Saturday, December 22, 2012
UKIP - Ashcroft's Report For The Tories Gets It Wrong In All The Complacent Ways
His conclusion is that anybody deciding to vote for UKIP is a natural malcontent without whom the Tories are stronger. A mere protest voter unwilling to make the real hard policy choices which, allegedly, is the mark of serious politicians like Cameron and his party!
In fact his research shows almost the opposite and since the Tories have made it available it should indeed be studied by UKIP (who I assume also have focus group results they are not making public)
He finds the fact that, for most possible UKIP voters, leaving the EU is not the primary, let alone only, policy motivation to be a source of weakness for us.
In fact it is the exact opposite. If we were still a one issue group our support, however broad, would not be deep and we could be stymied by some change of circumstances or indeed by the fact that when it comes to elections people rarely vote on just 1 issue. The Conservative "radical" option of offering a referendum, for example, could work if that is all the party supporters want (assuming anybody believed another "cast iron promise" from them).
But in fact UKIP supporters put the EU "fifth most important issue behind getting the economy growing, controlling immigration, reducing welfare dependency and cutting the deficit". I hope I am giving away no pepsological secrets when I say I, as an activist, can go with almost exactly that order too. I suspect most people in the country would too. Despite Cameron trying to make gay marriage the major issue of the day.
In which case the lesson for UKIP is that we have got it about right and only need to put more public emphasis on the range of our policies. We don't want to be seen as a 1 issue party and we aren't being. We have a wide range of sensible policies across the board and those who know that like that.
However even beyond the policy issues UKIP is getting respected for out integrity and that "UKIP says things that need to be said but other parties aren't prepared to say" and that we, alone represent the wishes of ordinary voters (Labour as much as Tory) and are the only party that wants to see ordinary people better their lives and serious about welfare reform (more important to Labour boters, rather than activists, than Tory). This should not be a surprise looking at the paucity of what passes for intellectual debate among the traditional parties.
Ashcroft's total incomprehension that it is important that parties try to keep the voter's trust over the long term rather than just thinking the lie du jour will work is shown by this line:
"The Tories said once before that Britain was becoming a foreign land; we told those who agreed that if they came with us we would give them back their country. As we found, there is no future in that kind of approach".
No they didn't find it they just decided keeping the promise was too much like working for a living. This is also displayed in the, I presume, unconscious irony of the paper's title "They're thinking what we're thinking" echoing a previous Tory election slogan "Are you thinking what we're thinking" to which the electorate replied "we don't believe you really are thinking what you claim" - something which the cynical accession of Cameron proved correct.
At the end of the paper are tables of question results which clearly show that the main reasons people give for voting UKIP or not. The positives are that 78% of the entire country agrees with us on immigration; 76% that we are more sensible and less addicted to "oprendy" political correctness than the others; 72% that we should quit the EU; & UKIP’s "vision of what Britain should be like is closer to mine than that of the bigger parties". That is 72% of all representative adults in Britain yet a large majority of them prefer UKIP's bision to that of the party they currently vote for.
The reasons for not voting UKIP are that we will split the vote (34% nationally, 27% locally) and that we concentrate too much on the EU (20%). Those first 2 are obviously going to fall as UKIP's vote rises. Currently we are about half the Tory vote but if we get another 7% matching the Tories they will turn into the vote splitters. Indeed looking at the Rotherham result in the North of England that may well already be the case. And for the Scottish and Welsh elections, conducted under PR, the vote splitting argument fails.
Where UKIP still have a problem is that the Labour vote is holding up better than the Tory & Lib Dem ones. 51% of new UKIP supporters come from the Tories 21% from the LibDems & 22% from Labour (p17) This may be because so many of the leaders of UKIP were Tories and are happier trying to persuade them or that Labour voters simply have more tribal loyalty, or a bit of both, but if Labour are not to take power by default as the main party that has not collapsed as far as the others we have to cut into their base.
One point for those Tories who think that if UKIP would simply go away all our vote would go to them - "Only half of current UKIP considerers (51% )say they would seriously consider voting Conservative at the next general election." Half is not enough to win an election.
