Exclusive: Ed Miliband warned of Ukip threat to Labour

Rising Shadow Cabinet star Gloria de Piero among MPs whose seats are most vulnerable

deputy political editor

Ukip could cost Labour victory in next year’s general election by winning several key seats thanks to dramatic advances made by Nigel Farage’s party in a range of largely working-class constituencies. The most detailed analysis yet of Ukip’s performance in recent ballots, including those for this year’s European Parliament and local elections, allied with the latest census data, concludes that complacency in Labour ranks over the Ukip threat could be a major factor in Ed Miliband’s battle for Downing Street.

With the party appearing more vulnerable to the anti-EU party than previously thought, MPs identified as most at risk from the dramatic Ukip surge in recent months include Gloria de Piero, a rising star of the Shadow Cabinet.

Even the loss of a few seats to Ukip would be a major setback for Labour – polls indicate a hung Parliament is a likely outcome in next year’s election as both main parties struggle to gain momentum for outright victory. Dr Matthew Goodwin, a leading expert in Ukip’s rise, has identified five Labour constituencies particularly vulnerable to Mr Farage’s insurgency, fuelled partly by disquiet over immigration levels. They are certain to be on a 30-strong hit-list which Ukip will pour its resources into at the election.

Dr Goodwin’s study contradicts the assumption among some Shadow Cabinet figures that a leap in backing for Ukip at the election will help Labour by hitting the Conservatives disproportionately hard.

Dr Goodwin, associate  professor of politics and international relations at the University of Nottingham, identified the Great Grimsby constituency of being at the greatest risk of falling into Ukip hands next year. He found that Ukip has gone from “strength to strength” in the Lincolnshire town, winning 41 per cent of the vote in this year’s elections – 18 points ahead of Labour – and displaying the “ideal demographics” to respond to the party’s appeal.

Its well-known MP, Austin Mitchell, will be stepping down next year after 37 years in parliament, depriving Labour of the “incumbency factor”.

Ukip could also have a good chance in Ashfield, Nottingham, the former mining constituency represented by Ms De Piero, the shadow minister for Women and Equalities. She scraped in with a tiny majority in a seat where the vote was widely split with the Tories and Liberal Democrats in 2010.

Although Ukip performed weakly there four years ago, it has bounced back to win the most votes in May and, according to Dr Goodwin, is “helped by a tradition of anti-Labour voting in the seat, which has disrupted old loyalties”.

Ms de Piero said: “We are working for every vote in Ashfield and we’ve knocked on doors each week since the last general election.

 

“We are a former mining community and we remember what Thatcher did to our pits, so I will be campaigning against Ukip because we don’t want a party led by a man who wants to ‘keep the flame of Thatcherism alive’ in Ashfield.”

Labour has hardened its message on immigration since the European elections, although it insists it will never resort to Ukip’s alleged xenophobia in blaming foreigners for Britain’s problems.

The shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, said this weekend that he backs “fair movement, not free movement” for European Union citizens coming to this country.

Meanwhile, Rachel Reeves, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said that a Labour government could withhold out-of-work benefits from EU migrants until they have paid into the system through National Insurance. “It isn’t right that somebody who has worked hard all their lives and has contributed to the system is entitled to only the same as somebody who has just come to this country, so we need to look at that,” she said.

Other parties are making similar moves. The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, will also use a speech tomorrow to toughen his language on migration as he acknowledges many voters “have lost faith in Government’s ability to manage the flow of migrants from new EU states”.

He will argue that some future new EU members should be made to wait for more than the current limit of seven years before their citizens gain the right to work in this country.

The continuing impact of Ukip’s success on the Tories will be underlined on Wednesday when the London Mayor Boris Johnson is expected to conclude that quitting the EU is “definitely a viable option” for the capital and better than staying in an unreformed EU.

Other at-risk constituencies include Plymouth Moor View – situated in a more working-class part of the Devon city, and held by Alison Seabeck for Labour by 1,588 votes at the election – and Dudley North, where Ukip has a strong local branch and outpolled Labour by 12 points in this year’s local elections.

Dr Goodwin also predicted a concerted effort by Ukip in Rotherham, an historic Labour stronghold where the anti-EU party is established as the second political force.

It came second in a 2012 parliamentary by-election in the South Yorkshire constituency and took more than 40 per cent of the vote at the local elections, capturing 10 council seats and finishing a close runner-up in the other 11.

Some senior Labour figures are arguing for a low-key response, believing a strong Ukip performance will help Labour by depriving the Tories of votes. Others are pressing for a more aggressive stance because of Ukip’s inroads into Labour’s core support.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own