[This is crossposted from the Spectator Coffee House – the original is over here]

In YouGov’s poll this morning for the Sun the Conservatives had 33% support, Labour 40%, the Liberal Democrats 9% and UKIP 11%. While it would be a gross exaggeration to say all of UKIP’s support comes from the Conservative party, they do gain a disproportionate amount of support from ex-Tories and it’s natural for people to add together that Conservative 33% and that UKIP 11% and think what might be.

The reality though may not be as simple as adding the two together. In yesterday’s poll YouGov also asked people to imagine that UKIP and the Conservatives agreed a pact at the next general election where they would not stand against each other, with UKIP backing the Conservative candidate in most constituencies and the Conservatives backing the UKIP candidate in a small number of constituencies. We then asked how they’d vote under those circumstances. Once you’ve taken out the don’t knows and wouldn’t votes, the new Conservative/UKIP alliance would be on 35% of the vote (up just two points on their current support), Labour would be on 45% (up five points on their current support), the Liberal Democrats on 11% (up two points), 9% of people would vote for other parties (down eight points).

So what goes wrong, how does 33 plus 11 equal only 35?

The bottom line is that parties don’t own their voters – even if the Conservative party and UKIP were to want a pact, it wouldn’t follow that their voters would be happy to play along. Amongst people who currently vote UKIP 56% would vote for the new Conservative/UKIP Alliance, but that leaves 44% of them who wouldn’t – who would go to Labour, or stay at home, or find an alternative non-mainstream party to back. Many of the people voting UKIP are doing so because they are unhappy or disillusioned with the government or the Conservative party (or in many cases with *all* the mainstream parties). A deal between the Conservatives and UKIP is not necessarily going to make them any less unhappy or disillusioned, many would just find a different way of expressing it at the ballot box.

Meanwhile a quarter of current Tory supporters wouldn’t vote Tory if they entered a pact with UKIP – 5% would switch to Labour, 4% to the Lib Dems, 16% would stay at home or are not sure what they’d do. A deal with UKIP might get many UKIP voters back on board, but it would lose voters in the centre to Labour and the Liberals. Equally the Conservative core selling point at the moment is the claim they are the safe pair of hands, the party willing to make the tough and hard-headed decisions needed to get the economy back on solid ground. UKIP’s well documented teething-troubles with amateurism, gaffes and somewhat eccentric people who have attached themselves to the party during its rapid growth may not be exactly complementary to that message.

But if parties don’t own their voters, can’t buy and sell them in electoral pacts, that also means the Conservative party can target UKIP’s voters without necessarily needing to deal with UKIP – although once again, the difficulty is doing so without alienating more centrist voters. The overwhelming majority of current UKIP voters say they would be more likely to vote Conservative if they promised harsher policies on immigration… but that would risk the Conservative party losing more moderate votes and playing to negative perceptions that it was bigoted or racist. However, 57% of UKIP voters say they will be more likely to vote Conservative if the economy improves, 40% if they thought it was the only way of stopping Ed Miliband being Prime Minister. There are ways the Conservatives can appeal to UKIP voters without necessarily apeing their policies.


402 Responses to “How would people vote with a Con-UKIP pact?”

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  1. “So what goes wrong, how does 33 plus 11 equal only 35?”

    I’m trying not to read slightly partisan overtones into the “goes wrong” bit of that.

  2. Thanks AW, very interesting. I have always thought that the way forward for theTories is to insure that the economy is perceived to be steadily improving in the run in to the election plus continuing the “Labour messed up bigtime let us finish the job of sorting it” and ” Ed is taking Labour back to old fashioned hard left socialism” agenda.

  3. A truly useful poll, congratulations to the commissioners.

  4. I think Anthony has identified an issue Here.

    Many Conservatives seem to think if only UKIP would disappear they would receive all their support. taking support levels to around 46%

    This would of course mean that for some reason beyond most peoples perception the underlying support for the Conservatives has risen from its level in 2010 to substantially higher than at the Time of Thatchers Victory in 1979 (43.9%) indeed higher than at any time in the last 50 Years.

    This never seemed likely and clearly a large percentage of UKIP Voters are voting for them because they aren’t the Conservative Party and a percentage of One Nation Tories would also object fundamentally to an alliance between their party and One further to the right.

    Nice Analysis Anthony

  5. Isn’t it true that the real influence on voters at election-time is the ‘feel-good factor’? – which overrules other considerations.

    If the economy is looking up and enough people feel better about their personal prospects this can be sufficient to ensure the ruling party (or parties) go on for another term. Now if the Tories can be astute enough to include, some UKIP-style clauses in their manifesto, and if the feel-good factor is on the up, then the protest voters could return to the fold with surprising results for Labour.

    PS I support no party tho’ I always find someone to vote for.

