I came across a couple of interesting articles about UKIP today, written by two “impartial and expert” political scientists. The first set out to debunk one myth about UKIP:
Myth No 1: Ukip’s supporters are all grumpy Tories
It is certainly true that new recruits to Ukip are more likely to have voted for the Conservatives in 2010 than any other party. But portraying the Ukip rebellion as simply a split on the Right glosses over two important facts.
First, focusing on trends since 2010 is misleading. Ukip has only recruited most strongly from the Conservative Party since the Cameron-led government began. When Labour were in charge of the country under Tony Blair, and then Gordon Brown, Ukip picked up more support from Labour than from the Tories.
It goes on:
Ukip’s supporters look more like Old Labour than True Blue Tories. Ukip’s supporters tend to be blue-collar, older, struggling economically, and often live in poorer, urban areas, with big pools of support in the Labour heartlands of the North. Middle-class suburbanites do not dominate Ukip. They shy away from it.
In fact, Ukip are Britain’s most working-class party. Blue-collar workers are heavily over-represented. Middle-class professionals are scarce. Such voters often express as much hostility to the Conservative party as they do to Labour.
The second article sets out to demolish another myth:
Myth No.2: Ultimately, this is about Europe
Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the myth that Ukip’s support is driven by voters with an obsessive interest in Britain’s relations with Europe remains well entrenched. The underlying logic is clear enough: Ukip were founded as an anti-EU pressure group, their leaders talk a lot about Europe and so their voters must similarly be motivated by mistrust and anger toward those Eurocrats in Brussels and Strasbourg. This myth is having a profound impact on British party politics, leading many to assume that holding a referendum on the country’s EU membership is the only possible way of fending off the Ukip challenge….
…Euroscepticism alone is seldom enough to prompt a switch to Ukip – it is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one
This can be illustrated by comparing Eurosceptic Brits who intend to back Ukip, with Eurosceptic Brits who do not (a comparison that we develop more fully in our book). As shown below, there are some important differences between these two groups of voters. While both voice concerns over Europe, those who plan to follow Farage are more clearly also motivated by a wider set of concerns. They are more likely to see immigration as a problem. They are more likely to express negative views toward migrants. They are more dissatisfied with the way British democracy is working. They are more likely to think Government and elites are dishonest and, and untrustworthy. They are more likely to think the established political class is not treating them fairly. And they are more likely to feel as though they have no political influence.
Ukip voters may be opposed to the EU, but they are also deeply hostile to the domestic political establishment and deeply concerned about immigration and its effects.
It all seemed entirely plausible. And it makes me much more like other UKIP supporters than I’d thought I was. For I thought that it actually was made up of Conservatives disenchanted with David Cameron, and I never think of myself as conservative (although I seem to becoming more conservative by the day).
For I’m anti-EU, and I’m deeply hostile to the domestic political establishment. The only thing I’m not deeply concerned about is immigration (although I may become so next week).
But neither article touches on the real reason why I’m a UKIP supporter: which is that I’m a smoker, and UKIP is the only party offering a relaxation of the smoking ban. And I’m also disenchanted with the political establishment for the exact same reason. And I’m disenchanted with the EU for that reason too.
The smoking ban almost completely defines my politics.
And I rather suspect that it might well define a lot of other smokers’ politics as well, particularly the urban working classes, who’ve been hit the hardest by it.
But nobody ever seems to see this. Not even these two “impartial and expert” political scientists. And I bet that’s because they simply didn’t ask. It never occurred to them that there might be something else bugging these UKIP voters, something hidden in plain sight.
I wonder if they’ll ever find out?
And another sick Public Service Announcement: This is what happens when you slack off from school: