European elections 2014: Nerves all round, but Nick Clegg has most to fear

 

Share

Governments usually view European elections with trepidation. Voters typically use them to give the party in power a bit of a kicking. But this time the Opposition will be as nervous about the outcome as every other party at Westminster.

All eyes next week will be on Ukip. A poll of the polls of Euro voting intentions conducted in the last few weeks suggests that Ukip could well claim first place. Ukip is running at 29 per cent, two points ahead of Labour on 27 per cent.

Moreover, quite a few of these polls were taken before signs emerged in the last week or so that Labour’s already narrow lead in Westminster voting intentions has become even smaller. If that movement translates into the polls next week, Labour could well become the first opposition party since 1984 to fail to top the European poll.

However, despite the use of proportional representation, Labour could fail to come first in votes but still win most seats.

If the changes in vote shares implied by our poll of polls were to occur uniformly across the 11 separate regions into which Britain is carved up for the election, Labour would  still have one more seat than Ukip.

Because the Labour vote is geographically more uneven, on that scenario  the party would still be ahead in six regions, Ukip in just five, thereby giving Labour an advantage in the carve-up of seats.

Meanwhile, although the Conservatives are at apparent risk of a drubbing, the party looks as though it will perform far better than the 16 per cent to which the last Labour government fell in 2009.

The apparent recent drop in Labour support has even given the Tories some hope of yet sneaking in first.

Even so, that cannot disguise the fact that Ukip’s surge seems set to do most damage to the Tories. On average, recent polls suggest that over one in five of those who would currently vote Conservative in a general election will back Ukip instead next Thursday.

In contrast, less than one in 10 current Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters seem inclined to defect to Ukip. Moreover, the better Ukip does on Thursday, the better its prospects for retaining a significant chunk of its support all the way through to next year’s general election.

But the Westminster leader with most to fear next week is Nick Clegg.

Even at the best of times, European elections have never been a particularly good hunting ground for the Liberal Democrats. Now with their Westminster support as weak as it has been at any time since going into Coalition, they could be struggling to retain even the slimmest of toeholds at Strasbourg.

On just eight per cent of the national vote, leaving the Liberal Democrats struggling to stay ahead of the Greens, the party might just scrape home in the South-east region, where more seats are up for grabs than anywhere else.

Avoiding a whitewash could prove to be a close-run thing.

John Curtice is professor of politics at Strathclyde University

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition