UKIP: Can Yorkshire be a political springboard?

 
UKIP celebrates in Rotherham UKIP took 10 seats in Rotherham in what has always been a traditional Labour stronghold

UKIPs success in Labour's Yorkshire backyard shows the party has now permanently changed the face of politics as we know it.

Who says so?

Well, Nigel Farage says so.

He says it often and in an increasingly louder voice.

But a more reflective look at the results shows that his prediction is far from a done deal with the electorate.

Earthquake or tremor?

Take the local council elections.

Just before the polls Labour had a majority in six of the big district authorities across South and West Yorkshire.

So how much of that power has Labour lost thanks to the UKIP earthquake?

In fact Labour now has majorities in seven of those councils- and runs the other two as the biggest party.

Professor Colin Mellors of the University of York is the down-to-earth political number cruncher who has been keeping a close watch on developments in Yorkshire for even longer than me.

He says UKIP success in now having eight councillors in Rotherham and a handful more across Sheffield, Doncaster, Wakefield and Bradford is the result of very careful strategic planning by the party.

"It is interesting that if you look at the councils, the wards where UKIP do well is of a particular type - white, urban, working class," he told me. "This is equally true of West and South Yorkshire

"The moral is simple and one that was learned by the Lib Dems; targeting is far better than blanket coverage, especially if their vote declines."

UKIP Yorkshire MPs

Within two weeks of the local and Euro polls UKIP's surge was tested at a by-election in the Tory stronghold of Newark. In the event the Tory majority was halved but they retained the seat. Labour lost some of the share of the vote it had in 2010 to come in third.

Colin Mellors' number crunching following the elections in Yorkshire predicts UKIP could take three Yorkshire seats at the General Election if the electorate vote in the same pattern again.

Each of those constituencies - Rother Valley; Rotherham itself and just up the road the Penistone and Stockbridge - is held by Labour and also has a solid core of white working class adults.

There is, of course, a major factor which these latest polls do not take into account.

Two out of every three voters across Yorkshire and the Humber did not bother to turn out for either the European or local elections.

At next year's General Election at least double that number are expected to vote.

As a consequence UKIP needs to at least double its statistical success if it really is to send a single South Yorkshire MP to Westminster.

Bloom's bloomers

There is another factor that UKIP will have to overcome if it is in with a chance.

In Yorkshire it had to "part company" with its previous sole MEP Godfrey Bloom in the run-up to these latest elections. The high-profile scourge of political correctness had simply become too much of a loose cannon.

In fact Mr Bloom was far from the only casualty of self-inflicted damage by the crop of 13 UKIP MEPs who won their seats in 2009.

Conservative campaigners in particular used to quote with glee that by the end of their term of office a majority of them had either jumped ship or been sacked by the party for varying levels of misdemeanour.

In the months before the 2015 General Election the new generation of UKIP political winners now have to prove that they can effectively represent the electorate better than the mainstream parties.

The clock is ticking.

 
Len Tingle, Political editor, Yorkshire Article written by Len Tingle Len Tingle Political editor, Yorkshire

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 38.

    33. vin
    "Labour no longer represents the working man"

    ==

    Labour never has represented people who do not share its values, nor should it.

    If working class people become racist or otherwise inegalitarian, self-centred rather than international, then they've abandoned core values of the labour movement so can't really expect any more.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 37.

    Well done to the people of Dinnington for voting UKIP. In nearby Woodsetts and Anston parish the Labour incumbant scraped through with a majority of only 31. Similarly in the other Rotherham wards. Labour could well have had a wipe out. Labour do not seem to represent working people any more - but they don't mind taking the yearly £13.5k allowance (not expenses - it's paid to them no questions).

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 36.

    26.Peter
    Could we have a realistic piece of journalism on the mechanism and steps involved in leaving the EU?
    =====================
    Of the news media the BBC does give us a fact finding insight to the EU. Unlike the newspapers (which have always been anti Europe) give a very narrow view.
    https://fullfact.org/economy/jobs_dependent_linked_membership_trade_eu-30790

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 35.

    34
    My contacts are scientific and industrial customers in Tsukuba and Tokyo mostly. The key may be your phrase "*historically* leading the world". If you put before them a machine with great specs, its tough to even get a hearing. I suspect both our experiences are true - if perceived as in decline they perceive also that we need a "prop" and can't understand why we would leave.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 34.

    23. Peter
    "When I go to Japan...assume the UK couldn't possibly have the best technology..."
    ==
    I live in Japan and everybody I've talked to about the EU has the completely opposite view. They see Britain not only in it's historical `leading the world` position but as a leader in Europe. They can't understand why we'd want to leave as our influence through the EU is global in politics and trade.

 

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