  6. @Redstart, I reckon UKIP attractors in manifesto are bad idea for cons. They’ll put off the pro-EU and/or immigration crowd, without attracting the antis enough to make up….the whole ‘cast iron guarantee’ thing has spoiled any “promises” they can make in that regard IMO. Plus, they’ll expect ~half of UKIPs vote to go tactical tory in a close GE seat.

  7. Great article Anthony.

    I hope they are listening.

  8. It would appear that the Conservatives would lose more as a result of switching from the Lib Dems and Conservatives to Labour in order to keep UKIP out than they gained from UKIP in Order to Keep Labour out.

    4 Way Politics very tricky beast.

  9. Once you’ve taken out the don’t knows and wouldn’t votes, the new Conservative/UKIP alliance would be on 35% of the vote (up just two points on their current support), Labour would be on 45% (up five points on their current support)
    ——————
    Stands back in amazement!

    I’m guessing that all the talk of a Tory/UKIP pact will be kicked into the long grass then…

  10. “Meanwhile a quarter of current Tory supporters wouldn’t vote Tory if they entered a pact with UKIP”

    Does that mean that if the Tory party adopts UKIP policies (which seem to be focused on immigration and Europe) that it will also lose a quarter of its current supporters?

    If so, I am failing to understand the apparent advise that Lynton Crosby gave here

    lynton-crosby-lectures-tory-mps-on-immigration-at-secret-hotel-event

    “Crosby’s key message was that the key to success in 2015 is to get its immigration message right”

    Maybe they should do some polling to check if that really is true before they follow that advice?

  11. Around 20% of Current UKIP supporters would vote other than for any of the Main 4 in these circumstances.

    As approximately 20% of UKIP support has come from the BNP it is reasonably easy to identify who that other Party would be.

  12. Amber
    Such a pact was never in the short grass but just look at the likely impact on DC. In fairness, I assume such a poll has already been taken and just not published.

    Perhaps worth doing again to rule out an outlier.

  13. How come no-one’s commissioned a poll on a UKIP-LAB pact? (Farage’s stated preference to dealing with DC anyway, as well as an equally viable proposition)

  14. Steve
    I am trying to envisage those changing to ‘Others’ possibly including Green, but it’s difficult. “Foreigner- fearing-environment-loving” voter goes from UKIP to Green.

    Actually, I can imagine that now. You just have to repeat these things to yourself.

  15. “Amongst people who currently vote UKIP 56% would vote for the new Conservative/UKIP Alliance, but that leaves 44% of them who wouldn’t – who would go to Labour, or stay at home, or find an alternative non-mainstream party to back.”

    That figure of UKIP going to Labour?

    A better wording would have been… another party (17%), don’t know (10%), Labour (8%), wouldn’t vote (7%), LD (2%).

    Current Con VI (and UKIP) clearly in a bit of a quandry (probably taken a bit by surprise at this stage of the electoral cycle), with 16/17% of their support saying don’t know or not playing.

    No such problem for Lab (1% don’t know, 0% wouldn’t vote) or LD (4% don’t know, 1% wouldn’t vote).

  16. Colin

    “I hope they are listening”

    From my neck of the woods there’s no way the Tories are going to enter into any pre election pack with Ukip the feeling is that those Ukip supporters who will realistically come back to the fold at the GE may well do with an improving economy and more welfare reforms ,plus some tightening of immigration policy which we may well see in the Tory conference next week without having to do any deals with Ukip.

    I know some like to suggest the Tories and Ukip are close,but the truth is for most Tory supporters there is an unsavioury element within Ukip that makes them unattractive bed fellows that’s why the Tories believe with the above proviso’s those Tory defector’s who left for Ukip because they were angry with the Tories direction under DC can be lured back come the GE.

  17. I suppose from a rightie point of view the best aspect of this poll is that it might prevent an unhelpful distraction.

    The best message was always going to be “UKIP are a waste of your vote. If you want tighter immigration and looser European union, we’re your only option”. Acknowledging UKIP as a valid force in any way would simply dilute that message.

    Most of the Tories who would be put off by UKIP are probably in favour of those two things (I know I am). What is offputting about UKIP (in my opinion, of course) is their social attitudes and general lack of grasp of the reality of the world. The few UKIPers I know are also pretty left wing on economic policy. I am 10 times closer to David Laws than to Nigel Farage.

  18. The “bottom line” is (including don’t knows etc):

    Lab 34%, Con/UKIP 27%, LD 9%

    with a hefty chunk of current Con and UKIP VI still sitting on their hands over a pact.

    (While 99% of Lab’s VI and 96% of LD VI have made up their minds.)

  19. Neil A,

  20. BILL PATRICK

    Agree with that comment. :-)

  21. (Sorry, accidentally pressed the “submit” button.)

    “I suppose from a rightie point of view the best aspect of this poll is that it might prevent an unhelpful distraction.”

