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."

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform