[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. Curiously, I think we contributors to threads on UKPR and indeed many in the press and political world completely over estimate the UKIP phenomenon.

    Agreed, they are a new and unusual vehicle for the disgruntled on a range of issues and from across the political spectrum.

    However, their support is very fragile and protest based, and as a party they seem badly disorganised, and certainly have an election fighting machine of very uncertain provenance and ability.

    In addition, 40% of their “supporters” are so keen to keep Miliband out that thay are almost certain to return to the Tory fold during the dogfight of a General Election.

    We are therefore talking a great deal about a party with probably a single figure core support, with little or no prospects of electing even one MP – plus they are a party with no traditional roots like other small parties of the past.

    Although they are interesting, I cannot see them having any major impact on a General Election beyond being an irritation in about half-a-dozen Conservative marginals.

  2. One interesting thing is that, although the prospect of a Con-UKIP Alliance is enough to drive 16% of current Tories and 17% of UKIP into becoming non-voters, the proportion of non-voters remains the same at 23%. So the around 100 voters who fled are replaced by the same number who are stirred into political action by this new idea. However they seem to be split 50-50 between those choosing the new Alliance and those voting against.

    It’s also worth pointing out that, although the evidence isn’t here, it could be that the prospect for a CUA would be even worse than the headline suggests. The Lib Dems would clearly be unable to support such an entity, so you would see the return and possible intensification of widespread tactical voting on an Anyone But CUA basis (we’ve already seen from the Ashcroft polling that this may still be more common among ordinary voters than people have assumed). So you might see even seats that should be won on 35% being lost because CUA would also consolidate the opposition.

    I do have one query about the question wording however. The preamble says […]UKIP
    backing the Conservative candidate in most
    constituencies and the Conservatives backing
    the UKIP candidate in a small number of
    constituencies.
    I wonder if a vaguer wording that did not emphasise that UKIP would not gain much in the way of seats (after all they are theoretically providing a quarter of the votes) might retain more UKIP voters (though of course it could lose even more Tories). I actually suspect not, as I think the objection is to the principle not the terms, but it could be tested.

  3. In 2003 Colin Dibsdall was elected LD councillor for Crokenhill and Well Hill (Sevenoaks DC), beating Con and UKIP. He was reelected unopposed in 2007.

    He was again elected unopposed as an Independent in 2011, but died soon afterwards, when his widow was elected (as a Labour councillor) with 58% of the vote… on her death Labour has retained 31% of the vote from a historical base of 0%

  4. @nicp,

    I take it you are joking. I trust my parents implicitly, and they tell me the late 70s was easily the grimmest period they have lived through (they are late 60s now).

    Rich

  5. In 2003 Colin Dibsdall was elected LD councillor for Crokenhill and Well Hill (Sevenoaks DC), beating Con and UKIP. He was reelected unopposed in 2007.

    He was again elected unopposed as an Independent in 2011, but died soon afterwards, when his widow was elected (as a Labour councillor) with 58% of the vote… on her death Labour has this week retained 31% of the vote from an historic base of 0%.

  6. my reply ended up in the wrong box.

    SO if the Conservatives were stronger on immigration they may lose votes in the centre but gain present traditional Labour and none voters as these now have little allegiance to Labour

  7. RICH

    @” I trust my parents implicitly, and they tell me the late 70s was easily the grimmest period they have lived through”

    You are right to trust them Rich.

    It was.

  8. Billy Bob

    You did not mention that although Labour had 31% of the vote yesterday in Sevenoakes UKIP gained the seat with 35% of the vote.

  9. BC I think that’s right. Many working class voters are conservative with a small ‘c’ – i.e. not automatically being in favour of mass immigration and gay marriage for example. They might be attracted to a patriotic party that does not have the toxic ‘Tory’ label attached to it.

    There seems to be a general feeling that there’s very little to choose between Tories and Labour now because they both covet the so-called centre ground. The biggest headline-grabber from Labour’s conference was the freeze on energy prices, which is something customers can do anyway.

  10. @ Colin & Rich

    “……..they tell me the late 70s was easily the grimmest period they have lived through”

    Yes, it was for me too – I was married to my first wife!

    But, I liked “Lucky Jim”….!

  11. I meant to say, that UKIP wouldn’t be likely to have a pact with Tories because of alienating these working class voters.

  12. Channel 4 News took Rees Mogg jnr on walkabout in Romford, he is pro a pact with UKIP and alarmingly for any Tory Central office folk the piece took it as read that such a pact would be a good thing for the Tories ,purely cos of the 40% of Kipper voters who say they would switch to the Tories,they ignored the rest of the findings showing that Labour would be the main beneficiaries.
    4 party politics is obviously more complex than most journalists can handle !
    Maybe Anthony should offer tutorials?