If our vote holds up and all the signs are that it will the only way the Tories could get back into power would be through some deal with UKIP which endorsed almost all the popular policies we have (rather than the allegedly serious issues like gay marriage Cameron is obsessed with) and ensired we would have a sufficient control of power that we, who are much more trusted by everybody, would be able to ensure they do it (ie that UKIP would have to have enough winnablte seats that there wouldn't be an overall Tory majority).
Well OK there is one other way the Tories might just make it - do a rerun of the AV referendum and get AV in before the next election. Since it isn't true PR they could hope that UKIP would get very few first places and that almost all our 2nd preferences would go to them. ;-) Funny thing about politics is that sometimes when you are trying to work out how to best stab the people in the back in your own interests, you find you have stabbed your own back.
Some quotes from Lord Ashcroft's report for the Tories on UKIP
UKIP, for those who are attracted to it, may be the party that wants to leave the EU or toughen immigration but its primary attraction is that it will“ say things that need to be said but others are scared to say”. Analysis of our poll found the biggest predictor of whether a voter will consider UKIP is that they agree the party is “on the side of people like me”. Agreement that UKIP shares their values and has its heart in the right place are also more important than policy issues in determining whether someone is drawn to the party. The idea that UKIP “seem to want to take Britain back to a time when things were done more sensibly”, and that“ the bigger parties seem more interested in trendy nonsense than listening to ordinary people” both elicited stronger agreement among UKIP considerers than the party’s policy that Britain should leave the EU. p5
UKIP is the only party (at least this side of the Greens) by which nobody can feel let down. p6
even if they were to win more seats than any other party – need not mean electoral doom for the Tories the following year. p6
UKIP considerers who are concerned about immigration – which is to say, most of them – do not believe the government is keeping its promise to tackle the issue. p7
The Tories said once before that Britain was becoming a foreign land; we told those who agreed that if they came with us we would give them back their country. As we found, there is no future in that kind of approach p7
Only just over a quarter of UKIP considerers put resolving Britain’s future relations with the EU among the top three issues facing Britain; only 7% say it is the most important issue. For them, it ranks behind economic growth, welfare, immigration and the deficit. p9
12% of those who voted Conservative say they would vote UKIP in an election tomorrow, as do 1% of those who voted Labour and 7 of those who voted Liberal Democrat .50% of those who would consider voting UKIP voted Conservative at the 2010 general election .22% voted Labour, 21% voted Liberal Democrat.
The risk of helping elect an MP or government from the bigger party they liked least was the biggest potential off-‐putting factor for UKIP considerers. p9
However, the impression that UKIP says things that need to be said but other parties aren't prepared to say is relatively less important for. Labour voters than it is for Tories. For Labour voters, the idea that UKIP wants to help ordinary people get on in life is also a driver, as is the impression that they are the best party on the issue of welfare reform. p11
Only half of current UKIP considerers (51%) say they would seriously consider voting Conservative at the next general election. p17
Complaints included austerity measures such as tax and benefit changes which had hit the wrong people (which often included themselves), failure to tackle immigration properly, and various other perceived broken promises (“they were going to cut energy bills and the cost of living”), sometimes including an in/out referendum on EU membership that a few believed David Cameron had promised before the election to hold. p17
Among UKIP considerers, this (EU) was the fifth most important issue behind getting the economy growing, controlling immigration, reducing welfare dependency and cutting the deficit. p21
70% of potential UKIP voters who voted Conservative in 2010 agreed that “the party I used to vote for has lost touch with its traditional supporters like me”. This compared to 65% of those who voted Lib Dem and 52%of those who voted Labour. The biggest reservation potential UKIP supporters have about voting for the party is that by doing so they would be helping to put their least preferred party in power, whether as their local MP or in government nationally. Around half say these would be important factors in their eventual voting decision.... quite evenly divided on the statements "even if a few UKIP MPs were elected, they would
not be able to achieve anything”, and “they only seem to be interested in Europe, and don’t have policies in other important areas”
though these would be important considerations if they thought them to be true. p22
In focus groups UKIP considerers usually described the party’s attraction in terms of standing up for Britain, commonsense, and resisting the culture of political correctness and human rights that they felt was invading too much of British life. p22