In case you didn’t notice there was a by-election the other day in Eastleigh, and UKIP did rather well (as did some of our punters).
So now is the time to glance ahead at the markets for UKIP at the next general election, namely whether they will win a seat, and their percentage of the overall vote.
There’s been quite a colourful cast of parties who’ve had an election night triumph somewhere at sometime: Communists, Respect, Green, the Common Wealth party, and various independents have all had their moment while the nationalists in Wales and Scotland have established themselves in their respective heartlands (and that’s just since World War II, extend it before that and I could have included Scottish Prohibitionists, an Empire Free Trade Crusader, Anti-Waste league, Constitutionalists, etc).
UKIP have failed to add themselves to that list, they are historically bad at converting their seats into votes, no party in British electoral history has polled as well as they have (in either vote numbers or vote percentage) without winning at least a single seat (few have even got close).
Labrokes offer 1/3 odds that they won’t win a seat at the next General Election, 2/1 for them to succeed (with WilliamHill offering a 5/2 bet that they will win a seat).
For UKIP to not win a seat they’ll likely have to break their own record and go to new heights of futility, but there is not a seat in which they are well placed. Their best result in the last election was Farage’s attempt at unseating Bercow in Buckingham and that was a third place on 17% of the vote (and will likely go to waste since I doubt they’ll try it again).
In no other seat did they crack 10%, and in only a few were they even close. The kind of rises they’d need in a given seat to win it are very difficult to achieve, particularly if you don’t have a built up local organisation.
I should note here that I don’t have in-depth knowledge of UKIP’s local capabilities, but their reputation as local campaigners is poor and the recent-ness of their surge points against much of a ground network. A by-election obviously allows for a concentration of resources (and if they want to focus on seat winning they should adopt a similar strategy at the next GE; whether they do, and how effectively they can do so will be interesting to watch).
Some serious long term seat building is required on their part, at the least the odds aren’t tempting enough to brave the variability of seat markets.
The odds I do think are very tempting however, are the Ladbrokes odds on UKIP’s overall vote percentage.
At the 2010 General Election UKIP matched their opinion polling and hit 3% of the total vote standing in 558 seats (the main 3 parties stood in 631). As far as I’m aware they intend to stand in every seat at the next election and while they will probably perform poorly in these seats it’ll provide a boost. Alongside that they are polling slightly higher than 3% these days. 5% should be very achievable.
My humble betting advice would be to leave the 0-5% range and spread some money about between 5 and 15%. Not only because of their positive prospects, but also the odds are likely to shorten further. With the European Elections next year likely to put UKIP’s success in the spotlight and provide some hedging opportunities to cover all eventualities.