I will address three questions: who, why and how do we win them back?
A simple examination of the Assembly election result would indicate that UKIP took votes from Labour and the Conservatives, took the bulk of the BNP vote from 2011 and got some who did not vote in 2011 to vote this time.
Looking at it in greater detail, most of the 2011 BNP vote will have gone to UKIP, interestingly for the first time with no BNP candidates; BNP was not written on rejected ballot papers.
That former Labour voters switched to UKIP is, I believe, undeniable, the Labour vote fell by 309, the Conservative vote fell by 1025 and there were 1102 BNP voters giving 2436 votes leaving 738 from people who did not vote last time.
Anything beyond those simple figures could be considered conjecture but we also know the result of the Mynyddbach by election held on the same day but without UKIP, where Labour took 65% of the vote, as opposed to a projected 55% in the Assembly election which compares with the overall 52% across the constituency. 10% of the vote across the constituency equates to about 2000 votes and 5% to approximately a 1000. I would guess UKIP took votes somewhere in between those two from previous Labour voters. The rise of UKIP is very much a Labour problem.
This takes us on to why.
Why did former Labour voters vote for a right-wing party with a former right-wing Tory Leadership?
They have a simple message leave the EU, end immigration and everything will be alright.
People’s political views are based upon, personal experience, family political loyalty and perception of political parties
For many, their personal experiences are:
- Difficulty of getting social housing either personally or for family members
- Lack of employment prospects
- Zero hour or very few guaranteed hours contracts
- Debt or the fear of debt
- Victims of austerity
What has Labour done wrong?
- Do not engage enough with them
- Our “good communicators” do not communicate with them
- Do not address their concerns
- Appear irrelevant to their lives
- Most importantly Labour is no longer seen as on their side
How do we win them back?
- This is written before the Euro referendum; if we withdraw from Europe, then the reason for UKIP to exist disappears.
- The Mynyddbach result shows that many of these voters are not lost forever. We are their second choice; we need to become their first choice again.
- Talk to them - campaigning is not only knocking on doors and identifying Labour voters. Engage with their concerns Address their concerns; they are real even if the solution they have solution chosen is wrong.
- Build Council and other social housing thus reducing the housing pressure.
- Support the “real” living wage not the Tories increased minimum wage called the living wage
- What do most people want? A nice house, a job, adequate pay, no fear of debt and opportunities for their children. We need to address these desires in the language of the electorate who we are trying to communicate with.
We can win them back but we will not do so by doing the same as before.