Mobilising the ‘People’s Army’ at the Grassroots: Examining Support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in English Local Elections

Mobilising the ‘People’s Army’ at the Grassroots: Examining Support for the UK Independence... Abstract Between 2013 and the referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2016, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) emerged as the most significant new party in English politics for a generation. Yet, despite rising to become the third most popular party, temporarily replacing the Liberal Democrats in the polls, UKIP failed to translate support into a large presence in Westminster. At the 2015 general election, the party won only one seat and in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum suffered a major loss of support. In this article, we investigate UKIP’s rise and show why the party’s evolution at local level is an important but neglected factor in its failure to engineer a substantial breakthrough. By analysing aggregate-level data on local elections and surveys of UKIP’s largely inexperienced but enthusiastic candidates, we show how the party’s initial advance came largely at the expense of the Conservative Party but then opened a second front against Labour, in more urban areas. Unlike the Liberal Democrats, UKIP was unable to sustain this momentum and failed to use a local government base as a foundation for strong representation in parliament. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is the most significant new party in England for a generation. Founded in 1993, it was not until 2013 when, under the leadership of Nigel Farage, the party began to experience a sharp rise in support as its anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-Westminster message resonated with voters (Ford and Goodwin, 2014a). At the 2010 general election, UKIP polled just 3.1 per cent of the national vote but by 2013 the party had replaced the Liberal Democrats as the country’s third most popular party. UKIP consolidated its support through various elections, including finishing in second place in six parliamentary by-elections held between March 2011 and February 2014, five of which were in Labour-held seats (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015).1 In the spring of 2014, UKIP then matched the accomplishments of populist radical right parties in Denmark and France by winning the European Parliament elections, polling over 27 per cent. Two Conservative Members of Parliament subsequently defected to UKIP, resigning their seats and triggering two parliamentary by-elections in Clacton in Essex and Rochester and Stroud in Kent. UKIP won both contests, securing two seats in the House of Commons. Influenced by the rise of the Liberal Democrats, UKIP adopted a target seat strategy for the 2015 general election, focusing on 32 mainly working-class, white and economically disadvantaged seats that tended to be in southern and eastern England (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). Despite receiving nearly four million votes, or 12.8 per cent of the vote, UKIP won only one seat (retaining Clacton). While UKIP’s failure to win more seats reflects broader difficulties that confront challenger parties in a single member, simple plurality electoral system it might also owe much to the party’s failure to establish a strong electoral foundation at the local level. In this article, we shed light on an important but neglected aspect of UKIP by investigating the party’s evolution and performance in local government elections. From 2011, Nigel Farage made no secret of his desire to emulate the campaign model of the Liberal Democrats, aiming to build a foundation in local government as a springboard to securing representation in the House of Commons (Rallings and Thrasher 1996). Until now, however, there has been little research on the party’s local electoral performance, its impact on the other parties and who decided to stand for the ‘People’s Army’ as local candidates (on members see Clarke, Goodwin and Whiteley 2017). Important questions unanswered. Was UKIP’s rapid expansion into local government largely unplanned or did the party strategically marshal resources against vulnerable opponents at different points in time? How far did an increase in local representation shape UKIP’s subsequent selection of target seats at the 2015 general election? In this respect, might the local evolution of the party offer clues as to why it failed to engineer a wider breakthrough at the national level? And what does its performance at the local level reveal about the party’s rise and significance more generally? To address these questions, we draw on two sources of data. Firstly, we analyse aggregate-level data from local election results to explore how UKIP seized opportunities provided by contests that are often used by voters to protest against the established parties. Secondly, our analysis is augmented by survey level data obtained from responses to annual surveys of local election candidates. These surveys identify the types of people that answered Nigel Farage’s appeal for election candidates, and how these recruits compare in terms of their characteristics and electoral experience with candidates in the main parties. Our findings contribute to existing research, demonstrating how UKIP’s local impact and candidates sharpens our understanding about its initial success in attacking not only the established party system but also the problems that it later encountered when trying to expand its presence in the House of Commons. Firstly, in terms local performance we show how, between 2009 and 2015, UKIP emerged from tentative beginnings to establish a strong presence in national politics. The party’s development was initially ‘top-down’ but then inevitably required a bottom-up mobilisation of new members, many of whom were recruited to stand as local candidates. Secondly, we find that while UKIP recruited thousands of candidates they often had scant membership or campaigning experience. Such activists might be able to deliver success locally but were likely to struggle in the parliamentary setting where campaigning has become more competitive and professionalised (Fisher et al., 2011). Our article is organized as follows. After outlining the dynamics of UKIP’s local growth, section two investigates the social, political and ideological characteristics of the party’s candidates and how they campaigned for votes during this critical period of the party’s development. Establishing UKIP in Local Elections Like populist radical right parties elsewhere in Europe (see Rydgren, 2012) UKIP has attracted a growing academic literature. There are now detailed studies of the party’s voters (Ford and Goodwin, 2014a, 2014b; Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015), electoral performance (Ford et al., 2012), organization, members (Clarke et al., 2017) and impact on party competition (Lynch and Whitaker, 2013; Webb and Bale, 2014; Evans and Mellon, 2016). Individual-level analyses of UKIP voters reveal how the party tended to attract older, white, less well educated and working-class men who oppose immigration, strongly disapproved of Britain’s EU membership and felt dissatisfied with established parties (Ford and Goodwin, 2014a). UKIP’s disproportionately strong support among the working-class and self-employed mirrors the dynamics of support for the populist radical right (Mudde, 2007), though UKIP supporters are older than supporters of groups like the Freedom Party of Austria. In 2010, most of those who would later defect to UKIP had voted for the Conservative Party though in earlier years some would have supported Labour, defecting after its shift to a pro-EU and pro-immigration position (Evans and Tilley, 2012; Evans and Mellon, 2016; Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). Though UKIP was founded in 1993 it was not until a parliamentary by-election in Barnsley in 2011 when Farage made clear his goal of investing more seriously in local government elections.2 By combining UKIP’s ‘hard’ Euroscepticism with anti-immigration xenophobia and anti-establishment populism, Farage sought to use second-order elections as a foundation for a wider breakthrough at the 2015 general election. Our examination of UKIP’s performance starts in 2009 as prior to this the party fielded few candidates and was not interested in these contests. It concludes in 2015 when local government elections were held on the same day as the general election. The local electoral cycle in England is straightforward although periodic revisions of ward boundaries affect the number of local authorities and the number of seats being contested. Councillors are elected for a four-year term although the numbers elected in any given year vary considerably. There is a four-yearly pattern in the data which is critical in understanding how parties perform. There are three completed cycles within this five-year period (2009/2013, 2010/2014 and 2011/2015). It is not only the 2015 local elections that coincide with other elections. In 2009, county and unitary council elections were re-scheduled from the normal date in May to early June in a bid to raise turnout for the European Parliament election. In 2010, local elections coincided with the general election while those in 2014 were again synchronous with European Parliament elections, which UKIP won. Being held at the same time, such elections not only present opportunities for small parties to widen their appeal but also bring resource pressures that may impact on the effectiveness of their campaigns. Table 1 provides a summary of results across seven rounds of local elections. It reveals how a clear step change in UKIP’s electoral status took place between 2009 and 2012 and subsequent elections. In 2009, the party was expected to perform well at European Parliament elections, having previously finished in third place five years before. It was not a serious contender at the local elections. This part of the electoral cycle contains the smallest number of seats and voting takes place across the English shires, which is helpful to UKIP. However, the party stood just 573 candidates, contesting one quarter of the vacancies, received less than 5 per cent of the vote and won eight seats. The following year, when local elections coincided with the 2010 general election, UKIP’s performance was even less impressive, largely because of two factors. Firstly, at this point, the party was under the leadership of Lord Pearson of Rannoch who ignored local elections in favour of the general election at which the party contested 558 of 632 seats and focused on forging ‘non-aggression pacts’ with Conservative MPs who had demonstrated Eurosceptic credentials. Secondly, a majority of the wards fought in 2010 were in urban-based authorities that were unfavourable territory for the party including London and metropolitan borough councils (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). UKIP’s overall share of the local vote was just 2 per cent, one point lower than it obtained at the general election. Table 1 UKIP performance in local elections, 2009–2015 Year Total Seats Candidates Seats Contested (%) Total vote Share (%) Elected UKIP elected Councillors (%) Success rate (%) National Equivalent Vote 2009 2318 573 24.7 314,428 4.6 8 0.3 1.4 – 2010 4249 624 14.7 226,569 1.6 1 0.0 0.2 – 2011 9461 1229 13.0 297,662 2.4 8 0.1 0.7 3 2012 2412 692 28.7 216,119 4.4 7 0.3 1.0 5 2013 2362 1731 73.3 1,136,640 19.9 147 6.2 8.5 22 2014 4262 2193 51.5 1,277,521 15.7 163 3.8 7.4 18 2015 9340 4094 43.8 2,573,182 12.8 201 2.2 4.9 12 Year Total Seats Candidates Seats Contested (%) Total vote Share (%) Elected UKIP elected Councillors (%) Success rate (%) National Equivalent Vote 2009 2318 573 24.7 314,428 4.6 8 0.3 1.4 – 2010 4249 624 14.7 226,569 1.6 1 0.0 0.2 – 2011 9461 1229 13.0 297,662 2.4 8 0.1 0.7 3 2012 2412 692 28.7 216,119 4.4 7 0.3 1.0 5 2013 2362 1731 73.3 1,136,640 19.9 147 6.2 8.5 22 2014 4262 2193 51.5 1,277,521 15.7 163 3.8 7.4 18 2015 9340 4094 43.8 2,573,182 12.8 201 2.2 4.9 12 Table 1 UKIP performance in local elections, 2009–2015 Year Total Seats Candidates Seats Contested (%) Total vote Share (%) Elected UKIP elected Councillors (%) Success rate (%) National Equivalent Vote 2009 2318 573 24.7 314,428 4.6 8 0.3 1.4 – 2010 4249 624 14.7 226,569 1.6 1 0.0 0.2 – 2011 9461 1229 13.0 297,662 2.4 8 0.1 0.7 3 2012 2412 692 28.7 216,119 4.4 7 0.3 1.0 5 2013 2362 1731 73.3 1,136,640 19.9 147 6.2 8.5 22 2014 4262 2193 51.5 1,277,521 15.7 163 3.8 7.4 18 2015 9340 4094 43.8 2,573,182 12.8 201 2.2 4.9 12 Year Total Seats Candidates Seats Contested (%) Total vote Share (%) Elected UKIP elected Councillors (%) Success rate (%) National Equivalent Vote 2009 2318 573 24.7 314,428 4.6 8 0.3 1.4 – 2010 4249 624 14.7 226,569 1.6 1 0.0 0.2 – 2011 9461 1229 13.0 297,662 2.4 8 0.1 0.7 3 2012 2412 692 28.7 216,119 4.4 7 0.3 1.0 5 2013 2362 1731 73.3 1,136,640 19.9 147 6.2 8.5 22 2014 4262 2193 51.5 1,277,521 15.7 163 3.8 7.4 18 2015 9340 4094 43.8 2,573,182 12.8 201 2.2 4.9 12 The 2011 contests are the peak of the electoral cycle and the volume of vacancies present problems for smaller parties in terms of candidate recruitment. Although UKIP mobilized more than one thousand candidates, and senior activists were advocating a serious investment in local elections, the party was not yet building strong foundations. It contested just over one in every eight vacancies. Again, the party attracted little support. Similarly, the 2012 elections saw UKIP perform no better, winning 4 per cent of the vote and just seven seats. Four years of campaigning for local votes delivered just twenty-six victories for UKIP. Until this point, its performance confirmed that UKIP was largely a single-issue party that was focussed on the EU and had little appeal. The local elections in 2013 offered a new opportunity. These were fought largely across the Conservative-dominated English shires and coincided with rising public concern over immigration, which included the rising numbers of EU nationals from Central and Eastern Europe. The 2013 local elections also took place in the shadow of David Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, in which the prime minister had pledged to hold a referendum on EU membership should the Conservative Party secure a majority at the 2015 general election. An indication of UKIP’s greater mobilisation became clear when candidate nominations closed. Compared to 2009 the party had three times the number of candidates, contesting 73 per cent of available seats. The party polled more than one million votes, one in five of those cast, and saw a 15-point increase in its support. This appeal did not fully translate into council seats, although by winning 6 per cent of seats the party easily surpassed all