  13. Interesting comment from PRESS ASS. 1.5 hrs ago which fits nicely into this thread.

    “”Conservatives should allow Ukip to scoop up some parliamentary seats as part of a pact to avoid splitting the right-wing vote, according to a prominent Tory.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested that Nigel Farage’s party would expect to get some MPs out of any deal, which he suggested was “likely” to be discussed next year.

    The backbencher floated the idea of Conservatives making a ”big, open and comprehensive” offer of coalition with Ukip to keep Labour out of power earlier this year.

    “I’m not going to say which of my friends I think should make way for Ukip,” he told Channel 4 News tonight.

    “Potentially some, some… Ukip would expect to get some Members of Parliament out of this, yes, yes, of course.”

    He added : “My view is that it is likely that there will be some discussions about how to do a deal in a year from now.” “”

  14. @BC

    It had been established on this thread that Crokenhill and Well Hill was a UKIP gain… I didn’t think they merited any additional hype for their total of 206 votes. :-)

    Apols for my double posts.

  15. Good new on Iran, seems like there is some hope here with this new bloke. A couple of years back it appeared to be heading for conflict…

  16. Tony Dean

    Curiously, I think we contributors to threads on UKPR and indeed many in the press and political world completely over estimate the UKIP phenomenon.

    Agreed, they are a new and unusual vehicle for the disgruntled on a range of issues and from across the political spectrum.

    However, their support is very fragile and protest based, and as a party they seem badly disorganised, and certainly have an election fighting machine of very uncertain provenance and ability.

    In addition, 40% of their “supporters” are so keen to keep Miliband out that that are almost certain to return to the Tory fold during the dogfight of a General Election.

    On the contrary I think that it’s the solidity of UKIP’s support that has been the surprise this year and that it’s something that the politico-media class have consistently underestimated – seeing them as merely skittish Tories who will return to the fold as soon the magic words “Ed is carp” are pronounced.

    I assume your 40% refers to another YouGov poll today that asked 3 days’ worth of UKIP voters their response to various Conservative scenarios:

    http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/gx16eafmsa/YG-Archive-Pol-Sun-results-250913-UKIP.pdf

    In actual fact the 40% “Would make me more likely to vote Conservative” in reply to If you thought voting Conservative was the only way to stop Ed Miliband and Labour forming the next government was the least popular of the six hypothetical situations – everything else scored at least 57%. And, as Anthony always reminds us, hypotheticals are terribly unreliable because people indicate they will change their behaviour when they are already voting that way or (in this case) wish to indicate approval of the suggested outcome, but will not necessarily alter what they will do.

    In this case the 40% only say it would make them more likely, not that they will. And they are out-weighed by the 41% who say it would “make no difference” and the consistent 12% who say they would never vote Conservative.

    I’m sure that some ex-Tories will go back in 2015 – maybe 10-20% of UKIP current VI. But it will not be the bonanza that some are expecting – especially as there may also be partially compensating leakage to other Parties.

  17. @Roger Mexico – ” …the prospect of a Con-UKIP Alliance is enough to drive 16% of current Tories and 17% of UKIP into becoming non-voters”

    Shouldn’t that be 6% of Con and 7% of UKIP?

    The missing ten percent of their VI is currently “don’t know” in relation to the “Conservative/UKIP Alliance”.

  18. @Rich

    “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”

    That’ll be around 80-90% of people behind big gov’t and state intervention in markets then (whether they realize it or not). A pretty decisive victory if you ask me.

  19. Funny attitude for an anarchist!

  20. @Roger Mexico

    Another reading of the tables you linked to would be that Con have only ‘permanently’ lost 4% of their 2010 Con-to-UKIP defectors (“I would never vote Conservative anyway”).

    67% would likely return to Con in order to prevent Ed Miliband forming a government, 69%-72% would likely return in the event of economic considerations.

  21. What was grim about the late 70s?

    Lots of jobs. Solid growth after the recession in 73/74. Free Uni, free dentists.

    I don’t remember anything much grim at all, until the riots of the 80s. There were the troubles and the IRA, of course. And not qualifying for the World Cup in 74 or 78.

    There was the Winter of Discontent, but I don’t remember it affecting me too much.

  22. NickP
    Mass unemployment. Constant strikes. Being bailed out by the IMF. 20%+ inflation. Punk rock. Power Cuts. etc.

    Perhaps you were too young to be aware of the full effects?

  23. The Clash were my band.

  24. Mass unemployment? Compared to the 80s?

    IMF bailout was a mistake, should have Quantifiably Eased some money out of nowhere! indlation couldn’t have got much worse.

    Nah, it wasn’t the nightmare depicted. Disco, Star Wars. There was loads of money around.

  25. @Pete B
    The high point for mass unemployment came under Mrs T in the 1980s after the destruction of Northern industries, creating unemployment benefit dependency. Look up the figures.

