Tuesday, December 2, 2014

First post-Smith telephone poll shows SNP remain firmly on course to become the third-largest party in the new House of Commons

The first telephone poll to have been conducted since the Smith recommendations were announced has been published by Ashcroft.  Once again, it shows the SNP within a hair's breadth of both the Liberal Democrats and the Greens across the whole of Britain.

Britain-wide voting intentions (Ashcroft) :

Labour 32% (n/c)
Conservatives 30% (+3)
UKIP 16% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 7% (n/c)
Greens 6% (-1)
SNP 5% (n/c)
Plaid Cymru 1% (n/c)

But of course those figures are before the "magic" of the first-past-the-post voting system kicks in.  In terms of seats, this poll points without a shadow of doubt to the SNP becoming the third-largest party in the House of Commons, way ahead of the Liberal Democrats in fourth.  It's not clear whether UKIP would even make it into fifth place, because they'd be in a battle with the DUP, who can be expected to remain in the same ball-park as their current tally of eight seats.  And in spite of the Green surge (which is now a well-established phenomenon), it's impossible to know how the lower placings would work out either.  Plaid Cymru might win anything between two and five seats, the SDLP might win anything between one and three, and the Greens might win anything between zero and four. Sinn Féin should win at least four, but of course they don't take up their seats.

For a man who has such love in his heart for Belize, Mr Ashcroft (he's not Jesus so I won't call him "Lord") has a strangely London-centric perspective.  Or at least he must do, because I can't think of any other reason why someone whose polls have consistently shown that the SNP are on course for third place would devise a question last week which asked respondents whether they expect a Labour majority government, a Conservative majority government, a Labour-Lib Dem coalition, or a Tory-Lib Dem coalition - or whether they don't know.  At the very least, it ought to be blindingly obvious that a Labour-SNP deal (either a coalition or a confidence-and-supply arrangement) is now much more probable than a Labour-Lib Dem coalition, so how Ashcroft felt he could justify excluding that from the list of options is anyone's guess.

However, this week he's come up with a variation on the question, and with a much more exhaustive list of options.  Rather than being asked what they expect to happen, respondents were invited to say whether they would be happy or unhappy if each of a number of parties were to become a coalition partner at Westminster.  To be blunt, the results reveal the sick, black heart of public opinion south of the border, with a borderline far-right party (UKIP) being clearly preferred to two mainstream centre-left parties (the SNP and the SDLP).

Happy or unhappy to see this party in coalition government?  (Respondents across Britain)

UKIP :

Happy 40%
Unhappy 55%

SNP :

Happy 32%
Unhappy 60%

SDLP : 

Happy 29%
Unhappy 60%

The only alibi I can see for this disgraceful finding is that voters in England might be ignoring the SNP's progressive policies and worrying about constitutional instability instead (not that they'd get that from UKIP, of course!).  Well, whatever the explanation is, the message from Scotland must surely be "tough luck".  It's all very well waxing lyrical about how "loved" Scotland is as a partner in the United Kingdom, but that means taking us as we actually are - and at the moment we look very much like a country that votes SNP in sufficient numbers to potentially give that party a share of power in London.

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Peter Kellner has penned an article which seeks to end our mystical faith in the concept of Uniform National Swing.  It's caused quite a stir, but what I found most interesting was this line -

"However, we now know that the SNP is currently thrashing Labour in Scotland."

Regular readers will remember from the independence referendum campaign just how conceited YouGov were in pretending that only their own polls had any merit.  (For example, Laurence Janta-Lipinski notoriously claimed that Yes needed a "game-changer" at a time when several pollsters were already showing a very close race.)  So Kellner's absolute certainty about the state of play in Scotland at the moment seems a bit odd if he's only relying on the one full-scale Scottish poll YouGov have conducted over recent weeks.  I'm wondering if this might be an indication that they've privately analysed their own Scottish sampling from GB-wide polls, and have concluded that the big SNP lead is an established pattern.