previous forays into local elections. UKIP candidates now had an almost one in ten chance of being elected. In 2014, UKIP stood candidates for half the available seats, up from just 15 per cent at the same point in the local electoral cycle in 2010. The party won 16 per cent of the overall vote (another fifteen-point rise in vote share), despite many contests being held in London. It more than doubled its number of councillors, taking its tally of council seats past three hundred. The 2015 local and general elections posed particular challenges for UKIP which had been distracted by three parliamentary by-elections in the autumn of 2014 (in Clacton, Heywood and Middleton and then Rochester and Strood) and then trying to secure Farage’s election in South Thanet (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). The party was also attempting to consolidate its national poll ratings which would see it overtake the Liberal Democrats as the ‘third party’ in votes, if not seats. These national priorities meant that activists were asked to run constituency-level campaigns rather than concentrate on winning seats on local councils. Finally, the general election was being run in the busiest part of the local electoral cycle, an event that had last occurred in 1979. Despite these obstacles, UKIP stood more local candidates than it had done before, contesting 44 per cent of available seats. The party’s share of the vote tripled in size from four years previously. While its overall vote share declined relative to its 2013 peak, it still received support from more than one in eight voters and because of the higher general election turnout easily surpassed its record of total local votes. The overall number of locally elected UKIP councillors now exceeded five hundred, an impressive rate of progress but still amounting to just over two per cent of all local councillors. UKIP had thus mobilized a growing number of candidates in a very short space of time, which partly reflected its natural growth but also the post-2011 strategy of taking these local government elections more seriously. But was there any pattern to the types of seats that UKIP contested that might suggest broader strategic thinking? Farage often cited the example of the Liberal Democrats, for providing a model of how to build support and representation. One principal tactic of the Liberal Democrats had been to target the national party of government, first the Conservatives prior to 1997 and later Labour, particularly during its third term, correctly thinking that incumbent parties were vulnerable to protest voting. In the case of UKIP was this also the case? Our analysis of the party’s evolution at the local level reveals how it followed a very different path from that taken by the Liberal Democrats. In 2009, the incumbent Labour Party suffered heavy losses of council seats, losing majority control in all four of its remaining county councils, but at that point Labour was not targeted by the anti-establishment UKIP. Instead, Farage was directing his party toward Conservative and Liberal Democrat seats. Table 2 reveals how UKIP stood candidates in only 73 of the 442 Labour-held divisions (16.5 per cent of the total) but contested almost double that proportion in Conservative-controlled areas, where the party faced formidable opposition. UKIP’s lack of interest in targeting Labour meant that it was forfeiting opportunities. Nevertheless, the party did have limited success in Labour areas, winning six seats, although this represented only 8 per cent of seats that it contested.3 In terms of mean vote share UKIP also performed strongest against Labour, an average of 19 per cent, albeit just two points higher than that in Conservative seats. Table 2 UKIP’s challenge in local elections, 2009–2015 Incumbent Total seats defended Seats contested Seats contested (%) Mean (%) Seats won Success rate (%) 2009 Con 984 271 27.5 16.8 2 0.7 Lab 442 73 16.5 18.8 6 8.2 Lib Dem 350 111 31.7 13.9 0 0.0 2010 Con 1607 274 17.1 8.1 0 0.0 Lab 1288 159 12.3 8.8 0 0.0 Lib Dem 789 128 16.2 6.5 1 0.8 2011 Con 4285 568 13.3 12.8 3 0.5 Lab 1330 206 15.5 10.9 0 0.0 Lib Dem 1545 255 16.5 9.2 2 0.8 2012 Con 989 334 33.8 14.9 4 1.2 Lab 527 147 27.9 14.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 508 159 31.3 9.9 0 0.0 2013 Con 1082 843 77.9 26.6 97 11.5 Lab 92 57 62.0 21.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 330 250 75.8 21.3 15 6.0 2014 Con 1351 798 59.1 23.4 76 9.5 Lab 1538 732 47.6 25.7 48 6.6 Lib Dem 607 369 60.8 19.2 25 6.8 2015 Con 3369 1, 387 41.2 19.1 36 2.6 Lab 1757 1, 096 62.4 20.5 51 4.7 Lib Dem 691 311 45.0 15.3 4 1.3 Incumbent Total seats defended Seats contested Seats contested (%) Mean (%) Seats won Success rate (%) 2009 Con 984 271 27.5 16.8 2 0.7 Lab 442 73 16.5 18.8 6 8.2 Lib Dem 350 111 31.7 13.9 0 0.0 2010 Con 1607 274 17.1 8.1 0 0.0 Lab 1288 159 12.3 8.8 0 0.0 Lib Dem 789 128 16.2 6.5 1 0.8 2011 Con 4285 568 13.3 12.8 3 0.5 Lab 1330 206 15.5 10.9 0 0.0 Lib Dem 1545 255 16.5 9.2 2 0.8 2012 Con 989 334 33.8 14.9 4 1.2 Lab 527 147 27.9 14.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 508 159 31.3 9.9 0 0.0 2013 Con 1082 843 77.9 26.6 97 11.5 Lab 92 57 62.0 21.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 330 250 75.8 21.3 15 6.0 2014 Con 1351 798 59.1 23.4 76 9.5 Lab 1538 732 47.6 25.7 48 6.6 Lib Dem 607 369 60.8 19.2 25 6.8 2015 Con 3369 1, 387 41.2 19.1 36 2.6 Lab 1757 1, 096 62.4 20.5 51 4.7 Lib Dem 691 311 45.0 15.3 4 1.3 Table 2 UKIP’s challenge in local elections, 2009–2015 Incumbent Total seats defended Seats contested Seats contested (%) Mean (%) Seats won Success rate (%) 2009 Con 984 271 27.5 16.8 2 0.7 Lab 442 73 16.5 18.8 6 8.2 Lib Dem 350 111 31.7 13.9 0 0.0 2010 Con 1607 274 17.1 8.1 0 0.0 Lab 1288 159 12.3 8.8 0 0.0 Lib Dem 789 128 16.2 6.5 1 0.8 2011 Con 4285 568 13.3 12.8 3 0.5 Lab 1330 206 15.5 10.9 0 0.0 Lib Dem 1545 255 16.5 9.2 2 0.8 2012 Con 989 334 33.8 14.9 4 1.2 Lab 527 147 27.9 14.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 508 159 31.3 9.9 0 0.0 2013 Con 1082 843 77.9 26.6 97 11.5 Lab 92 57 62.0 21.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 330 250 75.8 21.3 15 6.0 2014 Con 1351 798 59.1 23.4 76 9.5 Lab 1538 732 47.6 25.7 48 6.6 Lib Dem 607 369 60.8 19.2 25 6.8 2015 Con 3369 1, 387 41.2 19.1 36 2.6 Lab 1757 1, 096 62.4 20.5 51 4.7 Lib Dem 691 311 45.0 15.3 4 1.3 Incumbent Total seats defended Seats contested Seats contested (%) Mean (%) Seats won Success rate (%) 2009 Con 984 271 27.5 16.8 2 0.7 Lab 442 73 16.5 18.8 6 8.2 Lib Dem 350 111 31.7 13.9 0 0.0 2010 Con 1607 274 17.1 8.1 0 0.0 Lab 1288 159 12.3 8.8 0 0.0 Lib Dem 789 128 16.2 6.5 1 0.8 2011 Con 4285 568 13.3 12.8 3 0.5 Lab 1330 206 15.5 10.9 0 0.0 Lib Dem 1545 255 16.5 9.2 2 0.8 2012 Con 989 334 33.8 14.9 4 1.2 Lab 527 147 27.9 14.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 508 159 31.3 9.9 0 0.0 2013 Con 1082 843 77.9 26.6 97 11.5 Lab 92 57 62.0 21.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 330 250 75.8 21.3 15 6.0 2014 Con 1351 798 59.1 23.4 76 9.5 Lab 1538 732 47.6 25.7 48 6.6 Lib Dem 607 369 60.8 19.2 25 6.8 2015 Con 3369 1, 387 41.2 19.1 36 2.6 Lab 1757 1, 096 62.4 20.5 51 4.7 Lib Dem 691 311 45.0 15.3 4 1.3 After 2010, Farage hoped to exploit public dissatisfaction with Cameron and the incumbent Conservative Party by fusing UKIP’s Euroscepticism with a focus on immigration and a more openly populist critique of the established parties. The change of strategy became evident at the local level. In the large-scale district elections in 2011, UKIP contested between 13 and 17 per cent of seats that were defended by the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. UKIP performed strongest in Conservative seats but not sufficiently well to gain many seats. In 2013 (a repeat of the 2009 cycle), UKIP contested three-quarter of seats being defended by the coalition parties and two-thirds of Labour seats. While it failed to make gains from Labour, the party captured one in eight of the Conservative seats that it contested, averaging 27 per cent of the vote. By 2014, UKIP’s anti-establishment message was receiving greater traction among voters and although it contested a smaller proportion of seats (explained partly by the inclusion of wards across the London boroughs) it matched its former success against Conservatives, winning one in ten of those seats, while also winning 7 per cent of Labour and Liberal Democrat seats it contested. In terms of vote share, however, UKIP performed better in Labour-dominated areas. The pattern of capturing seats from both major parties continued with the 2015 results while the gap in UKIP’s average vote share in Conservative or Labour seats is negligible. The change of strategy, broader message and publicity clearly brought UKIP success, but is there evidence that the party was cultivating its local vote from the ground-up? Table 3 categorises wards into one of three types—wards that were not contested by UKIP at the previous election, wards that were previously contested and, third, newly established wards that were created after the implementation of boundary changes. It is plausible to suggest that an evolving pattern of support across these different ward types might reflect a degree of strategic thinking. When some new parties emerge and contest elections, as for example, the Liberal Democrats did during the 1980s and 1990s, they may do so incrementally, taking note of where support is greatest and nurturing such areas before returning to contest more strongly the next time (Dorling et al., 1998; but in the case of the Green party there is no evidence of a similar effect, Thrasher et al., 2014). In less promising areas the party might establish a presence by fielding candidates, particularly when its image among voters improves, but those candidates fare less well than do those in targeted areas. Other things being equal, therefore, we might expect to find differences in support for UKIP, with the party attracting a higher average vote share in areas that it has contested across successive elections than in those wards where it stood for the first time. Because there is no pattern in the creation of new wards we might reasonably expect the mean values for these to lie somewhere between the previously contested and uncontested wards. The evidence for 2011 (when the basis for comparison is 2007), suggests that UKIP had no clear strategy to builds its local vote or capitalise in areas where it had stood previously. Among the 761 wards that UKIP contested in 2007, the party withdrew in almost half of the cases (it contested 424 wards or 56 per cent of those previously contested). In the almost five thousand wards that it had not contested in 2007, it chose to stand in 13 per cent of these, obtaining a mean percentage share of 11.3 per cent, marginally lower than in places it contested at both elections (12.3 per cent). From these data, there does not appear to have been any directed effort to identify potential sources of support, or consolidate its position from four years before. Table 3 Patterns of contestation, 2009–2015 Current election Year Previous election Wards Contested Wards (%) Mean share (%) Seats won Percentage of seats won 2009 Contested 242 131 54.1 18.5 4 1.7 Not contested 1494 319 21.4 15.3 4 0.3 New ward 403 99 24.6 15.4 0 0.0 2010 Contested 281 197 70.1 8.8 0 0.0 Not contested 2613 411 15.7 7.5 1 0.0 New ward 72 12 16.7 5.9 0 0.0 2011 Contested 761 424 55.7 12.3 6 0.8 Not contested 4947 634 12.8 11.3 2 0.0 New ward 388 54 13.9 10.4 0 0.0 2012 Contested 391 251 64.2 14.8 2 0.5 Not contested 1755 406 23.1 12.8 2 0.1 New ward 85 24 28.2 16.2 3 3.5 2013 Contested 396 351 88.6 27.4 65 16.4 Not contested 1150 837 72.8 24.0 60 5.2 New ward 651 470 72.2 23.0 22 3.4 2014 Contested 556 502 90.3 25.8 66 11.9 Not contested 2139 1, 423 66.5 22.3 90 4.2 New ward 190 124 65.3 21.8 7 3.7 2015 Contested 883 713 80.7 19.3 41 4.6 Not contested 3851 2, 087 54.2 19.3 107 5.1 New ward 1242 651 52.4 20.2 53 4.3 Current election Year Previous election Wards Contested Wards (%) Mean share (%) Seats won Percentage of seats won 2009 Contested 242 131 54.1 18.5 4 1.7 Not contested 1494 319 21.4 15.3 4 0.3 New ward 403 99 24.6 15.4 0 0.0 2010 Contested 281 197 70.1 8.8 0 0.0 Not contested 2613 411 15.7 7.5 1 0.0 New ward 72 12 16.7 5.9 0 0.0 2011 Contested 761 424 55.7 12.3 6 0.8 Not contested 4947 634 12.8 11.3 2 0.0 New ward 388 54 13.9 10.4 0 0.0 2012 Contested 391 251 64.2 14.8 2 0.5 Not contested 1755 406 23.1 12.8 2 0.1 New ward 85 24 28.2 16.2 3 3.5 2013 Contested 396 351 88.6 27.4 65 16.4 Not contested 1150 837 72.8 24.0 60 5.2 New ward 651 470 72.2 23.0 22 3.4 2014 Contested 556 502 90.3 25.8 66 11.9 Not contested 2139 1, 423 66.5 22.3 90 4.2 New ward 190 124 65.3 21.8 7 3.7 2015 Contested 883 713 80.7 19.3 41 4.6 Not contested 3851 2, 087 54.2 19.3 107 5.1 New ward 1242 651 52.4 20.2 53 4.3 Table 3 Patterns of contestation, 2009–2015 Current election Year Previous election Wards Contested Wards (%) Mean share (%) Seats won Percentage of seats won 2009 Contested 242 131 54.1 18.5 4 1.7 Not contested 1494 319 21.4 15.3 4 0.3 New ward 403 99 24.6 15.4 0 0.0 2010 Contested 281 197 70.1 8.8 0 0.0 Not contested 2613 411 15.7 7.5 1 0.0 New ward 72 12 16.7 5.9 0 0.0 2011 Contested 761 424 55.7 12.3 6 0.8 Not contested 4947 634 12.8 11.3 2 0.0 New ward 388 54 13.9 10.4 0 0.0 2012 Contested 391 251 64.2 14.8 2 0.5 Not contested 1755 406 23.1 12.8 2 0.1 New ward 85 24 28.2 16.2 3 3.5 2013 Contested 396 351 88.6 27.4 65 16.4 Not contested 1150 837 72.8 24.0 60 5.2 New ward 651 470 72.2 23.0 22 3.4 2014 Contested 556 502 90.3 25.8 66 11.9 Not contested 2139 1, 423 66.5 22.3 90 4.2 New ward 190 124 65.3 21.8 7 3.7 2015 Contested 883 713 80.7 19.3 41 4.6 Not contested 3851 2, 087 54.2 19.3 107 5.1 New ward 1242 651 52.4 20.2 53 4.3 Current election Year Previous election Wards Contested Wards (%) Mean share (%) Seats won Percentage of seats won 2009 Contested 242 131 54.1 18.5 4 1.7 Not contested 1494 319 21.4 15.3 4 0.3 New ward 403 99 24.6 15.4 0 0.0 2010 Contested 281 197 70.1 8.8 0 0.0 Not contested 2613 411 15.7 7.5 1 0.0 New ward 72 12 16.7 5.9 0 0.0 2011 Contested 761 424 55.7 12.3 6 0.8 Not contested 4947 634 12.8 11.3 2 0.0 New ward 388 54 13.9 10.4 0 0.0 2012 Contested 391 251 64.2 14.8 2 0.5 Not contested 1755 406 23.1 12.8 2 0.1 New ward 85 24 28.2 16.2 3 3.5 2013 Contested 396 351 88.6 27.4 65 16.4 Not contested 1150 837 72.8 24.0 60 5.2 New ward 651 470 72.2 23.0 22 3.4 2014 Contested 556 502 90.3 25.8 66 11.9 Not contested 2139 1, 423 66.5 22.3 90 4.2 New ward 190 124 65.3 21.8 7 3.7 2015 Contested 883 713 80.7 19.3 41 4.6 Not contested 3851 2, 087 54.2 19.3 107 5.1 New ward 1242 651 52.4 20.2 53 4.3 The picture changes in 2013 and 2014. UKIP contested almost nine in ten places in 2013 that it had also fought four years previously. Its mean vote in