We are a bit late to the party with this because of a trip over the weekend, but nevertheless it is a topic that has to be mentioned here.
Two polls reported over the weekend, from ComRes and Opinium. The results do not make good reading for EUsceptics.
In addition to these, ComRes also published the latest findings from its Favourability Index of parties and leaders. There is a pattern that emerges.
The decline in support for UKIP and decline in voters having a favourable view of Nigel Farage stands out from the rest. This contradicts UKIPs claims to have momentum and to be increasing its support around the country.
Voters are trying to find out what UKIP’s key message is and what the party stands for. But they are only receiving a confused jumble of information that appears, at best, random.
Since Farage chose to get involved in the discussion about the floods he has, among other things, separately called for the UK to request financial aid from the EU solidarity fund, then called for foreign aid money to be diverted to the west country, then called for the creation of a civil defence force and then called for a public inquiry. Anyone listening out for the UKIP line on this subject is either suffering from whiplash or has given up trying to work out exactly what Farage’s priority is.
What is interesting is that while William Dartmouth MEP has, according to UKIP’s website, ‘condemned the EU’s skewed priorities, exposing the damaging consequences of EU directives on flooding,’ Farage’s only references to the EU have been to say of the Environment Agency that:
They seem to want to follow European Directives to the letter of the law…
Then to add later that:
I don’t know the truth of the extent to which the Environment Agency is now bound by European Union rules and laws. I just don’t know. That’s why we need to have a public inquiry.
This is Farage all over, hedging his bets, letting other people like Dartmouth speak out so he can stay silent. This allows Farage to come down on either side of the fence later and claim either that the party did link the flooding to the EU laws followed by the Environment Agency, or that the party did not link the flooding to EU law, it was only the opinion of one MEP.
It is this kind of pin-head dance that leaves voters drawing the conclusion that Farage is absolutely no different to any other party leader, engaging in spin and playing with semantics.
Too many voters, when they think of EUscepticism, think of Farage. They link UKIP and its performance to the EUsceptic movement. So when Farage’s or UKIP’s stock falls with voters, the wider EUsceptic movement is tainted by association. So seeing this developing trend over recent weeks of UKIP’s polling figures dropping is a frustrating cause for concern for everyone else who wants to see the UK exit from the EU.
There has been a lot of bluster from UKIP officials and supporters that the party increased its vote nearly five fold in Wythenshawe last week, that the party got nearly 18% of the vote, that it ‘came from nowhere’ to finish second in the election. But the harsh reality is that despite most of its supporters being energised and motivated and turning out enthusiastically, they still only received 4,301 votes.
At the general election they will not increase that by much, if at all. In all but a few areas the reality is the party has limited appeal, and I would wager that a large part of that is the way the party says what it is against but does not explain to people what it is for. The invitiation is for people to vote UKIP because they aren’t Labour, Conservative or Lib Dems, not because there is any positive message people can readily point to that makes them say, that is a vision I share and I’m going to support it.
There never will be such a compelling message when the leader wants to be all things to all men and offers contradictory manifestos and campaign slogans depending on whether they contest is in the north or the south. The fact therefore is that after 20 years of UKIP the effort to free the UK from the EU monolith is no closer than it was before.