By Lord Ashcroft
Last month the UK Independence Party came second in two parliamentary by-elections, in Rotherham and Middlesbrough. This prompted its leader, Nigel Farage, to claim his party was the new third force in British politics. UKIP now regularly pips the Liberal Democrats to third place in national voting intention polls. The rise of UKIP causes a good deal of angst among the bigger parties, particularly the Conservatives. It is not hard to see why: my research finds that 12% of those who voted Tory in 2010 now say they would vote UKIP in an election tomorrow. Half of all those who would consider voting UKIP supported the Conservatives at the last election.
Many have suggested antidotes to the rise of UKIP. These usually flow from assumptions about what the attraction of UKIP actually is. Yet these assumptions are often mistaken. (more…)