areas contested on both occasions was three points higher compared with places it was contesting for the first time. A similar pattern emerges in 2014; UKIP candidates contested 90 per cent of seats fought in 2010, receiving an average 26 per cent of the vote compared with 22 per cent elsewhere. Moreover, the party’s ability to convert votes into seats is somewhat better in places where it had previously fielded a candidate. Although in 2013 the absolute number of UKIP victories are similar, winning 60 seats in places contested for the first time and 65 after making a previous appearance, the rates of success are rather different—5 per cent in newly contested wards but 16 per cent in places contested previously. The story for 2014 is similar—90 successes (4 per cent of the total) in wards contested in 2014 but not in 2010, but 66 wins or 12 per cent when it contested the wards both times. If these data suggest a trend then the results of elections in 2015 question that. The figures are more difficult to interpret, partly because the general election took place alongside local elections and because of boundary changes, but there are no differences in UKIP’s average support across the three types of ward. Furthermore, the success rate of UKIP candidates is highest in wards that had not been previously contested. This matter requires further investigation which might usefully focus on the potential impact upon UKIP’s support of a thirty-point increase in turnout compared with 2013/2014 and the opportunities for split-ticket voting when general and local elections coincide (Rallings and Thrasher 2003) and how that might have impacted upon the party’s local election vote. Whilst it remains unclear if UKIP was cultivating a more nuanced approach to places where it contested local elections is there evidence that its advance was dependent upon geography, and, if so, which areas provided most support? The pattern of victories achieved in 2013 is concentrated in a group of English counties that begins in Lincolnshire, where sixteen seats were won, extends into Cambridgeshire and continues down the east coast of England through Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East and West Sussex and, finally, into Hampshire. Outside of this tightly defined set of counties, and with the exceptions of Buckinghamshire and Cornwall, UKIP wins were rare or non-existent—it failed to win any seats at all in one-third of the 35 authorities holding elections. Re-casting these votes within parliamentary constituency boundaries reveals how UKIP was the most popular party in 10 constituencies. The seats, which include the two Thanet constituencies in Kent, subsequently featured in lists of UKIP’s potential upsets at the 2015 general election, and saw some of its strongest results at the national contest, although a breakthrough eluded the party. Because of the local electoral cycle only some areas that had voted in 2013 held elections the following year. One example is Essex where in 2014 some district and unitary councils, notably Basildon, Castle Point Southend and Thurrock, provided UKIP with more than a fifth of its 156 victories. It also captured a further 33 seats across Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Norfolk (notably Great Yarmouth) and West Sussex. Additionally, UKIP also had success in urban areas, notably Rotherham, Dudley and Newcastle under Lyme. Nine parliamentary seats were nominally ‘won’ by UKIP, including Rotherham and Rother Valley as well as Great Yarmouth again (UKIP held a plurality of votes there in 2013 also) and the adjacent seats of Great Grimsby and Cleethorpes. While UKIP insiders acknowledged that these local election results influenced their choice of target seats at the 2015 general election, Goodwin and Milazzo (2015) also reveal how, in sharp contrast to the professionalism of the Liberal Democrats, the decision of which constituencies to target was often shaped as much by other factors, such as patronage. Rather than fix their choices only in local election performances UKIP often selected target seats according to where it had favourable activists or felt that it had opportunities. In several cases target seats did not have a functioning or locally successful branch while other seats where the party had been strong locally, such as Great Yarmouth, would later be taken off the target list due to internal party problems. These constraints are perhaps best reflected in an extract from an interview with a senior organizer who oversaw UKIP candidates during the general election: ‘Some of the key seats should simply never have been on the list. They often had crap candidates who were as useful as chocolate teapots, or they had no local branch. Some seats were literally a husband and wife effort. Others were one man and his dog and you would have been lucky if the dog turned up’ (p.193). Our analysis of the aggregate data reveals how UKIP progressed rapidly from 2013 onward although its investment in grassroots politics came late-on in the party’s life-cycle. Nonetheless, this would have been impossible had the party been unable first to recruit new candidates to stand for the ‘People’s Army’. In the next section we examine the social, political and ideological characteristics of these candidates and how they campaigned for votes in this critical period of the party’s development. Representing the ‘People’s Army’: the characteristics of UKIP candidates The types of people that volunteered as UKIP candidates are identified from responses obtained from the annual Local Candidates’ Survey, conducted between 2006 and 2014. For each survey respondents are randomly selected from published lists of candidate nominations provided by local authorities and, shortly after polling day, invited to report on their experience of recruitment, campaigning and related matters. Sampling frequency varies from year to year and is determined by the need to acquire sufficient responses (approximately 1000 responses are obtained for each survey). Prior to 2013, UKIP candidates were generally scarce and the number of responses collected by these surveys correspondingly small but the numbers increased thereafter. The 2013 survey, conducted online, was sent to 9950 candidates and elicited 1989 usable replies, including 397 UKIP respondents. In 2014, 7000 candidates were invited to participate, producing 904 responses, of which 117 are UKIP candidates. Responses are pooled and weighted in order to compensate for variable response rates from some local areas as well as to reflect the balance of party competition across the actual elections. Table 4 describes some key characteristics of each party’s candidates. Compared to local election candidates from Labour, the Conservatives, and Liberal Democrats, those that stood for UKIP are more likely to be male, over 66 years of age, are unlikely to have attended university, are more likely to be retired from work—a profile that is broadly consistent with the party’s electors. Although UKIP recruited its candidates quickly it was more likely to select people resident within the ward being contested. Professional occupations too are less in evidence among UKIP candidates while very few are non-white but this is also a feature of candidates generally. Table 4 Characteristics of local election candidates UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Gender  Male 83 72 65 69 71  Female 17 28 35 31 29 Age (years)  ≤45 18 33 29 25 27  46–55 18 15 15 21 17  56–65 26 28 31 25 28  ≥66 37 23 25 28 27 Ethnic origin  White 92 94 92 97 94  Non-white 8 6 8 3 6 Place of residence  Within the ward 62 50 47 50 51  Outside the ward 38 50 53 50 49 Education  No formal qualification 8 2 4 2 4  GCSE or A level 42 36 21 19 29  Degree or equivalent 50 62 74 80 67 Occupation  Professional 44 58 53 53 53  Managerial/technical 33 26 22 30 27  Other 24 16 25 17 21 Employment status  Full/Part-time paid employment 23 38 45 36 37  Self employed 23 22 16 15 19  Retired 43 28 30 31 32  Other 11 12 9 18 12 UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Gender  Male 83 72 65 69 71  Female 17 28 35 31 29 Age (years)  ≤45 18 33 29 25 27  46–55 18 15 15 21 17  56–65 26 28 31 25 28  ≥66 37 23 25 28 27 Ethnic origin  White 92 94 92 97 94  Non-white 8 6 8 3 6 Place of residence  Within the ward 62 50 47 50 51  Outside the ward 38 50 53 50 49 Education  No formal qualification 8 2 4 2 4  GCSE or A level 42 36 21 19 29  Degree or equivalent 50 62 74 80 67 Occupation  Professional 44 58 53 53 53  Managerial/technical 33 26 22 30 27  Other 24 16 25 17 21 Employment status  Full/Part-time paid employment 23 38 45 36 37  Self employed 23 22 16 15 19  Retired 43 28 30 31 32  Other 11 12 9 18 12 Table 4 Characteristics of local election candidates UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Gender  Male 83 72 65 69 71  Female 17 28 35 31 29 Age (years)  ≤45 18 33 29 25 27  46–55 18 15 15 21 17  56–65 26 28 31 25 28  ≥66 37 23 25 28 27 Ethnic origin  White 92 94 92 97 94  Non-white 8 6 8 3 6 Place of residence  Within the ward 62 50 47 50 51  Outside the ward 38 50 53 50 49 Education  No formal qualification 8 2 4 2 4  GCSE or A level 42 36 21 19 29  Degree or equivalent 50 62 74 80 67 Occupation  Professional 44 58 53 53 53  Managerial/technical 33 26 22 30 27  Other 24 16 25 17 21 Employment status  Full/Part-time paid employment 23 38 45 36 37  Self employed 23 22 16 15 19  Retired 43 28 30 31 32  Other 11 12 9 18 12 UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Gender  Male 83 72 65 69 71  Female 17 28 35 31 29 Age (years)  ≤45 18 33 29 25 27  46–55 18 15 15 21 17  56–65 26 28 31 25 28  ≥66 37 23 25 28 27 Ethnic origin  White 92 94 92 97 94  Non-white 8 6 8 3 6 Place of residence  Within the ward 62 50 47 50 51  Outside the ward 38 50 53 50 49 Education  No formal qualification 8 2 4 2 4  GCSE or A level 42 36 21 19 29  Degree or equivalent 50 62 74 80 67 Occupation  Professional 44 58 53 53 53  Managerial/technical 33 26 22 30 27  Other 24 16 25 17 21 Employment status  Full/Part-time paid employment 23 38 45 36 37  Self employed 23 22 16 15 19  Retired 43 28 30 31 32  Other 11 12 9 18 12 Consistent with the aggregate data analysis, Table 5 reveals the speed with which the party recruited its candidates. A large majority, two-thirds, were standing in local elections for the first time. This proportion is considerably higher than those for the main parties and underscores the lack of campaigning and experience among UKIP’s grassroots supporters. One-third of Conservatives and one in five Labour and Liberal Democrats were incumbents seeking a further four-year term but only one in 50 UKIP candidates were already councillors. Those who responded to UKIP’s appeal for candidates largely had no prior experience of canvassing for votes, a factor that may have subsequently weakened the impact of its 2015 general election campaign, alongside the fact that the party was not always targeting areas where it had established a sustained presence at the local level. Indeed, UKIP candidates had little prior involvement even as party members. Three in ten of the party’s candidates had been members for less than one year before being selected. Only one third had been members for more than five years, revealing how the party was unable to cultivate a cadre of experienced and committed activists, compared with about eight in ten among Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates. During the local elections, therefore, whereas first-time candidates for the main parties would have learned from more experienced colleagues, those standing for UKIP were more likely to be ‘learning on the job’ together. Yet, despite their relative inexperience the results of the survey show that UKIP candidates were as active as their counterparts in terms of hours per week campaigning although they do not canvass the same proportion of electors as do candidates for Labour and the Conservative Party. While the UKIP attracted significant support, therefore, at the 2015 general election the lack of electoral experience among its parliamentary candidates would be a major weakness, as senior party officials acknowledged (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). Table 5 Prior electoral experience of candidates contesting the 2013/2014 local election UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Electoral experience  First-time candidate 64 34 30 23 36  Current incumbent 2 33 20 19 20  Former councillor, non-incumbent 4 6 15 17 11  Previous candidate, never elected 29 27 35 42 33 Party membership  More than 5 years 32 76 82 81 71  More than 1 year but less than 5 years 39 16 14 14 19  Less than 1 year 29 7 4 5 10  Not a member 1 1 0 0 1 UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Electoral experience  First-time candidate 64 34 30 23 36  Current incumbent 2 33 20 19 20  Former councillor, non-incumbent 4 6 15 17 11  Previous candidate, never elected 29 27 35 42 33 Party membership  More than 5 years 32 76 82 81 71  More than 1 year but less than 5 years 39 16 14 14 19  Less than 1 year 29 7 4 5 10  Not a member 1 1 0 0 1 Note: Figures are column percentages within each party category. Table 5 Prior electoral experience of candidates contesting the 2013/2014 local election UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Electoral experience  First-time candidate 64 34 30 23 36  Current incumbent 2 33 20 19 20  Former councillor, non-incumbent 4 6 15 17 11  Previous candidate, never elected 29 27 35 42 33 Party membership  More than 5 years 32 76 82 81 71  More than 1 year but less than 5 years 39 16 14 14 19  Less than 1 year 29 7 4 5 10  Not a member 1 1 0 0 1 UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Electoral experience  First-time candidate 64 34 30 23 36  Current incumbent 2 33 20 19 20  Former councillor, non-incumbent 4 6 15 17 11  Previous candidate, never elected 29 27 35 42 33 Party membership  More than 5 years 32 76 82 81 71  More than 1 year but less than 5 years 39 16 14 14 19  Less than 1 year 29 7 4 5 10  Not a member 1 1 0 0 1 Note: Figures are column percentages within each party category. How had UKIP’s local candidates been chosen? The candidates’ survey asks respondents to recall the first time that they contested a council seat and whether they took that decision themselves or stood only after being asked to do so. A persistent pattern in the surveys is that a majority of all candidates stand following an approach, typically from a fellow member, while only one in three independently decided to stand. Among UKIP candidates, however, although a majority were asked by someone else a large minority, more than four in ten, were ‘self-starters’ who made their own decision. Feelings of political efficacy appear to have been a central motive; among these candidates more than three-quarters said they had stood in the elections to ‘make a difference’ compared to six in ten that stood for the main parties. Further evidence of differences among UKIP and other candidates towards governance are derived from the 2013 survey. Support for directly elected mayors among UKIP respondents reached 41 per cent, but was only 26 per cent among other parties’ candidates. But more striking still are differences of attitudes over strengthening the power of electors over the elected. While under half of main party candidates supported the principle of recall elections three in four UKIP candidates did so. In the matter of increasing the number of local referendums, while 91 per cent of UKIP respondents advocated this only 38 per cent of other candidates did so. Clearly, such sentiments sit securely within the party’s broader concerns to challenge the political status quo and make politicians more accountable to electors. These data reveal a pattern of individuals first deciding to join UKIP and shortly afterwards being prepared to stand for election. Many decided to stand on certain issues and believed that contesting the election would convince others to follow. Ideologically speaking, what sets these candidates apart from those representing mainstream parties? Candidates responding to both the 2013 and 2014 surveys were asked about their ideological positioning, beginning with placement on the left–right dimension using a scale running from zero to ten where ‘very left wing’ is zero and ‘very right wing’ is ten (see Appendix 1). Similar scales were also used to examine policy-related issues. These data, presented in Table 6, reveal a number of interesting similarities among candidates from across the spectrum but they suggest too that UKIP candidates are ideologically distinctive from their counterparts in the main parties. For the ‘left–right’ dimension, the distribution among UKIP candidates is identical to that reported by Conservatives. The desire for uniformity of service provision is generally identified as a left-leaning and centrist policy, reflected here in a clearer preference among Labour candidates. UKIP candidates occupy the average position on this dimension, with Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates wanting more local diversity. On economic growth versus safeguarding the environment the views of UKIP/Conservatives are closer, although the range of opinions is not that great. While these surveys were in the field, the debate over fiscal austerity as a solution to the budget deficit was at the heart of British politics. These data show agreement among UKIP and Conservative candidates that there should be lower spending on public services with a relatively large gap between this position and that held by Labour candidates who are inclined towards increasing public expenditure, and Liberal Democrat candidates who are more inclined toward the status quo. However, and perhaps unsurprisingly, on the issues of migration and Britain’s EU membership there are clear differences between UKIP candidates and others. UKIP candidates believe that migrants from other countries are not helping Britain’s economy and are adamant that Britain should withdraw from the EU. Consistent with other studies of UKIP voters (Ford and Goodwin 2014a; Goodwin and Milazzo 2015; Clarke et al., 2017), the party’s candidates feel especially strongly about immigration and EU membership, and are clearly willing to go beyond merely expressing these views by standing in elections. Table 6 Ideological positions of local election candidates, 2013–2014 UKIP Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Total Scales 0–10 Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Left–Right 6.8 0.08 6.9 0.05 2.7 0.05 4.0 0.05 5.0 0.05 Local services— diversity or homogeneous 6.2 0.17 7.0 0.09 4.8 0.11 6.8 0.11 6.2 0.06 Economy vs. environment 6.2 0.13 6.3 0.08 4.9 0.08 4.4 0.09 5.5 0.05 Balance of current public expenditure 3.9 0.15 3.7 0.07 7.7 0.07 6.0 0.08 5.5 0.06 Migrants— good or bad for economy 3.1 0.12 5.4 0.09 7.4 0.08 7.5 0.09 6.1 0.05 European Union— more or less integration 9.7 0.05 7.4 0.07 3.7 0.09 3.6 0.11 5.8 0.07 UKIP Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Total Scales 0–10 Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Left–Right 6.8 0.08 6.9 0.05 2.7 0.05 4.0 0.05 5.0 0.05 Local services— diversity or homogeneous 6.2 0.17 7.0 0.09 4.8 0.11 6.8 0.11 6.2 0.06 Economy vs. environment 6.2 0.13 6.3 0.08 4.9 0.08 4.4 0.09 5.5 0.05 Balance of current public expenditure 3.9 0.15 3.7 0.07 7.7 0.07 6.0 0.08 5.5 0.06 Migrants— good or bad for economy 3.1 0.12 5.4 0.09 7.4 0.08 7.5 0.09 6.1 0.05 European Union— more or less integration 9.7 0.05 7.4 0.07 3.7 0.09 3.6 0.11 5.8 0.07 Table 6 Ideological positions of local election candidates, 2013–2014 UKIP Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Total Scales 0–10 Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Left–Right 6.8 0.08 6.9 0.05 2.7 0.05 4.0 0.05 5.0 0.05 Local services— diversity or homogeneous 6.2 0.17 7.0 0.09 4.8 0.11 6.8 0.11 6.2 0.06 Economy vs. environment 6.2 0.13 6.3 0.08 4.9 0.08 4.4 0.09 5.5 0.05 Balance of current public expenditure 3.9 0.15 3.7 0.07 7.7 0.07 6.0 0.08 5.5 0.06 Migrants— good or bad for economy 3.1 0.12 5.4 0.09 7.4 0.08 7.5 0.09 6.1 0.05 European Union— more or less integration 9.7 0.05 7.4 0.07 3.7 0.09 3.6 0.11 5.8 0.07 UKIP Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Total Scales 0–10 Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Left–Right 6.8 0.08 6.9 0.05 2.7 0.05 4.0 0.05 5.0 0.05 Local services— diversity or homogeneous 6.2 0.17 7.0 0.09 4.8 0.11 6.8 0.11 6.2 0.06 Economy vs. environment 6.2 0.13 6.3 0.08 4.9 0.08 4.4 0.09 5.5 0.05 Balance of current public expenditure 3.9 0.15 3.7 0.07 7.7 0.07 6.0 0.08 5.5 0.06 Migrants— good or bad for economy 3.1 0.12 5.4 0.09 7.4 0.08 7.5 0.09 6.1 0.05 European Union— more or less integration 9.7 0.05 7.4 0.07 3.7 0.09 3.6 0.11 5.8 0.07 Conclusions Although various studies have examined UKIP’s electoral following, organization and performance at general elections, until now there has not been a detailed examination of its appeal among local voters, ability to secure elected representation in local government and the candidates the party has recruited to convey its ideological message to the electorate. Our analysis of aggregate data has revealed that while UKIP made rapid advances in 2013 and 2014 the party failed during these years of growth to invest seriously in cementing a grassroots presence. Nigel Farage talked often about modelling his party on the Liberal Democrats but UKIP often lacked a comparable level of discipline, experience and sustained local investment. Initially, UKIP enjoyed most success against Conservative candidates but in 2014 the party opened up a second front that targeted Labour seats also. This growing success at the local level was stronger in some areas than others, with UKIP initially attracting support in eastern and south eastern parts of England before expanding into a small number of urban areas. However, the party’s failure to emulate the Liberal Democrats by establishing a stronger and longer-term foundation in local government had repercussions. As our analysis of survey data reveals, the party’s ‘late rise’ meant that by the time of the 2015 general election a majority of its candidates were inexperienced campaigners who had scant experience with canvassing and other electioneering activities let alone orchestrating professional and targeted campaigns. Most candidates had only recently joined UKIP as members, meaning that the ‘People’s Army’ was almost wholly dependent upon amateur volunteers. These findings at grassroots level are an important contributory factor to explaining why UKIP not only failed to engineer a wider breakthrough at the 2015 general election but also appears to be struggling to sustain a presence after the 2016 referendum on EU membership. Future cycles of local elections may provide UKIP with new opportunities to mobilise, recruit and organise people who are sympathetic toward its anti-immigration and anti-EU agenda but there are new and major obstacles. The outcome of the 2016 referendum and the vote for Brexit are likely to exacerbate the internal problems that we have identified. Following the 52 per cent vote for Brexit, Nigel Farage resigned and UKIP suffered several bouts of infighting and a succession of leaders. Few of those who remain active in the party’s echelons appear experienced in electioneering. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservative Party have reduced space for UKIP by modifying their message to include stronger opposition to immigration, support for Brexit and—at least prior to the outcome of the 2017 general election—calls to hand workers more rights and influence. This may tempt back disillusioned social conservatives who, between 2009 and 2015, defected to UKIP as an outlet for their Euroscepticism and opposition to immigration. Whether or not UKIP is able to overcome such obstacles and sustain its revolt on the right remains to be seen. Acknowledgements M.J.G. would like to thank the ESRC ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ programme who funded his research between 2015 and 2017. Conflict of Interest The authors have no conflicts of interest to report. Footnotes 1 UKIP finished in second place at parliamentary by-elections in Barnsley Central (March 2011), Middlesbrough (November 2012), Rotherham (November 2012), Eastleigh (February 2013), South Shields (May 2013) and Wythenshawe and Sale East (February 2014). All but Eastleigh, which was held by the Liberal Democrats, were held by the Labour Party. 2 For example, ‘UKIP leader says they “will replace Liberal Democrats”’, BBC News, 5 March 2011, accessed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12658045 on 7 January 2016. 3 Four of these seats were in Staffordshire, mainly in Newcastle under Lyme. References Clarke H. , Goodwin M.J. , Whiteley P. ( 2017 ) Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union , Cambridge, Cambridge University Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Dorling D. , Rallings C. , Thrasher M. ( 1998 ) ‘The Epidemiology of the Liberal Democrat Vote’ , Political Geography , 17 , 45 – 70 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Evans G. , Mellon J. ( 2016 ) ‘ Working Class Votes and Conservative Losses: Solving the UKIP Puzzle ’, Parliamentary Affairs , 69 , 464 – 479 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Evans G. , Tilley J. ( 2012 ) ‘How Parties Shape Class Politics: Explaining the Decline of the Class Basis of Party Support’ , British Journal of Political Science , 42 , 137 – 161 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Fisher J. , Cutts D. , Fieldhouse E. ( 2011 ) ‘The Electoral Effectiveness of Constituency Campaigning in the 2010 British General Election: The “Triumph” of Labour?’ , Electoral Studies , 30 , 816 – 828 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Ford R. , Goodwin M. ( 2014a ) Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain , Abingdon, Routledge . Ford R. , Goodwin M. ( 2014b ) ‘Understanding UKIP: Identity, Social Change and the Left Behind’ , Political Quarterly , 83 , 277 – 284 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Ford R. , Goodwin M. J. , Cutts D. ( 2012 ) ‘Strategic Eurosceptics and Polite Xenophobes: Support for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in the 2009 European Parliament Elections’ , European Journal of Political Research , 51 , 204 – 234 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Goodwin M.J. , Milazzo C. ( 2015 ) UKIP: Inside the Campaign to Redraw British Politics , Oxford , Oxford University Press . Lynch P. , Whitaker R. ( 2013 ) ‘Rivalry on the Right: The Conservatives, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the EU Issue’ , British Politics , 8 , 285 – 312 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Mudde C. ( 2007 ) Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe , Cambridge , Cambridge University Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rallings C. , Thrasher M. ( 1996 ) ‘The Electoral Record’, In McIver D. (ed.) The Liberal Democrats , Prentice Hall, Harvester Wheatsheaf . Rallings C. , Thrasher M. ( 2003 ) ‘Explaining Split-Ticket Voting at the 1979 and 1997 General and Local Elections in England’ , Political Studies , 51 , 558 – 572 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rydgren J. (ed.) ( 2012 ) Class Politics and the Radical Right , London , Routledge . Thrasher M. , Borisyuk G. , Rallings C. , Sloan L. ( 2014 ) ‘Voting Systems in Parallel and the Benefits for Small Parties: An Examination of Green Party Candidates in London Elections’ , Party Politics , 20 , 134 – 142 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS UKIP . ( 2015 ) Believe in Britain: UKIP Manifesto 2015 , Devon , UK Independence Party . PubMed PubMed Webb P. , Bale T. ( 2014 ) ‘Why Do Tories Defect to UKIP? Conservative Party Members and the Temptations of the Populist Radical Right Political Studies’ , Political Studies , 62 , 961 – 970 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Appendix 1 Survey questions One way that people talk about politics in the UK is in terms of left, right and centre. Where would you place yourself on that spectrum? (0= ‘far left’; 10= ‘far right’) Some people believe that public service delivery should be standardised across the country, to avoid the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ of locally provided services. Others believe that the level of service is best decided locally and that diversity in service delivery is a sign of strong local government. What is your view on this matter? Please respond on the scale of 0–10, where 0 indicates that locally provided services should be the same everywhere and 10 indicates that decisions on service delivery should be centralised as much as possible. Regarding the economy and migration from other countries on a scale of 0–10, where 0 is extremely bad and 10 is extremely good, would you say it is generally bad or good for Britain’s economy that migrants come to Britain from other countries? Regarding the economy and the environment: How would you prioritise the balance between encouraging economic growth and protection of the environment? Please indicate your response on a scale of 0–10, where 0 indicates protection for the environment, even at the cost of economic growth and 10 indicates economic growth, even at the expense of damage to the environment. Regarding the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU): please indicate whether you feel the UK should integrate further or actively withdraw from the EU. Please respond on a scale of 0–10, where 0 indicates further integration and 10 indicates complete withdrawal. Regarding taxation and public services: What are your feelings regarding the current balance of public spending in the UK? Please give your response on a scale of 0–10, where 0 indicates that there should be more spending on public services, and 10 indicates that there should be less spending on public services. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Hansard Society; all rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Parliamentary Affairs Oxford University Press

Mobilising the ‘People’s Army’ at the Grassroots: Examining Support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in English Local Elections

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Abstract

Abstract Between 2013 and the referendum on Britain’s EU membership in 2016, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) emerged as the most significant new party in English politics for a generation. Yet, despite rising to become the third most popular party, temporarily replacing the Liberal Democrats in the polls, UKIP failed to translate support into a large presence in Westminster. At the 2015 general election, the party won only one seat and in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum suffered a major loss of support. In this article, we investigate UKIP’s rise and show why the party’s evolution at local level is an important but neglected factor in its failure to engineer a substantial breakthrough. By analysing aggregate-level data on local elections and surveys of UKIP’s largely inexperienced but enthusiastic candidates, we show how the party’s initial advance came largely at the expense of the Conservative Party but then opened a second front against Labour, in more urban areas. Unlike the Liberal Democrats, UKIP was unable to sustain this momentum and failed to use a local government base as a foundation for strong representation in parliament. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is the most significant new party in England for a generation. Founded in 1993, it was not until 2013 when, under the leadership of Nigel Farage, the party began to experience a sharp rise in support as its anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-Westminster message resonated with voters (Ford and Goodwin, 2014a). At the 2010 general election, UKIP polled just 3.1 per cent of the national vote but by 2013 the party had replaced the Liberal Democrats as the country’s third most popular party. UKIP consolidated its support through various elections, including finishing in second place in six parliamentary by-elections held between March 2011 and February 2014, five of which were in Labour-held seats (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015).1 In the spring of 2014, UKIP then matched the accomplishments of populist radical right parties in Denmark and France by winning the European Parliament elections, polling over 27 per cent. Two Conservative Members of Parliament subsequently defected to UKIP, resigning their seats and triggering two parliamentary by-elections in Clacton in Essex and Rochester and Stroud in Kent. UKIP won both contests, securing two seats in the House of Commons. Influenced by the rise of the Liberal Democrats, UKIP adopted a target seat strategy for the 2015 general election, focusing on 32 mainly working-class, white and economically disadvantaged seats that tended to be in southern and eastern England (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). Despite receiving nearly four million votes, or 12.8 per cent of the vote, UKIP won only one seat (retaining Clacton). While UKIP’s failure to win more seats reflects broader difficulties that confront challenger parties in a single member, simple plurality electoral system it might also owe much to the party’s failure to establish a strong electoral foundation at the local level. In this article, we shed light on an important but neglected aspect of UKIP by investigating the party’s evolution and performance in local government elections. From 2011, Nigel Farage made no secret of his desire to emulate the campaign model of the Liberal Democrats, aiming to build a foundation in local government as a springboard to securing representation in the House of Commons (Rallings and Thrasher 1996). Until now, however, there has been little research on the party’s local electoral performance, its impact on the other parties and who decided to stand for the ‘People’s Army’ as local candidates (on members see Clarke, Goodwin and Whiteley 2017). Important questions unanswered. Was UKIP’s rapid expansion into local government largely unplanned or did the party strategically marshal resources against vulnerable opponents at different points in time? How far did an increase in local representation shape UKIP’s subsequent selection of target seats at the 2015 general election? In this respect, might the local evolution of the party offer clues as to why it failed to engineer a wider breakthrough at the national level? And what does its performance at the local level reveal about the party’s rise and significance more generally? To address these questions, we draw on two sources of data. Firstly, we analyse aggregate-level data from local election results to explore how UKIP seized opportunities provided by contests that are often used by voters to protest against the established parties. Secondly, our analysis is augmented by survey level data obtained from responses to annual surveys of local election candidates. These surveys identify the types of people that answered Nigel Farage’s appeal for election candidates, and how these recruits compare in terms of their characteristics and electoral experience with candidates in the main parties. Our findings contribute to existing research, demonstrating how UKIP’s local impact and candidates sharpens our understanding about its initial success in attacking not only the established party system but also the problems that it later encountered when trying to expand its presence in the House of Commons. Firstly, in terms local performance we show how, between 2009 and 2015, UKIP emerged from tentative beginnings to establish a strong presence in national politics. The party’s development was initially ‘top-down’ but then inevitably required a bottom-up mobilisation of new members, many of whom were recruited to stand as local candidates. Secondly, we find that while UKIP recruited thousands of candidates they often had scant membership or campaigning experience. Such activists might be able to deliver success locally but were likely to struggle in the parliamentary setting where campaigning has become more competitive and professionalised (Fisher et al., 2011). Our article is organized as follows. After outlining the dynamics of UKIP’s local growth, section two investigates the social, political and ideological characteristics of the party’s candidates and how they campaigned for votes during this critical period of the party’s development. Establishing UKIP in Local Elections Like populist radical right parties elsewhere in Europe (see Rydgren, 2012) UKIP has attracted a growing academic literature. There are now detailed studies of the party’s voters (Ford and Goodwin, 2014a, 2014b; Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015), electoral performance (Ford et al., 2012), organization, members (Clarke et al., 2017) and impact on party competition (Lynch and Whitaker, 2013; Webb and Bale, 2014; Evans and Mellon, 2016). Individual-level analyses of UKIP voters reveal how the party tended to attract older, white, less well educated and working-class men who oppose immigration, strongly disapproved of Britain’s EU membership and felt dissatisfied with established parties (Ford and Goodwin, 2014a). UKIP’s disproportionately strong support among the working-class and self-employed mirrors the dynamics of support for the populist radical right (Mudde, 2007), though UKIP supporters are older than supporters of groups like the Freedom Party of Austria. In 2010, most of those who would later defect to UKIP had voted for the Conservative Party though in earlier years some would have supported Labour, defecting after its shift to a pro-EU and pro-immigration position (Evans and Tilley, 2012; Evans and Mellon, 2016; Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). Though UKIP was founded in 1993 it was not until a parliamentary by-election in Barnsley in 2011 when Farage made clear his goal of investing more seriously in local government elections.2 By combining UKIP’s ‘hard’ Euroscepticism with anti-immigration xenophobia and anti-establishment populism, Farage sought to use second-order elections as a foundation for a wider breakthrough at the 2015 general election. Our examination of UKIP’s performance starts in 2009 as prior to this the party fielded few candidates and was not interested in these contests. It concludes in 2015 when local government elections were held on the same day as the general election. The local electoral cycle in England is straightforward although periodic revisions of ward boundaries affect the number of local authorities and the number of seats being contested. Councillors are elected for a four-year term although the numbers elected in any given year vary considerably. There is a four-yearly pattern in the data which is critical in understanding how parties perform. There are three completed cycles within this five-year period (2009/2013, 2010/2014 and 2011/2015). It is not only the 2015 local elections that coincide with other elections. In 2009, county and unitary council elections were re-scheduled from the normal date in May to early June in a bid to raise turnout for the European Parliament election. In 2010, local elections coincided with the general election while those in 2014 were again synchronous with European Parliament elections, which UKIP won. Being held at the same time, such elections not only present opportunities for small parties to widen their appeal but also bring resource pressures that may impact on the effectiveness of their campaigns. Table 1 provides a summary of results across seven rounds of local elections. It reveals how a clear step change in UKIP’s electoral status took place between 2009 and 2012 and subsequent elections. In 2009, the party was expected to perform well at European Parliament elections, having previously finished in third place five years before. It was not a serious contender at the local elections. This part of the electoral cycle contains the smallest number of seats and voting takes place across the English shires, which is helpful to UKIP. However, the party stood just 573 candidates, contesting one quarter of the vacancies, received less than 5 per cent of the vote and won eight seats. The following year, when local elections coincided with the 2010 general election, UKIP’s performance was even less impressive, largely because of two factors. Firstly, at this point, the party was under the leadership of Lord Pearson of Rannoch who ignored local elections in favour of the general election at which the party contested 558 of 632 seats and focused on forging ‘non-aggression pacts’ with Conservative MPs who had demonstrated Eurosceptic credentials. Secondly, a majority of the wards fought in 2010 were in urban-based authorities that were unfavourable territory for the party including London and metropolitan borough councils (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). UKIP’s overall share of the local vote was just 2 per cent, one point lower than it obtained at the general election. Table 1 UKIP performance in local elections, 2009–2015 Year Total Seats Candidates Seats Contested (%) Total vote Share (%) Elected UKIP elected Councillors (%) Success rate (%) National Equivalent Vote 2009 2318 573 24.7 314,428 4.6 8 0.3 1.4 – 2010 4249 624 14.7 226,569 1.6 1 0.0 0.2 – 2011 9461 1229 13.0 297,662 2.4 8 0.1 0.7 3 2012 2412 692 28.7 216,119 4.4 7 0.3 1.0 5 2013 2362 1731 73.3 1,136,640 19.9 147 6.2 8.5 22 2014 4262 2193 51.5 1,277,521 15.7 163 3.8 7.4 18 2015 9340 4094 43.8 2,573,182 12.8 201 2.2 4.9 12 Year Total Seats Candidates Seats Contested (%) Total vote Share (%) Elected UKIP elected Councillors (%) Success rate (%) National Equivalent Vote 2009 2318 573 24.7 314,428 4.6 8 0.3 1.4 – 2010 4249 624 14.7 226,569 1.6 1 0.0 0.2 – 2011 9461 1229 13.0 297,662 2.4 8 0.1 0.7 3 2012 2412 692 28.7 216,119 4.4 7 0.3 1.0 5 2013 2362 1731 73.3 1,136,640 19.9 147 6.2 8.5 22 2014 4262 2193 51.5 1,277,521 15.7 163 3.8 7.4 18 2015 9340 4094 43.8 2,573,182 12.8 201 2.2 4.9 12 Table 1 UKIP performance in local elections, 2009–2015 Year Total Seats Candidates Seats Contested (%) Total vote Share (%) Elected UKIP elected Councillors (%) Success rate (%) National Equivalent Vote 2009 2318 573 24.7 314,428 4.6 8 0.3 1.4 – 2010 4249 624 14.7 226,569 1.6 1 0.0 0.2 – 2011 9461 1229 13.0 297,662 2.4 8 0.1 0.7 3 2012 2412 692 28.7 216,119 4.4 7 0.3 1.0 5 2013 2362 1731 73.3 1,136,640 19.9 147 6.2 8.5 22 2014 4262 2193 51.5 1,277,521 15.7 163 3.8 7.4 18 2015 9340 4094 43.8 2,573,182 12.8 201 2.2 4.9 12 Year Total Seats Candidates Seats Contested (%) Total vote Share (%) Elected UKIP elected Councillors (%) Success rate (%) National Equivalent Vote 2009 2318 573 24.7 314,428 4.6 8 0.3 1.4 – 2010 4249 624 14.7 226,569 1.6 1 0.0 0.2 – 2011 9461 1229 13.0 297,662 2.4 8 0.1 0.7 3 2012 2412 692 28.7 216,119 4.4 7 0.3 1.0 5 2013 2362 1731 73.3 1,136,640 19.9 147 6.2 8.5 22 2014 4262 2193 51.5 1,277,521 15.7 163 3.8 7.4 18 2015 9340 4094 43.8 2,573,182 12.8 201 2.2 4.9 12 The 2011 contests are the peak of the electoral cycle and the volume of vacancies present problems for smaller parties in terms of candidate recruitment. Although UKIP mobilized more than one thousand candidates, and senior activists were advocating a serious investment in local elections, the party was not yet building strong foundations. It contested just over one in every eight vacancies. Again, the party attracted little support. Similarly, the 2012 elections saw UKIP perform no better, winning 4 per cent of the vote and just seven seats. Four years of campaigning for local votes delivered just twenty-six victories for UKIP. Until this point, its performance confirmed that UKIP was largely a single-issue party that was focussed on the EU and had little appeal. The local elections in 2013 offered a new opportunity. These were fought largely across the Conservative-dominated English shires and coincided with rising public concern over immigration, which included the rising numbers of EU nationals from Central and Eastern Europe. The 2013 local elections also took place in the shadow of David Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, in which the prime minister had pledged to hold a referendum on EU membership should the Conservative Party secure a majority at the 2015 general election. An indication of UKIP’s greater mobilisation became