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SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS

We can now more or less exclude any possibility that the publication of Smith had any immediate detrimental effect on the SNP's level of support, because all four Scottish subsamples from polls conducted on Thursday or later have put the SNP ahead, and three of them have done so by a handsome margin.  Today's update of the Poll of Polls is based on seven subsamples - four from YouGov, two from Populus and one from Ashcroft.  There should also be a ComRes poll in there, but as far as I can see the datasets haven't been published yet.

Scottish voting intentions for the May 2015 UK general election :

SNP 41.0% (+2.4)
Labour 27.1% (-0.5)
Conservatives 16.6% (-3.0)
Liberal Democrats 7.0% (+1.8)
UKIP 3.9% (+0.3)
Greens 2.9% (-1.5)

(The Poll of Polls uses the Scottish subsamples from all GB-wide polls that have been conducted entirely within the last seven days and for which datasets have been provided, and also all full-scale Scottish polls that have been conducted at least partly within the last seven days. Full-scale polls are given ten times the weighting of subsamples.)

35 comments:

  1. "To be blunt, the results reveal the sick, black heart of public opinion south of the border"

    This kind of emotive, divisive language really isn't helping anyone. It doesn't take much logic to work out that the fact people can't vote for the SNP (but can vote for UKIP) is going to skew that comparison.

    However there's also nothing remotely wrong with people not wanting to see the SNP in power. It's amazing how often I see SNP supporters using this line - you seem to think that because the SNP aren't anti-immigration (as UKIP are) that the rest of us don't see them as some kind of populist threat to sensible governance.

    I'm on the centre-left and what I see in the SNP is a party that's employed an appeal to identity to play populist blame politics by "othering" London/Westminster and seeking to pin the blame for every ill in society on to the influence of the English over our lives. Are they as bad as UKIP? Not quite, but they're nowhere near a positive influence either.

    The fact that the SNP keep telling us that this isn't what they're doing might convince SNP supporters, but it doesn't convince the rest of us. Clearly you disagree and think they're some bastion of centre-left pragmatism and fairness who wouldn't dream of playing the populist card - that's fine, but don't expect the rest of us to buy everything the SNP say the way you do.

    The kind of rhetoric you've posted here - which clearly exists to try and portray the English as fundamentally twisted/sick when it comes to their political views - is really stepping over the mark. Supporting independence doesn't mean demonising the English and you're getting pretty dangerously close to that here.

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    1. "This kind of emotive, divisive language really isn't helping anyone."

      Sorry, but I'm not going to shy away from telling the truth. Why not solve the problem, rather than shooting the messenger?

      "However there's also nothing remotely wrong with people not wanting to see the SNP in power."

      Nice try, but that's not what I said and you damn well know it. There is something deeply disturbing about a GREATER NUMBER of people being "happy" to see a borderline far-right party in power than are happy to see a mainstream centre-left party like the SNP in power.

      "Supporting independence doesn't mean demonising the English and you're getting pretty dangerously close to that here."

      Oh grow up, you silly, silly man.

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    2. "is a party that's employed an appeal to identity"

      You mean like Labour signing 'Jerusalem' ('England's green and pleasant land') at the end of their recent conference?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYonhCGy5vw

      We all know what nation is Ed's one nation. 'Respect'.

      Or of course the Tories who are a British nationalist party; hence the historic use of the union flag as their symbol... Although Labour are now using it too as they move increasingly right.

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  2. "To be blunt, the results reveal the sick, black heart of public opinion south of the border"

    Why? Just because English people prefer a Coalition with a party they know and probably have local supporters for, rather than a party they don't know except as a "separatist" party previous led by alecsammin?

    I agree with Harepolka, it's unwise to talk about the English general public in this way. On my trips "down south" doing business I've talked to UKIP supporters amongst my customers and there's nothing remotely abnormal about the people I talk to, nor do they have "sick black hearts". On the contrary, when I said I wanted Independence they, without exception, said they'd be sorry if we went but would understand and wish us well. Many of them would be glad to see the back of Westminster as well.

