Who has most to lose from UKIP?

When UKIP first emerged in British politics, there was a certain grim satisfaction among people on the left. Sure UKIP’s popularity was rather depressing but at least now the right-of-centre vote would be split as the left-of-centre vote had been for years.

Of course UKIP’s rise turned out to be a more complicated phenomenon than initially thought. It became clear that UKIP were performing well in traditionally Labour areas, then when the Liberal Democrat vote collapsed in the 2015 general election it seemed that UKIP had even made inroads among their voters too.

Now UKIP have arrived on the Welsh political scene, we can begin to evaluate where they seem to be picking up votes from. Do Plaid Cymru have anything to fear from them? Has Welsh Labour’s success at wrapping itself in the flag, relative to their English and Scottish sister parties, insulated them at all? What about the poor old Lib Dems?

The figure below shows the relationship between Labour share of the vote (on the X-axis) and UKIP share (on the Y-axis). As  indicated by the climbing regression line (which doesn’t include Arfon or Aberconwy, where UKIP didn’t field candidates), Labour and UKIP are competing over many of the same constituencies.


The second figure shows change in Labour’s share of the vote against UKIP’s. Here there is a tendency for seats where Labour lost a greater share of the vote since 2011 to be seats where UKIP did well. This seems consistent with Labour losing voters to UKIP, but could also be UKIP’s message playing well in the same places where Labour turnout is being depressed. Bear in mind the usual caveats about correlation not necessarily implying causation…


What about the other parties? Maybe this is a problem for everyone? It seems not. Plaid Cymru’s equivalent plots show a pretty flat (slightly negative if you squint) relationship between their vote share and UKIPs…


…and a similarly flat relationship with change in Plaid’s share of the vote. Bear in mind though that in two relatively strong Plaid constituencies (Arfon and Aberconwy), UKIP didn’t run. We would know more about the interaction of Plaid and UKIP if they had.


The Conservatives seem to be competing for very different seats to UKIP, with a clear negative relationship between their vote shares…


…and surprisingly they seem to be doing best where UKIP did well (although it’s worth pointing out that they generally lost ground – perhaps they’ll have trouble gaining steam with UKIP around, we shall see).


Finally, the Lib Dems. The four seats where they are competitive are all seats where UKIP did fairly poorly…


…but they also lost more votes where UKIP did well! This could be UKIP taking seats off the Lib Dems, but it could also be people going for another party, or indeed depressed turnout.


So to summarise. Labour appear to be vulnerable to UKIP and also competing over the same turf, Plaid seem to be relatively unaffected by them, the Conservatives seem to be competing over different seats and holding their ground better where UKIP are doing well, and the Lib Dems appear to have been vulnerable to UKIP, but their remaining areas of (relative) strength seem unfriendly to UKIP. It seems that Labour are the party with most to lose from UKIP’s foray into Wales.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s