clear when candidate nominations closed. Compared to 2009 the party had three times the number of candidates, contesting 73 per cent of available seats. The party polled more than one million votes, one in five of those cast, and saw a 15-point increase in its support. This appeal did not fully translate into council seats, although by winning 6 per cent of seats the party easily surpassed all previous forays into local elections. UKIP candidates now had an almost one in ten chance of being elected. In 2014, UKIP stood candidates for half the available seats, up from just 15 per cent at the same point in the local electoral cycle in 2010. The party won 16 per cent of the overall vote (another fifteen-point rise in vote share), despite many contests being held in London. It more than doubled its number of councillors, taking its tally of council seats past three hundred. The 2015 local and general elections posed particular challenges for UKIP which had been distracted by three parliamentary by-elections in the autumn of 2014 (in Clacton, Heywood and Middleton and then Rochester and Strood) and then trying to secure Farage’s election in South Thanet (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). The party was also attempting to consolidate its national poll ratings which would see it overtake the Liberal Democrats as the ‘third party’ in votes, if not seats. These national priorities meant that activists were asked to run constituency-level campaigns rather than concentrate on winning seats on local councils. Finally, the general election was being run in the busiest part of the local electoral cycle, an event that had last occurred in 1979. Despite these obstacles, UKIP stood more local candidates than it had done before, contesting 44 per cent of available seats. The party’s share of the vote tripled in size from four years previously. While its overall vote share declined relative to its 2013 peak, it still received support from more than one in eight voters and because of the higher general election turnout easily surpassed its record of total local votes. The overall number of locally elected UKIP councillors now exceeded five hundred, an impressive rate of progress but still amounting to just over two per cent of all local councillors. UKIP had thus mobilized a growing number of candidates in a very short space of time, which partly reflected its natural growth but also the post-2011 strategy of taking these local government elections more seriously. But was there any pattern to the types of seats that UKIP contested that might suggest broader strategic thinking? Farage often cited the example of the Liberal Democrats, for providing a model of how to build support and representation. One principal tactic of the Liberal Democrats had been to target the national party of government, first the Conservatives prior to 1997 and later Labour, particularly during its third term, correctly thinking that incumbent parties were vulnerable to protest voting. In the case of UKIP was this also the case? Our analysis of the party’s evolution at the local level reveals how it followed a very different path from that taken by the Liberal Democrats. In 2009, the incumbent Labour Party suffered heavy losses of council seats, losing majority control in all four of its remaining county councils, but at that point Labour was not targeted by the anti-establishment UKIP. Instead, Farage was directing his party toward Conservative and Liberal Democrat seats. Table 2 reveals how UKIP stood candidates in only 73 of the 442 Labour-held divisions (16.5 per cent of the total) but contested almost double that proportion in Conservative-controlled areas, where the party faced formidable opposition. UKIP’s lack of interest in targeting Labour meant that it was forfeiting opportunities. Nevertheless, the party did have limited success in Labour areas, winning six seats, although this represented only 8 per cent of seats that it contested.3 In terms of mean vote share UKIP also performed strongest against Labour, an average of 19 per cent, albeit just two points higher than that in Conservative seats. Table 2 UKIP’s challenge in local elections, 2009–2015 Incumbent Total seats defended Seats contested Seats contested (%) Mean (%) Seats won Success rate (%) 2009 Con 984 271 27.5 16.8 2 0.7 Lab 442 73 16.5 18.8 6 8.2 Lib Dem 350 111 31.7 13.9 0 0.0 2010 Con 1607 274 17.1 8.1 0 0.0 Lab 1288 159 12.3 8.8 0 0.0 Lib Dem 789 128 16.2 6.5 1 0.8 2011 Con 4285 568 13.3 12.8 3 0.5 Lab 1330 206 15.5 10.9 0 0.0 Lib Dem 1545 255 16.5 9.2 2 0.8 2012 Con 989 334 33.8 14.9 4 1.2 Lab 527 147 27.9 14.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 508 159 31.3 9.9 0 0.0 2013 Con 1082 843 77.9 26.6 97 11.5 Lab 92 57 62.0 21.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 330 250 75.8 21.3 15 6.0 2014 Con 1351 798 59.1 23.4 76 9.5 Lab 1538 732 47.6 25.7 48 6.6 Lib Dem 607 369 60.8 19.2 25 6.8 2015 Con 3369 1, 387 41.2 19.1 36 2.6 Lab 1757 1, 096 62.4 20.5 51 4.7 Lib Dem 691 311 45.0 15.3 4 1.3 Incumbent Total seats defended Seats contested Seats contested (%) Mean (%) Seats won Success rate (%) 2009 Con 984 271 27.5 16.8 2 0.7 Lab 442 73 16.5 18.8 6 8.2 Lib Dem 350 111 31.7 13.9 0 0.0 2010 Con 1607 274 17.1 8.1 0 0.0 Lab 1288 159 12.3 8.8 0 0.0 Lib Dem 789 128 16.2 6.5 1 0.8 2011 Con 4285 568 13.3 12.8 3 0.5 Lab 1330 206 15.5 10.9 0 0.0 Lib Dem 1545 255 16.5 9.2 2 0.8 2012 Con 989 334 33.8 14.9 4 1.2 Lab 527 147 27.9 14.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 508 159 31.3 9.9 0 0.0 2013 Con 1082 843 77.9 26.6 97 11.5 Lab 92 57 62.0 21.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 330 250 75.8 21.3 15 6.0 2014 Con 1351 798 59.1 23.4 76 9.5 Lab 1538 732 47.6 25.7 48 6.6 Lib Dem 607 369 60.8 19.2 25 6.8 2015 Con 3369 1, 387 41.2 19.1 36 2.6 Lab 1757 1, 096 62.4 20.5 51 4.7 Lib Dem 691 311 45.0 15.3 4 1.3 Table 2 UKIP’s challenge in local elections, 2009–2015 Incumbent Total seats defended Seats contested Seats contested (%) Mean (%) Seats won Success rate (%) 2009 Con 984 271 27.5 16.8 2 0.7 Lab 442 73 16.5 18.8 6 8.2 Lib Dem 350 111 31.7 13.9 0 0.0 2010 Con 1607 274 17.1 8.1 0 0.0 Lab 1288 159 12.3 8.8 0 0.0 Lib Dem 789 128 16.2 6.5 1 0.8 2011 Con 4285 568 13.3 12.8 3 0.5 Lab 1330 206 15.5 10.9 0 0.0 Lib Dem 1545 255 16.5 9.2 2 0.8 2012 Con 989 334 33.8 14.9 4 1.2 Lab 527 147 27.9 14.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 508 159 31.3 9.9 0 0.0 2013 Con 1082 843 77.9 26.6 97 11.5 Lab 92 57 62.0 21.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 330 250 75.8 21.3 15 6.0 2014 Con 1351 798 59.1 23.4 76 9.5 Lab 1538 732 47.6 25.7 48 6.6 Lib Dem 607 369 60.8 19.2 25 6.8 2015 Con 3369 1, 387 41.2 19.1 36 2.6 Lab 1757 1, 096 62.4 20.5 51 4.7 Lib Dem 691 311 45.0 15.3 4 1.3 Incumbent Total seats defended Seats contested Seats contested (%) Mean (%) Seats won Success rate (%) 2009 Con 984 271 27.5 16.8 2 0.7 Lab 442 73 16.5 18.8 6 8.2 Lib Dem 350 111 31.7 13.9 0 0.0 2010 Con 1607 274 17.1 8.1 0 0.0 Lab 1288 159 12.3 8.8 0 0.0 Lib Dem 789 128 16.2 6.5 1 0.8 2011 Con 4285 568 13.3 12.8 3 0.5 Lab 1330 206 15.5 10.9 0 0.0 Lib Dem 1545 255 16.5 9.2 2 0.8 2012 Con 989 334 33.8 14.9 4 1.2 Lab 527 147 27.9 14.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 508 159 31.3 9.9 0 0.0 2013 Con 1082 843 77.9 26.6 97 11.5 Lab 92 57 62.0 21.4 0 0.0 Lib Dem 330 250 75.8 21.3 15 6.0 2014 Con 1351 798 59.1 23.4 76 9.5 Lab 1538 732 47.6 25.7 48 6.6 Lib Dem 607 369 60.8 19.2 25 6.8 2015 Con 3369 1, 387 41.2 19.1 36 2.6 Lab 1757 1, 096 62.4 20.5 51 4.7 Lib Dem 691 311 45.0 15.3 4 1.3 After 2010, Farage hoped to exploit public dissatisfaction with Cameron and the incumbent Conservative Party by fusing UKIP’s Euroscepticism with a focus on immigration and a more openly populist critique of the established parties. The change of strategy became evident at the local level. In the large-scale district elections in 2011, UKIP contested between 13 and 17 per cent of seats that were defended by the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. UKIP performed strongest in Conservative seats but not sufficiently well to gain many seats. In 2013 (a repeat of the 2009 cycle), UKIP contested three-quarter of seats being defended by the coalition parties and two-thirds of Labour seats. While it failed to make gains from Labour, the party captured one in eight of the Conservative seats that it contested, averaging 27 per cent of the vote. By 2014, UKIP’s anti-establishment message was receiving greater traction among voters and although it contested a smaller proportion of seats (explained partly by the inclusion of wards across the London boroughs) it matched its former success against Conservatives, winning one in ten of those seats, while also winning 7 per cent of Labour and Liberal Democrat seats it contested. In terms of vote share, however, UKIP performed better in Labour-dominated areas. The pattern of capturing seats from both major parties continued with the 2015 results while the gap in UKIP’s average vote share in Conservative or Labour seats is negligible. The change of strategy, broader message and publicity clearly brought UKIP success, but is there evidence that the party was cultivating its local vote from the ground-up? Table 3 categorises wards into one of three types—wards that were not contested by UKIP at the previous election, wards that were previously contested and, third, newly established wards that were created after the implementation of boundary changes. It is plausible to suggest that an evolving pattern of support across these different ward types might reflect a degree of strategic thinking. When some new parties emerge and contest elections, as for example, the Liberal Democrats did during the 1980s and 1990s, they may do so incrementally, taking note of where support is greatest and nurturing such areas before returning to contest more strongly the next time (Dorling et al., 1998; but in the case of the Green party there is no evidence of a similar effect, Thrasher et al., 2014). In less promising areas the party might establish a presence by fielding candidates, particularly when its image among voters improves, but those candidates fare less well than do those in targeted areas. Other things being equal, therefore, we might expect to find differences in support for UKIP, with the party attracting a higher average vote share in areas that it has contested across successive elections than in those wards where it stood for the first time. Because there is no pattern in the creation of new wards we might reasonably expect the mean values for these to lie somewhere between the previously contested and uncontested wards. The evidence for 2011 (when the basis for comparison is 2007), suggests that UKIP had no clear strategy to builds its local vote or capitalise in areas where it had stood previously. Among the 761 wards that UKIP contested in 2007, the party withdrew in almost half of the cases (it contested 424 wards or 56 per cent of those previously contested). In the almost five thousand wards that it had not contested in 2007, it chose to stand in 13 per cent of these, obtaining a mean percentage share of 11.3 per cent, marginally lower than in places it contested at both elections (12.3 per cent). From these data, there does not appear to have been any directed effort to identify potential sources of support, or consolidate its position from four years before. Table 3 Patterns of contestation, 2009–2015 Current election Year Previous election Wards Contested Wards (%) Mean share (%) Seats won Percentage of seats won 2009 Contested 242 131 54.1 18.5 4 1.7 Not contested 1494 319 21.4 15.3 4 0.3 New ward 403 99 24.6 15.4 0 0.0 2010 Contested 281 197 70.1 8.8 0 0.0 Not contested 2613 411 15.7 7.5 1 0.0 New ward 72 12 16.7 5.9 0 0.0 2011 Contested 761 424 55.7 12.3 6 0.8 Not contested 4947 634 12.8 11.3 2 0.0 New ward 388 54 13.9 10.4 0 0.0 2012 Contested 391 251 64.2 14.8 2 0.5 Not contested 1755 406 23.1 12.8 2 0.1 New ward 85 24 28.2 16.2 3 3.5 2013 Contested 396 351 88.6 27.4 65 16.4 Not contested 1150 837 72.8 24.0 60 5.2 New ward 651 470 72.2 23.0 22 3.4 2014 Contested 556 502 90.3 25.8 66 11.9 Not contested 2139 1, 423 66.5 22.3 90 4.2 New ward 190 124 65.3 21.8 7 3.7 2015 Contested 883 713 80.7 19.3 41 4.6 Not contested 3851 2, 087 54.2 19.3 107 5.1 New ward 1242 651 52.4 20.2 53 4.3 Current election Year Previous election Wards Contested Wards (%) Mean share (%) Seats won Percentage of seats won 2009 Contested 242 131 54.1 18.5 4 1.7 Not contested 1494 319 21.4 15.3 4 0.3 New ward 403 99 24.6 15.4 0 0.0 2010 Contested 281 197 70.1 8.8 0 0.0 Not contested 2613 411 15.7 7.5 1 0.0 New ward 72 12 16.7 5.9 0 0.0 2011 Contested 761 424 55.7 12.3 6 0.8 Not contested 4947 634 12.8 11.3 2 0.0 New ward 388 54 13.9 10.4 0 0.0 2012 Contested 391 251 64.2 14.8 2 0.5 Not contested 1755 406 23.1 12.8 2 0.1 New ward 85 24 28.2 16.2 3 3.5 2013 Contested 396 351 88.6 27.4 65 16.4 Not contested 1150 837 72.8 24.0 60 5.2 New ward 651 470 72.2 23.0 22 3.4 2014 Contested 556 502 90.3 25.8 66 11.9 Not contested 2139 1, 423 66.5 22.3 90 4.2 New ward 190 124 65.3 21.8 7 3.7 2015 Contested 883 713 80.7 19.3 41 4.6 Not contested 3851 2, 087 54.2 19.3 107 5.1 New ward 1242 651 52.4 20.2 53 4.3 Table 3 Patterns of contestation, 2009–2015 Current election Year Previous election Wards Contested Wards (%) Mean share (%) Seats won Percentage of seats won 2009 Contested 242 131 54.1 18.5 4 1.7 Not contested 1494 319 21.4 15.3 4 0.3 New ward 403 99 24.6 15.4 0 0.0 2010 Contested 281 197 70.1 8.8 0 0.0 Not contested 2613 411 15.7 7.5 1 0.0 New ward 72 12 16.7 5.9 0 0.0 2011 Contested 761 424 55.7 12.3 6 0.8 Not contested 4947 634 12.8 11.3 2 0.0 New ward 388 54 13.9 10.4 0 0.0 2012 Contested 391 251 64.2 14.8 2 0.5 Not contested 1755 406 23.1 12.8 2 0.1 New ward 85 24 28.2 16.2 3 3.5 2013 Contested 396 351 88.6 27.4 65 16.4 Not contested 1150 837 72.8 24.0 60 5.2 New ward 651 470 72.2 23.0 22 3.4 2014 Contested 556 502 90.3 25.8 66 11.9 Not contested 2139 1, 423 66.5 22.3 90 4.2 New ward 190 124 65.3 21.8 7 3.7 2015 Contested 883 713 80.7 19.3 41 4.6 Not contested 3851 2, 087 54.2 19.3 107 5.1 New ward 1242 651 52.4 20.2 53 4.3 Current election Year Previous election Wards Contested Wards (%) Mean share (%) Seats won Percentage of seats won 2009 Contested 242 131 54.1 18.5 4 1.7 Not contested 1494 319 21.4 15.3 4 0.3 New ward 403 99 24.6 15.4 0 0.0 2010 Contested 281 197 70.1 8.8 0 0.0 Not contested 2613 411 15.7 7.5 1 0.0 New ward 72 12 16.7 5.9 0 0.0 2011 Contested 761 424 55.7 12.3 6 0.8 Not contested 4947 634 12.8 11.3 2 0.0 New ward 388 54 13.9 10.4 0 0.0 2012 Contested 391 251 64.2 14.8 2 0.5 Not contested 1755 406 23.1 12.8 2 0.1 New ward 85 24 28.2 16.2 3 3.5 2013 Contested 396 351 88.6 27.4 65 16.4 Not contested 1150 837 72.8 24.0 60 5.2 New ward 651 470 72.2 23.0 22 3.4 2014 Contested 556 502 