forward measures on POlice transparency & accountability next year. She has just announced a new enquiry into Hillsborough . If The Police Federation ( already looking a little shamefaced) have to perform a public mea culpa over there exploitation of PlodGate , that will add to a very satisfactory package from her point of view one imagines.

    DC may yet have been proved right to hold his fire till he saw them blink.

  13. @ Paul C

    I hope all goes well for you at the doc’s.

  14. NICKP

    Actually I find it sadly reminiscent of the Sir McA affair.

    Had that gentleman, or DC gone on the attack in the middle of the Press & Blogosphere feeding frenzy, neither would have got a hearing.

    Waiting for a key “witness” to implode was the most effective -if most uncomfortable- strategy in both cases

    …..stiff upper lips don’t ya know .

  15. colin

    I must confess that Peb/plodgate has me flummoxed. If the police motivation is remotely political, we are in a new phase now where the police (and the press) are trying to frame a minister. Add that to earlier phone tapping of ministers and police cover-ups, I think Leveson may prove to have been a bit gullible in his conclusions.

  16. NICKP

    What surprises you about political action in the Police ?

    I refer you to almost any “campaign” mounted by the Police Federation.

    I can’t remember what Leveson said about Police relations with others. Must check

  17. Dear Anthony, I’m perturbed (I said perturbed not disturbed), I honestly cannot see why that last comment is awaiting moderation. I was just commenting on the growth figures and purposefully did not mention any one party or any one person – apologies if I did something wrong, I always make sure I do not make partisan comments on here. I know my failings and really don’t mind being pulled up on them, but honestly didn’t see anything wrong with that.

    If I don’t post before the big day, I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and let’s all hope that 2013 is a better year for everyone. xxx

    [Gracie, it came across as saying nothing more than “everything was much better under Labour”, after all, I think all of us here know that there was a different party in power prior to May 2010, so “things were all much better before May 2010” isn’t really much different… Apologies if it wasn’t supposed to – AW]

  18. colin

    Oh, I don’t doubt the police are political. But this seems to have been either malice or some sort of protection racket like warning to the Government.

    It is really really odd.

  19. I agree with CrossBatt that Tony Blair, rightly or wrongly, was the only party leader since Margaret Thatcher to really reach out and appeal to voters. He purposely aligned himself and Labour to the centre ground so that he could really appeal to a modern and very diverse population, and thus, galvanise public support. To be fair, he did also become PM in a period of seemingly endless economic growth and optimism (and spent as such), but his true appeal was that he was a great orator.

    Ed Miliband and all of today’s party leaders (i.e. Clegg and to a lesser extent, Cameron) are a very poor imitation IMO. Labour will fail to reach out to voters to the same extent as Blair’s government did if they fail to appeal to Middle England. Today’s politics is all about the centre ground. Today’s leaders would do well to always remember that.

  20. Quite clearly the failure of the End of the World (as everything else) is due to the incompetent Labour government’s economic policies between 1997-2010. Still waiting though Cameron’s statement.

  21. I will write a hundred times (not here, mercy for you) that I won’t post anything from a smart (?) phone. I may learn from it.

  22. NICKP

    Both of those I suggest-the second one as part of their “don’t touch our pensions etc” attack on the government. Establishing a “dismissive & disrespectful” attitude towards them by a Cabinet member would be grist to that mill.

    The Police Federation have made life uncomfortable for Home Secs of all political colours.

  23. Thanks for the Green party stuff ON and Alec, and I must admit that in the tenor of Alec’s posts particularly and also stuff I see on various Green outlets, I was convinced they could not wait to leave the EU.

    Feeling a bit sorry for Gracie, Anthony. If she simply reeled off data that shewed it was better before 2010, surly we should be told? :-)

    I mean, I can’t remember that, but the facts cannot lie, can they, surely? :-)

    We need the Xmas spirit, perhaps (after the spirit is imbibed) we could agree it was better both before *and* after 2010. :-)

  24. I forgot to add that today’s YG poll looks more like and yesterday’s was a bit outlier-ish.

  25. @ NickP and Colin

    I think we have to wait with the plebs thing. It doesn’t make sense. It is too elaborate for a police conspiracy, it is too accidental for a “within the party” conspiracy and I’m not sure if I can believe a man that had said what he said in a “raging” moment a few hours/days/weeks/months earlier.

    Mind you, I’m not sure if I believed the investigation either.

    It is toxic – not because of the events, but because of the perception of a significant proportion of the electorate of the Tory Party (that cost them the overall majority in 2010).

    It is toxic – not because of the events, but because of the internal politics of the Conservatives.

    It is toxic – not because of the events, but because a Conservative-leaning newspaper considers (or so it seems) the current leadership as a weak imitation, or wax model of the real stuff.

  26. @Howard – I am not the Green Party

    @NickP – “….we are in a new phase now where the police (and the press) are trying to frame a minister.”

    “New phase”? “..trying to frame a minister”?

