Analysis: the big change in this election is UKIP’s dangerous rise

By Martin Smith and Tash Shifrin | 9 May 2015
Pic credit: Chris Beckett

Pic credit: Chris Beckett

There is a new political landscape in Britain and it is a very ugly one: David Cameron back in Downing Street with a majority government and, across the country, a livid purple racist scar.

UKIP has cemented its place as the new third party of British politics. The far right racist populist party has seen a fresh surge, this time in the more difficult terrain of parliamentary elections.

Thankfully, we are spared the sight of Nigel Farage MP. That is the one bright spark, and a credit to Stand Up to UKIP and other campaigners whose huge efforts in Thanet South were reflected in a higher turnout as people used their votes to keep the UKIP leader out.

But UKIP took not far off 4 million votes across the country: 3,881,129 according to the BBC’s final figures. That is 12.6% or one in every eight voters.

Add that to the 36.9% vote for the Tories and the total right wing vote is huge.

And, as local election results come through, it has emerged that UKIP has seized control of its first local authority – Thanet council – taking 33 of its 56 seats.

Now, as with other parts of Europe, frustration and anger at the mainstream parties and their austerity regimes is fuelling the rise of a racist populist party on the far right.

In Scotland, the SNP presented a credible pole of attraction to pull discontented voters to the left of Labour. In England and Wales UKIP has hoovered up the bitter and the betrayed.

UKIP has its MP, with Douglas Carswell holding the seat he won in last year’s Clacton byelection. Although UKIP had hoped for more, that is one up on the 2010 total. Indeed, the seat is the first the party has ever won at a general election.

A more accurate indicator of UKIP’s rise is that it has taken second place in 120 seats – up from precisely none at the last election.

This is a key part of UKIP’s “2020 Strategy” – getting the party lined up as a serious and credible opponent to both Tories and Labour in order to launch a far stronger challenge at the polls in 2020. By then, UKIP believes that the scale of the cuts and economic crisis will deepen the unpopularity of the mainstream parties. UKIP then hopes to capitalise on this.

Farage resigned as UKIP leader after failing to win his seat, but he is the party’s best-known figure, part of its brand, and there is every chance he will be back in charge by the autumn.

UKIP’s second places

We have identified 120 seats where UKIP came second and have compiled the voting figures here – scroll down for our full list.

It is worth noting that our list does not include seats where the party came third – although in a few of these it is a clear threat, as in Thurrock where it took 31.7% of the vote and just two percentage points separate the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP.

In some of its second places, the UKIP vote makes it a relatively close challenger to the winning party, while in others second place is a long way behind a landslide winner.

But these second places allow UKIP to present itself as the main credible opponent to the sitting MPs. A vote for UKIP in these seats no longer seems a wasted protest vote, but a viable means of unseating the discredited purveyors of austerity.

Geographical spread

UKIP has done well across a surprisingly wide geographical spread. The map below shows this clearly, with a noticeable UKIP vote in apparently unlikely areas such as parts of Wales.

There are two huge exceptions: London (aside from its Essex edges) and, of course, Scotland. It is easy to spot the locations of several other multicultural, multiracial cities – like London, they show up as islands of unpopularity on the UKIP map.

UKIP's vote: colour shows percentages from 0 (white) to 45 (purple). Source: the Guardian

UKIP’s vote: colour shows percentages from 0 (white) to 45 (purple). Source: the Guardian

Tory shires and Labour heartlands

UKIP has proved that it can make inroads both in traditional Conservative areas and in Labour heartlands too.

It has built on its existing presence in the Tory shires, where over the past couple of years it has gained substantial numbers of councillors at the local elections.

But Farage and UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall have also made great play of the party’s increasing popularity in northern, traditionally Labour constituencies – and the general election vote reflects this.

The table below shows UKIP’s top 20 second place results, coloured red or blue according to whether the seat was won by Labour or the Tories – there is an equal 10-10 split. (The full table of second places is at the end of this post.)

UKIP’s top 20 second places, by percentage of vote, compiled by Dream Deferred

Constituency % vote number of votes
Boston and Skegness 33.8 14,645
Thanet South 32.4 16,026
Heywood and Middleton 32.2 15,627
Castlepoint 31.2 14,178
Rochester and Strood 30.5 16,009
Rotherham 30.2 11,413
Dagenham and Rainham 29.8 12,850
Rother Valley 28.1 13,204
Hartlepool 28 11,052
Basildon South and Thurrock East 26.5 12,097
Thanet North 25.7 12,097
Hornchurch and Upminster 25.3 13,977
West Bromich West 25.2 8,836
Wentworth and Dearne 24.9 10,733
Sittingbourne and Sheppey 24.8 12,257
Doncaster Central 24.1 9,747
Bolton South East 23.6 9,627
Barnsley East 23.5 9045
Cambridgeshire North East 23.5 11,605
Norfolk South West 23.3 11,654

Where UKIP gets its vote

It is important to note that UKIP’s vote is not coming mainly from Labour voters, although it has won these in some areas: Farage took votes from Labour as well as the Tories and the Lib Dems in Thanet South, for example. But Labour’s vote went up slightly overall, despite its wipeout in Scotland.

The maps below show where UKIP has gained support (from any other party), with the length of the arrow corresponding to percentage points, and where Labour has lost support (to any other party). UKIP’s gains in support are spread far beyond Labour’s losses, which are mainly to the SNP in Scotland.

Source: the Guardian

Source: the Guardian

And a look at the Labour seats where UKIP is now second shows that in many Labour’s vote has gone up. That is important because it means that there is a solid core of Labour voters who reject UKIP as a racist rightwing party.

But it is UKIP that has benefited most from the suicide of the Lib Dems, whose collapse following their coalition with the Tories would otherwise have been much more enjoyable.

UKIP is now the repository for the votes of the “working class Tories” who have always existed even in Labour heartlands, and the populist party is the new home for many of the voters disaffected by both the two main parties, who previously opted for the Lib Dems.

Labour’s disaster – and its shame – is that after five years of Conservative-led austerity government it has done so little to grab the Lib Dems’ votes for itself or to pull away voters from the Tories.


And – key to its appeal in a climate of austerity – UKIP is a racist party, building on scapegoating of immigrants and Islamophobia just as far right racist populist parties and outright fascists have done across Europe.

Through the election campaign Farage ratcheted up his racist rhetoric, culminating in claims that EU moves to address the migrant boat crisis in the Mediterranean “could lead to half a million Islamic extremists coming to our countries and posing a direct threat to our civilisation”.

It should not be forgotten either that the fascist British National Party – now collapsed – had its electoral base in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The English Defence League’s fascist and racist street thugs focused on these areas in their turn. These are areas where Farage now trumpets UKIP’s successes as the new challenger to Labour.

There is no doubt that UKIP has scooped up the votes of those who backed the BNP at the last election – this has given it a useful base of five percent or so on which to build in a number of constituencies.

Last October, we looked at the Clacton and Heywood byelection results – when UKIP won the seat it has now held, and came within 600 votes of taking a second – and at how UKIP had made headway in formerly solid Labour towns like Doncaster. At the time, we said this:

The grim byelection results bring home again how far UKIP has come, and that socialists and anti-racists can’t afford to duck the arguments. UKIP’s stockbrokers and public schoolboys are not just targeting the better-off types in the leafy Tory shires – they want our people too.

And as we can see with the growth of racist populism – along with outright fascist parties – across Europe, UKIP is not merely a party of purple clowns. It is a real threat.

That is more true now. We will need to resist the attacks we know will come from David Cameron’s new government. But we also need to argue, over and over again, against the racist scapegoating of immigrants that fuels UKIP.

