Ukip attracts anti-immigrant vote as polite alternative to BNP

The UK Independence Party is picking up wide support from voters who are hostile to immigration but regard it as a "polite alternative" to the far-Right British National Party, new research concludes.

Ukip is at pains to stress it is not a racist party, but fresh academic research suggests it will benefit from Islamophobic and xenophobic sentiments within the electorate.

It argues that Ukip appeals to similar groups of voters as the BNP, but manages to capture their support because many people are deterred from backing Nick Griffin's party because of its "stigmatised" image. Almost half of Ukip's core support is female, unlike the male-dominated BNP, suggesting it is attracting women sensitive to "party reputations for racism and intolerance".

At last year's general election, Ukip stood on a platform of slashing migration levels and deporting illegal immigrants, while the party has also called for restrictions on the burka being worn in public.

One of the study's authors, Matthew Goodwin of Nottingham University, said yesterday: "It is not an out-and-out far-right party. It's more subtle than that. But underneath the gentlemanly Euroscepticism, there is no doubt they are picking up voters who are concerned about immigration."

Dr Goodwin added: "On immigration and racism, Ukip voters fall between the BNP and the Conservatives. We find that xenophobia and political dissatisfaction are significantly correlated with Ukip support.

"Hostility to immigrants and disaffection with mainstream parties are associated with significantly higher Ukip support. This is evidence that Ukip is mobilising voters anxious over immigration and rising diversity, and that some voters consider Ukip a 'polite alternative' to the BNP."

Senior Tories are worried that Ukip, which is fielding a record 1,250 candidates in next month's local elections, could exploit disenchantment among traditional Tory supporters over the coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

David Cameron's speech this week, in which he warned high immigration levels had harmed some communities, was seen by Tory MPs as an attempt to head off a "Ukip effect" in the polls on 5 May. Recent polls have suggested the party is picking up support of up to 5 per cent.

The research, carried out by academics from the Universities of Nottingham and Manchester, was based on interviews with Ukip voters following its stunning success in the 2009 European elections, when it came second in the popular vote.

It discovered that the party's supporters were not just intensely Eurosceptic, but also had strong feelings about issues closer to home.

Ukip succeeds at European elections in attracting Tory sympathisers keen to register a protest vote about Brussels, the survey found. But it wins over a different group of electors in parliamentary by-elections, where its populist messages on immigration resonate with disaffected working-class voters.

The party is expected to pursue the same tactics in this year's local elections.

A Ukip spokesman dismissed the survey's findings as "out of date" and said other academic research had reached different conclusions. He acknowledged there was "some cross-over in votes" with the BNP, but that the party was also picking up support from across the political spectrum, including the backing of disillusioned former Liberal Democrat sympathisers. He said: "Ukip and the BNP aren't the same thing. We are free-trading globalists and they are nationalists and socialists. People from the left-of-centre want to demonise us."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor