If the UKIP vote is anything, it is unpredictable. With the election tomorrow, only one thing is certain – no party will do worse out of the First Past The Post (FPTP) system than UKIP.
Between 11 and 15 per cent of the British population will vote for the party, but, the analysts tell us, they will be represented by just one, possibly two, MPs in parliament.
With less than half that – 4 per cent of the vote – the SNP stand to win about 50 seats. Ed Miliband, with as little as twice the UKIP vote, could end up forming a government. It should be little surprise that Farage advocates electoral reform.
— May2015 Election (@May2015NS) May 5, 2015
It gets worst, the pessimist will tell you. There is a real chance Cameron will experience an incumbent swing at the last minute. Voters who have been considering backing various smaller parties will panic as they walk to the polling station, pondering the very real prospect of an SNP lead Labour minority government, and vote Cameron for fear of the unknown.
Hoping to appeal to pessimists, Cameron has been arrogantly calling UKIP voters “home” and Tim Montgomery of The Times dismissed UKIP as a very successful “pressure group;” which has done its job by pulling the Tories right and into a referendum, and must now stop damaging the “anti-Labour” vote.
The optimists, however – Farage included – are banking on what has come to be know as the “shy kippers.”
UKIP’s core supports are hardly “shy,” of course, and are in fact more likely to turn up at the booth than core supporters of other parties. The shy-kippers, rather, are those who like UKIP policies (like the 70 per cent of Britons who want immigration reduced) but have not been active supporters of the party, and might not have shown up in the polls.
Statisticians have long observed the phenomena of right wing parties over-performing at the ballot box compared to the polls (Just look at what happen to John Major in the 1990s.)
The phenomenon could be especially pronounced with UKIP. According to YouGov, as many as 55 per cent of UKIP supporters say they would be “embarrassed” to tell friends and family they were voting UKIP, and only 10 per cent say they would be “proud.”
According to the liberal-left, “progressive” is synonymous with “nice,” and right-wing pragmatism is analogous with “nasty.” In a country where student supporters are banned from campuses, UKIP offices are vandalized and campaigners assaulted, it may be more about self-preservation than pride.
Those who are not vocally engaged with politics simply can’t be bothered with the hassle and allegations, so keep their views to themselves.
The beauty of privacy at the ballot box is that all the intimidation, pessimism and dirty tricks thrown in UKIP’s direction matter little. We saw it in the Scottish referendum, where the “progressives” faded and the no voters came out of the woodwork at the last moment.
UKIP won a national election just last year. There is every chance there is a large number of shy kippers out there, and only election night will reveal them.