Full table of UKIP’s second places, compiled by Dream Deferred

Constituency % vote number of votes
Aberavon 15.8 4,971
Arundel and South Downs 14.4 8,154
Ashford 18.8 10,798
Aylesbury 19.7 10,925
Barking 22.2 9,554
Barnsley Central 21.7 7941
Barnsley East 23.5 9045
Basildon South and Thurrock East 26.5 12,097
Beaconsfield 13.8 7,310
Bexhill and Battle 18.4 10,170
Blackley and Broughton 16.5 6,108
Blaenau Gwent 17.9 5,677
Blaydon 17.5 7,863
Blyth Valley 22.3 8,584
Bognor Regis and Littlehampton 21.7 10,241
Bolton South East 23.6 9,627
Bootle 10.9 4,915
Boston and Skegness 33.8 14,645
Bournemouth West 18.5 7,745
Braintree 18.8 9,461
Brentwood and Ongar 16.8 8,724
Bridgewater and Somerset West 19.2 10,437
Broxbourne 19.7 9,074
Buckingham 21.7 11,675
Caerphilly 19.3 7,791
Cambridgeshire North East 23.5 11,605
Cambridgeshire North West 20.1 12,275
Castlepoint 31.2 14,178
Chesham and Amersham 13.7 7,218
Chichester 14.9 8,540
Christchurch 21.4 10,663
Clacton (1st) 44.4 19,642
Dagenham and Rainham 29.8 12,850
Devizes 15.4 7,544
Devon Central 13.2 7,171
Devon West and Torridge 18.3 10,371
Doncaster Central 24.1 9,747
Doncaster North 22.6 8,928
Dorset North 17.1 9,109
Easington 18.7 6,491
Epping Forest 18.3 9,049
Fareham 15.4 8,427
Faversham and Mid Kent 18 8,243
Folkeston and Hythe 22.8 12,526
Gateshead 17.8 6,765
Gosport 19.4 9,266
Grantham and Stamford 17.5 9,410
Hampshire East 12 6,187
Hampshire North West 14.7 8,109
Hartlepool 28 11,052
Havant 20.6 9,239
Hereford and Herefordshire South 16.8 7,954
Herefordshire North 14 6,720
Heywood and Middleton 32.2 15,627
Horsham 14 7,969
Houghton and Sunderland South 21.5 8,280
Hornchurch and Upminster 25.3 13,977
Hull East 22.4 7,861
Hull North 16.3 5,762
Hull West and Hessle 19.9 6,313
Isle of Wight 21.2 14,888
Islwyn 19.6 6,932
Jarrow 19.7 7,583
Knowsley 9.8 4,973
Louth and Horncastle 21.4 10,778
Liverpool Walton 9 3,445
Liverpool West Derby 8.5 3,475
Ludlow 14.9 7,164
Makerfield 22.4 10.053
Maldon 14.7 7,042
Meon Valley 14.8 7,665
Merthyr Tydfil 18.7 6,106
Middlesbourough 18.7 6,107
New Forest East 17.5 8,657
New Forest West 16.5 7,816
Norfolk Mid 19 9,930
Norfolk South West 23.3 11,654
Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford 21.3 9,785
Oldham West and Royton 20.6 8,892
Orpington 16.7 8,173
Poole 16.8 7,956
Rayleigh and Wickford 22.3 11,858
Reigate 13.3 6,817
Richmond (Yorks) 15.2 8,194
Rochdale 18.8 8,519
Rochester and Strood 30.5 16,009
Romford 22.8 11,208
Rother Valley 28.1 13,204
Rotherham 30.2 11,413
Rutland and Melton 15.9 8,678
Saffron Waldon 13.8 7,935
Sevenoaks 17.9 8,970
Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough 22.1 8,856
Sheffield Heeley 17.4 7315
Sheffield South East 21.9 9128
Sittingbourne and Sheppey 24.8 12,257
South Holland and the Deepings 21.8 10,736
South Shields 22 7,975
Spelthorne 20.9 10,234
Stoke on Trent Central 22.6 7,041
Stratford-on-Avon 13.2 6,798
Suffolk West 21.7 10,700
Surrey East 17 9,553
Surrey Heath 14.3 7,778
Surrey South West 9.9 5,643
Swansea East 17.2 5,779
Thanet North 25.7 12,097
Thanet South 32.4 16,026
Tiverton and Honiton 16.5 8,857
Tonbridge and Malling 15.2 8,153
Uxbridge and South Ruislip 14.2 6,346
Washington and Sunderland West 19.6 7,321
Wealden 16.7 9,541
Wellingborough 19.6 9,868
Wentworth and Dearne 24.9 10,733
West Bromich West 25.2 8,836
Wiltshire South West 17.5 9,030
Witham 16 7,569
Worcestershire Mid 17.7 9,231
Worcestershire West 14.4 7,764
Worthing West 18.3 9,269





  1. Ben Cardwell said:

    I sometimes think I am lucky that I am not long for this world as it is changing out of recognition

    10 May 2015 at 9:03am
  2. Della Anverali said:

    i could never have dreamt that I would see such a disgusting party taking hold in the UK. If I was younger I would seriously consider leaving this country.

    10 May 2015 at 4:13pm

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