Ukip not winning over the politically disengaged

Our structure (research)

Impact of our research

Postgraduate research

09 Dec 2014

New research from the British Election Study has revealed that contrary to the popular view, Ukip is no more successful at winning over the politically disengaged than the other parties.

Professor Jane Green from The University of Manchester and a Co-Director of the BES, says only the Greens are set to gain more in 2015 from people who didn’t vote in either the 2005 and 2010 elections.

She will tell delegates at a BES event in Westminster today that according to her analysis of  BES Internet Panel data, (collected May-June 2014), non-voters make up 19% of those intending to vote Green – far higher than the other parties.

And as a percentage of all voters, those shifting to Labour and Conservative from not voting is higher than Ukip: 2.7% for Labour, 2.2% for Conservative but only for 1.4% Ukip.

The research also reveals that those people who didn’t vote in 2005 and 2010 are set to split their votes in almost exactly the same way as those who voted in 2005 and/or 2010. Only the Greens pick up relatively more support from persistent non-voters.

However, BES data does show that while Ukip is not picking up significantly more support from the politically disengaged, it is more attractive to the politically disillusioned.

Ukip, she says, does best among people who are disillusioned but who have been voting in previous general elections.

Professor Green will be joining some of the country’s top thinkers in electoral politics presenting  new research findings using recently released British Election Study data from surveys of over 30,000 people.

The BES will also unveil its new film Understanding British Democracy,  funded by the School of Social Sciences at The University of Manchester.

With the help of some of Britain’s top academics and journalists in politics, the film looks at how the British Election Study can throw more light on some of the major issues facing British democracy today.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the BES is managed by a team of researchers at The Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Nottingham.

Professor Green said: “It’s not necessarily true that Ukip is winning votes from the disillusioned who think politicians are all the same and who have stopped participating in British elections.

“Our BES data show quite clearly that Ukip isn’t reaching the parts of the electorate that other parties cannot reach.

“It does show that Ukip is picking up support from those who distrust politicians, but crucially this support is significantly higher among who tend to vote in general elections.

“Political distrust and disaffection is an important part of Ukip’s success. However, to assume that Ukip is outperforming all other parties in reaching those disengaged from politics is either premature or simply incorrect.”