Is UKIP ever going to deliver a Westminster surprise?

Is UKIP ever going to deliver a Westminster surprise?

The UKIP By-election record Date UKIP share % Deposit
Norwich North 23/07/09 11.8 Saved deposit
Glenrothes 06/11/08 0.3 Lost deposit
Henley 26/06/08 2.4 Lost deposit
Crewe and Nantwich 22/05/08 2.2 Lost deposit
Sedgefield 19/07/07 1.9 Lost deposit
Ealing Southall 19/07/07 0.8 Lost deposit
Bromley and Chislehurst 29/06/06 8.1 Saved deposit
Dunfermline and West Fife 09/02/06 0.6 Lost deposit
Livingston 29/09/05 0.4 Lost deposit
Hartlepool 30/09/04 10.2 Saved deposit
Brent East 18/09/03 0.7 Lost deposit
Ipswich 22/11/01 1.0 Lost deposit
West Bromwich West 23/11/00 1.3 Lost deposit
Preston 23/11/00 2.1 Lost deposit
Tottenham 22/06/00 0.8 Lost deposit
Kensington & Chelsea 25/11/09 2.3 Lost deposit
Wigan 23/09/99 5.2 Saved deposit
Leeds Central 10/06/99 2.7 Lost deposit
Uxbridge 31/07/97 0.1 Lost deposit
Wirral South 27/02/97 0.9 Lost deposit
Barnsley East 12/12/96 2.1 Lost deposit
South East Staffs 11/04/96 2.9 Lost deposit
Hemsworth 01/02/96 2.1 Lost deposit
Littleborough and Saddleworth 27/07/95 1.3 Lost deposit
Dudley West  15/12/94 1,4 Lost deposit
Newham North 09/06/94 2.6 Lost deposit
Eastleigh 09/06/94 1.7 Lost deposit
Dagenham  09/06/94 2.1 Lost deposit
Barking 09/06/94 2.1 Lost deposit

Or doesn’t meeting voters suit their style?

My big seat loss at the 2010 general election was on Buckingham. I had been so taken by Tory activists in seats in my constituency, less than half an hour away, telling me that “their election” was going to be helping Nigel Farage win UKIP their first ever seat.

It all seemed so simple. There were no main party candidates standing so loyal Tories could switch to the anti-EU party without undermining the national effort to get the Brown government out. I even had a side bet with PB’s Tim that Bercow’s majority wouldn’t be in five figures.

Alas I was wrong and Farage finished in a pitiful third place with just 17% of the vote.

So excuse me if I sound so sceptical whenever I see reports or claims, from both right and left, that because Cameron or the blues have done or said something then it provides an opening for Farage and his team? The fact is that when it comes to fighting Westminster seats at general or by elections UKIP is a busted flush.

The party simply does not “get” this form of electioneering. What better evidence could there be than their main asset in Buckingham, Farage, deciding to spend his time on election day flying in the plane that was pulling a banner?

By-elections in particular require a mass of grunt work that UKIP simply fails to comprehend. Just look at what Labour in the Lib Dems have been doing since September in Old & Sad. It’s been obvious for three months that if there was a by-election then it would take place in the middle of winter. Getting supporters signed up for postal votes was always going to be critical and that requires a huge amount of voter contact.

UKIP might do okay with the EU parliament election system but they are miles behind in the Westminster stakes.

Mike Smithson

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