The EP14 effect – A big boost for the non-Westminster parties
The pageantry of the Queen’s Speech and the political debate following it returns those following British politics back to a safe and familiar comfort zone: everything looks much as it always has. It’s almost as if last month never happened.
Yet happen it did and the polling average simply reinforces the message sent in ballot boxes up and down the country: the public continued to move away from the three main Westminster parties. The figures for the PB monthly average were:
Lab 33.7 (-2.7), CON 31.3 (n/c), UKIP 15.1 (+0.5), LD 9.5 (+0.4)
So Labour suffered their worst monthly loss of support since the 2010 election (though only just more than they lost in May last year), the Lib Dems improved a bit but then April had seen their worst monthly figure this parliament, while the Tories drifted in the kind of low thirties score they’ve been mostly polling for two years now. Against which, UKIP’s share rose again despite the first really organised negative campaign against them.
What’s notable is that it may well be that the effect of that negative campaign was to push voters to still other parties. The implied support for Others outside the big four rose to 10.4% last month, up 1.9% and a high for the parliament. (I’ve taken the figure for Others as the difference between 100% and the sum of the big four rather than summing the reported minor party numbers but any rounding effect should be minimal compared with a rise of that size).
If there is a good time for the minor parties, then the European elections is it, where they have much higher visibility, both from media coverage and political campaigning. Even so, for both UKIP and the minor parties to have put on vote share simultaneously – to the point where between them they account for over a quarter of voting intention – is a remarkable feat.
Indeed, if we take the movement over the last two months, the swing is even more pronounced. The March to May changes are Lab -2.8, Con -1.3, LD -1.2, UKIP +3.2, Others +2.1 – a switch of more than five per cent from the Westminster big three to the rest.
The other point of note was that the Lab-Con gap was the closest it’s been since February 2012. That Labour has dropped more than two points in successive Mays, during or immediately after election campaigns, may be significant and have implications for next year.