2015: The year of Farage Fever?

If UKIP's rise continues apace, Cleggmania could be made to look like a non-event compared to Farage Fever, 2015

Is UKIP finally shedding its single-issue image?
Michael Heaver
On 25 November 2011 16:40

While most of the media focuses on the headline Coalition/Labour battleground, something quite extraordinary is happening. UKIP is gaining momentum and is more popular than ever before outside of the European Election cycle.

Now, a cynic may simply argue that since I am a UKIP supporter, I would say this. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating: YouGov's daily polls since the General Election last year have shown a consistent trend among "others".

The BNP are down to around one percent; the Greens are fixed on around three percent. UKIP meanwhile has gone from polling between four and five percent to regularly hitting seven percent and now eight percent. This is not a "plague on all your houses" surge as many predicted after the expenses scandal. This is a UKIP surge and a UKIP surge alone.

According to the latest YouGov poll, some 11 percent of 2010 Tory voters now intend to switch to UKIP. And that's only since last year. A smattering of highly credible 2010 Tory candidates such as Janice Atkinson-Small and Andrew Charalambous have switched sides as has Lord Hesketh, former Tory Treasurer and perhaps the biggest defection to UKIP in the young Party's history.

But we shouldn't view this growth as purely reliant on disgruntled Conservatives. Six percent of 2010 LibDem voters in this latest poll are now switching to UKIP.

Shock horror - the BBC's image of the Party as a single issue, Thatcherite grouping is hopelessly simplistic.

A majority of all voters in polls have been shown to be concerned about the EU, immigration levels, human rights legislation, a failing education system, a soft stance on law and order and the treatment of those serving in our Armed Forces. These are all topics that UKIP weighs in on in local and regional campaigns, slowly building up a steady base of natural UKIP voters that are not reliant on the performance of any particular party in or out of government. 

That is the true secret to UKIP's resilience and why unlike the Greens and the BNP it is capable of sustaining and maintaining nationwide support. While Nick Griffin and Caroline Lucas may see their parties enjoying small pockets of support in areas like Barking and Brighton, UKIP is beginning to pick up Councillors across the country.

In fact, UKIP picked up, in 2009, MEPs in nearly every region of the UK including the likes of Wales, the South West of England and the North West. It is also the reason that, come the next General Election, it will have in place Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for virtually every constituency.

Judging from the television coverage, would you really know that the Lib Dems, who enjoyed comprehensive conference coverage and daily media representation, are now polling just one percent ahead of the little (but increasingly) mentioned UKIP

With the Euro destroying itself from within, as UKIP predicted, and George Osbourne making the case for the EU to press ahead for fiscal union, the momentum that is behind Nigel Farage's Party could soon reach a critical point.

Winning seats in the London Assembly next year could lead on to 2014 where the Party may stand a chance of coming first, nationally, in the European Elections. With the General Election just a year after that, who is to say that a raft of UKIP MPs couldn’t secure that important Westminster breakthrough?

Sounds unrealistic? Then ponder this: come 2015, would it really be credible to argue that Nigel Farage shouldn't be in the Prime Ministerial debates if UKIP has won a national election the year before and is outpolling the Lib Dems consistently in General Election opinion polls?

Cleggmania could be made to look like a non-event compared to Farage Fever 2015.

Michael Heaver is a UKIP activist and blogger. He tweets at @Michael_Heaver

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