The biggest challenge for UKIP at #GE2015 will be the wasted vote syndrome

The biggest challenge for UKIP at #GE2015 will be the wasted vote syndrome

Farage urgently needs MPs from defections and by-elections

One of the great general election challenges for parties other than LAB and CON is to persuade people that in their constituency their vote won’t be wasted.

The national battle will be portrayed as being between the big two with the threat on either side that a vote for one of the other parties will let the other one in.

The Lib Dems have in the past done well in seats where incumbency or local election results have helped them achieve a level of credibility.

There are lessons for UKIP to be learned from the early 1980s when the big so-called “mould-breaker” in British politics, the newly formed SDP, in a very short period of time soared in the polls and at one stage touched more than 50%.

A key part of this surge was the credibility from defections. Twenty-eight Labour MPs eventually joined the new party, along with one member of the Conservative Party, Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler. They won two by-elections.

But even that was not enough. At their first general election test in 1983 SDP parliamentary representation was reduced to just 6. Four of them were LAB defectors, one was party leader, Roy Jenkins, who’d won a by-election, and the sixth was standing in a traditional Liberal seat. Their other by-election election success, Shirley Williams in Crosby, failed to hold her seat at Crosby.

    Compared with the 1983 SDP Farage’s party is miles behind – no MPs, no Westminster by-election victories and no defections from other parties

UKIP’s poll ratings have also been much smaller.

They desperately need to win one Westminster by-election before GE2015. Good second places under first past the post are no good any more.

Mike Smithson

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