Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report

75 per cent are in favour of restoring the death penalty

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Three quarters of Ukip supporters are in favour of bringing back the death penalty, according to research published today which said the party should be defined as belonging to the radical right.

Supporters of Nigel Farage’s party are predominately over 55, white, socially conservative and distrustful of government, politicians and large institutions, the annual British Social Attitudes Report found.

The research, which provides the first detailed picture of the views held by Ukip’s growing number of followers, found that 75 per cent are in favour of restoring the death penalty, compared to just 48 per cent of the general population. Almost half (46 per cent) said they thought people who want to have children should get married first, compared to 37 per cent generally.

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81 per cent of Ukip supporters would like Britain to withdraw from the European Union, though as many as 17 per cent would prefer to stay in (PA)

Although the vast majority of Ukip supporters (81 per cent) said they would like Britain to withdraw from the European Union, as many as 17 per cent said they would prefer to stay in – suggesting that the party is attractive to voters for other reasons.

The survey by NatCen, Britain’s largest independent social research agency, involved interviews with 2,878 people in England, Scotland and Wales between August and October. Almost eight per cent identified themselves as Ukip supporters, more than ever before.

The researchers found that support for the party was more than twice as high among those aged 55 and over (12 per cent) as it was among under 35s (five per cent). Those in working class occupations were also twice as likely to identify with Ukip as those in managerial and professional positions.

 

More than two thirds of Ukip supporters said they believed migrants from outside the EU should never be eligible for welfare benefits – markedly higher than among the population as a whole. Faith in Westminster politics was also very low, with only 20 per cent saying they trusted the Government.

“Apart from being strongly anti-European and inclined towards tougher attitudes to immigrants, there is also a deep vein of social conservatism and distrust of government [among Ukip supporters],” the report concluded. “Certainly none of these findings suggest that there is any inaccuracy involved in characterising Ukip as a party of the ‘radical right’.”

The vast majority of Ukip supporters (87 per cent) agreed with the statement ‘Young people today don’t have enough respect for traditional British values,’ while nearly nine in ten wanted to see stiffer sentences passed on criminals.

Less than half approved of gay marriage compared to 60 per cent of the general population. Ukip supporters were also suspicious of big institutions, and were far less likely to believe that public sector organisations such as the BBC, the NHS and the police were being run well.

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Finally, the survey found that support for Ukip was twice as high among those who said they were “really struggling” on their current income than those who described themselves as “really comfortable”. “If Ukip is indeed a party fuelled by protest, the source of its supporters’ discontent may in some cases be economic as well as social,” the researchers said.

Naomi Jones, co-head of social attitudes at NatCen, said Ukip supporters held “distinctive social views” which were not shared by the rest of the British public. “The fact that they are considerably more likely than the general public to support the death penalty and marriage before children points to them being quite far on the right,” she said.

However, she added that Ukip supporters did share some common ground with Labour in their attitudes to economic inequality. Three quarters said they felt that ordinary people did not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth – almost exactly the same proportion as Labour supporters.

“That really says to us that they have distinctive views and that they really are more than just a protest vote,” she said. “They are sharing these views with quite a high level of consensus – they’re not just supporting Ukip in order to be anti-establishment or anti-politics.”

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