    Police and security forces have long colluded with the press when it suits them. The Zinoviev letter was probably the best known of these examples ( see http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/1999/feb/04/uk.politicalnews6 for a modern perspective on this) and there is ample evidence of anti government action when Labour was in power in the 1960s and 70s.

    Indeed, I would suggest that one of Blair’s greatest achievements for not only his own party, but democracy as a whole, was to embed the notion that it wasn’t just the Tory party that could be a patriotic party of government. Up until that time, the machinery of state and security services were highly skewed against any government other than their own kind.

    The only mildly surprising thing about Plodgate is that it’s a Tory minister on the receiving end of something, although I’m not at this stage clear what that something is.

  27. LASZLO


    (Lots of really smiley faces)

  28. @ Alec

    ” was to embed the notion that it wasn’t just the Tory party that could be a patriotic party of government.”

    You are probably right – but I don’t think you are precise enough and thus misrepresent the Blair government in this respect. My problem with your logic is that it leaves out the changing meaning of patriotic over the time. Actually, Blair’s interpretation of patriotism kind of failed.

    As to the Zinoviev fake letter – in many ways the UK has always been different from other Western European countries – the communists (except for some intellectuals) were never included in the notion of legitimate opposition and this was used against the Labour Party (though less so than in the US against Democrats in many states in the 1950s and 1960s) until the 1980s.

  29. NRA Press Conference at the moment.

    Newtown was the fault of politicians making schools gun-free zones.

    Answer is to have armed guards protecting the schools!

  30. oldnat

    As I get older, the world gets more and more surreal.

    Let’s have shoot-outs between teachers and pupils. Let’s have shooting lessons.

    Blaze away, all! Last man, woman or child standing takes all.

  31. Gets worse.

    It’s also the fault of video games, and the media, and every US community is crawling with insane killers who have selected the school they are going to target and are planning the next massacre.

    I see lots of political scaremongering – but this takes the biscuit!

  32. @ambivalen supporter

    “Labour will fail to reach out to voters to the same extent as Blair’s government did if they fail to appeal to Middle England. Today’s politics is all about the centre ground. Today’s leaders would do well to always remember that”

    Im sorry but this is very much lazy received wisdom.

    Yes – Blair tacked labour rightwards in order to capture more tory orientated voters, cynically calculating that labours more left of centre voters would have nowhere else to go. But what happened is that many of those voters either stopped voting or defected to the lib dems (esp after Iraq), the SNP and – to a lesser extent – the greens and fringe parties. I dont belive that many people were ever actually enthusiastic about him outside a media generated spin – certainly not in the way that Thatcher was idolised.

    Blair moved labour to the right because it was where his poltical ideology lay and because its always easier to go with the grain of the vested interests of money and power.

    And also – just where is the ‘centre ground’? In the 80s thatcher was able to shift is rightwards becasue if the plit in the centre left vote. Now, that split looks to be over, with the lib dems leftist voters switching back to voter and the right of centre vote split between the tories, the lib dems and UKIP.

    The fact that Ed rather David Milliband won the election has made labour a more credible left of centre party. Dave M in charge would probably see the labour party less attractive to the disgusted lib dems.

    So the political ‘centre’ is now less rightwing than it was.

    Ed M could – IMO – afford to be considerably more radical such as promiting polices like a massive investment in council housing, a staturory living wage and the renationalisation of the energy companies.

  33. NRA now seem to be arguing that certified vigilantes defending schools would be a good idea.

  34. Like NAT I’m currently watching the NRA conference. All I can say is that it is a good job I took my blood pressure tablet this morning. Their attiude is unbelievable. Everyone is to blame except the NR and gun hoders. As NAT says, their answer is to have arms in every school.

    For the sake of the future of the USA we can only hope that the two protesters share the view of the majority of the populaton. It is well seen why they did not allow any questions -I hope they would have been crucified

  35. Apologies for the typing above. In trying to type quickly and with my blood boiling I am afraid I missed a few keys.


    As to the NRA “school shield” plan, every school I have visited in the USA has had some security plan in place. Frankly, none of them seemed as robust as those introduced here after Dunblane, but the suggestion that they don’t exist at all is nonsense.

    I’ve been in US and Scottish schools where a police officer is based in a local school (though they can be called elsewhere when needed) – in the US, they carried a gun, because they all do.

    It’s a good system, in terms of improving relationships between young people and the police. Partly because kids talk to adults and an amazing amount of information about local crime is passed on informally!

    The NRA idea is hugely different. They are advocating the GUN as the protection ““The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”” – not the creation of safe communities.

    The danger of the NRA campaign is that it will appeal to many Americans.

  37. @SoCalLiberal

    I don’t have a problem with American greatness. Whether it wants to or not, America does wield a moral influence through the reach of its culture.

    Nor I am not saying violence in human history stems from permissive gun law or Hollywood galmourisation. I could point you to C16th accounts of choirboys stabbing each other in Salisbury Cathedral, and an organist sneaking out during evensong to murder the Dean.

