Nigel Farage’s right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) has once again rocked the British political establishment by coming first in a recent poll which quizzed Brits on their feelings towards the four main political parties.
While UKIP hasn’t yet mustered up any elected members of the UK Parliament, the party this week registered as Britain’s most favoured political organisation, scoring 27 percentage points ahead of the left-wing Labour Party’s 26 and the Conservative Party’s 25 percent.
UKIP is also expected to take a huge chunk of seats at the upcoming European Parliamentary elections in May, promising more Eurosceptic Members (MEPs) who will no doubt argue for a return of sovereignty to national governments across the continent, away from the bureaucratic talons of the European Union.
Recently, The Economist referred to UKIP as Britain’s Tea Party, a nod towards the party’s libertarian leanings. Nigel Farage once again upset the UK establishment this week by calling for a repeal of the UK’s ban on handguns, initially introduced in 1996 after the mass shooting in Dunblane, Scotland.
The Independent reported Sunday that the finding of their favourability poll was a “surprise,” further proof of the fact that much like the United States, Britain’s political and media establishments are increasingly out of step with public opinion.
There were also no surprises for those with a less biased view of British politics, as Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and right-wing darling Nigel Farage both outperformed left-wing leaders Ed Miliband (Labour) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat) in a separate question over party leaders’ popularity.
Twenty-seven percent of people said they prefer David Cameron, while 22 percent chose Nigel Farage. Embarrassingly, just 18 percent chose Ed Miliband, who, as leader of the official opposition party, should currently be leagues ahead of the incumbent Cameron. Only thirteen percent of those polled opted for Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, which will be viewed as more evidence of the collapse of the Lib Dem vote.
UKIP’s challenge is now to turn popularity and preference into electoral success. In terms of voting intention, UKIP still trails Labour and the Conservatives in that order, revealing perhaps that the British public don’t vote simply on who they feel is more favourable.
Track records and even historical party loyalty may be at play when attempting to explain the chasm between UKIP’s popularity and its electoral successes to date.
Meanwhile, Britain’s leftist establishment continues to reel at the rise of a new libertarian conservative party in the United Kingdom, especially since it has even begun to emerge that UKIP is attracting an increasing number of former left-wing voters.