    I agree. If you could distill all the aspects of the Conservative party I dislike, remove most of the elements I like, and use them to construct a party, it would look a lot like UKIP. If the Conservative party did any sort of deal with UKIP, I would instantly cross them off my list of possible parties. It would be like a socially liberal party doing a deal with a socialist party: a fundamental deal-breaker for me. I still don’t really forgive the Liberals for the Lib-Lab pact, for example.

  22. With 40% of current UKIP VI saying they will vote Conservative to keep out Miliband I think we can safely say that 40% of UKIP’s current rating is toast as far as being a UKIP cross on the ballot paper in 2015 is concerned?

    So, for all future projecting of the true position in daily polls from now on I will do a simple calculation: I will deduct 40% of the UKIP VI and give it to the Tories.

    I will also deduct 7% of the total Labour VI and give it to the LDs because that is what Ashcroft’s marginals polls reveal will actually happen when voters are faced with the real situation in their constituencies.

    Applying those two factors should give a truer picture of what the position truly currently is once voters have been forced to apply their minds about polling day choices rather than a spur of the moment reaction in theory.

  23. I’ve been suggesting for a while that the Linton Crosby trinity, welfare, immigration and attack Miliband, could well backfire. Yes, it might well win back some UKIP drifters, but the bigger problem they have, possibly the one big problem, is that Nasty Party tag, and the huge number of anti-Tory votes it incites.

    It’s not working and it’s not going to work.

    I’m sure The Other Howard et al are sincere and good eggs too, but there are just too many people who want the NHS, care about welfare and aren’t bothered whether Cameron speaks better than Miliband. The “Red Ed” tag might even be winning votes back.

  24. When I say 7% of the Labour VI I mean 7% of their total – not 7% points!

  25. Tony Dean

    “When I say”

    Tony I can’t find that you said anything yet’. ???

  26. @ Howard

    My “contribution” went into auto-mod (I cannot for the life of me see why?!) – but hopefully it will appear soon. If not, I will have to type it again avoiding words I do not know need avoiding!!!!!

  27. To Everyone

    Is there a list of “forbidden” words anywhere? If so it would avoid having innocent posts intercepted by automod unnecessarily.

  28. Tony
    It’s OK, when Anthony gets home from the pub, we’ll all enjoy your contribution.

  29. HOWARD

    Isn’t Friday Anthony’s night off?

  30. If any of you have ever questioned Our Glorious Leader’s comment policy, just take a look at the comments below the line on that Speccy article. Yeesh.

  31. @Howard

    I see Anthony has passed my comment as OK now for you to read.

    Applying my theory to YouGovs latest 40/33/9/11 for what it is worth it would give an actual result of 37/37/12/6 once the pressures of a campaign are felt in individual constituencies.

  32. Automod again – Anthony, what am I doing that’s wrong?

    [Not quite sure, sorry! – AW]

  33. On reflection I am pleased at Miliband letting the socialist cat of the bag this week. Despite this poll, I fully expect his speech to concentrate some UKIP and other voters minds and come back to the Conservatives.

    For me, it’s going to be an election about whether you want big Govt and state intervention in markets, or whether you believe in free markets. I can’t think of a single example of long term central planning ever working.

  34. @nickP

    it’s getting a bit boring now. who ever wins the next election is in serious trouble anyway.

  35. There won’t be any deal with UKIP atall
    although they may have kick arsed on some aspects of policy.
    The voters have to decide whether they want to cut their noses off in order to cut their heads off and have the 2 Eds in Downing Street,
    or to come to the Tories – which I believe they probably will do.

  36. In some ways this is a party ID problem.

    A proportion of Grassroots Conservative activists, MPs and voters will identify quite closely with UKIP… they vote that way when it comes to EU elections, and more recently in local elections (some Con MPs will always follow the UKIP line in a HoC vote).

    UKIP has traditionally seen itself as keeping the Conservative party honest… by leaving marginals alone as long as the Con candidate is a eurosceptic, thus indirectly influencing candidate selection.

    2.5 million votes+ go to UKIP in EU elections go (2004 and 2009) but fewer than a million in a GE… however, a surge in recent byelections and 2013 locals could signal a change of heart among the UKIP-at-heart Conservative party identifiers. If UKIP polled at a similar percentage in EU and Westminster elections they could have 5 million voters.

    Dream scenario for Con would be for UKIP to peak at the EU elections. Former Conservative funders and media backers then abruptly pull the plug on UKIP, who consequently are unable to mount much of a campaign. There would be the usual split between candidates who stand down voluntarily (actively endorsing Con “for the good of the Country”) and assorted bods who don’t; plus a scandal or two perhaps.

    Meanwhile Conservatives tap into an invigorated media zeitgeist around immigration/EU etc.