    One thing does occur to me… 5 million Iraqi orphans, in a country with a population of 31 million. Many of these will have been as a result of collateral damage during the invasion, but many more result from the chaos which followed. I read that some of the influx of small arms and ammunition came from stockpiles that had been surplus to requirements during the break up of Yugoslavia. Who gives the nod/turns a blind eye to these shipments… which brokerage firms take a cut… is some kind of assumption that civilians have a right to bear arms at the back of this? The same inflows were seen in Afghanistan, Libya, you name it, and now Syria.

    Larry Alan Burns makes some eminently reasonable points in the LA Times article you linked to, but “there’s a danger we would ban guns altogether the next, and your life might depend on you having one” appears to be an unchallenged truism. Reputable news organisations seem to be full of anecdotal stories about how guns save lives… my intuition would be that the following statistic might be nearer the truth: “people who attempt to use a gun in self-defense are four times as likely to die.”

  38. I suppose if you take the NRA’s argument to it’s logical conclusion everyone would be armed to protect them from everyone else.Just in case the “Good Guys” suddenly became the “Monster”.

    The problem with this simplistic tosh is it has an apparent logic which might appeal to the hard of thinking

  39. American politics often seems dominated to an extent rarely seen anywhere by those with the loudest voices who are able to dominate the debate with patently ridiculous positions based on blatant distortion and falsehood.
    We see it with gun control and we saw it with the health care debate – where the idea of free health care was presented as some kind of totalitarian tyranny.
    Meanwhile the rest of the world looks on in utter bewilderment.

  40. For those of you who can’t bear to watch the NRA Press conference, here is the text of it.


  41. @ReggieSide,

    if it’s not true, as you say, then why is that all the main political parties have become increasingly similar/centrist in their policies in recent years? Using Thatcher is a poor example because Britain was more politically polarised in those days i.e. there was not the same public drive for a mixture/balance of progressive and right wing policies.

    Just look at what the opinion polls show. One one hand, a majority of the public want more economic inequality and higher taxes for the rich; on the other, they want tough punishment for criminals, to leave the EU and greater controls on immigration.

  42. More economic equality.

  43. amber: Thanks – I knew there must be a chum somewhere.

    Re plobbgate, ot whatever it now is, the conspiracy theory is far-fetched.

    This was clearly more personal and enough was said by Mitchell to upset the police – not least because he admitted so himself at the time but seemed loth to say what he added to the f word.

    Were I PM [and I certainly should be] I would have asked for the police to back up their version[s] with reference to the available video evidence or sacked Mitchell for swearing at the police: it seems to me he chose a rather ineffective middle option based on crossing fingers.

    What this does demonstrate is that those, generally on the left, who think that individual police have more power than inteligence are dead right. How they could have thought that leaking and fabricating wouldn’t be discovered is bizarre and one assumes that these were the “elite”!

  44. I’m just wondering what the real difference between a benefit charge card and a national ID card apart from the obvious that only poor people will have them??

  45. @reggieside – “Dave M in charge would probably see the labour party less attractive to the disgusted lib dems.”

    You may think that, but any polling evidence? It’s not a big deal but we may as well check it out.

    In Jan 2012 YouGov found the 2010 LD voter preferred David Miliband as Labour leader (25%) to either Alistair Darling or Ed Miliband (both on 7%)… current LD voters preferred David (20%) to Ed (4%), though 28-37% of both samples opted for “none of them would be any good.”

    Either LDs are not really that left wing, or there is not such a big perceived difference between the brothers. David does not even appear to be particularly unpopular with Labour voters:


  46. Interesting stats on guns in America, since the regrettable incident gun sales have gone into overdrive, yesterday Walmart ran out of guns, some say this is panic buying before anticipated gun control laws. But even before this latest incident sales of smith and Weston guns were up 47% year to date!!!

  47. Violent video games which encourage & glorify killing are imo a problem.

    But having a nut case like that bloke from NRA try & say so is not helpful.

    These are Volunteers he is suggesting-armed volunteers-in every school.

    As you say ReggieSide – the rest of the world looks on in utter bewilderment.

  48. Good Evening All.

    Holidays have come. Thank God.

    KEN LIVINGSTONE: I agree that the negative campaigns may have struck a chord with many voters. I think it was Lord Mackintosh who suffered a ‘putsch’ for the GLC leadership in 1980 ish.

    1992: The campaign under John Major and Chris Patten plugged into anxieties about N.Kinnock and tax.

    2015: They may well try to plug into worries about Ed M and also about borrowing.

    One Labour supporter I know resigned from the Labour Party when they went low against Michael Howard in their adverts.

  49. COLIN

    I agree that encouraging and glorifying killing is a bad idea.

    It’s a pity that some states do that when it’s done by their armed forces.

  50. OLDNAT

    Which states did you have in mind?

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