Following UKIP’s surge in the local elections, new survey data indicates that one possible explanation of their success – until now largely overlooked – is their emergence as the party with the strongest appeal to English patriots.
Have UKIP stole the BNP vote, their policies are not exactly miles apart?
The data, taken from the Future of England Survey (FoES) run by the think tank IPPR, Edinburgh University and Cardiff University, charts the strengthening of English identity, but also its politicisation.
The 2011 Census found that 70 per cent of the English population identified themselves as either solely English or English in combination with some other national identity. Just 29 per cent of respondents identified themselves as feeling any sense of British national identity.
Without explicitly promoting themselves as an English party, UKIP appears to have become the key political beneficiary of this trend because the more English someone feels, the more likely they are to believe that England is getting a bad deal from its membership of both the European Union and the United Kingdom.
UKIP’s supporters express the strongest sense of English identity (55 per cent describe themselves as either ‘English not British’ or ‘More English than British’). And UKIP supporters are the most dissatisfied with the constitutional status quo in the United Kingdom (49 per cent agree that England should become an independent country compared to 36 per cent of Tories, 35 per cent of Lib Dems and 29 per cent of Labour supporters) while over 90 per cent want to withdraw from the EU.
When people were asked: ‘which party best stands up for English interests’, UKIP tops the list.
UKIP - 21 per cent
Labour - 19 per cent
Conservative - 17 per cent
Liberal Democrats - 6 per cent
None of the parties stand up for England – 16 per cent
(Note - These responses are taken from a separate YouGov poll conducted 14-15 April 2013. Please refer to Table 1 in notes to editors for responses from November 2011, November 2012 and April 2013)
Even more striking is the fact that UKIP’s support as the party that best stands up for England has more than doubled since 2011 - up from 9 per cent, and overtaking Lab (21 per cent ) and Con (20 per cent ) and none of the parties (23 per cent).
UKIP’s rise in this context will be of particular concern to the Conservatives. Conservative voters at the last general election (2010) are split on the party who they believe best stands up for England.
While 38 per cent say the Conservatives, almost as many (34 per cent) say UKIP – and this figure has almost doubled from 18 per cent in 2011, suggesting a potential for Conservative support to drift over to UKIP.
I think we can answer the question with a definate YES.
UKIP have stole the BNP's vote share, it was a trick of the establishment, but the question remains as to how long patriots can be fooled.