  26. @Pete B

    I never said I was among the 80-90% ;)

  27. @Pete B

    There was no mass unemployment that was the 80s. The 70s weren’t that bad and the 3 day week was under a Tory gov’t

  28. Power cuts….Ted Heath’s Tory government.

  29. I’m obviously outnumbered. I take it all back. The late 70s was obviously a paradise, which I have remembered wrongly.

    I wonder why Mrs T won a landslide in 1979?

  30. There’s the unmentioned thing about the IMF.

    These are the five largest contributors to IMF funding…

    United States – 16.75%
    Japan – 6.23%
    Germany – 5.81%
    France – 4.29%
    UK – 4.29%

    But those countries are in trouble themselves. The U.S. has a debt to GDP ratio of over 100%. Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of over 200%.

    The truth is that these countries are funding the IMF with borrowed money.

  31. Pete B
    Just pointing out some inaccuracies of your assessment of the 70s under Labour – it was a time of constantly changing unstable governments……

  32. Inflation started going up under Heath too. The reason: OPEC started restricting supply and putting oil prices up. Massive hikes, causing inflation and something of an energy crisis.

    Labour got inflation back under control, in part through wage restraint, though naturally some strikes as people weren’t happy seeing wage packets hammered by 25% inflation. The inflation also hammered the economy.

    But just as they had gotten on top of things, there was another big hike in oil prices and resulting inflation… Unions couldn’t hold the line on wage restraint and we had the winter of Discontent..

    Some people’s parents don’t tell them about all that though…

  33. pete b

    But you claimed there was constant strikes and mass unemployment. There wasn’t.

    You also seem to think Punk Rock was a bad thing. i assume you would have liked to continue with Yes and those other progressive wonders?

  34. @RICH

    “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.”

    ———–

    Well, yeah, being as Labour are the ones wanting to promote more free markets by breaking up the energy firms “vertical integration”, this should appeal to those in favour of free markets.

  35. You also seem to think Punk Rock was a bad thing. i assume you would have liked to continue with Yes and those other progressive wonders?

    I agree with your sentiment, but I think we should at least credit Yes’ Rick Wakeman with composing the greatest Election theme ever.

  36. Personally I thought both Punk, and Prog. were a good thing, and funk, that was good, and a bit of ska and reggae…

  37. Carfrew
    “…Some people’s parents don’t tell them about all that though…”

    I was married and buying my second house at the time. 33% basic rate income tax, mortgage went up to 18%, having taken it at 10% and budgetted for 12%. I moved house during 1978 and in my first house I was the only person in the street with a job. Nearly everything you needed – water, electricity, gas etc was nationalised, and very expensive an virtually impossible to get complaints acted on.

    The only good thing I remember about the 70s was the three day week (because my salary wasn’t affected), and getting married. Things were so bad that there were even rumours of a military coup by General Walker(?) for instance. Was I living in a parallel universe?

  38. ” Was I living in a parallel universe?”

    I think you were.

  39. P.S. I think you are talking about the early 70s. Wilson thought the establishment (including the army) were plotting against him, and there was probably a kernel of truth.

  40. @Pete B

    I’ve already shown agreement with some of your case. However, as some have pointed out, some things like unemployment were worse post-seventies, and how do energy and water prices now compare to then?

    The real issue is the causes, and one narrative in particular seeks to blame Labour for something that also afflicted Heath and Thatcher’s government: the oil crisis. Things only improved for Thatch when the oil price collapsed as we entered the mid-eighties, ushering a world boom…

  41. There is no reason whatsoever why these poll findings should surprise anyone.

    The support of the Right (as measured by polls and General Elections) fell through the floor in the 90s and has barely picked up since. I’ve pointed out times many the obvious fact from the polling data – that in a generation, the Tories have squeaked above 40% in the polls only briefly and in the most opportune of times.

    That is a disastrous performance for a Party which long considered itself the natural party of Government. It is FAR worse than Labour’s performance from 81 onwards, when people regularly flocked to them in mid-term even if they were going to desert come the GE. Labour has breached with ease the 40% VI ceiling, even very shortly after what seemed like generation-long problems emerged. The Tories, by contrast, toiled and struggled to break through that barrier, did so only in the most propitious circumstances that a script-writer could craft, then collapsed again shortly afterwards.

    What is the conclusion?

    To me it’s bleeding obvious. The country no longer has anything remotely close to a majority (or, more pertinently, an Election-winning minority) of people who hold conventional right-wing views. We changed as a country sometime after Black Weds, when, to paraphrase Peter Kellner, the competent bastard became incompetent bastards.

    And the evidence of the last 20 years is that we are not easily changing that opinion.