    Like it or not, UKIP is a political party, a legally constituted party, a democratically voted for political party, and we live in a democracy. And one where, both sides of the border, there are people with concerns about the EU, and concerns about immigration.

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    1. "Why?"

      Sigh. I have explained why very, very clearly.

      "I agree with Harepolka, it's unwise to talk about the English general public in this way."

      When a staggering 48% of the English population (it's 40% across Britain, 48% in England) tell a pollster that they would be "happy" for a borderline far-right, anti-immigrant party to be part of the government, I make no apology whatever for pointing out that something is going very, very seriously wrong with English public opinion. I was surprised and shocked by that finding. Instead of attacking me, why don't you and Harepolka explain what your own reaction to that finding is? Are you comfortable with it? Do you think it's consistent with a mature democracy?

      "Like it or not, UKIP is a political party, a legally constituted party, a democratically voted for political party"

      And so is the BNP. If 48% of English people were saying they would be "happy" to see the BNP in government, what would your reaction be? Come to think of it, do you honestly believe that the German people should not have been criticised for voting for the far right in the 1930s, and that they bore no responsibility whatever for the consequences?

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    2. Sorry, it's 41% rather than 48% - I was looking at the wrong table. The point stands, though.

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    3. The problem with your comparison is UKIP are not the same as the BNP. When Reckless disgracefully suggested repatriation was possible for EU migrants post-"Brexit", Farage slapped him down quickly. Now you could dismiss that as PR - Farage not wanting to been as racist - but it was done.

      I tend to view UKIP as being similar to what the SNP were 40 years ago: immature; hostile to all outsiders (SNP argued for Brexit in the 1975 referendum) and not particularly self-aware. The achievement of Salmond was to make the SNP an electable party of government, which was unthinkable even 20 years ago.

      If you look at the polls now, although there is some support for UKIP's main idea, there is also a lot of hostility to them. A big % would not consider voting for them, which means they can only break through to a limited extent in 2015. After securing a core support, UKIP will need to mature and soften their message (i.e. not just bang on about immigration) before they could hope to win a lot of seats.

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    4. "When Reckless disgracefully suggested repatriation was possible for EU migrants post-"Brexit", Farage slapped him down quickly."

      But it's since become clear that it was the other way round - Reckless was loyally sticking to a party line he didn't actually agree with, and was then royally shafted by Farage, who pretended it had never been policy.

      "A big % would not consider voting for them"

      If 40% of the population are sympathetic enough to be quite happy to see them in coalition government, then the level of support needed to win a general election is theoretically out there.

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    5. "But it's since become clear that it was the other way round - Reckless was loyally sticking to a party line he didn't actually agree with, and was then royally shafted by Farage, who pretended it had never been policy."

      I think that's an example of the immaturity I was talking about. The UKIP manifesto for the 2010 election was a shambles of unfunded tax cuts (e.g. flat income tax) and a bizarre mixture of libertarian (social policy) and authoritarian (immigration). The only defence Farage has offered against criticism of it is to say he wasn't leader then.

      "If 40% of the population are sympathetic enough to be quite happy to see them in coalition government, then the level of support needed to win a general election is theoretically out there."

      They've got to win enough seats for that to be an option. The hostility to them means they will struggle to win more than 10. There isn't much point in entering coalition with a party with less than 20.

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    6. Yes, but what I mean is that they could win a general election outright with less than 40% of the vote. Blair only needed 35%. I haven't done the arithmetic, but I would imagine with UKIP's vote relatively evenly spread (at least within England and Wales), they could do it with even less than that.

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  3. UKIP are taking voters from both Labour and Conservative, and regard themselves as center. There are in Scotland many Independence supporters who don't like the EU, and there are Indy supporters who at the least want to see immigration controlled on such as a points system in Indy Scotland.

    Just as there were, according to Ashcroft, 5% of Conservative voters who voted YES, there would be a number, probably higher in percentage terms, of UKIP supporters in Scotland who voted YES. I also know UKIP voters in Scotland, and there's nothing "far right" about them.

    Like it or not, and you clearly don't, same as The National, and some Indy supporters, UKIP are a legitimate political party, and voters will vote for them the same as other parties endorsing some policies, and spurning others.

    Attacking a party's policies is OK, attacking the likes of Misty whoever's silly comments at the weekend is OK. Attacking voters or supporters of any party is not. In my opinion anyway - or are you saying that a "mature democracy" means that your opinion is worth more than mine - or Harepolka's?

    I have absolutely no idea why you brought in BNP or German people voting for a "Socialist" party into a discussion about UKIP.

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  4. "and regard themselves as center"

    They can regard themselves as fluffy bunny rabbits if they want to, but it doesn't change the objective reality of their policy positions. It's only a couple of weeks ago that they were talking about the repatriation of permanently-settled immigrants, before hurriedly backtracking for PR reasons.

    "There are in Scotland many Independence supporters who don't like the EU"

    I simply do not understand why you keep talking about the EU. If you think for some reason I am suggesting that opposition to the EU is a far right position, I am happy to clear up that misapprehension. I do not think Tony Benn and Peter Shore were far-right politicians.

    "Like it or not, and you clearly don't, same as The National, and some Indy supporters, UKIP are a legitimate political party"

    You've already said that - and my response was "so are the BNP". I'd be interested in hearing your reply.

    "Attacking voters or supporters of any party is not. In my opinion anyway - or are you saying that a "mature democracy" means that your opinion is worth more than mine - or Harepolka's?"

    I can only conclude that you think people who vote for an extremist political party like the BNP should not be criticised and bear no responsibility for the consequences if that party is elected. That is a ridiculous proposition. Utterly ridiculous.

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    1. James (Kelly), why keep talking about BNP to me, when I didn't mention them even once? The only thing I "know" about BNP is what a highly biased media tells me, a media I don't trust an inch - e.g. their views on the SNP in 2007 and 2011 and now, and on the Indy Ref and Scotland's viability as an Independent State- why on earth should I trust them to tell me the real truth about anything, including the BNP? The BNP could be demons or latter-day saints for all I know - or care. They, unlike UKIP, are not contenders for having any influence in the fate of the UK in 2015, nor of Scotland.

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    2. "James (Kelly), why keep talking about BNP to me, when I didn't mention them even once?"

      Because you're defending UKIP on grounds that apply equally to the BNP - I'm simply pointing that out.

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    3. James, as far as I'm concerned with BNP, you might as well ask me to comment on the Monster Raving Loony party (curiously I found a website apparently theirs months ago with some distasteful policies), the Pensioners Party, the make Paisley a City party, or the save Clacton Beach party.

      If they're legally constituted, and follow the Law, then they're as entitled to be a political party and try to get voters as the Abolish Dogs with Tails (Corgi) party.

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  5. Kellner has written articles before based on sub-samples and data below the top line. IIRC during the referendum YouGov analysed their data to pick up that there were identifiable people who had switched from no (or the pool of don't knows) to yes. This confirmed their view there was a real swing, rather than it just being a figment of weighting.

    Today's YouGov is SNP 47, Lab 22, Tory 13 and LD 9. This is on the high end of SNP results for them (the highest I can recall seeing is 49), but it's still within notional margin of error from their Scotland only poll some weeks ago (SNP 42, Lab 26).

    The Election Forecast site uses YouGov data per their FAQ section. Their prediction for SNP seats has increased over the last 2-3 months, as you would expect, although they attach the caveat that they would like to see some (Ashcroft) constituency polls to establish where any increase in SNP support is located.

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  6. Alastair HutchisonDecember 2, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    As a former Lib Dem I find the whole idea of UKIP worrying. As a Democrat I would fight for their right to stand and make their arguments but I would be concerned about anyone who would vote for them or happily accept them. I get the feeling we are sleep walking into something truly awful here.

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    1. I think that is the point that James Kelly was making (badly) :D

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    2. Anon : I stand by my comment and the way I made it.