    The nightmare is highly unlikely, but still just possible. Another surge convinces the crossover party ID people that UKIP is a viable alternative to the Conservatives… and some Con MPs in marginal seats go rogue, making the calculation that they lose fewer seats with a full blown “Conservative UKIP Alliance” (as opposed to a less formal understanding).

  37. A pact would destroy UKIP, simple. It wont happen.

  38. @ Rich

    I agree that free markets work better long term. However, there is a long term problem with free markets in the developed West. As the rest of the world seems to be getting more competitive the free market means that the general population of the developed Western countries are going to become steadily poorer. This is socially and culturally unacceptible in democracies. They are predicated on the majority getting wealthier, not poorer. This has worked well over the past two centuries, democracy and freer markets have grown hand-in-hand. But how do we go forward if free trade means increasing pressure to lower living standards in order to compete?
    Surely the logic would be to use our remaining political and military muscle in the developed West to protect what we have even if it means state intervention, protection and state planning?
    I agree that Briatin cannot do this alone – but EU plus perhaps the Ukrainian cereal growing areas might as one bloc be able to survive in a protection environment?

  39. I see UKIP won in Sevenoaks last night, ousting Labour. Seems they are taking votes off Labour after all. UKIP could be a real contender in several counties in the south/lincs, likely at the expense of the Tories.

  40. Billy Bob
    “2.5 million votes+ go to UKIP in EU elections go (2004 and 2009) but fewer than a million in a GE… however, a surge in recent by elections and 2013 locals could signal a change of heart among the UKIP-at-heart Conservative party identifiers”

    UKIP GE results

    1997 105,722
    2001 390,563
    2005 605,973
    2010 919,471

    This is a pretty clear straight line, and even without any sort of surge they would get 1.2M at next GE. probably not enough to get a seat, but enough to affect quite a few marginals.

  41. Wolf,
    Agreed,it is going to be a very poisoned chalice whoever wins .

  42. @ Hoofhearted

    I have had a look at that UKIP gain from Labour. A bizarre local situation this. An incredibly popular Independent Cllr died early this year. In fact he was so well respected no political parties stood against him for years – he was returned unopposed. When a By-election was called after his death the local area wanted his widow to become their “Independent” cllr. However, both the Conservatives, LDs and UKIP announed their intention to stand – so perhaps unsurprisingly she stood as a Labour candidate. Not Labour territory at all – but being the “grieving widow” she won! She then dies a few months later!
    This By-election more politically normal in what is naturally a Conservative area – UKIP challenge, they won.
    That is a more normal pattern, and less odd than a UKIP gain from Labour looks on paper.

  43. TURK

    Thanks.

    Good to hear.

  44. ” I can’t think of a single example of long term central planning ever working.”

    1939-1979?

  45. Tony Dean
    “Applying my theory to YouGovs latest 40/33/9/11 for what it is worth it would give an actual result of 37/37/12/6 once the pressures of a campaign are felt in individual constituencies.”

    I suspect there could be something in that, I think you more right than wrong but we shall have to wait until nearer the election for confirmation one way or the other.

    On your last post you define the problem that I have seen for some time now. You suggest protectionism and state planning but that has never worked long term either. In my view niche markets and smaller state is the only answer likely to work.

  46. @ NickP

    Yes Nick, and look at the reduction of National Debt as a proportion of GDP over that period. It was a triumph compared to since 1979!

  47. What a fascinating poll, I wish there were more in this vein but I somehow I doubt there will be many. Possibly it’s not a great time for such a one-off poll with one conference not complete.

    To me it shows what a slippery fish “the centre” can be: during some periods it can be pretty obvious what it is and what a party needs to do to get those votes, other times it can be difficult to pin down coherently (as I think we have now). Plainly there are voters who identify with not just one large party who are concerned with issues UKIP seems to address.

  48. Hoof
    Yup Tony is right,local circs in spades in Sevenoaks,elsewhere UKIP doing more damage to the Blues than the Reds.
    The ALDC website is the one thing that gives me a positive regard for the LDs.

  49. There is a big unknown factor in the next GE, and that is the ‘Stay at home’ vote! In 1987 and 1992 the turnout was over 75%. In 2010 it was 65% and that was actually a slight improvement over the previous two elections, probably because of the introduction of mass postal voting.
    Therefore there is a potential 10% or so of the electorate who just might be enthused by a new party with policies that appeal to ordinary people. If UKIP can tap into them even more than they have so far there could be some surprises if they get momentum during the campaign.

  50. @RICH
    I don’t think it will be an election about ‘Big Government’ v ‘Free Markets’…that may well be the underlying theme, but like all (most) elections it will be about whether people are happy with the direction their lives are going economically and the environment they live in – if they think bigger governemnt will improve these things they go Labour, if not they go Tory. Not everyone of course as there are those who vote for a party regardless of the evidence.

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