Ukip has dismissed claims that it has covered up a poll in South Thanet which shows Nigel Farage trailing the Conservative candidate by one point. Party insiders have told Breitbart London the poll was not commissioned by UKIP, meaning they were never in a position to suppress it. They add that the raw figures actually show Farage five points ahead.
The UKIP leader chose the coastal Kent seat to stand in at the May general election as it is one of the party’s best hopes for a win. Farage has unsuccessfully contested Westminster seats five times to date, but is banking on a win in this battle as it will be make or break for him: he has already announced his intention to stand down as UKIP leader if unsuccessful in his bid for South Thanet.
However, a ComRes poll of 1,003 people in the constituency, commissioned by UKIP donor Aaron Banks, put the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay, a former UKIP activist, on 30%, Farage on 29% and Labour on 28%.
The results of the poll were never officially released but were leaked to the Mail on Sunday, which has accused Farage of censoring the poll, describing it as “secret”.
Now UKIP insiders have struck back. “It was not a UKIP commissioned poll so how could we suppress it?” asked a senior member of Farage’s team. They have likened Banks’ decision to commission the poll to the activities of Lord Ashcroft, a Conservative Party benefactor who has undertaken his own polling operation.
“The poll was his operation – there is no reason for us to publicise a ComRes poll if we would not have commissioned it in the first place,” they said.
They have also criticised ComRes’s methodology, which they call “flawed”, saying: “The raw numbers put us five points up before re-weighting to 2010 figures. The methodology is flawed as it asks not “who would you vote for” but “thinking of your local MP” which creates false incumbency factor for Laura Sandys.”
ComRes also redistributes those who answer “don’t know” according to the 2010 election results. But that potentially creates a false drag for Ukip, as the 2010 election came before the party’s surge in support. Ukip won just 5.5 percent of the vote in South Thanet in 2010, against the Conservative’s 48 percent. By the European election last May, support for Ukip had risen to such an extent that the party topped the polls comfortably, securing more than twice as many votes as the Conservatives in Thanet.
“We are delighted to see we are five points up in Thanet and any claims to the contrary are wishful thinking and numerical trickery which only the establishment parties gain from,” the Ukip insider said.
Ukip activists in the region, however, are relieved the poll has become public knowledge as they hope it will spur on fellow members to help fight the seat. “There has been some complacency in recent weeks because last month there was a poll saying Nigel was on course to win,” an activist of several years who asked not to be named told the Guardian.
“We need help because the Tories and Labour are spending money and sending their big guns down here. They want to kill us off for any future elections.”
Writing in his autobiography, Farage said: ‘The consequences of me failing to secure a seat for myself in the Commons would be significant for me and the party.
“It is frankly just not credible for me to continue to lead the party without a Westminster seat of my own. What credibility would Ukip have in the Commons if others had to enunciate party policy in Parliament and the party leader was only allowed in as a guest?
“Am I supposed to brief Ukip policy from the Westminster Arms pub? No – if I fail to win South Thanet, it is curtains for me. I will have to step down.”