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The UK Independence Party’s Nuls Points in 2015

JONATHAN FRYER

JONATHAN FRYER

The media frenzy over UKIP’s strong showing in Thursday’s county council elections has masked some important truths. Perhaps the most significant of those is that on the basis of Thursday’s votes, UKIP would not win a single seat at Westminster. Analysis by Rallings and Thresher, highlighted by Mike Smithson, concludes that the likely make-up of the House of Commons after the 2015 General Election, were those results to be repeated, would be: Labour 331, Conservative 243, Liberal Democrats 50, Others 26 — but not one single UKIP MP. I suspect the only way UKIP might get one seat — and probably just one seat — would be if Nigel Farage himself followed the Greens’ Caroline Lucas’s example and stood somewhere where UKIP polled well this week (maybe in Lincolnshire?) , though that would of course mean he would have to give up his seat in the European Parliament. Moreover, as just one MP in the House of Commons he would be unlikely to have much impact, once the novelty value wore off, as Caroline Lucas and Respect’s George Galloway have found. Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system is harsh to smaller parties that are not regionally based (unlike Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalists). So even if UKIP does very well in the (proportionally-based) European elections next year — as it probably will — that does not mean it can make a Westminster breakthrough. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats can be pleased that according to the Rallings and Thresher analysis of Thursday’s results they would retain 50 of their 57 current Westminster seats in 2015 despite a serious slump in their national opinion poll ratings. Thursday’s results showed that in most areas with LibDem MPs the electorate remain supportive of the party. Or as the LibDem mantra goes, “where we work, we win”.

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