Monday, 27 August 2012
A Survation pool for the Mall on Sunday yesterday had UKIP on a record 12%, a good 2% clear of forth place Lib Dems.
We've known for a long time that UKIP us has taken over from the Lib Dems as the third party in English politics but why do these poll results rarely seem to translate into the electoral success they predict?
The First Past the Post electoral system is by far the biggest reason. UKIP out polled the Lib Dems pretty consistently in this years local elections yet the Lib Dems got many times more seats than UKIP. They weren't more popular than UKIP, they merely benefited from the mediaeval voting system that maintains the LibLabCon's stranglehold on local and national government. EU Parliament elections are all the evidence you need of how the First Past the Post system is failing voters (and UKIP of course) - in a system where almost every vote it's counted, UKIP got the second largest vote share and the second highest number of seats. People got what they voted for and at the next EU elections UKIP is widely anticipated to beat the europhile Tories and come first. Under the First Past the Post system UKIP would have been lucky to get an MEP, let alone 12.
The next biggest reason is the perception that only Labour or the Tories (and in some cases, the Lib Dems) can win. This is a ridiculous belief to have because the party that most people vote for well win, regardless of which party it is. We've been so conditioned by vested interests over the years into belting there are only two and a half political parties capable of winning elections that we've forgotten that it's us - the electorate - who decide who can and can't win, not the establishment political parties who perpetuate this myth.
It's not just the LibLabCon who maintain this lie that only they can win elections though, the media and most of the polling companies do too. The BBC listed UKIP alongside the LibLabCon in an article on is website the other week for the first time ever. The party has been in existence for well over a decade, has hundreds of local councillors, is the second largest UK party in the EU Parliament, is the fastest growing mainstream party in the UK and has beaten LibLabCon parties in Westminster by-elections many times yet the BBC had only now deigned to treat UKIP as equals. The only time the state broadcaster has ever given UKIP a proportionate amount of coverage prior to an election was when Nigel Farage almost killed himself in a plane crash on election day. The BBC will always promote the Greens as the fourth party whether there is any evidence that they are or not because it fits the BBC's agenda. The dead tree press aren't much better either, with the exception of the Express - a Tory rag which gives UKIP soft support to try and pressure David Cameron into adopting a eurosceptic stance at which point they would drop UKIP like a hot potato. It doesn't help that the media is almost entirely controlled by Tory supporters with a couple of exceptions but then newspapers are big business and socialists are bad for business.
So what of the polling companies? Survation it's the only polling company that offers up every party in a list for the respondent to choose from, rather than offering LibLabCon and "Other" and their record speaks for itself. Angus Reid and YouGov include UKIP in their headlines and graphics but only after extensive lobbying by us but they still list UKIP under "Other" when asking for voting intention. At by-elections the polling companies are happy to give parity to UKIP because it makes for interesting headlines but in local and general elections they want the same comfortable two and a half horse race they're used to because that's where the money is so they put the blinkers on and join in the only Labour/Tories/Lib Dems can win here mantra and do their bit to make sure that's the case. They know how to predict LibLabCon results and nobody is interested in a polling company that can't predict election results so they manipulate public opinion to keep the system they're comfortable with. The polling companies regularly ask respondents their opinion out the LibLabCon leaders to see which of them the public thinks is the least worst but they would never dream of putting Farage into the mix because he'd wipe the floor with Cameron, Clegg and Miliband and that would make things unpredictable. The last thing a polling company wants is an unpredictable election.
It would be nice to have a fair election without manipulation by the LibLabCon, the media and the polling companies but it's not going to happen. The establishment parties set the agenda, they have the money and they have the influence but they can't control the news or alter facts (well they can and do but not that successfully). If UKIP win elections they can't pretend we haven't. If UKIP is leading on local issues they can't pretend we're not. If UKIP is making the news rather than following it they can't pretend they're not being left behind. We have to keep working hard and contesting elections and working for our local communities and making sure that it it's UKIP that people see actually doing things rather than just talking about them. Most importantly we have to do this all the time, not just at election time like the LibLabCon. UKIP had been on the brink of success for a long time but the voting system and vested interests are working against us. But we can make that success happen from the ground up with local people doing things in their own communities where people can see what a positive difference UKIP can make for them. Actions speak louder than words and with enough action the LibLabCon, the media and the polling companies won't be able to say only Labour/Tories/Lib Dems can win here with any credibility.
Posted by Stuart Parr at 09:58
UKIP on 12%in Survation poll
UKIP on 12%in Survation poll