Friday, 3 May 2013

UKIP has broken the class barrier

Although leading Conservatives like Ken Clarke and David Cameron have attempted to distance themselves from the United Kingdom Independence Party, it has always been clear that UKIP and Tories are of one mind on such issues as Europe, immigration, social services and education. That many parliamentary Conservatives could happily take the UKIP whip if this was already an established party was exemplified by David TC Davies's remarks on Sharp End last night. I have found that the overlap is even more marked among activists.

All the more remarkable then that thousands of people in the South Shields constituency, who would one assumes rather be seen dead than voting Conservative turned out for UKIP, putting them in second place in yesterday's by-election. Perhaps I should have been more alive to the implications of John Bufton's success in the last EU elections, halving Welsh Labour's representation in Brussels.

If this class-blind voting pattern continues through to 2015,  there is a threat to Labour* as well as Conservatives outside London and South-East England.

In theory, George Osborne and the Tory "dries" in the House of Commons ought to be reassured that UKIP, who are even more reluctant to increase the welfare budget, have done much better than Labour in the English county elections. However, the Conservative leadership must be worried about a split in the parliamentary ranks.

* Mark Pack has a graphic illustrating the damage done to Labour this time.

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