The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Election analysis: The effect of UKIP/Veritas

Press Release from www.brugesgroup.com
Election analysis

The effect of UKIP/Veritas

EU issue deprived Conservatives of 27 seats

Dr Richard North

Cross

The incredible, untold story of the general election is the effect that UKIP (and to a lesser extent Veritas) has had on the outcome. Overall, the combined votes of these two parties affected the outcome of 27 seats which might have otherwise gone to the Conservatives.

Of these 18 are held by Labour and if the Conservatives had won them the government would have had an overall majority of 30 instead of the 66 they actually have. Also the Conservatives would have 224 seats instead of 197. Liberal Democrat gains would have been reduced to a mere two.

The seats are as follows:

    - Battersea (Lab hold) Majority: 163 - UKIP: 333
    - Burton (Lab hold) Majority: 1,421 ­ UKIP plus Veritas: 1,825
    - Carshalton & Wallington (LD hold) Majority: 1,068 - UKIP: 1,111
    - Cornwall North (LD hold) Majority: 3,076 - UKIP plus Veritas: 3,387
    - Crawley (Lab Hold) Majority 37 - UKIP 935
    - Dartford (Lab hold) Majority 706 - UKIP: 1,407
    - Eastleigh (LD Hold) Chris Huhne Majority: 568 - UKIP: 1,669
    - Gillingham (Lab hold) Majority 254 - UKIP 1,191
    - Harlow (Lab hold) Majority 97 - UKIP plus Veritas 1,922
    - Hereford (Lab hold) Majority: 962 - UKIP: 1,030
    - High Peak (Lab hold) Majority: 735 ­ UKIP 1,106
    - Hove (Lab hold) Majority 420 - UKIP 575
    - Medway (Lab hold) Majority: 213 - UKIP 1,488
    - Portsmouth North (Lab hold) Majority: 1,139 - UKIP 1,348
    - Romsey (LD hold) Majority 125 ­ UKIP: 1,076
    - Sittingbourne & Sheppey (Lab hold) Majority: 79 - UKIP plus Veritas: 1,118
    - Solihull (LD Gain) Majority: 279 - UKIP: 990
    - Somerton & Frome (LD hold) Majority: 812 - UKIP plus Veritas: 1,531
    - Staffordshire Moorlands (Lab hold) Majority: 2,438 -­ UKIP: 3,512
    - Stroud (Lab hold) Majority: 350 - UKIP: 1,089
    - Stourbridge (Lab hold) Majority: 407 - UKIP: 1,087
    - Taunton (LD gain) Majority: 573 ­ UKIP: 1,441
    - Thanet South (Lab hold) Majority: 664 - UKIP (Nigel Farage) 2,079
    - Torbay (LD hold) Majority: 2,029 - UKIP 3,726
    - Warwick & Leamington (Lab hold) Majority: 306 - UKIP: 921
    - Watford (Lab hold) Majority: 1,148 - UKIP: 1,292
    - Westmorland & Lonsdale (LD gain) Majority: 267 - UKIP: 660

From this, it is clear that potentially, UKIP/Veritas had a far more significant effect on the election than their vote would imply. Given how different today would look if Blair has a majority of 30 and Kennedy had only taken two seats, it could be said that the "UKIP effect" is the political sensation of the election - and one that the mainstream media missed completely.

Furthermore, from provisional data, it is evident that UKIP is – almost under the radar – making steady gains in a hostile electoral environment. Seats fought over the last three elections have increased from 194 and 434 to 497, while the national share of vote has increased from 0.34% and 1.47% to 2.38%, with deposits saved increasing from one in 1997 to six in 2001 and 45 in this current election.

Total votes stood at 106,001 in 1997, at 390,910 in 2001 and at roughly 610,000 this time round. Given the tenacity of the Party, even where funding had dried up, fielding 497 candidates was a considerable achievement and there is no reason to expect that the Party will be any less tenacious in the next general election.

On the basis that the UKIP vote increases the same amount in the next election, having gone through the current results and worked out, provisionally, that some 15 extra Conservative seats could be lost to the "UKIP effect" in the next election.

These include Devon West, Eastbourne, Guildford, Totnes and the Wrekin, these would be in addition to the current 27 potentials, which would bring Conservative losses to 42.

All this, of course, is theoretical but there is good reason to believe that – all things being equal – UKIP could maintain its rate of growth or even improve its performance. For instance, with a prolonged EU referendum battle, it could improve its profile and attract greater support.

Crucially, the most probable year for the next general election is 2009 which, this time, coincides with the Euro-elections, which might even be held on the same date. That would put “Europe” firmly on the agenda and could significantly benefit UKIP.

The failure to develop a fully Eurosceptic policy and the missed opportunity of making "Europe", in just a small way, a part of the Conservatives Party's election campaign handicapped them and allowed Labour to retain a sizeable majority. Clearly, the Conservatives cannot afford to ignore neither "Europe" nor UKIP at the next election, if they are to stand a chance of winning and forming a government.