Exclusive: Ukip surge is costing Labour as many votes as Tories, research suggests

 

Political Editor

Ed Miliband has been warned that Labour’s declining support among working class voters, many of whom are defecting to Ukip, poses the biggest threat to his party’s prospects of winning next year’s general election.

A study by the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society found that a gradual drop in support among blue-collar workers since 2005 has now been exacerbated by the rise of Nigel Farage’s party, putting Labour’s general election strategy in jeopardy.

Its research found that Labour’s lead in nine parliamentary seats would be lost if the results of last month’s council elections were repeated next year. Six seats would go to Ukip and three to the Tories, who would overtake Labour as Ukip eats into its support. The Fabians fear this “Ukip effect” could deny Labour victory in dozens of the crucial Lab-Con marginals that will decide the election.

The analysis, seen by The Independent, says Labour’s view that Ukip was a “Tory problem” has been “blasted” by last month’s Euro and council elections, and that it is hurting Labour and the Tories almost equally. Although the Fabians believe Mr Miliband can still win next year’s election, they warn that he will do so only by winning back the blue-collar workers.

The report concludes bluntly: “If elections are about momentum, then the Conservatives seem to have more reason for optimism than Labour. Labour will need to up its game to have a chance of a majority in 2015.” It warns that relying on working-class supporters to achieve about 35 per cent of the vote “will be insufficient to win.”


Click HERE to view full-size version of graphic

Marcus Roberts, the Fabians’ deputy general secretary, said: “The greatest threat to Ed Miliband’s hopes is the loss of blue-collar support. The Fabians have laid out how Labour can build a coalition of 2010 loyalists, ex-Lib Dems, new and non-voters and a few Conservative converts to win. But declining blue-collar support eats into its loyalist base and, crucially, the potentially sympathetic 2010 non-voters Miliband can’t do without.”

He added: “Labour needs a radical manifesto that deals with blue-collar concerns on issues like immigration and welfare but which also inspires broad public support with ideas like common ownership of railways.”

Groups where Labour is losing ground include transient single people in routine jobs; low income families; comfortably-off industrial workers; middle-aged working couples with young children and older couples in low value housing. “While many retain their loyalty to Labour, a sizeable proportion is moving to Ukip,” said Ian Warren, an election data analyst who contributed to the Fabians’ research. “In many constituencies that Labour is targeting in 2015, almost half of all households are comprised of these groups… when asked whether they are comfortable living in close proximity to people from different cultures and backgrounds, they are more likely to say no.”

Ed Miliband and Labour's greatest threat is the loss of blue-collar support (Getty) Ed Miliband and Labour's greatest threat is the loss of blue-collar support (Getty)
Mr Warren found that Labour had seen its vote fall among the poorest since 2005 – including childless tenants in social housing; older tenants in low rise social housing; vulnerable young parents in need of state support. “These are core voters with repulsion for both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. They are using Ukip as a means to exercise their anger.”

Tom Watson, Labour’s former general election co-ordinator, who has seen the research, said: “This must be listened to at the top of the party. I think there is an added problem of the density of former special advisers who speak for Labour in a particular tone that is off-putting. We need more working-class voices at the top of the party.”

He said it was very important for the “Blue Labour” agenda championed by Lord (Maurice) Glasman and Jon Cruddas, the policy chief, which is based on “faith, flag and family”, to be an element in its election manifesto.

A Labour source said: “In the local elections we won in 70 per cent of the key marginals. A similar strike-rate in a general election would deliver a Labour victory. But Ed Miliband has been clear to say that we must not underestimate the scale of discontent across the country. He will not offer false promises on immigration and Europe like David Cameron – or false solutions like those of Ukip which would make lives of working people worse.”

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable