One thought on “Born to be an Alien

  1. I would query a few of your assumption, not about Northern Irish politics but about the rest of Britain.

    The first assumption is that events during the next twelve months or so don’t cause the government to find itself committed to holding an effectively in/out referendum on the European Union – this is, I think, rather unlikely (on that timescale) but far from impossible. If this is the case, then I would expect the referendum date to be before June 2014, on the basis that an “In” vote would be likely to damage UKIP while an “Out” vote would be used to cancel the European elections in the UK.and avoid a rather nasty defeat for the government parties (and also on the basis that the uncertainty that holding European elections while a referendum was imminent would be likely to give a large extra boost to UKIP).

    Leaving that aside and assuming (probably rightly) that the UK does take part in the 2014 European elections – one difference from the recent past will be that, with Labour will almost certainly in opposition, it is likely not only to be still doing fairly well in opinion polls but to perform rather closer to its general opinion poll rating than in recent European elections. Even after losing some votes to UKIP, other parties and abstention, I would still expect Labour to get 30% or so of the total vote.

    Also, UKIP’s support in Great Britain is somewhat uneven. In 2009, while it got over 16% of the vote in Great Britain as a whole, it got only just over 5% in Scotland and also did distinctly less well in London and Wales than in the rest of England. I would be very surprised to see UKIP significantly improving its position in Scotland in 2014, and would still expect to see them performing less well in Wales and London than in England outside London. So, to get 30% over Great Britain as a whole, UKIP would have to be getting 40% in at least some parts of the south of England outside London and the English Midlands. I don’t quite see this happening – I can see UKIP coming a very good, even close, second to Labour but not first.

    The final point to make is that if UKIP do get 30%, or even close to it, in 2014, I doubt that it will be just a blip. Undoubtedly, UKIP’s vote will slip back substantially in 2015, but there will be a large number of constituencies in England where they are able to portray themselves as the main alternative to the incumbent party – a powerful consideration under first past the post. In most of them, they would not win, but I would be totally unsurprised, under those circumstances, to see them with 20 to 30 seats – quite possibly enough to make them the third largest party in the House of Commons.

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