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  7. hmm so if ukip is borderline racist for spluttering about johnny foreigner what would that make a blogger who subsequently characterised an entire nation on the basis of his own prejudices? :-) and then used the "telling it like it is" line? :-D

    is there a surgeon in the house? James is hoping to reattach a foot. :-)

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  8. I struggle to find any party that isn't populist, I can think of a certain man with a red rose who performs more u-turns than an ice-skater though.

    I guess the SNP are a populist party, they are slowly making independence popular with the majority of Scotland.

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  9. I will worry all the way to the general election that the SNP drops below 40% support and Labour rises above 30%.

    Just shows how far we have come. In reality it would be a huge shift in politics should Labour be matched or even beaten into second place for vote share in May.

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  10. Some of the reasoning for the English public's dislike of the idea the SNP in coalition is probably fear that, as they see it, Scotland already has undue influence and 'gets extra advantages' and that this would only increase with a really strong SNP being part of a UK coalition or 'confidence and supply' agreement.

    Some of us realise full well that, in fact, Scotland has a lot going for it and that it gets 'extra' having paid its way already. But either because they trust their politicians journalists too much or, because they just want to believe, some people in England don't seem to make the logic leap required to see that their big, powerful nation could cut the junior partner in the union aside any time it liked if it was such a 'subsidy junkie' and a 'pest'. I think these factors, allied to a prevalent idea that any Scot who tries to point out these things is a 'whinger', probably explains hostility to the idea of SNP in a coalition government. There may also be a recognition that the SNP is thought to be pro-EU and pro-immigration (more unpopular policies at present in parts of England, though I do acknowledge that some Scots don't like the policies either) but I am not so sure of that.

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  11. I would imagine that English hostility to the prospect of the SNP entering coalition is more down to a (Not entirely unjustified) belief that the SNP would merrily shaft the English at the first opportunity. This is one reason I don't think Labour will enter into a coalition with the SNP, it would be political suicide.

    Also, I voted UKIP in the European elections, mainly for a giggle (Coburn had too much comedy potential for me to pass up). Does this mean Santa won't give me any presents this year? :(

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  12. A strange sense of humour Stoat!

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    1. That's me, I've always had a sense of the surreal.

      There were serious reasons though. Looking at the electoral arithmetic, it was clear that the only parties that could keep the SNP from getting a third European seat were UKIP and the Greens. Green weren't a viable option so there was only one game in town. Plus I was a bit annoyed by some of the SNP supporters with their lofty claims that UKIP "aren't welcome in Scotland", as if they have the exclusive right to speak for Scotland. So I thought to myself "We'll see about that!".

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    2. This is what you voted for...

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/top-ukip-aide-linked-race-4720146

      " top Ukip aide boasted of taking part in far-right demonstrations.

      Arthur Thackeray, the taxpayer-funded chief of staff for the party’s Euro MP David Coburn, told of marching with the English and Scottish Defence Leagues.

      The revelations will hugely embarrass UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has ­repeatedly insisted his party is not racist.

      Thackeray, 53, from Glasgow, was put on the public payroll by Mr Coburn, one of 24 Ukip candidates elected to the ­European Parliament in May this year."

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    3. Oh well, nobody's perfect. I could always point towards the SNP previously having a wife beater as an MSP.

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    4. I'm not that keen on the EU but I did, and will continue to, vote SNP in all elections until Scotland regains its independence.

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    5. Didn't realise you were anti-English Stoat.

      Coburn is against more immigration to Scotland as it's 'full up'. Ergo, no more 'mass immigration' of English people to north of the border is his pitch (English are the biggest immigrant group to Scotland).

      Ukip MEP wants less immigration and more breeding

      SCOTLAND’s newly-elected Ukip MEP David Coburn has said the country should breed more rather than allow increased immigration.

      Speaking to the Evening News ahead of his dramatic victory in the European elections, Mr Coburn said if there was a need to boost the country’s population the answer lay in more sex rather than more migrants.