90.3 25.8 66 11.9 Not contested 2139 1, 423 66.5 22.3 90 4.2 New ward 190 124 65.3 21.8 7 3.7 2015 Contested 883 713 80.7 19.3 41 4.6 Not contested 3851 2, 087 54.2 19.3 107 5.1 New ward 1242 651 52.4 20.2 53 4.3 The picture changes in 2013 and 2014. UKIP contested almost nine in ten places in 2013 that it had also fought four years previously. Its mean vote in areas contested on both occasions was three points higher compared with places it was contesting for the first time. A similar pattern emerges in 2014; UKIP candidates contested 90 per cent of seats fought in 2010, receiving an average 26 per cent of the vote compared with 22 per cent elsewhere. Moreover, the party’s ability to convert votes into seats is somewhat better in places where it had previously fielded a candidate. Although in 2013 the absolute number of UKIP victories are similar, winning 60 seats in places contested for the first time and 65 after making a previous appearance, the rates of success are rather different—5 per cent in newly contested wards but 16 per cent in places contested previously. The story for 2014 is similar—90 successes (4 per cent of the total) in wards contested in 2014 but not in 2010, but 66 wins or 12 per cent when it contested the wards both times. If these data suggest a trend then the results of elections in 2015 question that. The figures are more difficult to interpret, partly because the general election took place alongside local elections and because of boundary changes, but there are no differences in UKIP’s average support across the three types of ward. Furthermore, the success rate of UKIP candidates is highest in wards that had not been previously contested. This matter requires further investigation which might usefully focus on the potential impact upon UKIP’s support of a thirty-point increase in turnout compared with 2013/2014 and the opportunities for split-ticket voting when general and local elections coincide (Rallings and Thrasher 2003) and how that might have impacted upon the party’s local election vote. Whilst it remains unclear if UKIP was cultivating a more nuanced approach to places where it contested local elections is there evidence that its advance was dependent upon geography, and, if so, which areas provided most support? The pattern of victories achieved in 2013 is concentrated in a group of English counties that begins in Lincolnshire, where sixteen seats were won, extends into Cambridgeshire and continues down the east coast of England through Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, East and West Sussex and, finally, into Hampshire. Outside of this tightly defined set of counties, and with the exceptions of Buckinghamshire and Cornwall, UKIP wins were rare or non-existent—it failed to win any seats at all in one-third of the 35 authorities holding elections. Re-casting these votes within parliamentary constituency boundaries reveals how UKIP was the most popular party in 10 constituencies. The seats, which include the two Thanet constituencies in Kent, subsequently featured in lists of UKIP’s potential upsets at the 2015 general election, and saw some of its strongest results at the national contest, although a breakthrough eluded the party. Because of the local electoral cycle only some areas that had voted in 2013 held elections the following year. One example is Essex where in 2014 some district and unitary councils, notably Basildon, Castle Point Southend and Thurrock, provided UKIP with more than a fifth of its 156 victories. It also captured a further 33 seats across Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Norfolk (notably Great Yarmouth) and West Sussex. Additionally, UKIP also had success in urban areas, notably Rotherham, Dudley and Newcastle under Lyme. Nine parliamentary seats were nominally ‘won’ by UKIP, including Rotherham and Rother Valley as well as Great Yarmouth again (UKIP held a plurality of votes there in 2013 also) and the adjacent seats of Great Grimsby and Cleethorpes. While UKIP insiders acknowledged that these local election results influenced their choice of target seats at the 2015 general election, Goodwin and Milazzo (2015) also reveal how, in sharp contrast to the professionalism of the Liberal Democrats, the decision of which constituencies to target was often shaped as much by other factors, such as patronage. Rather than fix their choices only in local election performances UKIP often selected target seats according to where it had favourable activists or felt that it had opportunities. In several cases target seats did not have a functioning or locally successful branch while other seats where the party had been strong locally, such as Great Yarmouth, would later be taken off the target list due to internal party problems. These constraints are perhaps best reflected in an extract from an interview with a senior organizer who oversaw UKIP candidates during the general election: ‘Some of the key seats should simply never have been on the list. They often had crap candidates who were as useful as chocolate teapots, or they had no local branch. Some seats were literally a husband and wife effort. Others were one man and his dog and you would have been lucky if the dog turned up’ (p.193). Our analysis of the aggregate data reveals how UKIP progressed rapidly from 2013 onward although its investment in grassroots politics came late-on in the party’s life-cycle. Nonetheless, this would have been impossible had the party been unable first to recruit new candidates to stand for the ‘People’s Army’. In the next section we examine the social, political and ideological characteristics of these candidates and how they campaigned for votes in this critical period of the party’s development. Representing the ‘People’s Army’: the characteristics of UKIP candidates The types of people that volunteered as UKIP candidates are identified from responses obtained from the annual Local Candidates’ Survey, conducted between 2006 and 2014. For each survey respondents are randomly selected from published lists of candidate nominations provided by local authorities and, shortly after polling day, invited to report on their experience of recruitment, campaigning and related matters. Sampling frequency varies from year to year and is determined by the need to acquire sufficient responses (approximately 1000 responses are obtained for each survey). Prior to 2013, UKIP candidates were generally scarce and the number of responses collected by these surveys correspondingly small but the numbers increased thereafter. The 2013 survey, conducted online, was sent to 9950 candidates and elicited 1989 usable replies, including 397 UKIP respondents. In 2014, 7000 candidates were invited to participate, producing 904 responses, of which 117 are UKIP candidates. Responses are pooled and weighted in order to compensate for variable response rates from some local areas as well as to reflect the balance of party competition across the actual elections. Table 4 describes some key characteristics of each party’s candidates. Compared to local election candidates from Labour, the Conservatives, and Liberal Democrats, those that stood for UKIP are more likely to be male, over 66 years of age, are unlikely to have attended university, are more likely to be retired from work—a profile that is broadly consistent with the party’s electors. Although UKIP recruited its candidates quickly it was more likely to select people resident within the ward being contested. Professional occupations too are less in evidence among UKIP candidates while very few are non-white but this is also a feature of candidates generally. Table 4 Characteristics of local election candidates UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Gender  Male 83 72 65 69 71  Female 17 28 35 31 29 Age (years)  ≤45 18 33 29 25 27  46–55 18 15 15 21 17  56–65 26 28 31 25 28  ≥66 37 23 25 28 27 Ethnic origin  White 92 94 92 97 94  Non-white 8 6 8 3 6 Place of residence  Within the ward 62 50 47 50 51  Outside the ward 38 50 53 50 49 Education  No formal qualification 8 2 4 2 4  GCSE or A level 42 36 21 19 29  Degree or equivalent 50 62 74 80 67 Occupation  Professional 44 58 53 53 53  Managerial/technical 33 26 22 30 27  Other 24 16 25 17 21 Employment status  Full/Part-time paid employment 23 38 45 36 37  Self employed 23 22 16 15 19  Retired 43 28 30 31 32  Other 11 12 9 18 12 UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Gender  Male 83 72 65 69 71  Female 17 28 35 31 29 Age (years)  ≤45 18 33 29 25 27  46–55 18 15 15 21 17  56–65 26 28 31 25 28  ≥66 37 23 25 28 27 Ethnic origin  White 92 94 92 97 94  Non-white 8 6 8 3 6 Place of residence  Within the ward 62 50 47 50 51  Outside the ward 38 50 53 50 49 Education  No formal qualification 8 2 4 2 4  GCSE or A level 42 36 21 19 29  Degree or equivalent 50 62 74 80 67 Occupation  Professional 44 58 53 53 53  Managerial/technical 33 26 22 30 27  Other 24 16 25 17 21 Employment status  Full/Part-time paid employment 23 38 45 36 37  Self employed 23 22 16 15 19  Retired 43 28 30 31 32  Other 11 12 9 18 12 Table 4 Characteristics of local election candidates UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Gender  Male 83 72 65 69 71  Female 17 28 35 31 29 Age (years)  ≤45 18 33 29 25 27  46–55 18 15 15 21 17  56–65 26 28 31 25 28  ≥66 37 23 25 28 27 Ethnic origin  White 92 94 92 97 94  Non-white 8 6 8 3 6 Place of residence  Within the ward 62 50 47 50 51  Outside the ward 38 50 53 50 49 Education  No formal qualification 8 2 4 2 4  GCSE or A level 42 36 21 19 29  Degree or equivalent 50 62 74 80 67 Occupation  Professional 44 58 53 53 53  Managerial/technical 33 26 22 30 27  Other 24 16 25 17 21 Employment status  Full/Part-time paid employment 23 38 45 36 37  Self employed 23 22 16 15 19  Retired 43 28 30 31 32  Other 11 12 9 18 12 UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Gender  Male 83 72 65 69 71  Female 17 28 35 31 29 Age (years)  ≤45 18 33 29 25 27  46–55 18 15 15 21 17  56–65 26 28 31 25 28  ≥66 37 23 25 28 27 Ethnic origin  White 92 94 92 97 94  Non-white 8 6 8 3 6 Place of residence  Within the ward 62 50 47 50 51  Outside the ward 38 50 53 50 49 Education  No formal qualification 8 2 4 2 4  GCSE or A level 42 36 21 19 29  Degree or equivalent 50 62 74 80 67 Occupation  Professional 44 58 53 53 53  Managerial/technical 33 26 22 30 27  Other 24 16 25 17 21 Employment status  Full/Part-time paid employment 23 38 45 36 37  Self employed 23 22 16 15 19  Retired 43 28 30 31 32  Other 11 12 9 18 12 Consistent with the aggregate data analysis, Table 5 reveals the speed with which the party recruited its candidates. A large majority, two-thirds, were standing in local elections for the first time. This proportion is considerably higher than those for the main parties and underscores the lack of campaigning and experience among UKIP’s grassroots supporters. One-third of Conservatives and one in five Labour and Liberal Democrats were incumbents seeking a further four-year term but only one in 50 UKIP candidates were already councillors. Those who responded to UKIP’s appeal for candidates largely had no prior experience of canvassing for votes, a factor that may have subsequently weakened the impact of its 2015 general election campaign, alongside the fact that the party was not always targeting areas where it had established a sustained presence at the local level. Indeed, UKIP candidates had little prior involvement even as party members. Three in ten of the party’s candidates had been members for less than one year before being selected. Only one third had been members for more than five years, revealing how the party was unable to cultivate a cadre of experienced and committed activists, compared with about eight in ten among Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates. During the local elections, therefore, whereas first-time candidates for the main parties would have learned from more experienced colleagues, those standing for UKIP were more likely to be ‘learning on the job’ together. Yet, despite their relative inexperience the results of the survey show that UKIP candidates were as active as their counterparts in terms of hours per week campaigning although they do not canvass the same proportion of electors as do candidates for Labour and the Conservative Party. While the UKIP attracted significant support, therefore, at the 2015 general election the lack of electoral experience among its parliamentary candidates would be a major weakness, as senior party officials acknowledged (Goodwin and Milazzo, 2015). Table 5 Prior electoral experience of candidates contesting the 2013/2014 local election UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Electoral experience  First-time candidate 64 34 30 23 36  Current incumbent 2 33 20 19 20  Former councillor, non-incumbent 4 6 15 17 11  Previous candidate, never elected 29 27 35 42 33 Party membership  More than 5 years 32 76 82 81 71  More than 1 year but less than 5 years 39 16 14 14 19  Less than 1 year 29 7 4 5 10  Not a member 1 1 0 0 1 UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Electoral experience  First-time candidate 64 34 30 23 36  Current incumbent 2 33 20 19 20  Former councillor, non-incumbent 4 6 15 17 11  Previous candidate, never elected 29 27 35 42 33 Party membership  More than 5 years 32 76 82 81 71  More than 1 year but less than 5 years 39 16 14 14 19  Less than 1 year 29 7 4 5 10  Not a member 1 1 0 0 1 Note: Figures are column percentages within each party category. Table 5 Prior electoral experience of candidates contesting the 2013/2014 local election UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Electoral experience  First-time candidate 64 34 30 23 36  Current incumbent 2 33 20 19 20  Former councillor, non-incumbent 4 6 15 17 11  Previous candidate, never elected 29 27 35 42 33 Party membership  More than 5 years 32 76 82 81 71  More than 1 year but less than 5 years 39 16 14 14 19  Less than 1 year 29 7 4 5 10  Not a member 1 1 0 0 1 UKIP (%) Con (%) Lab (%) LD (%) Total (%) Electoral experience  First-time candidate 64 34 30 23 36  Current incumbent 2 33 20 19 20  Former councillor, non-incumbent 4 6 15 17 11  Previous candidate, never elected 29 27 35 42 33 Party membership  More than 5 years 32 76 82 81 71  More than 1 year but less than 5 years 39 16 14 14 19  Less than 1 year 29 7 4 5 10  Not a member 1 1 0 0 1 Note: Figures are column percentages within each party category. How had UKIP’s local candidates been chosen? The candidates’ survey asks respondents to recall the first time that they contested a council seat and whether they took that decision themselves or stood only after being asked to do so. A persistent pattern in the surveys is that a majority of all candidates stand following an approach, typically from a fellow member, while only one in three independently decided to stand. Among