A shock poll has placed Ukip to the left of the Conservative Party for the first time. The results will make unwelcome reading at Conservative Party HQ, as they are banking on capturing the centre ground as a means to electoral success next May. Conservative voters also see themselves as more right wing than Ukip voters rate themselves.
The findings came in a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday, which asked respondents to place themselves, the parties and the party leaders on a scale ranging for 0 for the most left wing, to 10 for the most right wing. Intriguingly, the average voter considers themselves to be marginally centre right: on average, people scored themselves at 5.26.
The results placed Labour in the centre left on 4.13, and their leader Ed Miliband marginally further left, on 4.11. Both were considered to be closer to the centre than the Conservative Party which scored 6.91, or their leader David Cameron, on 6.81.
Ukip is often portrayed by Labour as “more Thatcherite than Thatcher”, especially in the north where Thatcher’s legacy still looms large over politics. But the results suggest that this line of attack isn’t gaining traction: Ukip came inside the Conservatives, scoring 6.61. Their leader, Nigel Farage, is seen as marginally more centrist than his party, with a score of 6.59.
The average Conservative voter placed themselves at 6.44, whilst the average Ukip voter was more centrist, on 5.86, although both parties’ supporters consider themselves to the right of average. Conservative voters also thought that their party was more right wing (7.11) than Ukip voters think Ukip is (6.28).
Overall, the Liberal Democrats were considered the most centrist party, albeit marginally to the left, on 4.87. Their leader Nick Clegg tipped into the right wing of the spectrum, on 5.06. They are likely to embrace the findings as they make a case for being the true party of the centre ground ahead of the general election.
The Green party was the most left wing party rated, on 4.06. Russell Brand is considered more left wing still, scoring 3.86, whilst Prince Charles is considered slightly to the right of the average voter, on 5.93.
Labour and the Conservatives are currently battling it out to top the standard voting intentions polls; there is currently just one point between them with Labour on 34 percent and the Conservatives on 33 percent. Ukip are still broadly showing an upward trend, currently on 18 percent, whilst voting intention polls continue to make poor reading for the Liberal Democrats: they are still languishing at 8 percent, although how this will translate to seats next May is uncertain. Meanwhile, the Green party, who had been showing signs of a revival, have fallen back again to just 2 percent nationally.
Ukip, keen to shake off their image as a Conservative break-away party over the last 18 months or so, will welcome the findings as evidence that their attempt to park their tanks on Labour’s lawn is paying off. It marks the end of a turbulent week for them, with rows breaking out over allegations of sexual impropriety, (later discredited) by ex-Labour party member Natasha Bolter; and between Neil Hamilton and the party. They also welcomed good news in the shape of a £300,000 donation by Richard Desmond, owner of the Express newspapers.
Meanwhile, Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband can take some comfort from the poll’s findings: Mr Cameron was seen as the most popular choice to run the country, on 31 percent, whilst Mr Miliband is seen to be strongest on improving living standards for the public, on 33 percent.