      Asked about the SNP’s plans for a distinct immigration policy to meet Scotland’s economic needs, he said: “Why don’t we have more children?”

      He challenged the idea that there was any need for a population increase, saying: “Scotland is lovely because it’s not full of people. That’s why a lot of people love Scotland.”

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  13. I spend a lot of time in North London and South Hertfordshire and I see what is written here through an entirely different prism. 32% of respondents would be happy to see the SNP in coalition? That's an astounding figure considering that Alex Salmond was public enemy number one only a couple of months ago. Either the new SNP is getting its message across extra effectively or some people down south are increasingly receiving a dose of political pragmatism.

    On the other issue I hear a lot of pub talk and political conversations are becoming a lot more common. What I notice most is that UKIP really has got its teeth into the English white middle class. And that's not limited only to the CofE. UKIP has successfully reached out to the Liberal and Reform Jewish communities, or at least if they haven't reached out they are certainly finding themselves embraced. The sentiment I increasingly pick up on is that although UKIP is far from the ideal party, it will certainly suit Liberal and Reform Jewish voters to see Muslim immigration limited. Liberal and/or Reform Jews are often likely to regard themselves as "English" as much as they are Jewish and this amounts to quite a coup for UKIP. I have no firsthand knowledge of how UKIP resonates with the Orthodox community so I'm not going to speculate there.

    My experience is mostly limited to what I would best describe as Tory strongholds and whether the upswing in interest will translate into anything at the ballot box remains to be seen. However there is a telling phenomenon that I have observed at first hand – the traditional pack mules of the Conservative Party are the worthy old ladies of the "blue rinse brigade"and they are deserting the party. George Osborne promised in the Tory manifesto in 2010 (and it was HIS manifesto) to raise the Inheritance Tax threshold to £1 million. In the areas I describe this is a real subject of anger as the £1 million+ house is a very common thing around Southgate, Enfield, Barnet and out beyond the M25. Whether the Tories will be able to get their message out locally is really up for debate and local branches are desperately trying to recruit a younger demographic at this 11th hour. The Tories may have a reasonable position in the polls but they could have to rely on the mainstream media to get their message across if they can't get boots on the ground. UKIP do not suffer from this problem and in some ways they can have a diametrically opposite challenge – there are plenty of activists ready to bang the UKIP drum door-to-door but many of them will be woefully off-message as nobody seems to know, from a day-to-day basis, what UKIPs message is. Just ask Mark Reckless!

    The thing that I see is that Nigel Farage's "blokiness" cuts through a lot of barriers in white middle class English society and to describe UKIP as borderline far-right is a label that is just not recognised. And why is that? Because Joe Normal and his pals at the golf club don't see themselves in those terms, "So how dare you use that epithet!" Or that's what they would say. Do you see where I'm coming from?

    As it is if UKIP can get the vote out in the seats that I am familar with then the net result will be Labour gains! There is a very high population of first, second, third generation Italians, Greeks, Turks, South Asians and sundry others. Whilst UKIP may find common cause with certain sectors of society, this is certainly barren territory for them and the choice is traditional and broken, CON-LAB.

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    1. I, for one, found this an insightful perspective and learned something from what you had to say. Thank you.

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    2. Like Johnny I found it interesting too. The SNP started as a party of protest, progressed at Holyrood to being a party of Opposition and then to Government. A party of protest has the luxury of being able to have a few policies of their own, and not have to bother making the rest of their policies - if any - hang together or be realistic. So, free cake for everyone.


      UKIP is still a party of protest, but has the curious position it could become a party of Coalition in Government, without passing through Opposition. That could be both its making - or breaking.

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  14. what's difficult to believe about the UKIP v SNP findings? One of those parties has just tried to break up the UK. It's not going to find a lot of support down south after that.

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    1. "It's not going to find a lot of support down south after that."

      Explain why? What's wrong with democratic self-determination? Why is anti-immigrant politics more attractive to the average voter in England?

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