UKIP candidates, however, although a majority were asked by someone else a large minority, more than four in ten, were ‘self-starters’ who made their own decision. Feelings of political efficacy appear to have been a central motive; among these candidates more than three-quarters said they had stood in the elections to ‘make a difference’ compared to six in ten that stood for the main parties. Further evidence of differences among UKIP and other candidates towards governance are derived from the 2013 survey. Support for directly elected mayors among UKIP respondents reached 41 per cent, but was only 26 per cent among other parties’ candidates. But more striking still are differences of attitudes over strengthening the power of electors over the elected. While under half of main party candidates supported the principle of recall elections three in four UKIP candidates did so. In the matter of increasing the number of local referendums, while 91 per cent of UKIP respondents advocated this only 38 per cent of other candidates did so. Clearly, such sentiments sit securely within the party’s broader concerns to challenge the political status quo and make politicians more accountable to electors. These data reveal a pattern of individuals first deciding to join UKIP and shortly afterwards being prepared to stand for election. Many decided to stand on certain issues and believed that contesting the election would convince others to follow. Ideologically speaking, what sets these candidates apart from those representing mainstream parties? Candidates responding to both the 2013 and 2014 surveys were asked about their ideological positioning, beginning with placement on the left–right dimension using a scale running from zero to ten where ‘very left wing’ is zero and ‘very right wing’ is ten (see Appendix 1). Similar scales were also used to examine policy-related issues. These data, presented in Table 6, reveal a number of interesting similarities among candidates from across the spectrum but they suggest too that UKIP candidates are ideologically distinctive from their counterparts in the main parties. For the ‘left–right’ dimension, the distribution among UKIP candidates is identical to that reported by Conservatives. The desire for uniformity of service provision is generally identified as a left-leaning and centrist policy, reflected here in a clearer preference among Labour candidates. UKIP candidates occupy the average position on this dimension, with Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates wanting more local diversity. On economic growth versus safeguarding the environment the views of UKIP/Conservatives are closer, although the range of opinions is not that great. While these surveys were in the field, the debate over fiscal austerity as a solution to the budget deficit was at the heart of British politics. These data show agreement among UKIP and Conservative candidates that there should be lower spending on public services with a relatively large gap between this position and that held by Labour candidates who are inclined towards increasing public expenditure, and Liberal Democrat candidates who are more inclined toward the status quo. However, and perhaps unsurprisingly, on the issues of migration and Britain’s EU membership there are clear differences between UKIP candidates and others. UKIP candidates believe that migrants from other countries are not helping Britain’s economy and are adamant that Britain should withdraw from the EU. Consistent with other studies of UKIP voters (Ford and Goodwin 2014a; Goodwin and Milazzo 2015; Clarke et al., 2017), the party’s candidates feel especially strongly about immigration and EU membership, and are clearly willing to go beyond merely expressing these views by standing in elections. Table 6 Ideological positions of local election candidates, 2013–2014 UKIP Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Total Scales 0–10 Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Left–Right 6.8 0.08 6.9 0.05 2.7 0.05 4.0 0.05 5.0 0.05 Local services— diversity or homogeneous 6.2 0.17 7.0 0.09 4.8 0.11 6.8 0.11 6.2 0.06 Economy vs. environment 6.2 0.13 6.3 0.08 4.9 0.08 4.4 0.09 5.5 0.05 Balance of current public expenditure 3.9 0.15 3.7 0.07 7.7 0.07 6.0 0.08 5.5 0.06 Migrants— good or bad for economy 3.1 0.12 5.4 0.09 7.4 0.08 7.5 0.09 6.1 0.05 European Union— more or less integration 9.7 0.05 7.4 0.07 3.7 0.09 3.6 0.11 5.8 0.07 UKIP Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Total Scales 0–10 Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Left–Right 6.8 0.08 6.9 0.05 2.7 0.05 4.0 0.05 5.0 0.05 Local services— diversity or homogeneous 6.2 0.17 7.0 0.09 4.8 0.11 6.8 0.11 6.2 0.06 Economy vs. environment 6.2 0.13 6.3 0.08 4.9 0.08 4.4 0.09 5.5 0.05 Balance of current public expenditure 3.9 0.15 3.7 0.07 7.7 0.07 6.0 0.08 5.5 0.06 Migrants— good or bad for economy 3.1 0.12 5.4 0.09 7.4 0.08 7.5 0.09 6.1 0.05 European Union— more or less integration 9.7 0.05 7.4 0.07 3.7 0.09 3.6 0.11 5.8 0.07 Table 6 Ideological positions of local election candidates, 2013–2014 UKIP Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Total Scales 0–10 Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Left–Right 6.8 0.08 6.9 0.05 2.7 0.05 4.0 0.05 5.0 0.05 Local services— diversity or homogeneous 6.2 0.17 7.0 0.09 4.8 0.11 6.8 0.11 6.2 0.06 Economy vs. environment 6.2 0.13 6.3 0.08 4.9 0.08 4.4 0.09 5.5 0.05 Balance of current public expenditure 3.9 0.15 3.7 0.07 7.7 0.07 6.0 0.08 5.5 0.06 Migrants— good or bad for economy 3.1 0.12 5.4 0.09 7.4 0.08 7.5 0.09 6.1 0.05 European Union— more or less integration 9.7 0.05 7.4 0.07 3.7 0.09 3.6 0.11 5.8 0.07 UKIP Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat Total Scales 0–10 Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Mean Standard error Left–Right 6.8 0.08 6.9 0.05 2.7 0.05 4.0 0.05 5.0 0.05 Local services— diversity or homogeneous 6.2 0.17 7.0 0.09 4.8 0.11 6.8 0.11 6.2 0.06 Economy vs. environment 6.2 0.13 6.3 0.08 4.9 0.08 4.4 0.09 5.5 0.05 Balance of current public expenditure 3.9 0.15 3.7 0.07 7.7 0.07 6.0 0.08 5.5 0.06 Migrants— good or bad for economy 3.1 0.12 5.4 0.09 7.4 0.08 7.5 0.09 6.1 0.05 European Union— more or less integration 9.7 0.05 7.4 0.07 3.7 0.09 3.6 0.11 5.8 0.07 Conclusions Although various studies have examined UKIP’s electoral following, organization and performance at general elections, until now there has not been a detailed examination of its appeal among local voters, ability to secure elected representation in local government and the candidates the party has recruited to convey its ideological message to the electorate. Our analysis of aggregate data has revealed that while UKIP made rapid advances in 2013 and 2014 the party failed during these years of growth to invest seriously in cementing a grassroots presence. Nigel Farage talked often about modelling his party on the Liberal Democrats but UKIP often lacked a comparable level of discipline, experience and sustained local investment. Initially, UKIP enjoyed most success against Conservative candidates but in 2014 the party opened up a second front that targeted Labour seats also. This growing success at the local level was stronger in some areas than others, with UKIP initially attracting support in eastern and south eastern parts of England before expanding into a small number of urban areas. However, the party’s failure to emulate the Liberal Democrats by establishing a stronger and longer-term foundation in local government had repercussions. As our analysis of survey data reveals, the party’s ‘late rise’ meant that by the time of the 2015 general election a majority of its candidates were inexperienced campaigners who had scant experience with canvassing and other electioneering activities let alone orchestrating professional and targeted campaigns. Most candidates had only recently joined UKIP as members, meaning that the ‘People’s Army’ was almost wholly dependent upon amateur volunteers. These findings at grassroots level are an important contributory factor to explaining why UKIP not only failed to engineer a wider breakthrough at the 2015 general election but also appears to be struggling to sustain a presence after the 2016 referendum on EU membership. Future cycles of local elections may provide UKIP with new opportunities to mobilise, recruit and organise people who are sympathetic toward its anti-immigration and anti-EU agenda but there are new and major obstacles. The outcome of the 2016 referendum and the vote for Brexit are likely to exacerbate the internal problems that we have identified. Following the 52 per cent vote for Brexit, Nigel Farage resigned and UKIP suffered several bouts of infighting and a succession of leaders. Few of those who remain active in the party’s echelons appear experienced in electioneering. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservative Party have reduced space for UKIP by modifying their message to include stronger opposition to immigration, support for Brexit and—at least prior to the outcome of the 2017 general election—calls to hand workers more rights and influence. This may tempt back disillusioned social conservatives who, between 2009 and 2015, defected to UKIP as an outlet for their Euroscepticism and opposition to immigration. Whether or not UKIP is able to overcome such obstacles and sustain its revolt on the right remains to be seen. Acknowledgements M.J.G. would like to thank the ESRC ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ programme who funded his research between 2015 and 2017. Conflict of Interest The authors have no conflicts of interest to report. Footnotes 1 UKIP finished in second place at parliamentary by-elections in Barnsley Central (March 2011), Middlesbrough (November 2012), Rotherham (November 2012), Eastleigh (February 2013), South Shields (May 2013) and Wythenshawe and Sale East (February 2014). All but Eastleigh, which was held by the Liberal Democrats, were held by the Labour Party. 2 For example, ‘UKIP leader says they “will replace Liberal Democrats”’, BBC News, 5 March 2011, accessed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12658045 on 7 January 2016. 3 Four of these seats were in Staffordshire, mainly in Newcastle under Lyme. References Clarke H. , Goodwin M.J. , Whiteley P. ( 2017 ) Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union , Cambridge, Cambridge University Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Dorling D. , Rallings C. , Thrasher M. ( 1998 ) ‘The Epidemiology of the Liberal Democrat Vote’ , Political Geography , 17 , 45 – 70 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Evans G. , Mellon J. ( 2016 ) ‘ Working Class Votes and Conservative Losses: Solving the UKIP Puzzle ’, Parliamentary Affairs , 69 , 464 – 479 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Evans G. , Tilley J. ( 2012 ) ‘How Parties Shape Class Politics: Explaining the Decline of the Class Basis of Party Support’ , British Journal of Political Science , 42 , 137 – 161 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Fisher J. , Cutts D. , Fieldhouse E. ( 2011 ) ‘The Electoral Effectiveness of Constituency Campaigning in the 2010 British General Election: The “Triumph” of Labour?’ , Electoral Studies , 30 , 816 – 828 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Ford R. , Goodwin M. ( 2014a ) Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain , Abingdon, Routledge . Ford R. , Goodwin M. ( 2014b ) ‘Understanding UKIP: Identity, Social Change and the Left Behind’ , Political Quarterly , 83 , 277 – 284 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Ford R. , Goodwin M. J. , Cutts D. ( 2012 ) ‘Strategic Eurosceptics and Polite Xenophobes: Support for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in the 2009 European Parliament Elections’ , European Journal of Political Research , 51 , 204 – 234 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Goodwin M.J. , Milazzo C. ( 2015 ) UKIP: Inside the Campaign to Redraw British Politics , Oxford , Oxford University Press . Lynch P. , Whitaker R. ( 2013 ) ‘Rivalry on the Right: The Conservatives, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the EU Issue’ , British Politics , 8 , 285 – 312 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Mudde C. ( 2007 ) Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe , Cambridge , Cambridge University Press . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rallings C. , Thrasher M. ( 1996 ) ‘The Electoral Record’, In McIver D. (ed.) 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Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Appendix 1 Survey questions One way that people talk about politics in the UK is in terms of left, right and centre. Where would you place yourself on that spectrum? (0= ‘far left’; 10= ‘far right’) Some people believe that public service delivery should be standardised across the country, to avoid the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ of locally provided services. Others believe that the level of service is best decided locally and that diversity in service delivery is a sign of strong local government. What is your view on this matter? Please respond on the scale of 0–10, where 0 indicates that locally provided services should be the same everywhere and 10 indicates that decisions on service delivery should be centralised as much as possible. Regarding the economy and migration from other countries on a scale of 0–10, where 0 is extremely bad and 10 is extremely good, would you say it is generally bad or good for Britain’s economy that migrants come to Britain from other countries? Regarding the economy and the environment: How would you prioritise the balance between encouraging economic growth and protection of the environment? Please indicate your response on a scale of 0–10, where 0 indicates protection for the environment, even at the cost of economic growth and 10 indicates economic growth, even at the expense of damage to the environment. Regarding the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU): please indicate whether you feel the UK should integrate further or actively withdraw from the EU. Please respond on a scale of 0–10, where 0 indicates further integration and 10 indicates complete withdrawal. Regarding taxation and public services: What are your feelings regarding the current balance of public spending in the UK? Please give your response on a scale of 0–10, where 0 indicates that there should be more spending on public services, and 10 indicates that there should be less spending on public services. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Hansard Society; all rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Parliamentary AffairsOxford University Press

Published: Apr 11, 2018

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