Sunday, May 08, 2005

The "UKIP effect"

Comment flying around on the internet is drawing attention to the posted results for the East Midlands constituency of Corby.

According to the local newspaper, Peterborough Today the seat returned a record turnout of 81.3 percent with Ian Gillman of UKIP gaining an incredible 12,078.

Labour's Phil Hope retained the seat with 20,913 votes while Andrew Griffith, the Conservative challenger gained 19,396 votes to take second place. With the majority to Labour of only 1,517, if the figures are correct, this is dwarfed by Gillman’s 12,078, making this potentially the 28th scalp to the UKIP/Veritas axis.

The results are repeated on the BBC website and in the Saturday edition of The Daily Telegraph but they are nevertheless hard to believe. If they are true, then there was an electoral phenomenon in Corby which needs explanation.

However, provisionally, I am adding it to the list of the UKIP/Veritas "scalps" which means that, potentially, the Labour seats could have been reduced by 19, bringing down its overall majority to 28. For convenience, the complete list is now:

Battersea (Lab hold) Maj: 163 - UKIP: 333
Burton (Lab hold) Maj: 1,421 ­ UKIP/Veritas: 1,825
Carshalton & Wallington (LD hold) Maj: 1,068 - UKIP: 1,111
Corby (Lab hold) Maj: 1,517 – UKIP: 12,078
Cornwall North (LD hold) Maj: 3,076 – UKIP/Veritas: 3,387
Crawley (Lab Hold) Maj: 37 - UKIP 935
Dartford (Lab hold) Maj: 706 - UKIP: 1,407
Eastleigh (LD Hold to Chris Huhne) Maj: 568 - UKIP: 1,669
Gillingham (Lab hold) Maj: 254 - UKIP 1,191
Harlow [Lab hold) Maj: 97 – UKIP/Veritas 1922
Hereford (Lab hold) Maj: 962 - UKIP: 1,030
High Peak (Lab hold) Maj: 735 - UKIP 1,106
Hove (Lab hold) Majority 420 - UKIP 575
Medway (Lab hold) Maj: 213 - UKIP 1,488
Portsmouth North (Lab hold) Maj: 1,139 - UKIP 1,348
Romsey (LD hold) Maj: 125 ­ UKIP: 1,076
Sittingbourne & Sheppey (Lab hold) Maj: 79 – UKIP/Veritas: 1,118
Solihull (LD Gain) Maj: 279 - UKIP: 99
Somerton & Frome (LD hold) Maj: 812 - UKIP plus Veritas: 1,531
Staffordshire Moorlands (Lab hold) Maj: 2,438 - UKIP: 3,512
Stroud (Lab hold) Maj: 350 - UKIP: 1,089
Stourbridge (Lab hold) Maj: 407 -­ UKIP: 1,087
Taunton (LD gain) Maj: 573 ­ UKIP: 1,441
Thanet South (Lab hold) Maj: 664 - UKIP (Nigel Farage) 2,079
Torbay (LD hold) Maj: 2,029 - UKIP 3,726
Warwick & Leamington (Lab hold) Maj: 306 - UKIP: 921
Watford (Lab hold) Maj: 1,148 - UKIP: 1,292
Westmorland & Lonsdale (LD gain) Maj: 267 - UKIP: 660

Unsurprisingly – with the exception of Booker - none of today’s newspaper commentators seemed to have noticed the "UKIP effect" and even UKIP, in a "thank you" e-mail from Roger Knapman to party faithful this morning, seems not to have noticed its own "achievement".

What is evident, though, from provisional data, is that UKIP is slowly – almost under the radar – making steady gains in a hostile electoral environment. Seats fought over the last three elections have increased from 194 and 434 to 497, while the national share of vote has increased from 0.34% and 1.47% to 2.38%, with deposits saved increasing from one in 1997 to six in 2001 and 45 in this current election.

Total votes stood at 106,001 in 1997, at 390,910 in 2001 and at roughly 610,000 this time round. Given the tenacity of the Party, even where funding had dried up, fielding 497 candidates was a considerable achievement and there is no reason to expect that the Party will be any less tenacious in the next general election.

If current trends continue and the "UKIP effect" means anything at all, UKIP could cost the Conservatives the next general election.

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