Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Will UKIP be a problem for Labour?


The recent political narrative has focused on whether UKIP presents a problem for the Conservatives and how the party is snaffling votes from disenchanted Tory voters. Indeed the blazered golf club bore became, for some, a caricature of the typical Ukipper.

However, with David Cameron (sort of) announcing an in/out referendum on Europe there is less incentive for the Tory voter to decamp to UKIP - which isn't to say that those who've already decamped are coming back but is to say that the challenge from UKIP becomes less acute.

Labour, on the other hand, has come out against such a referendum "now" - or for that matter later:

The Labour leader said he does "not want an in-out referendum" on Britain's membership because it would be a "huge gamble" that causes uncertainty for businesses.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he drew a clear line between his policy and David Cameron's promise of a public vote on Europe by the middle of the next parliament. 

There is an incredibly vague bit of wriggle room for Ed Miliband as his minions scamper around explaining that this may sound like 'no referendum ever' but actually they don't really mean that -  just not now and not when Cameron wants it.

This is a problem for Labour because:

Research by ComRes for the Sunday People found 63% of the public want a vote on whether Britain should remain in the union.

Some 33% said they would cast their ballot in favour of a full withdrawal - including two thirds of Ukip supporters, 27% of Tories, 25% of Labour voters, and 17% of Liberal Democrats. 

It doesn't really matter what the outcome of a referendum might be - those eurosceptic Labour voters (not to mention the 63% who just want a referendum) might just be tempted by UKIP.

Could we see the Labour poll lead ruined by Labour defections to UKIP?

It's a thought!


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