European Elections – the UKIP threat to Cameron

iStock_000001911887XSmallThe next elections to the European Parliament will take place in 18 months’ time in June 2014.

So it’s been interesting in the last couple of weeks to see a couple of opinion polls showing voting intention specifically for those euro elections, rather than the more usual general voting intention “if there were a general election tomorrow.”

The weekend before last a poll by Survation published in the Mail on Sunday showed Labour with 31%, followed by the Conservatives with 24%, and UKIP close behind on 22%.

And a ComRes poll for the People published yesterday showed something even more worrying for David Cameron, with UKIP (23%) actually in second place ahead of the Conservatives (22%), and some way behind Labour on 35%.

So who are these potential UKIP voters?

Another opinion poll, undertaken by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft before Christmas, gives us a few clues.

Of the sample who said they planned to UKIP, almost half said they had voted Tory at the last general election, with only 4% saying they voted Labour. Most of the remainder were existing UKIP voters.

Most notably, UKIP supporters were older, and more likely to be men than women.

But most interesting of all was the fact that, despite UKIP’s very existence being about independence from the European Union, Europe was only the fourth most important issue for UKIP voters, after the economy, immigration and crime.

What was clear above all from the research was the general dissatisfaction with modern life in Britain today.   UKIP sympathisers generally were unhappy with many things, and most seemed to want to take Britain back to a time “when things were done more sensibly.”

At a time when old certainties have broken down, and everything from job security to the safety of the banks, and the reliability of pensions, seem at risk, it is not unsurprising that such views become more commonplace.  Nor that a political party which is essentially reactionary and defensive should benefit from such fears.

What this will ultimately mean for UKIP’s level of success in the European elections, or indeed the general election a year further on, remains to be seen.  But at present it is certainly giving David Cameron a real headache.

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