    Cameron realises this. He knows that there is nothing to gain in veering rightwards. He knew that from the off. And he probably pulled in just enough centrists to take the Tory vote in 2010 up to somewhere close to its current ceiling.

    But this poll shows what happens if the Tories veer rightwards. The Tory centre cannot hold on to people who are not, by instinct, supportive of the hang-em and flog-em and send-em-back Right.

    An existential problem for the Right has existed for 20 years. My fear was that in Cameron, they had finally elected a person who understood this problem. It seems that it may yet be too daunting for him to solve.

  42. Good and bad times depend wholly on when you were born, and on personal circumstances.

    For me the late 70s were a golden age. I was in my mid 20s, had my first serious girlfriend, had been 4 years working in a secure civil service job with regularly rising salary, and in late 79 got a civil service bursary to go back to uni for another BSc, on full salary! Sure the rail fares were rising, there were strikes and other inconveniences, and taxes weren’t insignificant (though they paid my salary!); but in your 20s, with all else good, these are adventures, not hardships.

    Contrast this with a decade later, under Major in the late 80s and early 90s. I was in negative equity (having moved in 1987), interest rates were rising continually which made my mortgage unsupportable, inflation was rampant (MUCH more so than in the late 70s; it was controlled after the IMF in 1976), salary was barely rising, I was up to my neck in credit card debt trying to keep afloat, I’d reached my career peak, and the job was no longer secure (Major walkied the walk on the civil service, whereas Thatcher only talked the talk). Indeed, in 1994 I was sold off to America like a lump of meat on a hook.

    I know mine is an anecdote, and that statistically the late 70s are probably not highly regarded. However, give me the late 70s any day!

  43. NickP
    I got married in 78, and well remember the mortgage and tax rates.
    Carfrew
    My energy and water prices took at least 10 years to get back to the levels they were pre-privatistaion. Also I don’t think I’ve mentioned Labour at all. The early seventies were pretty dire too, it’s just that the subject was the late 70s. I would say that Heath was a vindictive idiot if that wouldn’t be considered partisan.

  44. Old Git (although you CAN’T be much older than me, and i’m still a kid)

    Re: the 1970s

    History is written by the winners. Because the winners genuinely saw the 1970s as the Hadean depths from which the country had to be saved, it is only natural that we have been taught to revile that period.

    Have a look here for a refreshingly different take on the 70s.

    http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780571221370?redirected=true&gclid=CIydwYzV7LkCFUMd3godPDUAeA

  45. @Pete B

    I notice you didn’t answer how the energy bills compare now. And I know you didn’t mention Labour but the convo sprang from what Rich said so I was addressing that.

  46. @RICH

    “…I take it you are joking. I trust my parents implicitly, and they tell me the late 70s was easily the grimmest period they have lived through (they are late 60s now)…”

    This surprised me: older members of my family who lived through 1963 describe the Cuban Missile Crisis as easily the most frightening thing they had experienced.

  47. The mortgae and tax rates?

    As opposed to property prices and take home pay?

    Surely what matters is what you can buy with the money? After all if you lose a third of £20,000 and you can buy a house for £30,000 that’s better than losing 25% of £30,000 and the house costing £100,000?

  48. Lefty
    Thanks for bringing the subject back to polling rather than the ramblings of old gits (especially me).
    I’d just have this comment on
    “The country no longer has anything remotely close to a majority (or, more pertinently, an Election-winning minority) of people who hold conventional right-wing views. ”
    I think that ‘right-wing’ and ‘left-wing’ can be misleading. As I said in an earlier post, many working class voters hold socially-conservative (right-wing?) views, and have lost faith with the conventional parties, and have stopped voting. it’s possible that UKIP might attract this type of voter.

  49. (reposted with correct tags)

    @RICH

    “…I take it you are joking. I trust my parents implicitly, and they tell me the late 70s was easily the grimmest period they have lived through (they are late 60s now)…”

    This surprised me: older members of my family who lived through 1963 describe the Cuban Missile Crisis as easily the most frightening thing they had experienced.

  50. “You also seem to think Punk Rock was a bad thing. i assume you would have liked to continue with Yes and those other progressive wonders?”

    Absolutely: if we’d carried on, then with modern technology we’d be able to have albums with 2 hour keyboard solos, 150 eight-stringed guitars, and an internet full of sounds for Pink Floyd to sample.

    Polling comment: if Tory party members were rational, then they’d see that the collapse of the LDs, the rise of UKIP and Labour’s lurch to the left offers them their greatest opportunity for taking the centre-ground since the early 1990s, especially with David Cameron as leader and the fact that they’ve achieved the biggest single pro-homosexual law since the 1960s…

    … IF they were rational! To this day, you’ll find some Old Labour figures who will argue that the problem back in the 1980s was that Labour wasn’t willing to offer a clearly socialist alternative!

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