There is evidence that a growing number of voters are spoiling ballot papers if no UKIP candidate stands in their area – lending to the theory that UKIP is both a protest vote and a genuine alternative for British voters.
According to an analysis of electoral data by Brian Otridge for the website UKIP Daily, council wards where no UKIP candidate was standing saw an unusually high number of spoilt ballots.
In one example, 144 voters (nearly 5 percent of people who voted) spoiled their ballots in the Tipton Green ward of Sandwell Borough Council, where only a Conservative and a Labour Party candidate were standing.
Over all, in wards where there is no UKIP candidate, there is an average of 60 spoiled ballots, while those that do have a UKIP candidate record just ten.
This is further evidence that the party is attracting angry, disillusioned voters who are not prepared to vote for any of the mainstream parties, although the data does not reveal exactly how ballots are spoiled.
Otridge writes: “The moral of this story is, I believe, that we must provide all voters in all elections with the opportunity to vote UKIP. Even in no-hoper seats we can put up “paper” candidates: don’t even bother to leaflet if the branch is strapped for resources, but those who support us can feel satisfied they have done their bit for democracy.”